• Let's Review: G5 #5

    What a week! 8 episodes of Make Your Mark, a new Tell Your Tale tomorrow, and now we turn our eyes to IDW. It's tales from the Lighthouse, getting an early start on Halloween season.

    Check out the story and some spooky spoilers after the break!

    I had hoped that, given the topic and A cover, we might have Andy Price tackling this week's issue. I say this as both a fan of his style and with knowledge of his love for drawing horror. Instead, our artist this week is Abby Bulmer. Though a fresh face on the Pony scene, Bulmer has plenty of experience as an artist for comics like Clare: Justice Ninja, DOGGO as part of the Pheonix anthology series, and multiple issues of IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog comics. Yet drawing ponies is its own kind of challenge. Let's see how Bulmer tackles this.
    Who rocks the raincoat look best?
    I say Pipp, but Sunny's a close runner-up.

    For a first run, I think she portrays the characters well. Bulmer faces the dual challenge of drawing Discord of the G4 style while also depicting the ponies in the G5. Both depictions appear faithful to their respective styles with a great deal of personality mixed in. From the scheming face of the greedy Fet Lockland to Zipp on a sugar high, Bulmer does a great job infusing these characters with personality. In fact, she's gotten to draw the largest array of side characters thus far seen in the G5 series.
    More unsatisfied customers.

    There are some confusing visual heirarchies within the panels. A prime example is when the storyteller Lightning Rod discusses Discord's imprisonment. Rather than show his statue in the Canterlot Gardens, the comic presents the stainglass record followed by a panel of Discord trying to break free. One would easily assume that Discord was trapped within the stainglass itself. In fact, balancing G4 lore with G5 developments is one of this comic's weakest aspects. We'll elaborate on that shortly. First we need to set the stage.

    A e-mail that holds false information?
    Perish the thought?


    Despite the A cover, Hitch will not be a part of this story. And while MLP #4 ended with Pipp receiving a message from Discord, this story treats the text as coming from Lightning Rod, a lonely pony standing watch at a lighthouse. He opens his home and array of sugary snacks to the Mare Four, inviting them to listen to his stories of cursed mirrors and chaos magic.

    Zipp is in permanent Detective Mode this whole issue.
    But she's not paying attention to the chief suspect.


    As far as I can tell, the Lighthouse is an homage to a film of the same name. A black-and-white movie produced in 2019, it's often celebrated as part of the Lovecraftian horror genre. This particular line of terror draws from H.P. Lovecraft's style of confronting the reader with the unknown. It presents the idea that we live on a peaceful island of ignorance in a sea of knowledge so dark and terrible that we would surely drown.

    Some drown more literally than others.


    Such is the case when Lightning Rod discusses the tale of cursed mirror that predicts misfortune for any who look at it. Nopony knows here it originated; only that its travel has been marked by misfortune and dead ponies.

    Due needs to update his advertising.


    This story is especially startling as it features the first pony suicide. A mare looks into the mirror and though we never know what she saw, it must have been horrible as she takes a long walk off a short pier. I know that many fans think Trixie attempted suicide in "No Second Prances", yet I am of a minority view that she was acting more in the spirit of "The Show Must Go On!" There's no mistaking the sequence of events that presents us with this comic's scenario. Unless that mare was expecting to find a treasure chest directly below the pier, her goal is unmistakable.

    Okay. Dang.


    A greedy pony named Fet Lockland takes possession of the mirror and make a fortune selling and reclaiming the mirror over and over. If the mirror shows him any kind of twisted fate, Lockland's greed warps his interpretation. I have not been able to find any mention of a "Lockland" in horror fiction. At best, I think his name is only a play on the "fetlock" of horse anatomy. A very well-played pun, but not in the spirit of horror.

    These fetlocks were made for counting,
    And pony, that's what they'll do.


    Of a haunted mirror, I can only find basic superstition. Mirrors are said to reflec the soul, which includes the souls of the departed. It was a Victorian custom to remove mirrors from a sickroom to make sure the inhabitants weren't weakened. After a death, all the mirrors in a house were covered so the newly departed could not carry off anyone else's souls. There are some historical figures like Catherine de' medici and Henri IV who relied on magic mirrors to reveal the future of their countries or discover plots against them. Obviously, history and fiction intertwine at these points. Yet if there is a particular legend being referenced here, I fail to recognize it. Just as I get the feeling the background ponies were themselves references to characters I can't place.

    The Powers come collecting.


    Lightning Rod moves on to the more relevant tale of his role in Candlebright Cove, his role and eventual slip into being obsolete, and Discord's temptation. Borrowing the idea of spirits using mirrors to torment the living, Discord's spirit bakes its way across Equestria, lured by whatever power claimed Fet Lockland. Yet as the story unfolds, continuity questions come into play. The setting Lightning Rod describes is in line with the G5 story: Ponies are at odds and most distrust magic. Cell phones are becoming commonplace, rendinger older functions like the Whispering Beacon obsolete. However, Discord's imprisonment was hundreds of years prior, before Twilight ascended the throne. So we're confronted with an anachronism. Something about Lightning Rod's story doesn't make sense.

    Quest item obtained!


    I said at the end of issue 3 that I hoped Zipp would understand that to find Discord, they would have to learn about him. This technically happens in this issue, but it is Pipp who makes the connection. Zipp is instead distracted by the same time paradox I mentioned earlier. It's not helped by Sunny and Co. telling her to chill out. Sadly, I think this failed connection makes issue #3 truly irrelevant to the larger conflict. A distraction but not much else.

    Zipp can't hold her sugar.
    Good to know.


    Going by these various issues, it's becoming clear that keeping things consistent is a struggle. We have Cloudpuff teleporting between locations. A message from Discord becomes a message from Lightning Rod (who may be Discord in disguse). Little things keep fluctuating, which I think is a consequence of having several writers tackling this without tighter communication. Little inconsistencies have a way of building up to the point where one can easily second-guess every bit of story information.

    Discord would faint if anyone showed this to Fluttershy.


    Even so, I found this a good way to kick off the halloween season. The stories are surprisingly dark given the franchise and you are left wondering what's real and what's a trick. Our lead heroines have some interactions but they mostly serve as proxies for the audience. This issue is all about the dark powers that influence reality and how the average pony is helpless against their influence.

    Slight error with the cutie mark placement.
    Yet I can't help but wonder if that would be a cool design that changes depending on the pose.


    Fun times! Give it a look if you're in the mood to jump-start October a little early.

    The setting for next issue.


    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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