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Synopsis:

The girls get a rather rough surprise when the Everfree Forest suddenly ravenously explodes in a mess of vines, first driving Zecora out and then rapidly moving into the rest of Equestria, taking over every town bordering it including Ponyville and Canterlot. After writing to Celestia about it, Twilight and the girls are tasked with going inside Everfree Forest to talk to the “Heart of the Forest”. After some misadventures, they find out the individual is King Aspen, the lord of the deer race which lives within Everfree Forest. He angrily explains that he’s getting revenge on Equestria for chopping down and spoiling part of the Everfree Forest to build a new theme park and parking lot by seizing some of their land in turn. It turns out the one behind this is a minotaur named Mr. Well-To-Do who has hired both minotaurs and ponies to clear the area to build the theme park. In spite of the fact it’s not in the best interest of ponies, Twilight and the girls offer their help in canceling the project and keeping more land from being ruined in spite of the fact the seized land is already irreversibly damaged; meaning the deer will have to keep the land they already seized.

Twilight tries a number of “peaceful” methods to get Mr. Well-To-Do to quit, but is foiled either by his mobster assistant Jargon or by marketing ploys. Eventually Aspen loses patience and vows to simply attack. This is aborted, however, when Well-To-Do captures his son Bramble and forces him to either agree to give up the land and to become “Fun Fun Land”‘s newest mascot or Bramble will have to do it in his place. He reluctantly agrees and is taken away, but his successor, Blackthorn, immediately declares the agreement null and void and, with the help of the girls, rallies the rest of the forest creatures and monsters to counterattack. However, Bramble has discovered the organic shake mix Mr. Well-To-Do has been bringing into the park actually revitalizes soil, and he leads the group to knock over the shake mix rather than attack outright. As a result, the soil is regenerated and the vines and forest aggressively defeat Mr. Well-To-Do and halt the project. King Aspen, restored to his throne, personally withdraws all the vines from the land of Equestria that were taken and thanks the girls for everything. Pinkie Pie asks Celestia to commemorate the adventure with a new stained glass window, but both she and Luna are standoffish about what to do with it.

Review:

The fact is MLP:FIM is not a medium that lends itself very well to “eco-parables”. “Bats!” did it well because it tackled a rarely-touched-on issue from a different angle. But this?

Consider the fact that the show has already made it canon that nothing outside of the Everfree Forest grows of its own accord. All of it needs the actions of ponies, from the tallest tree to the smallest bug. Ponies not only are tied to nature; they govern it. So the whole schpiel early in the story where Bramble gets furious at them for knocking over a tree is kind of weak and OOC for the series as a whole. The girls would know full well which tree had animals living in it, unless they are normally uncaring about things in the Everfree Forest…which, as it turns out, ended up ALSO being governed by sentient creatures (in this case the deer). But the statement as a whole that ponies don’t care about nature to begin with is rather hollow in light of the main series as a result.

Yet aside from that, this entire arc suffers from the same problem most child eco-parables do. The Nostalgia Critic pointed it out best…if you make the “eco-villains” such outrageous parodies of people, they won’t be able to see themselves in them and so they won’t connect to get the message. That’s why shows like “Captain Planet” and movies like “Ferngully” failed to really leave an impact.

Last but not least, “evil vines” was already done in the Season Four opener. 😛

But…all that aside, it WAS rather entertaining. The new race and the jokes hit harder than they did in the last arc. Again, nothing too monumental, but better in that regard. Because of that, I rate this a little higher.

Fun Facts:

Rarity actually fires a unicorn “death beam” for once. O_o

The vines infect the panels.

The letter back from Celestia has a carbon copy to Luna and Kibitz, the assistant from earlier issues in both the main series and the Micro-Series.

A race exclusive to the comic was created in this arc: deer. They seem to have more in common with forest elves from fantasy series, especially as their home, Thicket, looks like Lothlorien from “The Lord of the Rings” series, and King Aspen has characteristics of Thranduil and Celeborn. They also seem to be the true masters at magic, able to use it both in the sense that unicorns do (via antlers instead of horns) and potions (such as zebras do).

There’s been something of a theme in the main series that Princes and Princesses are “good” while Kings and Queens are “evil”. King Sombra and Queen Chrysalis compared to the four princesses of Equestria, for example. In that sense, King Aspen is unique in that he’s a king but “good”.

Another reference to “Whinny World”, which was introduced in Friends Forever #8.

When the girls get thrown out, Spike is reading a “Locke & Key” comic; another IDW creation.

Flax and Wheat (from Rarity’s Micro-series) join in the brief Sit-In. 😛

Rainbow Dash is reading “Daring Do and the Secret of the High Cholesterol Test”…huh?

Anyone else find it funny that Bramble got infuriated at the girls for knocking over a tree…and they have a roaring wood-burning fireplace in their palace?!

Aspen is forced to stand outside “Fun Fun Land” and give a similar line to what the moose statue did in the front of “Wally World” in “National Lampoon’s Vacation”.

The baboon that Rarity is riding seems like it’s the one from “Ren & Stimpy”. Also, Pinkie Pie paints herself to look like Mel Gibson in “Braveheart”.

The girls are mortified in one panel for good reason…a character seemed to actually die when Mr. Well-To-Do gets devoured by a hydra (conveniently blacked out by an all-black panel). However, a post-story panel reveals he’s not only still alive but continuing to entrepreneur from inside the monster’s stomach. As for the rest of his staff, with the exception of Jargon, they all surrender peacefully.

Fluttershy is happy to see Philomena again. 🙂

One of the full-page art pieces features Spike in front of a blank canvas struggling to think of something to draw, which is a takeoff of a famous piece by Norman Rockwell. Another piece of art shows a collection of villains from both the comic and the main series: the Diamond Dogs, Chrysalis, Nightmare Moon, Nightmare Rarity (probably the only time they’ve ever been side-by-side…), Longhorn, the Evil Queen, the hydra, a vampiric jackalope, and Discord (dressed as Professor Moriarty, perhaps?).

Rating:

2.5 Stars out of 5

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