• Let's Review: My Little Pony #9


    Back on track! The G5 ponies are hot on Discord's trail and looking to put an end to this conflict.

    Can we reclaim a sense of urgency to this story or will our heroes wander through the plot? Check out a full review from the vault of spoilers after the break!

    It's been three months since our last entry into the "Old Man Discord" arc and it's hard to get back into the story flow. In between these issues we've had two stories in which the ponies hosted a all-day party, and Izzy overcame one of the biggest obstacles mentioned in this ongoing plot. We've lost both momentum and conflict in-between issues and that's a big hurdle for this newest installment. True to form, this story continues as if nothing has happened. This should instead be the fourth issue of the series but we have five additional, divergant tales with which to contend.

    Hitch: Can I go back to being a DJ?
    Everypony Else: NO!

    Thankfully, the art is something well worth celebrating. I think the ultimate test of an MLP comic artist is their ability to go off-model while still keeping the pony's look. Issue #7 played it far too safe whereas Andy Price in issue #8 did a marvelous job infusing these characters with personality. I'm pleased to say that artist Amy Mebberson does an equally outstanding job giving these characters life. She has particular practice in drawing tension and freakouts, as several ponies are on their last straw.

    Save this image. We need it to meme the next time we get bad news.

    We get further views of Fluttershy's maintained cottage (with some degredation), and a new setting rendered with plenty of detail to keep things interesting. It's rare that a panel will lack for a background and if so there's no sense of missed information or detail. We're presented with a complete world, including some extra ponies to populate it. We're introduced to two more of Pipp's fans; though much older than the usual Pippsqueaks. One I swear is modeled after Snow White but I'm struggling to place the second.

    Those looks say "Incoming fangirls!"

    Before diving into the main story I think it important to address the various covers. Each of them depict a member of the G4 Mane Six. I find each cover beautiful and have no complaints on the artwork but I want to caution against one idea. This new batch of ponies are not a rehash of the old. There are certainly similarities one can draw, but there are also very key differences. Izzy is far more artistically minded the Pinkie Pie; and Pipp is more about recognizing others art while Rarity fixated on creating her own. If we only limit our enjoyment to a mold of old characters, I worry that we'll miss out on enjoying the new.

    I'm enjoying Pipp's reaction the most in this panel.

    Fitting, then, that a big part of this story is showing the difference between the groups as they move against Discord. Twilight and friends were a united front that Discord had to separate, decieve, and play against one another to break their bonds. With Sunny & co., he need only leave them alone. It's been a consistent theme throughout this conflict that the new ponies don't yet have a group synergy. Their contributions seem more accidental than collaborative. Plus, Izzy is the only one willing to talk about the dissonance Discord suggested as she's the one constantly being left out. The others are mostly focused on how magic supports or benefits their own ventures.

    This read like a classic Twitter quarrel debate.

    There is some collective work hinting that they can become stronger. For example, Sunny demonstrates how a fresh pair of eyes can spot a problem that's been too close for another to see. But she does so with a far more hostile and snarky attitude than we're used to seeing. It could be that tenion over Discord is affecting her mood or writer Celeste Bronfman is trying to model Sunny after an early version of Twilight.

    This is also how Sunny does her pirate impersonation.

    We do encounter a disconnect in the plot that's hard to reconcile. Daring Do books are much more scarce in the modern era, and Pipp can't find any information online. Yet she can claim a copy in the span of ten minutes thanks to her fans. So either we must accept a bit of plot convenience, or ponies really need to step up their search enginges. Anyone know a good horse pun for GOOGLE? Maybe GALLOP?

    Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Faust gave ya!

    It seems that Discord's efforts to hide his intenitons have failed and the ponies now know he means to chuck the pegasus crystal into one of the Basaltic Caves many lava creeks. So we have a firey setting for the final conflict, and a journey that highlights the group's disfunctional teamwork. If there's one thing that I think is missing, it's a chance for Sunny and the others to reflect on their attitudes with Izzy. Our unflagging unicorn is the heroine of the day as she saves Hitch from an untimely death. Yet she's also the one willing to face the idea of life without magic and affirming that she and her friends' relationship is based on more than just what they can perform.

    No, Hitch! You're not supposed to fall. One of the mares is supposed to fall for you! 
    Stop messing with the shipping order!

    Starlight Glimmer would likely have a few words for Discord as he once again asserts that true equality can only come from magic's absence. But much like Starlight's old philosophy, this goal is based on pushing others down to a bare minimum instead of finding an individual's personal strength. Some may be able to perform a task better by fortune of good genetics or gifts, but when they succeed we hope that they'll have the humility to see the value in others. True equality is meant to uplift all, not push others down.

    Izzy is taking "uplift" quite literally.

    Some will likely wonder why Discord waited for the ponies after he took steps to hide his intention. In fact, why did he wait in repose when he knew they were literally outside his door. I think there are two motives at play. The first is he wanted to see if they could even work together enough to catch up. Were they as worthy a set of opponents as Twilight and the others? Now that they're here, he has an audience.

    "Hello, ponies. Do any of you have a comb?"

    I'm sure many fans will say that if they were in Discord's place, they would have thrown the crystal into the lava well before the other ponies showed up. That would be the practical thing to do, but I want to put forth a separate idea: you're not a villain. Unlike an antagonist, a true villain is not meant to represent a healthy idea. They are mentally or emotionally unbalanced and thus they often act in self-sabotage. Needing an audience or validation for their actions has been the motive behind many a monologue. The villain needs to either validate their control ove the situation or is trying to force their opponent to understand. Discord is more the latter. He has a literl captive audience and will likely check back with them after the deed is done to see if they've come around.

    Granted, this is a bit more life-threatening than he should like.

    Thus we look towards next month for this story's conclusion. While the journey to the Basaltic Caves is a slow burn, I find that the final few pages helped restore a sense of urgency as we see that the loss of magic might undo the group's friendship. They came together from disparate backgrounds but under a common cause. Take away the magic they strove for, and they might not have the patience to re-examine their still-fresh bonds. Plus I hope to see them fully collaborate to get out of this mess and have a genuine talk with Discord. We'll know in about a month.

    "The hay you say?"

    Also, a happy February to you all! I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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