While showing Fluttershy and Tank around the higher-altitude clouds, Rainbow Dash spots a smoke signal from Appleloosa of her Cutie Mark. Realizing she’s being summoned, she rushes over and meets with Little Strongheart, but also sees that the region is currently caught in what seems to be an unending winter. The bison (buffalo) share with Rainbow Dash the legend of the Rainbow Crow, and that when winter fails to break their tradition is to conduct a ceremony where they light one of the feathers of the Rainbow Crow on fire to summon the sun. They are out of the feathers, however, and called in Rainbow Dash to acquire more. After giving her a pouch to offer tribute to the Rainbow Crow, Little Strongheart begins to guide her. However, along the way, Rainbow Dash keeps protesting the roads they’re taking, dismissing them as being inefficient artifacts as a result of clinging to old bison traditions. Eventually, Little Strongheart gets so fed up at her disrespect she lets her go her own way without giving her advice, and Rainbow ends up suffering for it. When they finally reach the Rainbow Crow, Rainbow goes on alone but, on reaching the bird, realizes she accidentally lost the tribute when she went over an icy mountain rather than taking Strongheart’s advice and going under it. However, the crow still allows her to have the feathers in exchange for a strand of her rainbow mane. On the way back, the two reconcile, and Strongheart admits they still like to do things the traditional way not necessarily because it’s “better” but because it keeps them connected to their past. Later at the ceremony, when one of the feathers is lit and lights up the sky with rainbow light, Rainbow admits the ceremony way is better.
This one…is odd. I’m not sure if I’m simply uncultured and unthinking enough to get past the superficial surface for a deeper meaning, but this particular story doesn’t really seem to have much of a moral, lesson, or point to it.
If you focus on the big themes, it was likely intended to be a lesson in respect for the culture and traditions of others. However, that point never really got rammed home or emphasized. It’s true that Rainbow Dash did suffer some misfortune for not taking Little Strongheart’s advice, but that’s not so much tradition as thinking she knew better. It would be one thing if Rainbow’s way ended up being faster but mostly it was usually out of experience and jumping to the conclusion that the reason Strongheart was doing something was out of tradition rather than wisdom.
The legend of the Rainbow Crow is a nice story presented in a format more akin to Native American folklore, but even then it seems a bit distracting. There’s very little of the story that ends up having much bearing on the overall plot other than a MacGuffin, and yet several pages are devoted to it. It could have just been an excuse to show off the artwork I suppose, which was an interesting departure from normal.
The one part that does seem to tie the themes together is Rainbow Dash meeting the Rainbow Crow. I had to read it two or three times to get the idea, but the point was that the crow was far more down-to-earth and understandable, similar to how Princess Celestia is in spite of practically being deified by ponies. The idea was in showing in spite of traditions and cultural differences that the bison (buffalo) weren’t all too different from the ponies.
Yet beyond that, I’m having a hard time seeing the point. The lesson seems to be trying to make the idea that tradition and culture’s primary value, even if seemingly outdated, would be in giving a people an identity. That’s why the topic of other cultures moving in or the idea of giving up some form of tradition is such a hot topic around the world. However, similar to “Over a Barrel”, this storyline over-simplified what is a very complex and potentially controversial topic. In the Western world, the idea of multi-culturalism is the dominant idea, whereas in many other places in the world the thought of becoming multi-cultural is considered the same as eroding society. On top of all of that, no matter where you are in the world or in what country, everyone has certain ideas for cultural traditions they think should be rejected by modern society.
But even if the central idea behind this story is learning to appreciate that tradition and culture helps define national identity, it’s not clear that Rainbow Dash ever “got it”. She simply thought their ceremony was “cool looking”.
All in all, I have a feeling this comic was trying to be more mature and not so “on-the-nose” about its moral like many other storylines are. Unfortunately, I think it bit off a bit more than it could chew. It’s not bad, but it requires a bit more thought than the target audience would get.
Rainbow Dash kind of ditches Tank for a couple days, doesn’t she? 😛
This is only the second time Little Strongheart has appeared and the first since Season One of the TV series, also bison (buffalo) have appeared in other episodes.
At one point, Rainbow Dash offers to clear the snow clouds, but Chief Thunder Hooves says they already tried. Do bison have a way of manipulating the weather too?
The legend related in this story is similar to many other Native American mythologies, which often portray a creature as once possessing a physical trait that it lost permanently following an incident in a legend. And yes, as the legend says, crow feathers are in fact iridescent.
A gremlin cameos again in the forbidden jungle. What is with the gremlins? I’m headed to Bronycon for the first time this year and I can ask Tony Fleecs myself…
At one point, Little Strongheart (in a mocking way) calls Rainbow Dash “kemosabe”. “Kemosabe” was the name that Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s Native American companion, called him.
2.5 Stars out of 5