Sweetie Belle awakens one morning with an ear infection disrupting her balance, which means she won’t be able to accompany Rarity on a short business trip to Manehattan as she stays in bed and recovers. After arriving herself, Rarity soon meets up with Babs Seed, who intended to use this opportunity to hang out with her and Sweetie Belle and is disappointed that she couldn’t make it. To try and make it up with her, Rarity ends up taking Babs on a variety of activities she enjoys, but Babs is completely unenthused about them herself and eventually excuses herself. Later when talking to Sapphire Shores during her fitting, Rarity realizes the reason she tried to have Babs have a good time was because neither of her parents “got” her passion for dress-making when she was younger and she wanted to encourage someone who also didn’t feel like they “fit in”. With that in mind, she goes to Babs again and offers to take her out, this time after asking Sweetie Belle what she likes and using her connections to take Babs to a roller derby. Although Rarity doesn’t care much for it, Babs loves it and, on meeting one of her favorite players, “Shadowsmacks”, she ends up finding out her own mom didn’t always approve of her career choice but now cheers her on in the stands, encouraging her in her own life. Back in Ponyville, as Rarity and Sweetie Belle make Babs a uniform for roller-derby writes about how it’s not as important to have the same interests as your friends as to let them love and share it with you.
Once again, this is one of those arcs that doesn’t really “jump out” to me, only now it’s also something of a rehash of “old territory”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much in the way of moments that are humorous that personally stick, and while the story isn’t that bad it’s not terribly good either. The thing about the “Friends Forever” series is it gives the IDW authors a chance to really get into characters and show new sides of them. I’m not sure this arc does too terribly good of a job of that.
While I like the idea of Babs being a tomboy, the fact is, aside from when she was bullying kids in her first appearance, she doesn’t really “do much”, either in the series or in this arc. She usually just stands there quietly and lets other characters perform most of the action around there. But the real weakness here comes from Rarity. This particular arc seems to be a lite version of “Sisterhooves Social” way back in Season Two. While the main point of that episode was Rarity needing to learn to be a better sister, part of what hampered her efforts was that she was only interested in taking Sweetie Belle along on activities she personally enjoyed; not her little sister. The fact that she keeps dragging Babs along on things she likes personally can come off as an innocent mistake where she assumes everyone likes the things she likes, but it also can reflect that she “didn’t learn her lesson” in that episode, which makes me mark this one down a bit.
Still, the artwork is nice, and there’s nothing “terrible” about it (unlike the next one…), and while it doesn’t introduce anything groundbreaking it gets a bit more into Babs Seed and Manehattan, so…I’ll rate it in the middle again.
This story is set during Season Four, as indicated by Sweetie Belle’s reference to “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” and the fact it ends with Rarity writing in the Journal of Friendship.
Sweetie Belle sleeps with a stuffed Spike. I’d say that’s kind of odd, except the show revealed Spike himself keep a stuffed Rarity…
Spike appears only in one panel, and in his normal role when Rarity travels: buried under luggage.
Probably one of the more “past episode reference”-heavy issues in the “Friends Forever” arc. Sweetie Belle mentions when she broke in on Sapphire Shores, which was in Season Four’s “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils”, and Babs Seed herself refers to her original episode, “One Bad Apple”, and her arc in the main IDW series, “Manehattan Mysteries”. Related to that, this is one of the first issues in the series overall that uses the “asterisk reference” that many comics do when referring to past issues (including an asterisk in a word bubble and, at the bottom of the panel, saying which issue number that happened in).
What ended up being a rather big goof for the IDW writers happened in this comic. At one point, Rarity takes Babs to get her hair cut and she doesn’t care for the experience, refusing to let the hair stylist cut her signature bang hanging in front of her face. It even ends up becoming a joke. The problem is, in Season Five’s “Bloom and Gloom”, it’s revealed that the hair in front of her face ended up giving Babs her Cutie Mark in hair styling and implied her constant need to blow it out of her face finally led her to cut it. I don’t blame the comic authors, though, as they had no idea at the time. Just one of those “oops” moments. Also, in all fairness, toward the end Babs sounds like she’s appealing to the idea of other hair styles…
After three panels in which Rarity yanks Babs out of the panel, when Rarity brings Babs to see the game, she yanks her out of her own panel.
The names of the players are, for once, not their actual names but rather “bad cool” ones they make up for themselves; usually as variants of other names. Included among them are the names “Shining Harmer”, “Princess Skullestia”, and “Scarswirl”.
The character “Snowpain” who knocks “Shining Harmer” aside at the end of the roller derby is a pony version of Elsa from “Frozen”. (Look at the coloration, attire, and especially the blond, braided mane with the snowflake stud.)
Rarity and Sweetie Belle make up a “bad cool” name for Babs Seed when she goes on a roller derby, “Bad Seed”…which isn’t really a “bad cool” name at all but rather the original variant on her own name. 😛
2.5 Stars Out of 5