allusions, Applejack, Daring Do, Fluttershy, IDW, IDW comic, literary characters, My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, review, sixth arc, Twilight Sparkle
Twilight Sparkle finds she has to deal with two problems in one day: mysterious insect pods appearing all over Ponyville and all of the books in her library being ruined by a pesky bookworm. After trying to blast it herself, the bookworm reveals itself to be a magical creature and teleports into a story. To try and hunt it down before it ruins all the books in the library, Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity use the same spell that teleported them into the Power Ponies comic to teleport into the books and track the creature down while Applejack, Fluttershy, and Spike stay behind to watch the pods. On entering the story, the girls find out that the bookworm isn’t just ruining the stories; he’s actually eating the knowledge and nature of the story itself, leaving nothing but blank, ruined pages behind. The girls try to fix the damage to move through the story by reinacting it, but Rainbow, Pinkie, and Rarity keep messing up the story by putting their own spins on things. Eventually they corner the bookworm, who is getting progressively larger and meaner with the more books he eats, and, getting annoyed with them trying to stop him, devours the story they’re currently in before escaping again. Much to the girls’ shock, the erasing story threatens to erase them too (as shown when it erases Pinkie Pie’s hoof), but even though they manage to escape they find themselves trapped in a white void. As for Applejack, Fluttershy, and Spike, they soon get a surprise when one of the pods breaks open…and reveals Daring Do incarnate in physical form. Unfortunately, before long, all of the pods start breaking open and unleashing literary characters in the real world.
Soon after, Ponyville is being overrun and destroyed by the nastier characters, led by the Evil Queen in the first story the girls entered. They decide to take over Ponyville, and the queen longs for everything of value and seeks to make the Elements of Harmony into her personal crown. As for the girls in the books, Twilight is despondent on realizing all of the knowledge in the books in her library is gone, eaten by the bookworm. But after some arguing with the others, they find they can imagine a new story into existence, and do so with the intent of luring the bookworm back to corner it. After a few misadventures, the girls create enough of a story to attract the bookworm, but to their horror he’s grown into a kaiju-sized monster and rapidly begins to devour the story they’ve made in record time. Yet while fleeing him, the girls come across an interesting “story”…a scroll the girls (with Daring Do’s help) back in Ponyville wrote showing the situation. Twilight realizes by devouring the books the bookworm has inadvertently been transposing the displaced characters from the story into Ponyville. On realizing this, she angrily confronts the bookworm, and discovers that the bookworm is, in fact, a “bookworm” and has been thoroughly reading everything he’s eaten for personal enjoyment, but is angry that he’s never found a worm in any of those stories, much less one with a bookworm hero, and professes he’ll keep eating until he finds one. In response, Twilight Sparkle begins to “tell a story” and create one at the same time that shows the bookworm (much to his own horror) the side effect he’s causing Ponyville as a result of his actions, but also declares him the hero of the story as being the only one who can fix it and perfectly remember the books to recreate them just the way they should be. Seeing he has a chance to be the “main protagonist”, the bookworm uses his own magic to return himself and the girls to Ponyville and restores all the books, and their characters, back in their proper place. Realizing he can “write his own story”, the bookworm shrinks back to his original size and thanks Twilight before vanishing into the books once again. Twilight remarks that she learned that creativity and friendship can fix as many problems as knowledge.
One of the odd things about the “smaller” arc stories like this one is that they seem rather confused. It looks as if they aren’t sure if they should be a “standard” episode or something more along the lines of one of the two-parter episodes. As such, they kind of fit into their own group. The last arc did, and so did this one. But where I think the last arc didn’t have too terribly much going for it, I think this one had a bit more. As I said before, when they overload a plot with allusions, it ends up working out fairly well. I don’t think now is any exception.
Canonically, this story is an absolute mess. In a sense none of the comic stories can really fit into the plotline, but this one is the first big example of a storyline that is purely AU…almost confusingly so, as outlined in the “Fun Facts” section. Still, the mere setup for this arc, much like the last one, is so goofy and silly that it doesn’t really hurt anything. My one big complaint about arcs like this is when they’re somewhere between a standard episode and a dramatic one, usually by relying on a strange new situation involving a short-term adventure, it doesn’t really fit with the “nature” of the show itself to begin with. The characters may be spot on, but the plotline seems almost like it’s something different.
Yet all of that said, once again, there’s nothing “wrong” with this arc. Like the last one, nothing stands out too monumentally about it, but there’s nothing terrible about it either. It has a few good parts, and more than the last one had. The allusions really sell this one. It’s entertaining enough and a nice read. It’s just that it doesn’t have anything that really makes it a must-read like the earliest arcs. It’s just kind of there was a quirky little story, much like the last one.
