My Little Devotional #141: “Carry On Wayward Son”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Filly Forever”

Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, sometimes it’s praiseworthy, sometimes it’s worth condemnation, sometimes it’s little, sometimes it’s big, and, in my opinion, belief in it is what measures your degree of faith in humanity: people change. And nowhere is that change felt more prominently by a parent or family member than in the change in a loved one from child to adult.

Rarity, as an older sister, had to face that in this episode when, in her attempt to spend some quality time with her little sister Sweetie Belle, she found out the hard way she wasn’t exactly the same pony she grew up with anymore. Yet as any long-time parent will tell you, staying connected with your loved ones as they get older isn’t always as simple as getting into their new interests, such as this episode presented.

I myself don’t have children so I won’t presume to know the full impact of what it’s like to have my kids grow up, but I’ve known some people for years as I’ve watched them grow and seen them become parents themselves. I can still recall the one point in my life where I took a look at a certain individual and came to the realization that I didn’t even recognize them anymore…and, sadly in this case, it wasn’t a better person than the old one. At first I was merely in denial, surprised by certain changes but assuming it was just a bad day or a weird mood, but as the years went on and I saw the relationship with his parents change, I grew more uncomfortable about it as I realized it was a personality shift. I spoke with the parents as well and I could see that they realized the same thing I realized, and it was devastating to them. They had tried their best to be good parents, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing as many parents do, but I knew they had brought him up with a great deal of love, affection, and emphasis on responsibility. To watch them turn so different was a true shock to them, especially when he reached the point of his life that all teenagers did and started exerting his own independence, which led to, as expected, several broken rules, violations of trust, and eventually heated arguments.

Yet now I’m old enough to see individuals like this one have their own children, and I see even when their kids are barely moving into 1st grade the concerns are the same throughout the life of all parents. They’re always worried about them, especially when they misbehave or throw tantrums. All parents have times when they need to put their foot down and exert discipline…but there’s no parent, in my opinion, who wants to be in a position where their child is misbehaving so much that that’s all they do for an entire day. No parent, deep down inside, wants to “be the bad guy/gal”. Whether I’ve seen married couples or single parents, I’ve seen times when they’ve had to step out of the room so their children can’t see them lose their composure out of frustration as to what they’re doing wrong that their children are reacting to them this way, and they hate how they’re responding in turn. Children are often seen as symbols of innocence, but that means they can also be very cruel because they feel anything not directed at them doesn’t impact anyone else’s feelings. The most thoughtless thing a small child can do, thinking it’s a meaningless phrase or because they’re throwing a tantrum, is yell “I hate you” to their parents. I see these same parents, after hearing those words, fearing the years ahead and what it will mean when they become teenagers. Much like their parents before them, they’re worried that their rebellious streak will lead to a much greater rift or, as is often sensationalized by media stories, a host of nightmarish negative outcomes.

The good news is that the far majority of teenagers, for all the temptations and troubles out there and all the fears their parents experience, do make it through and to adulthood. The bad news is that doesn’t diminish the fear at the time, and, as part of growing up, everyone is going to have a point where they assert their independence and stop listening to mom and dad. In fact, there will probably be a long phase in the lives of most people, usually from late teens through mid-20s, where they’ll simply fully enjoy their “freedom” as adults and indulge in all of their fantasies while they’re young and have the ability to do so. It’s likely family will not figure into that very much.

However, I’ve also noticed in most cases that with age comes maturity. Things like marriage and childbirth force the old children, if they haven’t already, to start focusing on the important things in life and realize that they themselves are no longer on top. They start finding themselves overwhelmed with new problems and no experience, and then they start remembering they have people who aren’t their younger friends who have gone through the same things they now find themselves facing. As they sit around in houses of their own or tend to families of their own, they start feeling like something is missing that they only got from home. Parents and siblings slowly grow less annoying and more interesting. And it’s around these times, when a person grows wise enough to start making educated decisions and finds themselves faced with new problems, I see (if they came from a good family) these same individuals start to think back to what their parents or siblings would do, or how they taught them when they grew up.

The Bible says there is a season for all things. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) To supplement King Solomon’s famous dichotomy, I would add things like a time to be a child and a time to be an adult; a time to be rebellious and a time to be obedient; a time to run away from family and a time to come back to them; a time to be by oneself and a time to seek the company of others.  As I said to start with, people change. Sometimes it’s something late in life, but as part of growing up people change normally. They go from small, innocent, and yet self-interested and centered children to rebellious and experimental teenagers to (God willing) sensible and more empathetic adults. And we can’t always expect an individual in one phase to behave like an individual in another. Knowledge and good upbringing will only take one so far. Experience is something someone can only gain for themselves, and that is a “fruit” that one has to endure a long growing season to see become ripe.

We can’t know what the future holds for our children, but they also can’t be small and reliant on us forever. The day will come when they have to be on their own, and, on our part, we will have to let go and trust God.  And that won’t always be easy. When that day comes, all we can do is hope in the years ahead that they’ll come back.

But before that day comes, the best thing we can do is bring them up to be the best people they can be, holding true to a good example and promoting the Word. There are many testimonies with a common theme out there of people who recommitted their lives to Christ as adults after “seasons” of waywardness and sin–what began to turn them around was remembering how much their families tried to impress on them the importance of the Bible, church, and Lord Jesus, and they decided to go back once they hit bottom.  Likewise, in cases not so severe, on the day an individual gains experience and maturity to go along with their independence, people will remember what their families told them and showed them though they might have ignored such instruction for years.

In conclusion, my suggestion is to “sow your seed” well and be patient through the “growing seasons”. In due time, with commitment and trust to God, it will likely blossom.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for the gift of my loved ones each and every day; both in the days in which we embrace and the days in which we’re at each others throats. If I am going through a season where I find myself unable to connect with them, or I find myself forced to watch them from afar, I choose to commit my relationship with them to you with hope and faith that, with your divine assistance, we will come back together. And if I am fortunate enough to still have my loved ones close at hand, especially if I am a parent, please help me to encourage them every day to be good people who pursue eternal values…and grant that I let them know so that they remember every day of their lives that I love them. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Comic Arc #21 (IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issue #41): “A Pinkie Pie Story That Pinkie Pie Kinda Sorta Remembers”

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Synopsis:

Rarity is enjoying a normal day at work when Pinkie Pie bursts in, saying she is stuck with no idea of what gift to give a friend of hers. She has the idea for a storybook called “The Princess’ New Dress” but she doesn’t remember it. Rarity remembers the story as one of her favorites, but Sweetie Belle accidentally destroyed her copy years ago so she can’t give it to her. Instead, she suggests that Pinkie Pie make one herself to make it more special. Soon after seeing how crazy Pinkie Pie is being in her concepts and ideas, Rarity decides to help, and is soon being driven nearly crazy by Pinkie’s wildness, sense of humor, lack of focus, and practical insanity as she insists on doing the story in nonsensical and nearly meaningless ways. Yet in spite of all of that, she keeps her cool as she admires Pinkie’s nature and the story is completed as a unique creation. As soon as it’s done, however, Pinkie automatically presents it to Rarity; saying it was meant as a gift for the anniversary of when they met. Rarity is touched not only by the unique gift but the experience of making it, and the two head out to celebrate with “BFF smoothies”.

