While Rainbow Dash is over at the Castle of Friendship looking to borrow the latest Daring Do book, she notices Twilight Sparkle is looking through a photo album she recently got sent by her parents. It includes pictures of her as a filly and baby Spike, and she ends up telling Rainbow, as well as the rest of the Mane Six who wander in during the course of the tale, the story of how they “met”:
Following the events of the first Sonic Rainboom, filly Twilight Sparkle is starting off at Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, but is met by Celestia on the very first day and given a surprising task: she asks her to help her take care of the the baby dragon she hatched for her entrance exam. Twilight’s first semester at the school is soon turned into a disaster, as Twilight’s natural worrying and obsessive-compulsive nature not only makes her schoolwork unbearably stressful, but she’s also taxed physically and mentally with taking care of the baby dragon. Her only outlet becomes talking to her Miss Smarty Pants doll as her “therapist”, but things come to a head at the Annual Royal Tea when Twilight is not only too afraid to sit with the students (being friendless) but also flips out when talking about her classwork to her parents, all before the dragon gets free and causes a mess. Unable to take anymore, Twilight screams at him as to why he can’t be more like Miss Smarty Pants. On hearing that. however, he tries to be helpful and say he can be like her doll by saying: “‘ike Suh Pah!’. On realizing the dragon is trying to make her feel better, Twilight realizes the real reason Celestia gave him to her was so that she’d have a friend and apologizes. Deciding to give him a name, she mentally rearranges his babbling to be “Suh Pah Ike”, and names him “Spike” before introducing her new friend to her parents.
Back in the Castle of Friendship, all of the clamor of the Mane Six woke Spike up, and Twilight offers to make him some cocoa with extra marshmallows (just the way he likes it) to get him back to sleep.
As I’ve said before, the backgrounds of the Mane Six represent largely virgin territory for the show to use for story material…or the comics, for that matter. About the only ones who have really been dug into are Applejack and (indirectly) Pinkie Pie. Twilight Sparkle has had a bit more done for her in “Amending Fences”, but to a large degree her background is still unknown…especially how Spike went from being the end result of an entrance exam to being her baby dragonservant and, until the show began, only friend.
The artists responsible for this arc are some of my favorite in the IDW series, as they manage to make things colorful and interesting to look at without going so far as to lose the feel of the original artwork of the characters. As for the story itself goes, though, it was an odd one. It almost seemed to be an allusion to the problems high school students or college students who end up having teen pregnancies experience when they try to finish school along with their children. That, or the old exercise they had us do back in school with the 5 lb sack of flour being carried around for a week to simulate caring for a child.
The main problem I had with this arc was that it seemed to be misplaced. I haven’t had any children of my own yet although my sisters have, and from what little experience I had tending to them I can imagine just how bad it would be to care for a baby 24/7, and how that could quite easily cause the rest of the problems filly Twilight encountered, including slipping in class and not having the opportunity to make friends. The problem is that there wasn’t a whole lot of emphasis on the fact what filly Twilight needed was a real friend, other than the fact she was trying to substitute an unfeeling toy for one. It seemed like Spike himself was the source of her trouble. As such, this whole arc feels more like an allegory about a teenage pregnancy learning to appreciate their new child rather than a story of forming a friendship between Twilight and Spike.
That said, I think it was a bit clever how they managed to not only work Miss Smarty Pants into this, but also got Spike’s name from it. I have to give the arc a bit more credit for that. And it’s really not a bad storyline. It’s just, like so many others, kind of average. It does have some good stuff with the art and the callbacks, and I can tell it’s trying to go for more heart like Princess Celestia’s Pony Tales arc was, but it just doesn’t seem to hit for me.
This arc is a continuation of Twilight Sparkle’s segment of “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”, all the way back in Season One.
On the two-page panel when filly Twilight Sparkle is arriving at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, filly Trixie Lulamoon is also out there, and one filly with her face away from the audience has Moondancer’s mane coloration. Both appear in later panels. The mothers of the arriving fillies are G1 My Little Pony characters.
Professor Inkwell, from Princess Celestia’s Pony Tales issue, is a minor character in this arc. The Annual Royal Tea, which was featured in that arc, is also featured here.
2.5 Stars out of 5