Rainbow Dash is working as a “substitute mailpony” when she finds a letter addressed to her from Spitfire, summoning her to Cloudsdale for a “secret mission”. Yet on arriving, she finds out it’s not much of a “mission” at all, but that she’s co-teaching the Junior Flyers Summer Camp. While she takes to the filly pegasi in it easily enough, Spitfire is a nervous wreck. It turns out while she’s great at motivating older pegasi and Wonderbolts, she’s nervous around children and doesn’t know how to handle them. After a day where she’s a jittery mess, Rainbow Dash suggests she be “tough” and “confident”. The next day is much worse, as Spitfire starts treating the kids the same way she treats recruits at Wonderbolt Academy, making them all burst into tears. In a talk with Rainbow Dash, she reveals she didn’t always want to be a captain because she didn’t want to lead; just fly. But she took it because she wanted to motivate others to fly. Rainbow Dash gets an idea from that. The next day, the kids are huddled in terror from Spitfire while Rainbow Dash is late, but she bursts in announcing a rogue tornado is coming in. Spitfire quickly moves in and shuts it down while Rainbow Dash points out everything she’s doing right. In the end, the kids think she’s amazing and Spitfire realizes Rainbow made the tornado on purpose. The rest of the course goes by with Spitfire doing the moves and Rainbow Dash pointing out how she does them. On returning back to Ponyville, Scootaloo complains Rainbow is late, and she answers that even heroes can have a few flaws.
To me, the biggest thing about this story is how the artist decided to be somewhat more original with the artwork, doing a nearly-original take on the characters. Aside from that, well…Spitfire is one of my least favorite characters in the series if not the least favorite. In many ways her character simply changes to fit whatever situation she happens to be needed for at the time, and she seems to have needed to “learn her lesson twice”, kind of diminishing the impact of whether she ever learned anything or not. Plus, she has “Mr. Burns Syndrome” when it comes to remembering Rainbow Dash.
She doesn’t have much negative in this one. Well…she does, but it’s not intentional. It’s not deliberate. And it’s not backstabbing. She just doesn’t know how to act around kids, which is far more understandable even if, once again, that’s more of an adult problem. She even seems to instinctively realize that her “drill sergeant” approach isn’t going to be very conducive to young pegasi. And, as a result, half of the “battle” is already won, unlike with, say, Iron Will in the last issue who didn’t even realize what he was doing was wrong.
But that, in turn, makes me feel rather “meh” about this. Namely because Spitfire is very much an interchangeable character. Again, she’s hardly more than an evolved background pony, in that her personality and attitude changes to suit a given situation. This Spitfire is more like the one who originally appeared in Season One, as opposed to the silent, stoic one in Season Two, the drill sergeant in Season Three, and the cool and snobbish one in Season Four. It’s almost four different characters. Therefore, pretty much any attempt to show a new side of her is going to appear somewhat OOC by default.
Still, Rainbow Dash is right on target even if her artwork is more “cutesy”. Still embodying loyalty and helping with friendship. And, as the series suggests, this storyline very much is about helping others with friendship. Again, it’s got nothing standing out too much about it or anything terribly amazing. The story is nice, but…that’s it. And although the artwork is a tad on the bizarre side, Rainbow Dash is in character and (since it’s so poorly defined) I guess Spitfire is too. So that’s enough to make it enjoyable even if there was nothing incredible about it.
You probably notice something right off the bat of starting to read this comic. While numerous artists have had their own twist or “take” on the core design that Lauren Faust initially came up with for the show, this, to me, is the first real time that the take on the design has led to a unique change in the way characters look. The snouts have been broadened and flattened, the upper head has been enlarged, and the size of the pupil and retina has been reduced relative to the cornea. Overall it’s hard in some panels to know which character you’re looking at. Combined with the different style in character reactions that seems more orientated toward Looney Tunes and the somewhat unusual and, in my opinion, OOC plot, and it almost makes it hard to conceptualize that you’re reading an MLP story at all.
As another OOC turn, Scootaloo looks less than thrilled to be around her idol in this comic. There’d been a time where Rainbow Dash could have asked Scootaloo to clean her toilet and her only answer would have been: “Toothbrush or tongue?”
Again, copy-and-pasted Cutie Marks.
2.5 Stars out of 5