Review:

All in all, this story has much of the same feel as the previous arc, in which the storytelling format itself is a medium shift. This one is more similar to a real comic but, similar to how the plotline of the story goes, it’s more like how the comic would be run if Pinkie Pie was in charge of it.

Similar to the “Friends Forever” issue that featured Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie, this issue features Pinkie at some of her craziest and, very slightly, I think takes her just a little too far. Although on the show she is usually wacky and cartoony, she can and does focus. Here she seems almost like an uncontrollable child at points and incapable of concentrating on her task at hand or, at minimum, concentrating enough to focus on it enough to actually get it done halfway decently. It seems as if she never would have been able to stay working on it long enough to finish making the book if Rarity wasn’t there to constantly rein her in. That might have been the point, but…it’s a tad OOC. That or one of those times like in the series where Pinkie’s energy and wildness started to cross over into being thoughtless. Nevertheless, it’s not as bad as that “Friends Forever” issue, so it’s a bit easier to overlook.

Aside from that, however, it is a cute and very creatively told storyline. I do think the photoshopped bits could have been confined to being done just one time as they lost their novelty on the second and third appearances, but all in all I like the variety of art styles and depictions throughout the comic, and I like that this plot was a nice excuse to do them all. While there may not have been a big moral at the end of this one, the story is very cute none the less with Rarity finding out she was helping make her own gift the whole time. It wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the previous arc, but it was still a nice story, so I still rate it pretty high.

Fun Facts:

This has actually been going on for several issues, but every time the art style in the story imitates another artist’s art style, there’s a caption that reads “After ______”, where the blank is the artist’s name. I only really noticed it here.

Although the title “The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows” from Season Five was itself a knockoff of the titles of episodes of “Friends”, the title to this story seems to be a knockoff of that in turn.

One of the exclusive covers for this issue features a parody of the Fonz from “Happy Days” and his famous jumping the shark moment, the instance that gave the world the meme “Jumping the Shark”, which refers to when a show is out of ideas and resorts to something cheap and extreme to try and get more episodes out of it.

This story has a full “title panel” in movie format with numerous credits to Pinkie Pie. Everyone else, like Rarity, is listed as a “minor cameo appearance”. 😛

“The Princess’ New Dress” is a knockoff of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

In the flashback when Sweetie Belle is practicing chemistry in Rarity’s old room, the book she’s reading is “How I Did It” by V. Frankenstein, an allusion to Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”. Considering the decor of the room, it seems as if it took quite a while for Rarity to develop her taste in fashion. 🙂

Rarity’s depiction of the princess is her as an alicorn. It’s rather lovely.

When Rarity tells Pinkie “let’s get started”, she makes a fourth wall joke. “I thought we were already five pages in?” This is, naturally, the fifth page of the comic.

“A long, long time ago in a city far away” is a parody of the infamous starting line to the Star Wars films.

One of the books Pinkie Pie tries is “Crochet for the Thumb Deprived”…and leads to real life crocheted Pinkie and Rarity photoshopped into the story. O_O She ends up taping a real life paper horn and wings to make a princess. After that, she grabs boxes of clay-dough and ends up molding real life photoshopped clay Pinkie and Rarity. Finally, she glues real googly eyes onto real fruit.

I’m sure there’s some joke that artists would get about the giant portrait of Rarity, but…I don’t know much about art. :/

Pinkie Pie eats horn chips, not corn chips.

In one panel, Pinkie Pie is reading the comics “Tales from the Loft”, a parody of “Tales from the Crypt”, and “Heckcolt”, a parody of “Hellboy”. The next panel is done in the style of the latter.

Two pages of the comic are turned into a cut-out paper play for the reader to act out the last part of the story within the story. 🙂 The fake paper theater is called “Kazumi Theater”. (Kazumi Evans provides the singing voice for Rarity on MLP:FIM.) The mysterious fedora pony cameos here.

On page includes a parody of Chuck Jones’ art style for Looney Tunes, another “Peanuts” parody by Charles Schulz, and a generic anime “kawaii” style (no artist is listed for this one).

Rarity finally breaks the fourth wall and asks the audience for help, holding up a sign that reads “What color is the sky in her(Pinkie Pie’s) world?”

One page of the comic is devoted to one of the classic MAD Magazine fold-ins. It’s pretty clear what it makes even if you don’t fold it…but I’ll tell you the pumpkin and the ice cream cone become her tongue. 😛

Rating:

3.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Comic Arc #20 (IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issue #41): “Rainbow Dash and the Very Bad Day”

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Synopsis:

This story is told in the format of a children’s story, with Zecora as the narrator. It tells of how Rainbow Dash got up early with her pet Tank to head out to the bookstore and grab part two of “Daring Do and the Treasure of Saddle Mare”, yet on the way out she flies right into a wall made of “brick clouds” and hurts herself, causing her to fly into a bad mood and vent her anger on the construction worker Plumb Bob. This, in turn, causes Plumb Bob to go into a bad mood and vent on somepony else, who does the same to another, and another after that, and so on…behavior that Zecora personifies as passing along the “Drearies”. On going into Ponyville Dash sees there’s already a huge line for the new book, causing her to unload more of her bad mood on her friends for not getting there sooner and getting them into bad moods as well, which in turn “pass the Drearies” onto everypony. Soon everyone is in a horrible mood, causing Zecora to break the fourth wall and intervene by shoving Tank out to Dash to try and get her to cheer up. Yet on running into her, she vents her fury on the tortoise, causing him to break down and cry. Realizing at last what she’s been doing, Dash apologizes to Tank and breaks out of her bad mood. She soon apologizes to the rest of the Mane Six, setting off a new chain reaction that causes everypony to apologize everypony else and end the bad moods. At the end of the story, Zecora cautions her audience to always be nice to others even if you don’t feel like it, as it’s not their fault you’re upset and it will only “pass along the Drearies”. Unfortunately, at the end, Plumb Bob is still angry.

