As I'm sure some of our long time readers can guess, we here at Horse News have quite the history with the licensed IDW comics. From Ted Anderson to Jeremy Whitley to Andy Price, we've had more than our fair share of run-ins. However, if only to torture ourselves, some of our reporters still read the comics. With the hiatus shorter than ever, their destraction purpose is less relevant but they can always bring some laughs. With that being said, issue #40, which attempts to tell the story of how Twilight and Spike met, is worth a look for criticism's sake. Read a Horse News review below.
Shades of Muffinshire
Sethisto already drew her
After some brief bait for Sethisto and other assorted Trixiefags, Celestia leads Twilight into a nursery where Spike is laying in a crib. She claims that though she has been taking care of him since he was hatched, it ultimately will be her responsibility to care for him when she is incapable of doing so. Keep that comment in particular in mind, as it becomes relevant later.
What follows for many pages is pretty much what we have come to expect from IDW: basically some padding with shenanigans of Twilight being stressed out by raising a child on her own and balancing her studies. All of the ponies in the school (all female for some reason, possibly courtesy of Ted “Not Like Those Other Guys” Anderson's bias or maybe Hickey's desire for anime references) are incredibly uncaring and unempathetic to Twilight's struggle in raising Spike. Perhaps most bizarrely of these is Professor Inkwell, who, according to previous issues, helped to make the school into what it was when Twilight attended. That Celestia would not explain to her the duties she was entrusted with seems oddly uncaring of her, like she either expected that everyone would understand or she knew no one would see it as an obstacle for her.
No sympathy for unwed teenage mothers
The rest of the comic goes off well enough, with the expected marks: Twilight brings Spike to a major event, he gets loose and causes a mess, and she breaks down at him. In a fit of anger and stress, she calls the infant Spike “stupid” and “a nuisance,” and questions why he can't be anything like Smarty Pants. Spike's baby talk in this scene slowly morphs into Twilight realizing that Celestia meant for Spike to be her friend, and she bestows upon him his name. The comic returns to the present day and everything is fine.
"Yes, that's the plan...a friend..."
Princess Celestia's depiction in the comic and her ultimate goals are incredibly hard to discern in this comic. As a princess, she claims that she does not have the time to raise Spike full-time, so she gives him to Twilight. Her claim about her only being responsible for him sometimes turns out to be a lie. What Celestia actually gives Twilight turns out to be such a burden on her that not only is she doing poorly in school and barely managing to take care of a newborn, but she also is not making any friends.
That Celestia would entrust a filly to raise a newborn as an experiment to give her a friend raises some questions. Why involve Spike at all if this is the goal, why not try to get other fillies who are on an equal footing with her to be her friend? As we see several times in the comic, Spike is completely dependent on her for his care, and is not a friend to her in any form. One could assume that Celestia would want their friendship to grow as they grew up together, but there in lies another issue: Spike's role. What he eventually became, her servant, undercut what Celestia supposedly was trying to do. He helped her become obsessed with her studies and ultimately become a hermit that required the mission to Ponyville at the start of the series. If Celestia's plan was to convince Twilight to turn away from making friends as a filly and “raise” a friend that would contribute to her isolation as she grew up, she was absolutely successful. However, if her actual goal was to give Twilight an understanding of friendship, she totally failed. Twilight got a responsibility that alienated herself from her peers and instead did what she was ordered to do by Celestia. Some have argued that this was the plan of Celestia all along, while others, such as this reviewer, believe it to be a severe miscalculation of Celestia's that ultimately comes down to bad writing and a desire to explain away claims of incompetence.
Usually these edits are bad, but this is pretty on point.
Twilight and Spike's relationship is that many fans of the series had a lot of questions about. There was a lot of dread when this issue was announced, fear that it would close doors that the show could explore better. Those fears ultimately were unfounded. What we received turned out to be a piece of fluff with some very bad implications for Twilight and Spike's early life, plus even more questions about Celestia's motivations relating to Twilight's destiny. I have not mentioned the art at all in this review, but I will say that it was definitely one of the high points of the issue. However that cannot save a story that ultimately raises more questions than answers and has unfortunate implications for nearly everyone involved. One can only imagine what the author was thinking when he thought making Twilight an unwed teenage mother was something that could be handled well. Stick to Muffinshire folks, and pray that a post-Larson show gives us some questions on this issue.
You said it, Spike
- Good art by Brenda Hickey
- Trixie's mom
- Technically follows Faust interpretation of relationship
- Acceptable ending, taken out of context
- Celestia's “IT'S JUST A TEST, BRO” explanation
- Contrived reasons for characters to be against Twilight
- Reason for sudden shift of Twilight's interpretation of the relationship is based on Celestia, not Twilight
- Celestia's character either being incompetent or openly malicious
- Explains quite a bit about Twilight's IDW depictions based on what she learned from Celestia