• Let's Review: G5 #11

    We've got a social media-driven horror story on our hooves! Pipp's on a mission to contact the spirit world and livestream the process!

    Find the full review and plenty of #spoilers after the break! Thanks go to Mashuga31 for the Slender Pony image.

    What a refreshing feeling. To read this comic and not suffer the distraction of a larger arc. There's a fun simplicity in a stand-alone issue. One that can hit close to home.

    We have a newcomer with today's issue. Abby Bulmer has mostly been working within the Sonic franchise as of late but also has some Judge Dredd Megazine credits in her resume. As a result, I get the sense of a creator who is comfortable with both human and non-human forms. She demonstrates as much by drawing the G5 crew in simple but recognizable styles and isn't afraid to play with their expressions. This is especially true in the multiple opportunities to show them reacting to fear and its aftermath.

    This would go viral in 10 minutes.
    Of particular interest is the spacing within each panel. Bulmer favors emphasizing physical distance with either a perspective shot with one character much larger in the foreground, or a long panel that shows two ponies at opposite ends. This helps emphasize the ideological distance between Pipp and Zipp. Yet the spaces between characters are rarely filled in. I'm unsure how many references Bulmer had regarding the Bright House or Maritime Bay in general. We don't see a lot of recognizable locations. Unless an item serves a specific role to the story, most backgrounds feature a simple gradient to keep the focus on the characters. While this minimalist approach keeps the focus on the ponies themselves, I regret not getting to look at the world around them and perhaps see how the artist can have fun with the environment.

    Zipp's expression says, "This is the third time today!"
    The emphasis of this story is the bond between sister, though it also touches on the dangers of social media. Pipp knows that Zipp doesn't get her status as an influencer, but nevertheless she goes to her sister for support. After the adventures against Discord, Pipp's content isn't impressing her fans and many are unsubscribing. This can seem very superficial from the outside looking in, but as someone who is pondering the future of his own YouTube channel, I could identify with her struggle.

    Now this is a sweet image. Almost a counterbalance to the movie
    where Pipp hung upside down, alone.

    Any creative endeavor carries the risk of rejection. The metrics social media sites provide can strengthen this anxiety plus a deluge of information can make things seem worse than they really are. Pipp uses her social media as a means to express herself to the world. She's not the heir to Zephyr Heights, nor is she a powerful flying. Having benefitted from the lie of the G5 movie and then being exposed as flightless, Pipp's presentation within the comics is often one that emphasizes transparency and notifying ponies of immediate developments. Within Tell Your Tale, Pipp even takes steps to show her followers her daily routine. So having put so much of herself and her life on display, having ponies walk away feels like a rejection of her core self. Though what the metrics don't show is the influence she has on individual ponies' days or why ponies choose to stay or leave. Within an information vacuum, she assumes the worst.

    Her answer to this crisis is to join in an online challenge. Thankfully, this not anything so stupid and life-threatening as challenges that gained notoriety within real life. It mostly revolves around conducting a seance to connect with a spirit known as the "The Old Nag". Information about this character is sparce, as the available information focuses on how she can be summoned over the course of three days. From what I could gather, this was a young pony who lost her parents in a tornado disaster. This experience left her with a great deal of anger, which couldn't serve her well against all the bullying. In particular, a false birthday party serves as the trap for her spirit, much the same as a cruel prank harmed her in life. It's not stated how she became a spirit, which I suspect is censorship from within IDW. A tale such as this heavily implies that Nagathin "Naggie" Irons took her own life after experiencing so much pain and rejection. We can't have that in a children's comic, so it's left to the reader's imagination. As you've just read, mine goes to dark places.


    Keep hugging, Izzy, and there'll be more spirits in the room.

    Zipp is against this idea on the grounds that it celebrates the cruelty inflicted on a mare who was already struggling with tragedy. I think on a certain level, Zipp sees Pipp's pain from rejection within the story. Pipp maintains that she's doing it for more altruistic purposes, including wishing Naggie the joyful birthday she'd been denied. I think it's important to pull apart the conflicting ideas at play here.

    Thomas Jefferson wrote, "In matter of style, swim with the current; in matters of principal, stand like a rock." Pipp is joining on with this trend in order to gain subscribers. It's no longer an effort at self-expression, but rather surrendering herself to the Internet's whims. This is less "swimming" with the current and more letting the waters consume you. However, her wish for the spirit is something kind and altruistic. It's something that comes from the core of Pipp's self and perhaps empathy she too feels for Naggie. It's the rock that gives her stability to be herself and maintain some individuality within the trend.

    Everyone's hype level, demonstrated in one panel.
    Over three nights we witness events as if this were a found footage movie, including an homage to The Blair Witch. Izzy is the funniest reaction to these events as she alternates between shell-shock and excitement in moments. Their loyalty to Pipp is the force that holds the group together through these events. Yet as the summoning reaches its climax, Pipp becomes isolated with only the Internet's commentary for support. While there are enthusiastic fans who praise her, there are also sadists who want to mock her in a vulnerable moment, just like Naggie's tormentors. This leads to Pipp's admittance that she made a mistake in treating the legend of an abused pony as something for entertainment. Effectively, she's acknowledging that Zipp was right.

    Genre-savvy ponies would know which side of the table they should sit on.

    Long-time readers might recognize the plot twist here from Applejack's Micro issue. The line between deception and the supernatural blurs, hinting at a much larger world while the characters look inwards to strengthen relationships. By the end, Zipp and Pipp are working harder to overcome the obstacles of their polarized interests. Conspicuously absent through all this is Hitch, who only gets a mention hinting towards next month's story.

    That little "live" icon becomes so ironic as the nights progress.
    For the here and now, I think that this story comes close to a great commentary on relationships and the danger of basing your worth on internet metrics, but the blurred history regarding The Old Nag's spirit loses much of its impact. We need to see the parallels between her and Pipp in order to absorb the whole lesson. I think it's well worth a read and a good presentation of Pipp herself, but not the stand-out story of the series.

    Needs more nasal drip. Key part of the movie!
    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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