Review:

Now this is a cute little arc, and with a nice little story.

This is one lesson that I feel fits in perfectly with the show, but it can only be “presented” well on paper, which makes the IDW Comic a perfect fit for it. Being able to tell the story in a child’s storybook motif is the best way to sell this kind of plot, which would be a bit awkward to do on the show proper, and it got nailed perfectly with the amazing and inventive artwork in this issue. Lots of allusions to other famous children’s books makes this issue both heartwarming and cute to the reader.

The lesson here is simplistic but applies to adults as well as children. Moods are infectious; whether they be good moods or bad moods. You can only go around taking out your bad attitude on other people so long before they get the same bad attitude you have, whereas if you’re nice and considerate to others 99 times out of 100 they’ll be nice and considerate right back to you–more so than they would have been normally. Besides that, it’s not fair to others to take out your feelings on them. They could have done it on the show, but…like I said, they would have had to go for something completely different in presentation. This interesting little way of telling it as a story within a story only could only be accomplished here, and that gives it some points in my favor for finding a unique way to have the IDW Comic enhance the MLP mythos besides just giving it a higher rating.

The one point that I can imagine people would hold against it was how Rainbow Dash was the main instigator and perpetrator of everything that happened. Some might think it makes her a jerk. As for me, well…I’ve unfortunately been in Rainbow Dash’s position before and I’m terribly proud of myself for it. It doesn’t excuse her behavior at all, and I’m not trying to do that. I’m just saying I sort of understand where she’s coming from. And the lesson rings true for me as well as her.

So all in all, as far as the one issue stories go, I think this is easily one of the best.

Fun Facts:

This entire comic is framed like a children’s story. The first page is a signature page, such as in the old “Little Golden Book” series. Being told in rhyme is an allusion to old Dr. Seuss stories. The title itself is a reference to “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

As the story is told in rhyme, Zecora is the narrator. 😛 However the characters in the story speak normally.

Every page of the comic is drawn in a different style, but Andy Price is the sole artist.

The panel with the bubble with “Patient Zero” includes Zecora and Tank emulating Charlie Brown and Linus from “Peanuts”, by Charles Schulz. As a result, he gets a credit on the panel.

When Rainbow Dash blows up at the sight of the line, Tank holds up an index card with the definition for “Enrage”, saying the definition is Rainbow Dash herself. 🙂

The bookstore is named “The Noble Barn”…a parody of “Barnes & Noble” bookstores.

Among new “horse named towns”, San Franciscolt, Chicoltgo, New Horseleans, and Horsolulu.

Shining Armor still RPs “Ogres & Oubliettes”.

Pinkie Pie wipes Tank’s tears with Rarity’s mane.

Maud Pie cameos in a panel. She named a rock: “Unless”. This is an allusion to “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.

In the big panel near the end, the Blues Brothers ponies from the very first issue make a return appearance, as does “Tom” from the Season Two premiere (XD), Flax Seed and Wheat Grass, Luna’s opposum, and the mysterious “Fedora Pony”. At the very bottom of the page, in the background, are the Marx Bros. ponies.

Zecora trips on the rhymes from time to time, at which point Spike interjects. To accent the problem, her own unique Daring Do book at the end is “Daring Do and the Lost Word that Rhymes with Orange”. 😛

The last text box in the story is an allusion to the cliffhangers of the old Batman TV series, complete with the infamous: “What’s this?!”

Rating:

4 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Comic Arc #19 (IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issue #40): (Untitled)

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Synopsis:

While Rainbow Dash is over at the Castle of Friendship looking to borrow the latest Daring Do book, she notices Twilight Sparkle is looking through a photo album she recently got sent by her parents. It includes pictures of her as a filly and baby Spike, and she ends up telling Rainbow, as well as the rest of the Mane Six who wander in during the course of the tale, the story of how they “met”:

Following the events of the first Sonic Rainboom, filly Twilight Sparkle is starting off at Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, but is met by Celestia on the very first day and given a surprising task: she asks her to help her take care of the the baby dragon she hatched for her entrance exam. Twilight’s first semester at the school is soon turned into a disaster, as Twilight’s natural worrying and obsessive-compulsive nature not only makes her schoolwork unbearably stressful, but she’s also taxed physically and mentally with taking care of the baby dragon. Her only outlet becomes talking to her Miss Smarty Pants doll as her “therapist”, but things come to a head at the Annual Royal Tea when Twilight is not only too afraid to sit with the students (being friendless) but also flips out when talking about her classwork to her parents, all before the dragon gets free and causes a mess. Unable to take anymore, Twilight screams at him as to why he can’t be more like Miss Smarty Pants. On hearing that. however, he tries to be helpful and say he can be like her doll by saying: “‘ike Suh Pah!’. On realizing the dragon is trying to make her feel better, Twilight realizes the real reason Celestia gave him to her was so that she’d have a friend and apologizes. Deciding to give him a name, she mentally rearranges his babbling to be “Suh Pah Ike”, and names him “Spike” before introducing her new friend to her parents.

Back in the Castle of Friendship, all of the clamor of the Mane Six woke Spike up, and Twilight offers to make him some cocoa with extra marshmallows (just the way he likes it) to get him back to sleep.

Review:

As I’ve said before, the backgrounds of the Mane Six represent largely virgin territory for the show to use for story material…or the comics, for that matter. About the only ones who have really been dug into are Applejack and (indirectly) Pinkie Pie. Twilight Sparkle has had a bit more done for her in “Amending Fences”, but to a large degree her background is still unknown…especially how Spike went from being the end result of an entrance exam to being her baby dragonservant and, until the show began, only friend.

The artists responsible for this arc are some of my favorite in the IDW series, as they manage to make things colorful and interesting to look at without going so far as to lose the feel of the original artwork of the characters. As for the story itself goes, though, it was an odd one. It almost seemed to be an allusion to the problems high school students or college students who end up having teen pregnancies experience when they try to finish school along with their children. That, or the old exercise they had us do back in school with the 5 lb sack of flour being carried around for a week to simulate caring for a child.

