The Cutie Mark Crusaders begin their latest meeting with the intent of trying out a massive scroll full of activities to attempt to get their Cutie Marks in, only to discover they’ve already gotten through the whole list. On seeing Discord giving apples on Sweet Apple Acres different flavors as an attempt to help make amends for past misdeeds, the CMCs get the idea to have Discord think up new things for them to try that they could never think up on their own. Discord, seeing it as an opportunity for more mischief, agrees. Soon he has them in a “bubble universe” trying out all sorts of crazy tasks…and is shocked to discover the CMCs are unimpressed by most of them, having tried them already. Angrily, Discord makes the new tasks more and more dangerous, while also increasing the size of the bubble universe and risking destroying Ponyville while Princess Twilight Sparkle and the girls run around helplessly trying to break in. As Discord reaches the breaking point of his patience, the CMCs suddenly call it quits and apologize for being ungrateful to Discord, and actually thank him for being someone who actually tried to help them get their Cutie Marks rather than simply told them to “be patient” like everyone else did. They make Discord an honorary CMC and ask to try again next week, bringing a tear to his eye. Princess Celestia appears to ask Discord about the “important lesson” he’s learned, but he merely dismisses her as a know-it-all, much to her irritation.
Based on the content and timing, I’m guessing this was the first issue to feature Discord as a character in the comic, other than possibly the “Reflections” arc which really didn’t feature him that much. It’s definitely Season Four Premiere inspired, with the “reformed” Discord mostly a troll and still seeming like a villain and constantly getting the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ names wrong. Unlike the first arc, this one really does focus on the friendship between the title characters, even if the CMCs are a unit. It has a lot of opportunities for more hidden jokes and meta-humor too, and it uses them.
Yet aside from the numerous gags and humor involved, I think overall this one is a superior story to the first. This one really does get into more “heart” and actual friendship this time. And overall, it’s a nicer way to see Discord “reform”. There’s no question at the beginning of this story that he’s all about being a troll again. But it’s rather clever with what they end up doing. His act of meanness and attempted deception ends up being misinterpreted as something kind for others and responded as such. Similar to how no one ever offered to be his friend before in “Keep Calm and Flutter On”, no one ever genuinely thanked him for a favor (intentional or unintentional) before. It’s a nice little touch. It’s cute and it honestly works very well in with the story. Again, it’s nothing particularly earth-shaking or monumental, but it is sweet and it enables a new light on the perpetual plight of the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
So yeah, I’d say all-in-all it’s pretty nice.
Apple Bloom’s stand-up comedy joke is a knockoff of Jerry Seinfeld’s classic bit of taking a two-word term and pointing out how neither word fits.
Discord is singing the Cutie Mark Crusader’s song from “The Show Stoppers” in Season One. This itself may be a parody of the Season Four opener, where he showed up singing “Winter Wrap Up”.
When Discord is listing the different flavors of apples he’s going to make, he includes “snozberries”. This was likely a nod to the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, but…that in and of itself was a rather dirty hidden joke. Look it up. 😐
When the CMCs play football, the opposing team is made up of Spike, Angel Bunny, Fluttershy’s bear, and one of the gremlins from Rainbow Dash’s Micro-Series.
Fluttershy mentions Angel spiked a ball in her face for no real reason, likely a nod to “abusive” Angel from Season Two’s “Putting Your Hoof Down”.
One of the things the CMCs try is a parody of Star Trek. The bridge they’re on is the Enterprise D, with Apple Bloom wearing Geordi’s signature visor. The outfits are also TNG, but Opalescence is wearing the uniform that Romulans in the original series used to wear. Naturally, the biggest joke is that Discord himself is dressed like Q. I’ve mentioned this in earlier reviews, but Discord is widely considered to be the MLP version of Q, right down to being voiced by the same actor who played Q (John DeLancie). As a meta-humor joke, Discord mentions that this seems familiar. 😛
Among the “one panel” things Discord cooks up is a parody of Justice League/Avengers and Lord of the Rings.
3 Stars out of 5