• Let's Review: G5 #1

    It lives! At long last, we get our first issue of the newest team.

    Let's dive into the Maritime Bay and find out what they're up to. Be warned: every generation comes with its own spoilers!

    It's been a while, hasn't it? G5 seems to prefer the slow build whereas Friendship is Magic started right out of the gate and kept going. Perhaps this is the start of a more regular place for our new team. I don't like thinking of them as the Mane 5. I wonder if there's a better nickname?

    The new team prepares for action!

    Either way, I think we're off to a strong start. Writer Celeste Bronfman is a relative newcomer to this series, having only written Friendship is Magic #98but Amy Mebberson is a long-standing artist. It's curious to see how she handled the stylistic change between G4 and G5.

    Little did they know Twilight built this gate
    to keep pundits off her lawn.

    In fact, I get the sense she feels more comfortable with this newer generation. Mebberson drew Twilight and crew with great enegry and expression yet sometimes got held up on smaller details. Flattening the top of Twilight's mane or putting too much of a sharp angle to a pony's snout. I don't sense the same struggle with this new art. The characters feel more true to their show models and show great expressions and physicality in each scene. I wonder if this is because the 3D CGI made these charaters easier to understand. Many artists seemed to struggle with how to present Twilight and friends in a believable way when most references were very much two dimensional.

    An example of Mebberson's earlier work.

    Or perhaps the change is more with myself as a reader. G5 has had several expressions in movie format, Tell Your Tale, and now this expression. With several styles early on, perhaps an audience is more accepting that there is now "fixed" way to view them. Whatever the case, I have no problem recognizing these characters and beliveing their presence within the story.

    There's a bingo sheet perpetually in her mind.
    Only she can win.

    That's not to say every visual hits home. The greatest snafu is the restoration of Sunny's lighthouse home. Rather than being transformed into the newest toy sale mystic lodging, Mebberson seems to have worked off the idea that her old home was automatically restored. I have no idea how this came about. The most likely suspect is a miscommunication between Hasbro leadership and the comic staff. If one doesn't know what new elements are coming, I imagine the safest move is to rely on a status quo.

    I hope she put that picture frame up in her new digs.

    Maritime Bay gets little spotlight, even as several major events take place. Most of the background work involves foresty and all the life within it. We do see some standard-looking buildings to suggest Maritime Bay's layout but nothing too iconic. Just enough to affirm that the city is present, though its population is presented as victims of the latest magical disaster.

    Izzy Moonbow, savior.

    We do get a new element as a flashback to Sunny's childhood with daddy Argile introduces "The Gate of the Ancients". A strange thing to associate with Twilight Sparkle. By its nature, a gate is meant to both deny entry and prevent onlookers. I associate it more with keeping something out rather than the desire for inclusion. More likely that Twilight would create a mystic bridge. By design, such architecture is an expression of overcoming divides and bringing others closer. It's meant to be inviting; with closure being the exception rather than the norm.

    This is an actual "Friendship Bridge" between Paraguay and Brazil. 
    There are several such bridges in the world.

    It doesn't seem to have much impact at first. Instead, we're re-introduced to the lead ponies as we see them settling into life with magic. At the time of this writing, the Make Your Mark special has not yet aired. Yet in this comic we see that Sunny Starscout has learned some control over her alicorn state and Hitch Trailblazer is able to communicate with animals. Earth ponies are able to sense things with their hooves, as a tour group demonstrates with the aid of squiggly lines.

    If your hoof is tingling while searching for critters,
    that likely means you stepped in something.

    But with a diverse set of a magic comes scenarios that don't automatically include everypony. So while the first page sets up Sunny as a pony who "leads with love", she doesn't get many chances to put that into action. Instead, Izzy Moonbow steals the show during moments of high tension. It's thanks to her jumping in to both save random ponies and Pipp Petals from magical shortages that demonstrates Izzy's adaptability and quick thinking. Much like the A New Generation movie, Izzy's expressive nature steals the spotlight.

    Izzy's isolation is part of her appeal.
    Anyone who knows the sting of rejection can identify.

    A quick note comparison shows that the three tribes are gettling along just fine, so the problem may lie with the crystals themselves. Sure enough, one is missing. The Pegasus crystal, which is the largest and most elaborate of the three. Makes sense that it would be the one stolen just as it was in the movie. I suddenly wonder if "the Pegasus crystal has been stolen" will be the new "Someone captured the royals".

    I guess they haven't developed security cameras yet.

    Given that this meant to be an investigation, I would have expected Hitch to stand out but it's a much more expressive Zipp who steps up. Gone is the hestiant and morose princess from the movie. This newer Zipp is more confident and willing to be a little silly as she seeks out the details. Zipp is the group's motivating force. She's the one who recognizes it and provides the urgency needed.

    The ultimate magic: spontaneously appearing hats!

    This stands in sharp contrast to Pipp, who is the group's caution. Pipp may be the hardest character to understand this issue. Her actions may seem contrary or resitant to the group's goals, but I think she serves an important function. It's Pipp who argues for transparency in a crisis by alerting ponies through social media. A noble idea, but there's a saying: "Truth that is poorly timed is as bad as a lie."

    Is this commentary on modern media?

    It's not that Pipp shouldn't have told the truth or alerted the public. It's that she only provided the danger without any assurance of a plan or response. Think of this as shouting warning of a fire without pointing towards a safe exit. Given that she nearly plummeted into a Martime Bay street, it makes sense that she would be very worried and want to share this warning. She is also the one pony arguging for preparation as Zipp sends the group off in pursuit. While urgency is key, preparation can't be overlooked as Pipp later points out that they are too far to communicate with their homes. So even if they find a solution, they can't signal civilization until much later.

    Ever notice how Pipp spends an awful lot of time falling?

    This contrast between the sisters seems to be a staple of the new series and we'll likely see it in many scenarios. My main hope is that the scales don't tip so far that one sister is always right and the other becomes a nay-sayer.

    I'm betting a lot of siblings can relate.

    Hitch is mostly along for the ride. His animal communication ability is mostly demonstrated by communicating with Cloudpuff, who becomes the group tracker. It's very tempting to summarize Hitch as Fluttershy 2.0, but I caution against that. Hitch is his own character with greater confidence, assertiveness, and motivations. A shared power doesn't make identical characters. Hopefully Hitch will get some time to shine in the coming issues. This issue, however, is not giving him much spotlight.

    Aw, Cloudpuff thinks Hitch is as precious as a magic crystal!

    Instead we again see Izzy isolated but finding the means to move the story forward. Thus we continue the tradition that she steal the spotlight more than Sunny's role as team leader.

    Izzy has unlocked the power of passive aggression!

    Based on solicitations, Sunny will likely have an opportunity to lead with love as her father said. It's a question of how well she demonstrates that mentality that will determine how well we receive this comic.

    Sunny may slip up, but I never doubt her heart is in the right place.

    It's a strong start with good artwork and a reintroduction of our new leads. Though stilted in favor of some characters I don't think it does any a disservice. Here's hoping that next month's issue won't be too far out. In the meantime, what did you all think of this issue? Looking forward to people's comments.

    Always find the game within the game!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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