The main problem I had with this arc was that it seemed to be misplaced. I haven’t had any children of my own yet although my sisters have, and from what little experience I had tending to them I can imagine just how bad it would be to care for a baby 24/7, and how that could quite easily cause the rest of the problems filly Twilight encountered, including slipping in class and not having the opportunity to make friends. The problem is that there wasn’t a whole lot of emphasis on the fact what filly Twilight needed was a real friend, other than the fact she was trying to substitute an unfeeling toy for one. It seemed like Spike himself was the source of her trouble. As such, this whole arc feels more like an allegory about a teenage pregnancy learning to appreciate their new child rather than a story of forming a friendship between Twilight and Spike.

That said, I think it was a bit clever how they managed to not only work Miss Smarty Pants into this, but also got Spike’s name from it. I have to give the arc a bit more credit for that. And it’s really not a bad storyline. It’s just, like so many others, kind of average. It does have some good stuff with the art and the callbacks, and I can tell it’s trying to go for more heart like Princess Celestia’s Pony Tales arc was, but it just doesn’t seem to hit for me.

Fun Facts:

This arc is a continuation of Twilight Sparkle’s segment of “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”, all the way back in Season One.

On the two-page panel when filly Twilight Sparkle is arriving at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, filly Trixie Lulamoon is also out there, and one filly with her face away from the audience has Moondancer’s mane coloration. Both appear in later panels. The mothers of the arriving fillies are G1 My Little Pony characters.

Professor Inkwell, from Princess Celestia’s Pony Tales issue, is a minor character in this arc. The Annual Royal Tea, which was featured in that arc, is also featured here.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Devotional #140: “Stop Talking! I’m Trying to Hear You!”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Fluttershy Leans In”

Following a gradual history of becoming more self-confident and seeing a need to be filled from the local veterinarian, Fluttershy finally decided to move forward with a dream of hers to build an animal sanctuary. Although this idea had existed solely as a dream for years, she had many concrete ideas for it; including an emphasis on being an open, nurturing, and safe space as opposed to something with bars, walls, and/or fenced in. Yet although she conveyed her ideas very clearly to the experts that she relied on for help, as the ideas were unusual they didn’t pay attention to her or try to match her concept; instead electing to take ideas that they thought were better and only put in a few tweaks that barely addressed Fluttershy’s desires. Although they were contrary to what she wanted, they simply assumed she’d like their way better on seeing it, and actually got offended when she didn’t. As a result, she ended up putting her hoof down and dismissing all of them, then started again from the ground up.

One of the traits of being a good Christian (or individual in general) that I think is one of those more “life-long-learning-processes” as opposed to a skill you can just pick up is also one of the most basic and important: learning to listen. It’s a trait that not only comes from personal habits and choices but often has to be tempered by watching your own emotions and demeanor in certain situations or with certain topics.

This particular episode hit a note with me in that regard. I’m an amateur writer, and one of my recent projects was editing another amateur writer’s work for him and putting in some revisions. Often in discussions he tells me exactly what he wants and is going for with a character or event…but me, being a writer myself with my own ideas of what I like and don’t like, I’m ashamed to admit that often I try to substitute my own ideas in and often without consulting him first or respecting his original intention. This episode served as a nice wake-up call to what I was doing; not listening and imposing my own preconceived thoughts and, more importantly, wants and desires onto what he was saying. There’s really no greater act of disrespect to an artist in any medium.

And, as anyone can tell you who has ever had to deal with someone like that, such a thing is abysmal. It is an incredible frustration to work with someone who you realize is just not listening to you. Whether it’s because they just heard the highlights of what you said or they simply sit still while you talk, essentially waiting for your lips to stop moving, and then ignore everything you said–nothing gives you quite the same sense of frustration, insult, and anger as people not listening to you. And the Bible has a healthy share of examples.

When Moses tried to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, both he, Joshua, and Caleb told them how the Lord would be with them to help them triumph over all their foes, no matter how strong or numerous, but they wouldn’t listen and rebelled against the command to take the Promised Land. Yet after God informed them that their punishment would be that they would have to remain 40 years in the desert, specifically saying he wouldn’t be with them if they went up to try and take the Promised Land before then, what did they do? They tried to go up anyway, saying they were ready to obey the original command now. Naturally, Moses was now doubly frustrated, because they weren’t listening again, and they had just as disastrous a result as before  (Numbers 13-14).

I can only imagine the frustration of the elders who served under King Solomon when dealing with his son: the newly-crowned King Rehoboam. Although they gave him sound advice for how to quiet the discontent of his new subjects, he wouldn’t listen to it because it wasn’t what he wanted to hear and went with advisers who would tell him what he wanted. As a result? Israel’s kingdom split in two and never regained its former glory (1 Kings 12:1-20).

Then there was Paul and Barnabas in Lystra. They performed a miracle before the eyes of the people there in order to bring glory to God and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, however, the people didn’t listen and immediately thought their own pagan gods Zeus and Hermes had come in mortal form. The two were so frustrated by this reaction they tore their own clothes in protest (Acts 14: 8-18).

One of the greatest blunders I ever committed as a Christian was when I tried ministering to people online. I spent one evening talking to someone and tried to follow up the next day, but, as I said in my previous devotional, I was focused only on trying to say the right thing rather than trying to care about that person as an individual. I ended up not remembering what they had told me about themselves the day before, they immediately realized I hadn’t been listening, and…well, as you can imagine it was all downhill from there. As I said before, I should be caring about people first before I can expect to share the Gospel with them, and part of that is actually listening to people rather than looking for opportunities to spew Bible verses.

In closing, I’d like to end with one of my favorite anonymous poems, and I encourage you to take it to heart in your own devotional life or life in general:

“A wise old owl lived in an oak.

The more he saw, the less he spoke;

The less he spoke, the more he heard.

Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?”