I suppose the one thing that really stands out to me is Pinkie Pie losing a hoof. That’s actually kind of creepy. They played it up for laughs, having her constantly get new “prostheses” for it, and I suppose it’s no less creepy than Pinkie Pie not having a nose and a mouth for most of Season Three’s “Magic Duel”, but I thought it was a bit odd. That aside, most of the story is upstaged by setting and the literary characters, so no one character really stands out as changing or learning anything (except maybe Twilight a bit toward the end). But…like the last one, enjoyable. I give it a bit more credit for all of the fun allusions, though.
Unlike the arcs before and after this one, this arc has no official title.
Chronologically, this story takes place sometime after the Season Three finale, likely during the Season Four time frame and prior to “Daring Don’t”. Yet this arc is rather odd. The fact that the girls are stunned to see Daring Do come to life in the flesh indicates that the writers began to pen this comic prior to Season Four’s first few episodes, when “Daring Don’t” revealed that Daring Do was already a real individual and not just a literary creation. However, the spell the Twilight uses to go into the books references the events of “Power Ponies”, which aired after “Daring Don’t”. This seems to indicate that the comic writers may be privy to some upcoming episodes, but not all. What makes things even worse is that the CMCs talk about the Elements of Harmony, which were given up at the beginning of Season Four…making this even more of a mess.
When Spike appears, he’s eating a jewel ice cream cone.
After “fixing” the first book, it’s so messed up one of the chapters starts “Chapter Orange”. 😛
The native hamsters of Pygolia in the Daring Do book are reminiscent of the Hovitos in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Rarity’s getup in the story is similar to that Willie wears in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, as is the hamsters trying to feed her bugs.
When the various literary characters start coming to life in Ponyville, almost all of them are allusions to different characters in actual literature and media. I can’t get them all, but here’s a few I could recognize:
– An Evil Queen (inspired by various sources, although she seems to most closely resemble Queen Grimhilde from Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” [right down to the talking mirror] it becomes clear through context that she’s the evil queen from the first story the girls go into, indicating she’s a takeoff of Prince John from “Robin Hood”; the main terrorizer of Ponyville)
– Lord Voldemort (from the Harry Potter series, evidenced by his flat snout, greenish skin, and serpentine pupils; one of the main terrorizers of Ponyville)
– Antonio (inspired by various evil twins/romance novel characters; one of the main terrorizers of Ponyville)
– Loki (from the Marvel Universe, particularly Thor; one of the main terrorizers of Ponyville)
– Gandalf the Grey (from “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”; if you look closely in the background of the panel he’s in, you can see a Balrog he’s fighting)
– Tarzan (from the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel; swinging on vines in the Everfree Forest)
– A white and black dog (Snoopy from “Peanuts”; he’s “flying” the well similar to how Snoopy would imagine flying his doghouse going after the Red Baron)
– Kaa (from “The Jungle Book”, although it seems to be the Disney version rather than the Rudyard Kipling novel; he has Scootaloo hypnotized and wrapped in his coils)
– Jadis, the White Witch (from “The Chronicles of Narnia”; she’s trying to tempt Snips with Turkish Delight)
– Daenerys Targaryen (from “A Song of Ice and Fire” AKA the “Game of Thrones” series; her dragons are flying around and terrifying townsfolk, including Spike)
The story the girls make up is obviously a ripoff of “Lord of the Rings”. Rainbow Dash appears to have become a “hobbit-pony” as she has hair on her hooves, a curly mane, and the cloak she’s wearing has a Lothlorien brooch. One of the panels indicating the passage of time is “Twenty-Five Pages Of Nothing But Walking Later…”, which is also a “Lord of the Rings” joke as that trilogy is infamous for having obscenely long stretches of nothing but traveling.
Rainbow Dash obviously changes the “Lord of the Rings” story into something else, but I don’t know what. I’d assume something like “Rainbow Brite”, but I have no idea. Anyone else know?
After restoring the zombie ponies, the story turns into a ripoff of “Star Trek”…the original series, to be exact. As an odd nod, in the first panel there appears to be pony version of Yeoman Nancy, a “regular” from the original series who only appeared for the first few episodes of the first season. Twilight Sparkle is Spock and Rainbow Dash is Kirk, but when Twilight says something sardonic to Rainbow, she answers: “Shut up, Twi!”, sounding more like something Dr. McCoy/Bones would say.
Rarity turns the story into a noir.
3 Stars out of 5