Applejack, Blazing Saddles, Cattle Rustlers, Fluttershy, IDW, IDW comic, Longhorn, My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, review, Sheriff Tumbleweed, Twilight Sparkle
The Mane Six is headed out west again, this time to Canter Creek, to settle a dispute over the ownership of Applejack’s Great-Uncle Chili Pepper’s farm, Rancho Bronco. On arrival, the girls find out the ranch is literally the heart of the town for being on good enough land to grow the farm products for everything, but there’s also a group of thug cattle known as the Cattle Rustlers, lead by a particularly mean bull named Longhorn, who are terrorizing the town. Not only are they constantly extorting food and supplies from the townfolk, they’re also camping on Rancho Bronco’s land so they can stake a claim due to it being abandoned (likely due to them driving off Applejack’s uncle in the first place) and lack of a title deed. The girls attempt to assist Sheriff Tumbleweed in driving the cattle off, but not only do their attempts fail miserably but the Cattle Rustlers begin destroying the town to dishearten the townsfolk into giving up. Eventually Tumbleweed loses all hope and throws in the towel, prompting a furious Applejack to take up the badge and fight on with the rest of the girls.
As Applejack and the others try to come up with a plan, Longhorn rides into town and files official paperwork to have the ranch considered abandoned; meaning it will be his in seven days. The girls get the idea to try and nullify his claim by progressively moving his camp off the land. As Twilight Sparkle makes up phony excuses to require Longhorn to keep coming into town to resign documents, the girls and, eventually, the townsfolk trick the rest of the Cattle Rustlers into distractions and progressively move his camp farther and farther off the property. By the time Longhorn finally blows up and decides to simply claim the property, he finds out he’s too late: the girls have not only moved him off the property but kept his purposely-unfilled forms in circulation while Twilight filed her own form with Canterlot to have the ranch made a historic site belonging to the town. The Cattle Rustlers are imprisoned when they try damaging the property, the Sheriff returns to his old position, and the girls ride…er, walk…off into the sunset.
The show had done a number of episodes touching on places like Appleloosa and Dodge Junction, but it wasn’t until Season Five that they did something close to an “outlaw”. This issue came out well before that. As arcs go, it’s alright. In terms of villains, the Cattle Rustlers are nothing to really write home about although they have a few stupid-funny moments. But apparently the comic arcs suffer, at least to me, from the same problem the show does…episodes that center on Applejack just come off as bland.
The artwork is very nice and colorful and vibrant, but the allusions don’t hit as well as they do for other arcs, and a lot of the humor and dialogue seems a bit forced. Not too much to be bad…but not really enough to stand out either. In their intent to continue to hit the target audience, Chili Pepper just kind of randomly disappears to get the arc started so they can’t imply a death. Otherwise it might have been a bit heavier of an arc.
Yet the part that really makes me frown is the plot device to keep Twilight Sparkle from just solving everything to begin with…namely getting into her old neurotic mode and becoming Lawful Stupid. It doesn’t even make sense. She goes on and on about not being able to use magic to defeat the Cattle Rustlers because they’re sentient creatures and citizens of Equestria…and yet them “damaging a historical site” is reason to use magic against them. Yeah…assaulting other ponies, arson, vandalism, theft, extortion, and blackmail are all kosher…but kicking a historical site? That’s a one-way life sentence. It would have been better if they would have just not had Twilight use her magic at all rather than tacked on that bit of illogical stupidity. That’s actually such a poor plot device I mark this arc down for it.
That aside…a rather unremarkable arc and yet another one of those thoroughly “meh” ones to me. The girls beat up some Western bandits…and that’s it. Not even a hidden message or anything in it.
Rarity mentions that the Cattle Rustlers were “the ruffians from our trip to Applewood”, which took place in Friends Forever #8. They mentioned in their last panel they would return in a future issue.
The mysterious suited gray pony from the “Reflections” arc reappears in several panels.
This arc contains numerous references to “Blazing Saddles”. The signpost when they arrive in Canter Creek includes directions to Rockridge, which is the town from the movie. It also includes pony versions of Sheriff “Black” Bart (whose name is literally Blazing Saddle) and the frontier man. The telegram deliverer who pops in and says “Telegram for Mr. Longhorn!” might be an allusion to Bart’s similar move in “Blazing Saddles” against Mongo. Finally, on the last page, Blazing Saddle has a bag of “Schnitzen Gruben”, alluding to the food from the movie.
This arc nearly was the first occurrence of a character death in the series…namely whatever happened to Applejack’s Uncle Chili Pepper. However, they avoid that by having Sheriff Tumbleweed explicitly say he packed up and moved away.
When Applejack breaks up the three-card monte scam, the panels are in the shape of a playing card…specifically the six of hearts. Also, there’s an ad in the alleyway for Flax & Wheat’s beauty products (from Rarity’s Micro-Series).
2 Stars out of 5