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for all the people in my life who I have ever turned to when I have been in physical, mental, or life difficulties who have always patiently listened to me; accepting me, understanding my situation, and not offering any unsolicited advice.  Please help me to do the same to everyone I meet, and especially to those who come to me with their problems and entrust themselves to me. To coin an old proverb, as I have been blessed with one mouth and two ears, please grant that I listen twice as much as I speak. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Comic Arc #18 (IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issue #38-39): “Don’t You Forget About Us”

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Synopsis:

Ms. Cheerilee is taking her class on a bird-watching field trip to the Foal Mountains with Applejack and Rarity acting as chaperones. While nearing the end of their checklist, she mentions that any student who manages to spot an extremely rare bird called a Turul will get no homework for a week as a reward; getting everyone to eagerly look for one. When the CMCs think they spot one, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon immediately try to close in on it, hoping to get the reward first, and Snips and Snails follow after out of sheer curiosity. As a result, the entire group ends up getting lost. Diamond initially tries leading the way back herself, but doesn’t know the way and gets the group more off track. Apple Bloom suggests they stay in one place until the others find them, but their yelling attracts a bear, and by the time they manage to evade it they’re more lost than before. Sweetie Belle, Snips, and Snails try using their combination of weak magic to send a signal flare, but it fails, and Scootaloo (obviously) proves unable to fly to higher ground for a vantage point. The group begins arguing with each other, with Apple Bloom pointing out Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon have done nothing to help the situation and are still concerned with mocking the “blank flanks”, and end up climbing up higher to try to get to a higher vantage point. Everyone but Diamond ends up following, yet in the end, out of fear of being abandoned, Diamond runs after them only to trip and nearly fall off the mountain. Apple Bloom goes to help only to fall as well, leaving them both dangling over the side.

By reluctantly working together, the others manage to get a tree branch lowered to rescue Diamond Tiara and Apple Bloom, and continue to hike up the hill. They get caught in a downpour heading up and nearly get in an argument again, until both Diamond and Apple Bloom admit to one another they don’t know what to do now. They finally reach the top but don’t see anyone, and after shouting for help only nearly gets them buried in an avalanche, they end up taking refuge in a cave Diamond Tiara checks out for them. Snips and Snails end up having enough magic talent to build a fire, but when they talk about rationing food they start arguing again; resulting in everyone talking about their respective pressures. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon admit they’ve always been told by their families that they’re better than everyone else and feel pressure to live up to that; the CMCs admit they feel inadequate trying to live up to the example set by their “older sister” figures; and Snips and Snails admit they hate always being thought of being the “village idiots”. Although they argue again soon enough, the group shares a few moments of mutual understanding. The next day, both Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara go out to look for signs of anyone, and end up spotting the Turul, who cries out and then flies away. The others wake up and ask them what they saw but decide, so that neither one will get the credit, to claim they saw nothing. Soon after, Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and the Wonderbolts arrive to affect a rescue. The CMCs believe they all learned to appreciate each other better and think this is a chance to turn over their relationship…only to find Snips and Snails are nonchalant about the whole thing and Diamond Tiara tries to take credit for seeing the Turul as soon as she’s back to Ms. Cheerilee. They end up wondering if they’ll get their Cutie Marks for patience.

Review:

The worst part of this entire arc is the timing, and illustrates the danger that IDW has inherited in trying to run comics on series that are currently in circulation. Comic books take considerable time and effort to bring from conception to publication, and the length of time between the plotline idea and actual release can be considerable. Even worse in that IDW’s deal with Hasbro/DHX Media only allowed them to get general feedback on whether or not storylines they envisioned were something the writers were currently considering for a plotline. Although Hasbro/DHX Media and IDW have tightened their relationship in recent years, working closely hand-in-hand on the “Legends of Magic” to have concurrent releases both on the comic stand as well as on the show itself, for now the lag really killed this plotline. “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” had aired almost four months prior to this arc being released, and while a lot of the events of this two-issue arc are somewhat canon with events on the show, the truth is it still portrays Diamond Tiara in a slightly more negative light than she deserved: having some of her character traits be out of genuine flaws rather than being cowed and impressed on by her mother.

On the second reading, it’s not really as bad as I thought, although the mere fact “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” had already come out makes it hard to see Diamond Tiara in a negative light considering how much she changed. And it does allow Snips and Snails a chance to expand on them a bit more, as they had gone so largely untouched in the series that occasionally the writers seem to forget they’re foals (such as in bits with Trixie or when Snails joined the Hoofball team in Season Six). And it was honestly a nice bit where the CMCs ended up having to work with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon and they learned they both feel pressure to live up to standards imposed on them.

What ruins it to me is that the story is forced to obey the “Elastic Principle”, which I pointed out in my trope suggestions. At the end, the CMCs and Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon have to be the roles of victims and bullies again, with no real ground having been gained. That was an inherit difficulty of this entire arc as the IDW Comic is forced to obey that principle to not violate show canon, but it was made much worse by the fact they could have let it slide if they had foreknowledge of “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”. Aside from that, while there is a bit of good drama in this, there’s a bit too much. While there’s a few jokes here and there, it fails to have a lot of the entertainment value in terms of wackiness or zaniness. It’s very dialogue intensive and survival drama. Most of the humorous interest comes from panels with unique art style, which is nice but not really entertaining.

In conclusion, if you take “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” into account, this arc really falls flat. If you ignore it and take it in and of itself, it’s…alright, but still hampered by needing to be back where they started at the end and not really leading to any growth of anyone. As such, I can only rate it as average.

Fun Facts:

While most of the IDW Comic manages to keep up with the show pretty well, this issue was, by far, the worst timed of the entire series. The first issue was published in January 2016, while “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” had aired in October of 2015.

The title of this arc is a knockoff of “Don’t You Forget About Me” which gained notoriety for being the ending song to “The Breakfast Club”. Like this arc, its plotline involves classmates from different backgrounds and “cliques” coming to understand each other.

The scene where the group is hiding from the bear while it’s trying to sniff them out might possibly be an allusion to a similar scene in “The Fellowship of the Ring” where the hobbits are hiding from the Nazgul.

After the snow falls on the group, Apple Bloom has a “snow hat and beard” similar to Gandalf the Grey in another Lord of the Rings allusion.

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #20 (IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #20): “Princess Luna & Discord”

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Synopsis:

Discord gets a rude awakening in Ponyville one morning, having discovered he’s been sleepwalking and accidentally turned the entire town chaotic. Unwilling to have that happen again, Twilight Sparkle goes to Princess Celestia and they realize that the sleepwalking must have come from nightmares, so Princess Luna is called in to investigate. After “helping Discord fall asleep”, she enters his rather chaotic dreams where he constantly fears being forced to do normal, routine, boring business jobs, which he explains to Luna is what he thinks “order” ultimately results in; explaining why he embraces chaos. Eventually Luna leads him to a hallway of possibilities of which multiple doors are marked with the Cutie Mark symbol of the members of the Mane Six, and each one reveals a common theme: Discord’s trolling causing one of them to break off their friendship with him. Finally, Luna forces him to open a door he had blocked off, revealing it’s Fluttershy’s door…only to see there’s nothing on the other side except him, Fluttershy, and the CMCs having a good time together. He admits that’s what he fears the most–having others care about him because, being the spirit of chaos, he believes it will never end well for them due to his nature. However, Luna reveals another common theme in all the dreams: Discord felt remorse. She further affirms that feeling empathy toward others for his actions isn’t something that makes him weak but is a source of strength that can make him change past the flaws in his own character, as it did for her. Luna ends up writing a letter to Celestia about how “fixing” Discord helped her learn a lesson about herself and that chaos isn’t necessarily good or evil in and of itself, and Discord ends up surprising her that night for a game of cards.

