Ms. Cheerilee announces the first Ponyville Junior Scavenger’s Hunt, in which three-filly teams will work together to decipher clues taking them to famous landmarks in Ponyville, with the first to hit all three spots and return to the steps of the Gazebo winning a prize to the “Blue Hay Festival”. Although Diamond Tiara hates “Blue Hay” music, on seeing the CMCs get enthusiastic about playing and winning, she enters just so she can “be a winner” over them. However, as she and Silver Spoon are only two, she convinces Filthy Rich to hire child-author/child-private-eye Prancy Drew to be the third member of their team and a shoe-in to win for her brilliance. Sure enough, when the game ensues, Team “Sugarlump Rump” does great thanks to Prancy Drew’s deductive skills, but through a mixture of their own skill and some random luck, the CMCs remain hot on their tails. To try and ensure victory, Diamond Tiara destroys the clue to the last location and writes a fake one for the CMCs after getting the correct one herself, sending them to the Castle of the Two Sisters. However, they accidentally activate a trap door which sends them all the way to the last location right next to Diamond Tiara’s group, and it comes down to a race to get to the end. Along the way, Prancy Drew trips and injures herself, but is abandoned by Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon so they can reach the gazebo. As a result, since all three members of their team aren’t on the top steps, they can’t win. Soon the CMCs arrive, carrying Prancy with them, and Diamond’s disregard for her teammates is exposed…but, unfortunately, Prancy is carried to the top steps while Sweetie Belle stays on the ground, so Diamond’s team wins anyway. The CMCs get the last laugh, however, when it turns out the band donated tickets for the runner’s up as well so they get tickets too, and Filthy Rich, who loves “Blue Hay”, gets Diamond’s own spare ticket…forcing both her and Silver to go to a concert they hate. In spite of their misery, Diamond (sort of) learns the lesson friends can’t be bought.
I’m writing this literally the day after “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” came out. Something tells me the people at IDW are banging their heads against tables wondering why that couldn’t have come out before they decided to run a Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon “Friends Forever”. Not only did that ruin a chance at more possibilities, it also effectively rendered this particular comic more “hate-worthy” by fans.
Ah well…can’t control fate.
I don’t envy the people who had to do the plot for this comic. In the end, it became more of an issue about the CMCs as much as it did about Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, who, at the time, were probably the most repulsive regulars on the show. So it was actually a bit clever they had Diamond “kind of” learn a lesson about friendship at the end while showing it was the CMCs who really won while they got humiliated. Furthermore, the plot shows the writers were “paying attention” in the Season Two episode “Family Appreciation Day”, in which Silver Spoon was the first to applaud Granny Smith. While they don’t seem to get along with her in this one, Silver seems to be gravitating more toward Prancy and definitely being the “nicer” of the dynamic of her and Diamond, and while she ultimately abandons Prancy she throws out an apology, saying “my friend needs me”.
Now to get the “elephant out of the room”… This issue clearly portrays Diamond Tiara as more of a genuinely evil brat, especially in the scene with Filthy in which it’s revealed she continuously lies about her treatment of the CMCs and their treatment of her, making them out to be the bullies and herself the victim, and apparently using this to manipulate her father into giving her favors…sort of an analogy to Princess Morbucks on “Powerpuff Girls”. At the time I’m writing this, this has, of course, been proven to be blatantly false: Diamond Tiara acts the way she does because she’s been brought up by her mother to believe if she doesn’t excel at everything, bring other ponies beneath her, and be the center of attention at all times, she’s a failure; and that, if she knew more about friendship, she could actually become a decent individual. And that’s what is going to end up slamming this comic more than anything else, especially among individuals who always suspected there was more to Diamond Tiara than being a snobbish rich kid. But unlike with Luna and Spike’s story…I’ll forgive it in this one as it was something they honestly didn’t know and Hasbro didn’t tell them. I’ll give it some credit for seeing the future a bit, pointing out Diamond Tiara’s special talent is in getting other ponies to do as she says, and only featuring Filthy Rich rather than trying to introduce Spoiled Rich.
And if you overlook that, which is a forgivable mistake, as well as that it was more CMC-centered than on Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, which is understandable given the characters…this arc is actually pretty fun and decent. Nothing monumental or game-changing, but pretty fun. So I’ll give it credit where credit is due.
Jenn Blake, the artist for this issue, is, thus far, the only member of the IDW Comic staff I have ever met. She was at Anime St. Louis 2015 in the Artist Alley. She made an off-handed comment about how she had gotten unlucky enough to do the artwork for two of the more hated characters in the series. That said, her art style is among that of my favorite artists for the series, so good job Ms. Blake.
In one of the first panels, Octavia Melody and DJ-Pon-3 are walking side by side and chatting. It’s important to note this issue came out exactly one month before “Slice of Life”, so at the time this was solely a nod to fancanon.
In Ms. Cheerilee’s classroom, she has a picture of a skunk on an easel. This is actually a picture of Pepper Clark from “Littlest Pet Shop”, another DHS Media/Hasbro production, and she’s voiced by Tabitha St. Germain, the same individual who does Rarity and Princess Luna.
“Blue Hay Festival” is likely a variation on bluegrass festival.
One of Diamond Tiara’s dolls is Michaelangelo from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. The other is Penny Ling, another “Littlest Pet Shop” character. Her book contains “How to Trick Your Dad” as well as fourth-wall breaking chatter. 😛
Among the various “three-filly teams” are pony versions of the Three Stooges; the Powerpuff Girls (with Cutie Marks that match their names); Archie, Betty, and Veronica from the “Archie” franchise, and three of the Inner Senshi: Usagi(Sailor Moon), Ami(Sailor Mercury), and Makoto(Sailor Jupiter). Having seen Jenn Blake face-to-face, I think she inserted herself as the character Prancy Drew unzips to reveal herself (who later turns out to be real).
Obviously, Prancy Drew is a takeoff of Nancy Drew, although her depiction is more like Velma from “Scooby Doo”. Her existence is likely a similar nod to Daring Do. Like her, Prancy Drew seems to be a writer who actually is penning her autobiography rather than writing about a fictional character.
Angel Bunny is impatiently waiting to hand out the next clue.
When Prancy is reading the last clue, Pinkie Pie is in the background…doing an impression of Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”(?).
When the CMCs get dumped in the trap door, Sweetie Belle holds up a sign that reads “Help”, a takeoff of old Wile E. Coyote cartoons.
3 Stars out of 5