• Let's Review: Generations #5

    It's finally time! The Witches, the S'monies, and two generations of ponies come together for the final showdown.

    Who's walking away and who's getting a rainbow-colored demise? Check out the full review after the break, but be careful. Spoilers comes in all colors!

    Well, this is a bit frustrating. No sooner do I decide to make a game of spotting
    purloined pony poses then suddenly I find there's little sport! Reading through this issue, I get the sense that I'm actually getting to see Michela Cacciatore's art. Once or twice a pose seemed reminiscent of the show, but each character held unique expression that granted some independence. I could speculate on the motives/factors behind this shift, but odds are I'll never learn the truth behind this process. So let's focus on what's in front of our eyes. Bug eyes, in this case.

    There's a lot of emotion going on here.
    Very eye-focused emotion.

    Yes, this climax of surprise alliances and upsets features a lot of reactions, and many are expressed through bulging eyes. Other times, there are emotional reactions that harken to an anime style and shift the mood to keep you guessing a character's ultimate fate. Chief amongst these expressions is Grackle, who continues her emotional rollercoaster. She and Violet Shimmer are the stand-out characters in both expression and writing. There's more to be said about the art but it must wait as we move through the story.

    PLEASE remember to tuck and roll!

    And the moral of this story is to never volunteer. Ever. Because we start with Twilight using two of the G1 ponies and test subjects for her latest invention. That's pretty cold, making these guests from another dimension become smooze-driven berserkers and having them duke it out to test a theory. I appreciate the protective gear, but Minty and Lickety-Split might as well change their names to Maimed and Limping-Splint.

    Is it weird I'm now picturing underground "Smoozie Fights"?

    That's the limit of what I can do with these G1 ponies because there isn't much to work with, as I think writer Casey Gilly would agree. I watched G1 early on and revisited some episodes after Friendship is Magic started up. What I most remember of that generation were its villains. From a demonic castle lord to a world-conquering octopus or a rhyming cloud, G1 had some truly wild villains. They were the most stand-out piece and their goals conflicted against the ponies as a group. There were very few personal grudges. This comic seems to take the same approach as the G1 ponies are more identifiable as a collective, whereas Twilight and friends are distinct enough to act alone. Case in point, the G1 ponies suddenly start brawling with some early arrivals at the Bestie Festie, but they do so as a group. There are no mixed reactions.

    Who are they fighting? I want names! I want stats!
    I want to know Derpy was one of them!

    This feels like a lost opportunity. One can easily view this lack of information about G1's characters as a poor foundation, but it could also be a near carte-blance opportunity to make these characters distinct. Especially if paired off with a Mane Six member who acts as an equal and opposite. I consider it a loss that we only got to see these two groups together at the end of this story. Another loss is that Starlight Glimmer doesn't make an appearance past the opening experiment. Given that this story began with her trying to gather support for the School of Friendship, it's strange to have her absent at the climax.

    The Witch in the back said "Everypony attack!" 
    and it turns into a ballroom blitz!

    By contrast, Violet Shiver continues to be the stand-out of the S'monies as she genuinely wrestles with her feelings and her directive. Black Belle is a close second as she is more about external shows of conflict, saving Yona and Ocellus several times. Shadow Storm has not stood out very well. If we have displays of internal emotionals and physcial displays of support, it might seem like Shadow has no role. Yet he could be a voice for their directive. Much like the G1 ponies, Shadow Storm just didn't have the time to be distinct.

    I really love the lightning in this panel.

    Above all, however, are the witches. After the last issue I expected Grackle and Dyre to rain hellfire upon Ponyville; but its residents are strangely disarming. It helps that this is Grackel and Dyre's first taste of freedom, ever. No matter how driven they seemed before, they're geeking out at every sight and end up running for their lives whenever discovered. This process does flesh out their characters further, but it also diminishes the tension as we head towards a climax. Instead of the anticipated clash, we find ourselves witnessing Twilight's plans backfire.

    Most of these items I get, but not the Angel armor or the cupcakes.
    Doesn't matter, though. They're almost useless.

    Let's start with the obvious question: why hold this Bestie Festie? Twilight and crew started it thinking that the town needed a rejuvination of spirit, but now they know that the ponies are being influenced by an outside power. Now that each of the Mane Six has a rainbow-themed object that will free rather than incinerate the possessed, why are they waiting for the masses to come to them? I could see a brief story with several teams splitting off to find and heal the infected.

    A common thread in MLP: Dress ups!

    This is the most artifical conflict point as the party must go forward to give the corrupted decorations the chance to both catch Twilight unaware and remove most of the countermeasures right away. It even possesses Violet Shiver to serve as its voice. It is in service to a greater tension: who will be redeemed and who will be lost? That the witches would reform seems a given from the first half of this issue, but Violet Shiver's situation creates more doubt.

    Isn't this the part where someone opens a can of Doritos
    and suddenly it becomes super party?

    There is one moment for Shadow Storm after all. He rescues his creators, showing loyalty outside their mission. That action, plus witnessing the fruits of their schemes, is what pushes Grackle and Dyre to make a choice. Dyre has receeded over the course of this story, showing her reformation through action much like Black Belle. Grackle is the more vocal and emotive ark; clearly stating her thoughts with a emphasis of firey hair. So instead of a brawl between Witches, servants, and ponies we get an alliance against demonic decorations. Only in My Little Pony!

    Are you not entertained!

    It's near the end that we get an answer to the biggest questions. With the Smooze defeated, its offspring begin to fade away. This is the one moment in the issue where the artwork and the story aren't in sync. The S'monies are fading away, but the white gradient overtaking them remains consistent across the page. Even as the dialog suggests that they're reforming, they look the same throughout the images. So for several reads I wasn't sure what was really happening.

    Um... They're better... I guess?

    The resolution is familiar to the FiM style with a mass redemption, but there's the added issue of Grackle and Dyre. They're not going to stay in Ponyville but also not returning to the volcano. One could interpret this as running away from home in a positive light, but given that these two are old enough to make life-altering decisions I see it differently. One of the consistent themes throughout this comic has been the emotional abuse inflicted on these two. They do not owe their abusive mothers anything. No requiremrent for a final confrontations and no reconciliations. If they can build a future without past burdens weighing them down, then it's a victory.

    Given that everything beyond Equestia is anthropomorphic,
    this is still an odd question.

    I lost a lot of enthusiasm for this series by issue four, but I find this finale turned it around. It's not a clean resolution as I feel several characters were short-changed and the main selling point for this series is more of an afterthought. Yet it did enough with its antagonists to make me invested in their journey and satisfied with the outcome. If you've read through the series, this conclusion will be a mixed but ultimatley positive finale.

    I genuinely needed this introduction because I didn't know all the characters.
    Wait, they didn't bring Applejack or Surprise?

    Next week, I'll share my thoughts on the series as a whole. Until then.

    With such mastery of illusion, they should join the Decepticons!
    Wait, they can't. License is gone.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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