Review:

I didn’t think too much of this issue on first read, but, like many things in MLP:FIM, on the second one I appreciated it a lot more.

A number of the “Friends Forever” issues tend to fall short of their intended purpose: showing a friendship between the two characters or pushing one ahead of the others. This one did emphasize Discord a little more, but…it’s a bit understandable here as more of Luna’s own psyche and temperament have already been explored and pronounced both on the show as well as the comic. Discord himself is, ironically, a bit more chaotic. Depending on the writer, he’s either so much of his original troll self that he’s practically still a villain, or he’s sympathetic enough to come across as a more socially awkward child. Of the two depictions, I prefer the second, as his antics are always more forgivable in that case.

This is probably the most “vulnerable” Discord has ever been depicted in the series outside of the latter part of “Twilight’s Kingdom”; in a situation where he is helpless before his own nightmares. And it manages to convey them with the normal sense of Discord wackiness. It’s kind of anticipated that Discord would fear a boring office job more than anything, and that’s been done in other ways before, but this one manages to make it just crazy enough and over the top enough to make it still funny to me. Likewise, at the end, when Discord admits he has grown to care about others, it’s fitting enough to work with his character in later episodes, and, although it’s a tad expected as well, it’s not done in a cliche way that it could have been done…say, with Discord acting like it’s physically hurting him to say “care”.

And while Luna doesn’t have a whole lot to do in this one other than act as “escort”, this issue does do something I feel a lot of the issues didn’t: got her character right. Unlike many other depictions in the series, I can actually see the same Luna from the various CMC “dream” episodes in the series in this one. Last but not least, it does allow a slightly new look at both characters.

I won’t consider it one of the best issues in the whole series, but as things stand it’s pretty good. I might have rated it just a tad bit higher if it had gotten a little more wacky, but even without that it was still entertaining.

Fun Facts:

This series is a friendship story between the two first villains of the series. 😀 One of the exclusive covers features her and Discord posed in shades. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the poster to “Men in Black”, but based on the shade, background, and the reflection in Luna’s shades, it’s actually a knockoff of “The Matrix”.

Based on the angle of the opening panels, Discord was sleeping standing up.

Among the crazy things Discord did in his sleep, he turned one pony into a sheep and Spike into a centaur. O_o

Luna is apparently powerful enough to knock Discord out on her own. 😛

There are Super Mario Bros. item boxes in Discord’s dreams.

This comic introduced an interesting nuance about how Princess Luna’s power over dreams works. Apparently by even being present in a pony’s dreams her mere existence gives post-hypnotic suggestions, so that anything she says causes the dreamer to make it into reality even if it’s only a casual aside. In other words, her power to control nightmares comes from her subconsciously convincing the psyche of ponies that she is more powerful than them. This is actually an interesting detail, and helps explain how a nightmare could grow beyond her control as well as leads more significance to Season Seven’s “A Royal Problem”.

The sudden brick wall makes a “Sudden Brick Wall” noise…whatever that is. :X

As another allusion to the exclusive covers, at one point Luna imitates Morpheus from “The Matrix”, appearing in shades and a coat saying: “Come with me if you want to see the truth.” The only difference is she’s wearing more of a trench coat than the black designer one Morpheus wore.

When Discord screams: “Don’t say it!”, he temporarily turns into a knockoff of the artwork “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.

I don’t watch enough reality TV to know what Discord and Rarity’s bit was about… ;_; But Discord and Twilight’s was a parody of “The Odd Couple”. Discord suggests that Twilight eat a sandwich with meat on it. :O

I never watched the show (yeah, I know…sue me) but I’m pretty sure Discord turns Fluttershy and the CMCs along with himself into the cast from “Firefly”.

Rating:

3 Stars out of 5

My Little Devotional #139: “Bad Approach Vector”

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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Rock Solid Friendship”

Pinkie Pie, in a desperate attempt to get her older sister to move to Ponyville and be closer to her, keys in on the fact that Maud Pie is looking for friends to make and tries to pair her with Starlight Glimmer. She almost constantly interjects between the two in order to get them to pair up and do more together in hopes of kindling friendship, and always through rather big, vocal, and boisterous actions. The problem she fails to realize is that Maud and Starlight are actually hitting it off all on their own, and that her attempts to get them closer together are disrupting their connection and are actually driving a wedge in between them. She ended up nearly sabotaging the very friendship she was trying to encourage to form.

As I’ve said in previous messages, there’s no “one right way” to perform a ministry or share the Gospel. Some people are better suited to doing certain things than others, but, more importantly, some people respond to certain things better than others. Back in college, I got more of a Gospel message hanging around with the people at Chi Alpha Campus Ministries not doing much other than lounging and talking than I did from attending the people preaching hellfire and damnation at the speaker’s circle. I dare say the opposite would be true for at least some people, and perhaps even in a different point of my own life, but that goes part in parcel with “preaching the Good News to all people”–acknowledging that all people are different and times and places change.

Even in the Bible, different people required different approaches. Some people changed their lives and embraced the Good News as a result of a miracle, such as Paul’s jailer (Acts 16:25-34) and Peter (Luke 5:1-11). Others did so as a result of being brought up in the faith by a devout family member, such as Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). Some came to Jesus as a result of being preached to in a crowd, like we normally think of today, such as the crowd in Jerusalem in the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2:40-41). Others only needed to have someone (Jesus Himself in this case) stop and acknowledge them, such as with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).

Yet while the dominant problem among American Christianity is not proclaiming the Gospel at all, the opposite problem, proclaiming the Gospel in only one way, can be just as bad. Even if someone commits to trying to share the Good News, they may fall into the trap of doing it in only one way or trying to be especially profound and persuasive, as many young adult Christians slip into. Like Pinkie Pie in this episode with her intent to get Maud and Starlight to become friends, they want to really drive home Jesus whenever there’s an opening as hard and fast as they can. As a result, they might end up sabotaging their efforts.

