Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, out of a desire to do more activities together, have decided to participate in Ponyville’s own Sisterhooves Social. However, they have two problems to deal with. One is that they’re vastly overpowered compared to the other competitors, and the others is their schedules are too jam packed to allow them to attend. As a result, the two decide to combine their duties while cutting back on sleep to try and make time for the event, against the warnings of the palace majordomo Kibitz. Just as he fears, the stress causes the two to progressively grow more “testy” and start to find fault in each other’s duties and grow competitive. It gets worse when their solution to the overpowered problem, some magic berries that will reduce their powers, end up also magically making them more competitive until they’re constantly screaming and at each other’s throats. They continue their arguments until they reach the point of saying each one is completely better than the other at everything, and keep on doing so right to the event. They end up making a spectacle of themselves with their constant arguing, eventually causing them to break from each other for the six-legged race and instead pair with Sweetie Belle and Rarity, who are also competing. Unfortunately the event is suddenly wrecked by their misbehaving pets, who got into another set of magic berries meant to restore their power after the event and have grown to colossal size before raging against each other. The princesses manage to work together enough to pacify the pets, and afterward realize they were reflecting the competitive nature of their owners. On doing so, the two calm down and express their own mutual admiration for one another and confess their competitiveness came from a fear that either sister would outshine the other. They reconcile, Sweetie Belle and Rarity (now out of sorts) excuse themselves, the rest of the Mane Six arrive too late to do anything, Kibitz is unhappily commanded to help clean up after being blamed by the sisters for causing the berry mishap in the first place, and they thank the audience for reading the “Friends Forever” series.
Here it is, the final issue of the “Friends Forever” IDW series. I honestly thought it would keep going forever, but the IDW comic had proverbial “bigger fish” to fry with other new series after this. And for the finale, it ended with the two ponies who triggered the entire MLP:FIM series themselves: Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.
At the time I read this, Season Seven’s “A Royal Problem” had already aired, which was my favorite treatment of the relationship of the two alicorns with one another. This arc looked like it tried to achieve the same end, albeit in a bit more humorous and lighthearted manner. As a result, I’ll always wonder what I would have thought of this arc if I hadn’t seen that episode first. I probably would have admired the end a bit better but, in light of that episode, I’d say this is another issue where IDW has to suffer for not being able to see what the writers are thinking. Not as bad as some (say with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon), but still.
The fact of the matter is the main series still leaves a lot of mystery around the princesses and their characters. While I feel “A Royal Problem” finally began to hammer in a real understanding of both, at the time this comic came out aspects of their characters were still an enigma to be fleshed out. Andy Price, who also did the “Reflections” arc and some of the more noteworthy arcs in the IDW comic series, has his own rendition of them, and I’m not a big fan of either of them.
While he does tend to portray Celestia as more of a regular pony rather than an alabaster statue (especially in “Reflections”), he also tends to make her both visually as well as personality wise a normal, down-to-earth pony as opposed to a princess. That, to me, unfortunately doesn’t reflect reality. It may be true that, in her heart, Celestia is a normal pony with a normal demeanor, but that’s not how she conducts herself. She recognizes she has to present “more” to others; somepony who’s calm, collected, sagacious, and in control. Although she does like trolling ponies from time to time, even that is a sign of her desire to portray herself to others. That’s the only way she can show her sense of humor. By comparison, in this issue and others, she seems like just a normal pony at all times. Prone to acting a bit immature herself and often less dignified and official.
Luna, on the other hand, is much worse. The comic writers tend to portray her as insensitive to the point of uncaring, selfish to the point of being a bit of a snob, and childish and immature to the point of being a useless “extra” compared to Celestia. This issue went a bit too far for me when she so dismissively referred to Twilight and the Mane Six as, more or less, lackeys to be given chores to do. Luna is aloof and often unsociable, but she does care about others–and I find it impossible to believe she would dismiss Twilight like that after helping her three times over.
These portrayals, in turn, color something that looks like it was trying to be a lot of careful, loud, energetic fun and diminishes it to me. In light of being OOC as well as “A Royal Problem” I was too distracted on both the initial read and the reread to pay attention to most of the fun going on. But even then, the dialogue dump at the end to wrap up the story seems out of left field. The story does have the excuse that Celestia and Luna were both under the influence of magic berries, but it’s still a sharp 180 to hear them at each other’s throats practically to the point of wanting to reignite the Celestia/Nightmare Moon feud for most of the comic only to spend the last couple pages talking about how much they love everything about the other. Similar to Sweetie Belle, I kind of want to gag at how lazy that is.
While the artwork in and of itself is worthy of note and a lot of the antics are entertaining, ultimately I dislike this arc more than many of the Friends Forever arcs. While meant to be an epic finale to the IDW Friends Forever series, it unfortunately ended up being a shoddy version of a better Season Seven episode.
This was the final issue of the IDW “Friends Forever” series. As with many of the Andy Prices IDW comics, it has an official title: “Battle Royal”.
A number of callbacks, in particular to Andy Price’s other IDW entries, occur in this arc. Recurring comic-exclusive characters Kibitz and Tiberius appear extensively, but King Aspen and the deer of Everfree are also mentioned.
One of the “tasks” the princesses have to rush through is battle Chrysalis…again. Another is attending the Equestria version of Mardi Gras on “Horseleans Street”.
A major collision between show canon and comic canon occurred in this story. Season Seven’s “A Royal Problem” was the main series finally handling the sisters swapping duties with both learning to appreciate the job the other one does. While it did a good job of portraying both of them on equal footing, it did overlook the elephant in the room that was the fact Celestia did indeed handle Luna’s job for 1,000 years. By comparison, the IDW comic acknowledges that, but often goes to the opposite extreme (especially with Andy Price) and reduces Luna often to being a selfish, immature, egotistical brat who really isn’t necessary to keep Equestria running. Nevertheless, that viewpoint does take into account the show’s own backstory, and Celestia and Luna going into dreams to defeat nightmares is a sharp marked contrast from the similar scene in “A Royal Problem”. This issue was published prior to that episode, and time will tell if IDW tries to recant on it.
Celestia likes jazz. By comparison, Luna likes rock. 😀
Crystal Ball calls Kibitz “Mustache Pony”.
Bit of a typo on one word balloon: “I gaurantee everypony”.
Favorite joke: LUNA: “Are you always this arrogant or did you take lessons?” CELESTIA: “I took lessons!”
When Philomena and Tiberius start to rampage, one of the ponies at the Aquarium tent yells: “Save my walrus!” That’s a nod to an old Ren & Stimpy cartoon: “Fire Dogs”.
The mysterious Fedora Pony appears again in a panel after Philomena and Tiberius are subdued.
The princesses reveal their pet names for each other: Marshmallow (Celestia) and Dark Nut (Luna).
The issue ends with Celestia and Luna breaking the fourth wall. As an added joke, Pinkie Pie asks who they’re talking to.
1.5 Stars out of 5