Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Synopsis:

The Wonderbolts are holding their first official performance in Yakyakistan, and Pinkie Pie, along for the ride as an “honorary yak”, has brought Rainbow Dash’s parents along to cheer her on. However, the performance hardly concludes when Yakyakistan is suddenly attacked by a swarm of aggressive dragons. The Wonderbolts and ponies take cover while Prince Rutherford tries to clear out the rest of the citizens and organize to fight back. Once away, however, Rainbow Dash wants to go back in to help out, but Spitfire overrides her due to fear of the very real danger the dragons pose. However, after Rainbow Dash’s parents share a story about how she first learned to be brave in her first competition, Spitfire is motivated enough to lead the Wonderbolts into battle alongside the yaks. But even when Fleetfoot manages to bring reinforcements of the rest of the Mane Six, Spike, and Starlight Glimmer, the dragons are still too overwhelming and they’re forced to retreat. Not long after, the dragons send out a small party to meet with them, and Spike is shocked to discover Dragonlord Ember has been leading the assault.

Ember and the dragons are furious at the yaks for breaking a “sacred bond”, but are too angry to elaborate and instead say they’ll renew the assault on the yaks tomorrow. The ponies and yaks end up having to prepare for a conflict while Twilight Sparkle tries looking over yak historical records for evidence of a sacred bond with dragons, but is unable to come up with nothing. Furthermore, Spike gets rather unhappy when he overhears most of the ponies talking about dragons in a rather negative connotation, seemingly forgetting that he is one. When he steps out of where they’re taking shelter for a bit, he ends up being captured by a dragon and brought to Ember in the destroyed Yakyakistan village. He manages to get her to disclose that the sacred bond that is referred to was an ancient peace accord between the dragon and yak race, which was cemented when the yak leader made the dragon leader an “honorary yak”. This honor was never to be replicated, but that was violated when Pinkie Pie was made an “honorary yak” by Rutherford. Frustrated with attempts to get dragon acceptance from other races and feeling insulted, Ember has decided to go to war and insults Spike for not understanding them as he’s not a “real” dragon. The next day, unable to find a solution, Twilight and the ponies align with the yaks to go out to battle and are stunned to see Spike seemingly joined up with the dragons, but he ends up calling everything to a halt: chastising Twilight and the ponies for their constant derogatory insults of dragon, chastising Ember for living up to everyone’s expectations of dragons by immediately going to war with the yaks without talking first, and chastising Rutherford for failing to honor the sacred bond. As it turns out, the yaks were aware of the bond but misinterpreted it due to a poor artwork making them confuse the dragon in the records for a volcano. Seeing as it was all a misunderstanding and recognizing her own poor behavior, Ember accepts the apology and has the dragons help rebuild the Yakyakistan village. Both Pinkie and Rutherford agree to revoke Pinkie’s honorary yak status if it will keep relations peaceful, but Ember declines the offer; realizing from Spike that dragons need to continue to change to adapt to the future.

Review:

This isn’t so much one continuous arc as two separate ones knit together around a common story thread. The first storyline is all about Rainbow Dash, her parents, and the Wonderbolts, while the second one is all about Spike, the dragons, and the yaks. The first one isn’t that much to write home about. It does allow Bow and Windy to break ground into the comics as well as elaborates a bit more on the relationship of the Wonderbolts to Equestria, but none of it was anything too earth-shaking. About the only other thing of note was it shows Rainbow Dash and Spitfire butting heads. In the main series, the two of them pretty much endorse a leader/subordinate role with Rainbow Dash always deferring to Spitfire, but ever since their “Friends Forever” issue the comic has treated them more as informal equals, which is a bit of a nice touch.

The second story arc has a bit more punch to it. As I mentioned before in “Gauntlet of Fire”, the comic actually seemed to prefigure the show by eventually stepping way from the idea of elder wyrms and Tolkienesque dragons and instead endorsing more “miniature” versions of them that have something more of a society. This first got pushed way back in the “Friends Forever” with Princess Luna and Spike, and although this isn’t the same writer it advances the same concept. Not only of dragons having their own society and being more “pony-sized” to be able to interact with them better, but the idea that dragons are widely discriminated against as brutes and warlike savages. Touching on stereotypes and racism by using that as a motif is, once again, a nice move for the comic. This one doesn’t quite hit as close to home as the “Friends Forever” one, but it does still touch on an interesting concept.

On one hand, the thoughtless comments of Spike’s friends in regards to dragons is the more obvious point being made about stereotyping. The truth of the matter is a lot of these comments do indeed appear to be the case for the bulk of dragon-kind, but that doesn’t matter because they’re not true for all of them. And it’s never a good feeling (or a good practice) to be labeled and, consequently, negated in any way. Anyone who has ever had to go through the feeling where they believe they are in a situation in which they are considered to be part of a group but an “exception” will tell you that. It’s quite hurtful and disparaging to hear what you identify as constantly being belittled and insulted.

However, this issue touched on another item–an idea of “expected solidarity”. Just because a group is oppressed or the victim of stereotyping doesn’t mean they still can’t do bad things…occasionally the very things people criticize them over. Unfortunately, the other side of the coin of labeling and stereotyping people is that often the very group that’s being labeled and stereotyped begins to do the same to themselves and expects everyone who is in the same “group” to fall in behind them even if they’re genuinely guilty of wrongdoing. That, ironically, is just as stereotypical and racist as their oppressors.

Ultimately, everyone in the second issue was a little bit wrong. The tragedy is that in real life it usually takes more than a baby dragon calling our someone’s ill behavior or hypocrisy to get them to change. However, it did make a good point here. While the ponies need to keep an eye on their own prejudgmental filters in the future, the dragons would be wise to do the same.

It’s not as zany or as wild as a lot of other issues, and there wasn’t a whole lot of room for anything in the second issue other than everyone expositing to get the meat of the whole story out. On top of that, the two different issues are clearly disjointed in their focus on the story. All of that said, however, it did have a nice little lesson that wasn’t touched on the show yet and made some good points, so I rank it a bit higher.

Fun Facts:

Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles (AKA Rainbow Dash’s parents) make their first comic appearance in the stands at the Wonderbolts performance.

Although it was heavily implied by the series, this arc really drives home the idea that the Wonderbolts are well past their “glory days”. While it’s canon that they were originally established after Nightmare Moon’s first defeat to act as defenders of the remaining Equestrian monarch, now they’re simply stunt show ponies, more or less.

The comic collides with a bit of show canon, which is weird considering Bow and Windy first appeared in the same episode: “Parental Glideance”. Rainbow Dash actually didn’t place at all in her first competition, only getting a participant sticker. (Spitfire was also in that same competition, but given her “Mr. Burns” syndrome in earlier seasons, it makes sense she wouldn’t remember her. :P)

In the double-page panel of the battle between Yakyakistan, the ponies, and the dragons, Rarity defeats her opponents by tying ribbons over their eyes.

Dragonlord Ember is back to wearing her armor from “Gauntlet of Fire”.

Rating:

3 Stars out of 5