The biggest example of this I can think of is tragedy. Whether a Christian or a non-Christian, when tragedy strikes the feeling is often that God is far from you; perhaps even abandoned you. Now, for most Christians, the impulse at that point is to try and reach out to minister to that need. Yet often the temptation is to give some sort of Bible scripture or passage or inspirational story to show the working of God in the world for good in the midst of tragedy or how the one suffering should be happy that they didn’t suffer like another or that they need to “give it all to Jesus” to have misery taken from them. In other words, to try and find some way to “cure their problem” but offer this big, spiritual, powerful message to make the person suffering turn to Jesus on the spot.

The problem is that usually isn’t the right kind of Gospel to be preaching at that time. The Bible points it out in its oldest book: the book of Job. When Job had lost everything, his house, his wealth, his children, and his health, and finally couldn’t take any more and cried out in despair and misery, his friends stopped trying to just be there for him in his suffering and started saying: “Well Job, all you have to do is repent of your sins and God will restore you.”, even though Job had never sinned to begin with. During the whole exchange between them, his friends kept extolling the mercy of God, how he wasn’t neglectful of the suffering of people, and praising his might and justice. And yet…when God himself answered Job’s lament, he ended up reproving them and telling them to ask Job to pray for them, because in their earnestness to try and come up with a pat answer and solution about Job’s suffering they ended up accusing both him and God falsely; even though they meant to praise and proclaim the Lord the whole time (Job 42:7-9).

Usually the best thing to do when someone is in misery is to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), not try to explain suffering away or sound profound. That’s both artificial and not helpful. Likewise, in many other situations, one has to give the right Gospel message. The Bible itself addresses how foolish it is to try and preach the Good News to someone while ignoring their physical needs (James 2:14-17). And while there are certainly cases of strangers bringing strangers to Christ, usually it doesn’t come out of someone just spitting John 3:16 in their face but doing something “Christ-like” first. Nothing tells a non-Christian how “fake” a Christian is than offering a pat, quick answer or handy passage and then no more when there’s an opportunity to minister to their needs. Conversion in the Bible often followed action. Even that first sermon that I mentioned earlier that Peter gave on Pentecost was preceded by crowds of people hearing the disciples who received the Holy Spirit speaking in their native languages simultaneously (Acts 2:1-13). I’m not saying that every Gospel share has to come with a miracle; the point I’m making is that “action-orientated preaching” tends to make people more apt to listen to spoken witnessing.

As Maud herself hinted at in this episode, what everyone wants more than anything is a sense of belonging and acceptance. People want to feel they have value and are valued by others. Simply hitting people with Bible verses, even profound ones, isn’t going to do that. You’d be surprised how precious it is of a thing to someone who is in despair or depression for someone to come along and simply wonder how they’re doing and show interest and concern that they’re even alive. Even if my problems were still right where they were before I met someone like that, I always felt better afterward.

On a final note, if proclaiming the Good News, always consider your motive. What is the real impetus behind your Gospel message? Genuine care and concern for the individual as a person, or wanting to make oneself feel better about “doing something for God”? Quite simply, no matter who you are, you’re going to listen to people that you feel genuinely care for you: Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist, agnostic, pagan, or whatever. Pinkie Pie’s own attempts to persuade Maud in this episode were based off her desire to have Maud live closer; not to find someone for her older sister to connect to. In the same way, if sharing the Gospel doesn’t start with genuine love for someone else, it will be just as counter-productive.

My final note for this inspirational is to hold to the Gospel message and proclaim it to all nations. Just be on guard that your particular “translation” isn’t defeating its purpose.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your Son, Lord Jesus Christ, and the example He gave with His life in how to reach people; by meeting them at their need rather than setting Himself higher and bidding them to build themselves up to reach them. As I commit myself to doing your Will today and pledge myself as available to you for the sake of the Gospel, please help me to always “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and always minister to others with genuine love and affection; seeking their needs over my own. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #19 (IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #19): “Rarity & the Cakes”

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Synopsis:

Both Rarity and the Cakes are attending a wedding in which the former designed the bride’s dress and the latter designed the cake. By sheer coincidence, the two ended up complimenting each other’s design perfectly, leading Rarity to get the idea that if the two worked together as a one-stop wedding boutique business they’d become Equestria-wide famous. Although the Cakes are reluctant and fearful that Rarity will run everything herself, they eventually conclude they’d like the extra income and agree. Soon after, while making a supply run in Canterlot, she runs into Touring Wind: editor of Modern Mare magazine, and manages to negotiate a deal to have her write a story on the business…but only if she can squeeze her in next Friday. Stressed that she can’t get the business fully up and running in time, Rarity returns to Ponyville only to get a bigger shock: they already have their first customers in Applejack’s relatives, Ginger Gold and Apple Crisp, who are getting married on Saturday. Desperate to make the business a glamorous success in a short period of time, Rarity immediately seizes control of the entire plan, ignoring Gold and Crisp’s ideas for the wedding and instead suggesting much more bigger and extravagant ideas to compliment her own for the dress, including a massive strawberry cake with a chocolate waterfall. Yet nothing is able to get done on time and, when Touring Wind arrives, the cake is a disaster and Gold is possibly dying from anaphylactic shock from a cake testing as she’s allergic to strawberries. Touring Wind dismisses it all as third rate and storms out, and Rarity laments that not only did she fail to be a success but ruined the wedding. Yet as it turns out, the Cakes not only anticipated Rarity’s idea wouldn’t work (but wanted to try to see if they could pull it off anyway) and prepared the original cupcake tower concept anyway, but they have a remedy on standby for Gold–saying that the crisis of dealing with twins is much worse than this. They dismiss Rarity to finish something more akin to Gold’s original concept for the dress, and the Cakes employ Spike to stop Touring from leaving town and coming back the next day to see the revised designs. Although they’re more “down-to-earth”, she appreciates the simplicity and charm of new dress and cake anyway and calls it a complete success. Rarity apologizes to the Cakes for trying to dictate everything, but they tell her that they normally admire her self-confidence to take charge…and remind her to take time to listen to others every once in a while.

