• Let's Review: Generations #4

    Time once again to look at the bridging of decades as our Mane Six Plus One get to meet with the ponies of old.

    Catch the full review with enough spoilers for two generations after the break!


    At this point, I view Michela Cacciatore's art as a game. Can I recognize the poses and note the episode that inspired them? Even the Cover A features a pose for Twilight heavily relying on Friends Forever #35.

    It's a good choice for a pose, but that isn't the real issue.
    To be clear, differences in several elements suggest that Cacciatore is not tracing the artwork, but she is still mimicking pre-existing media. In addition to disappointing fans with recycled image, there are several cases where the pose isn't even a good choice. Consider this image of Pinkie tripping on a rock, which is the same pose from her first appearance in Friendship is Magic.

    That Pinkie pose be trippin'!
    Nothing in this pose actually suggests tripping over something. There's no forward momentum; and one of the biggest weaknesses with the art thus far has been a mismatch between the writing and the visuals.

    Going by those expressions,
    You'd think she just suggested gathering the blood of the innocent! 
    I'm less knowledgeable when it comes to the G1 pony designs. They're much more uniform than the FiM designs to the point where I often have trouble distinguishing them. I do, however, see a mismatch in the artwork when we delver into a summary of the 1986 movie.

    I could see Twilight asking, "What is a 'hooman?'"
    The Megan we see here is based on her original design for "Rescue at Midnight Castle" and "Escape from Catrina". By the time we got to the '86 movie, Toei was no longer part of the production and Megan's design had changed to a more feminine motif. Going by this brief panel, I suspect that Cacciatore is still relying on screenshots without realizing the changes. So the truest expression of her own art still lies with Grackle, Dyre, and Trench. This triad continues to be the most expressive element, especially as Grackle begins to have a breakdown.

    Getting into anime territory with this panel!
    This is the more comical expression of this anger, but it's another point where Cacciatore stops relying on pre-existing work and puts something of her own style out there. Other artwork makes the emotion more serious and impactful as we see how life with two emotionally abusive mothers has taken its toll.

    Okay, things just got serious.
    This penultimate issue finally features the crossover we've awaited. The Mane Six and Starlight meet the ponies of a different dimension. While the designs between each generation are distinct, it's never so overpowering that it feels like dissonance. There have been more extreme crossovers that featured a comical difference.

    Really, Scotty. Do you even lift?
    One trait of a My Little Pony work is that violence is not an attraction. Our favorites may be willing to throw down when needed, but there is absolutely no reason why these two parties would duke it out to satisfy fandom curiosity. In fact, the most action we see is Pinkie's aforementioned trip, which prompts the G1 ponies to offer aid. It's at Paradise Estate that the two groups compare notes. I think writer Casey Gilly made a good decision in recapping the history of the Witches. That G4 fans are reading this is a given; but it's less certain if those same fans have witnessed the previous story. Of the G1 ponies, Surprise seems to have the strongest presence as her recounting is littered with excitement and 90's slang.

    These captions make me think of Bum Reviews.
    I miss those.
    It's taken several issues to reach this crossover, yet sadly I don't feel much of an impact. The G1 ponies do not have distinct personalities compared to G4. Aside from a comparison between Applejacks, there's little to talk about how these earlier versions distinguish themselves.

    Who's a silly pony?
    No, I'm really asking. I don't know these ponies.
    Instead, the development focuses on the Smonies and the Witches, who are both reaching opposite realizations. While Violet Shiver has undergone the biggest shift from Pinkie's attention last issue, Black Belle is basking in the adoration from Ocellus and... a blonde Cozy Glow?

    Of all the characters to modfiy into a background pony...
    Do they not know who she was?
    The only member of this triad who hasn't yet been impacted is Shadow Storm. As things stand, I'm expecting a two-out-of-three redemption for this group. Unfortunately for them, word of this adoration gets back to the Witches, who misinterpret the situation.

    They love her for those spots.
    This is the final time we'll witness Grackle and Dyre being passive commentators to the story. Grackle in particular is breaking emotionally and mentally as her mothers' passive aggression and news of the S'monies' popularity coincide. She's likely breaking down because her creations are receiving the kind of care and support that she and her cousin are denied. Dyre doesn't seem to be as upset, but she's practiced a disinterested personality. It may be she's just as angry and is holding tight to a mask.

    That hair alone could kill a world.
    We get elements of the final conflict as each side readies a sort of weapon. The S'monies have created streamers that are infused with the smooze's malice and it's spreading across Ponyville uncontrolled. Meanwhile, Grackle and Dyre have realized that the limit on their magic doesn't apply to alternate dimensions. So they're about to take the direct approach. On the pony side of things, they've combined the Elements of Harmony's power into an enchanted locket to recreate the rainbow used to defeat enemies such as Tirek. This thought terrifies me because this isn't a reformation power or a nullification spell. The rainbow of G1 is a spectral assassin.

    Death is colorful
    Seriously, this thing killed Tirek and tried to decapitate the Smooze. Failing that, it eventually dumped all three Witches into a live volcano. Even when they test out this new power, it incinerates the targets and the ponies are actually excited. So much for what I said about not being attracted towards violence. In fact, of the three parties only the Witches seem totally aware of their power's scope. That still offers them an advantage but there are many unknown factors at play.

    The greatest unknown: What is that thing?
    So where are we after this long-awaited meeting of generations? It feels like a non-event. This story has focused most of its effort and development on the characters who are a compromise between those generations. The biggest question heading into the climax is not how the factions will clash but who will enjoy redemption or possibly destruction? It's nice to see nods to the older G1 ponies but we spend such little time with them that I don't sense a strong bond between them and Twilight's crew. Everything about this story has pointed towards the Witches and their creations. Original characters. Independent art. Character development. In so many ways, the pitch for this mini-series is an afterthought. Had this series been named "The Witches' Revenge", I think it would set a more reasonable expectation.

    Very elegant snakes!
    I want to see how this story ends but not for the same motives I read the first issue. We'll see how these three groups clash and see who emerges the better. Until then.

    I wish there could have been a third word.
    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading.

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