Review:

The IDW comic has put out some interesting storylines over the years, but one thing I don’t abide so well is when they go OOC. This one is a good example. Rarity is my favorite character out of the Mane Six, but even if she wasn’t you have to admit this is kind of odd. I’m not exactly sure where the writers thought Rarity has the character trait where she “does everything her way”. In “Suited for Success”, her problem was taking up too big of a task in trying to perfectly please all of her friends by giving them exactly what they wanted. In “Canterlot Boutique”, she made a mistake not insisting on doing things her way. While she usually puts her own “classy” spin on everything she does it’s only because that’s the way she is. If Applejack was in the same situation, she’d make it more rural and practical. If Fluttershy, more natural and animal-themed, etc. About the only time she ever insists on doing things her way is in her interactions with Sweetie Belle, and so this has the feeling, similar to the comic’s depictions of Luna, as Flanderization…taking one character trait and making it the whole character.

Aside from that, this plotline seems to be similar to “Suited for Success”, and the plot device in the series of promising something to wow someone, it backfiring, and then the characters bounce back to deliver to wow them anyway has been done multiple times. Although it’s supposed to be about Rarity and the Cakes, Rarity pretty much steals the entire show except for near the end. We don’t really learn anything new about them or Rarity or their relationship.

On top of all that, we get treated to a somewhat-amusing but also somewhat-disturbing scene where a pony almost dies from a severe allergic reaction. O_o (Her spirit is leaving her body in one panel…)

This would have been another solidly “average” storyline in spite of all of that to me, but between a rehash of old plotline combined with forcing a character to go OOC to have the traits necessary for the lesson… Nope.

Fun Facts:

Based on the events of this comic, it’s fairly clear this story is set prior to Season Five’s “Canterlot Boutique”.

The plotline to this story has some similarities to that of “The Founder”, which told the real life story of the restaurant chain “McDonald’s” and how a pushy and controlling salesman ended up more-or-less stealing both the business and creative control of the McDonald’s chain from its true founders.

The cake topper from Great Auntie Applesauce depicts the ponies on it in a more G1 style.

Poor Spike is getting totally ignored being crushed under luggage in one panel. Most of this comic he’s getting pushed around, but he does mention that Ponyville has an official inn.

Rating:

1.5 Stars out of 5

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Reviews ~ Friends Forever #18 (IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Friends Forever #18): “Rainbow Dash & Fluttershy”

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Synopsis:

Fluttershy is out assisting Rainbow Dash in clocking her latest time trials when both of them suddenly get an invitation in the mail for a Flight Camp Reunion. Rainbow Dash is enthusiastic about the entire thing, relishing the idea to meet up with the old campmates and show off how much she’s improved, but as Fluttershy was bullied at it she’d rather skip the whole thing. Nevertheless, Rainbow Dash manages to get her to come under the assurance that she’ll remain by her, only to immediately break off as soon as they arrive to show off her skill and beat old campmates in races. As for Fluttershy, she runs into one of her old bullies, Cirrus Cloud, who is actually heading up the Reunion Committee and says she has a special surprise for her at the dinner that evening. When other former campmates seem to avoid talking to her, Fluttershy fears that she’s being set up to be pranked or taunted again due to being such a weak flier, but in spite of her best attempts to escape both she and Rainbow Dash end up at the dinner. While Rainbow has been enjoying herself all day, Fluttershy finally comes out and says that camp wasn’t a place of “happy memories” for her. On realizing how upset being at the reunion is making her, Rainbow apologizes for not being more attentive to her, but also says that she’s one of the most amazing pegasi she knows and she shouldn’t care what any of her former bullies think. With that in mind, Fluttershy steps onto stage when called, expecting to be pranked by Cirrus, only to discover she’s receiving a special reward and tribute for all of the service she’s rendered to Equestria. Rainbow Dash congratulates her by saying she’s the pony she’s most proud of, while Fluttershy says she’s “pretty awesome” too.

Review:

I’ve noticed there’s something of a trend that seems to come up with Fluttershy storylines. Namely, they all follow the same format of: “Fluttershy is nervous about something and learns to conquer her fear”. This contributes somewhat to the same problem I noted back in “Scare Master”, how Fluttershy never really seems to grow that much in episodes like these and, in the worst case situation, regresses. Nevertheless, this one really isn’t that bad.

Fluttershy does have a number of scared reactions in it, but she doesn’t have any of her “epic cowering” moments from the series such as fortifying her house or disguising herself as a tree. In addition, this is a legitimate fear. If you had to endure something that was nothing but one bad memory after another, the last thing you want to do is have to relive it through a reunion. As a result, this storyline has a bit of a moral that’s not exactly unique but is presented in a more unique fashion.

Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy are possibly the oldest friends out of the Mane Six, with the very events of the first Sonic Rainboom causing them to pair with each other. And over the years in the series, in spite of their wildly different personalities and talents, they’ve had lots of moments where they’ve both respected and encouraged each other in their respective fields. And this storyline shows off something that could come up as a result of their character traits. Rainbow Dash thinks she’s encouraging Fluttershy to do something outgoing and fun, but her problem is she has a bit of an egocentric viewpoint on what other ponies would think is fun–thinking something that is great for her would be great for someone else. While this was done with the best of intentions, she learns a lesson to not only realize that what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily good for another, and to be more receptive when someone tells you they don’t want to do something…that it might not just be due to shyness. As for Fluttershy, her own lesson is far milder, but also presented in a different way. Rather than learning to stand up for herself or try new things, she’s learned to not place value on the opinions of everyone but only on those who matter.

They’re both valid lessons and ones that haven’t been hit on exactly by the show, so that’s a good point. Yet that aside, the issue is mostly lackluster. The only “fun” part, other than the unique art style, is Fluttershy’s fantasy and, to a lesser extent, Cirrus Cloud’s appearance. I think this comic is good as far as the Friends Forever issues go, but that’s about all.

Fun Facts:

Another comic by Jay Fosgitt, who has the most unique and “non-pony” art style of the IDW writers. He makes Angel Bunny practically as large as Fluttershy in some panels.

In Season Two’s “Hurricane Fluttershy”, the taunt the other fillies made of filly Fluttershy was: “Fluttershy! Fluttershy! Fluttershy can’t hardly fly!” For the comic, the taunt was turned to “Fluttershy! Fluttershy! A pegasus who cannot fly!”

Fluttershy’s fear of what will happen at the reunion is similar to what happens at the prom  in “Carrie”.

Rating:

3 Stars out of 5