Going in order, we start with Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle’s comic. Here, the Pegasus pony Rainbow Dash awakens to find that her wings have been removed and she and magic expert Twilight have to find the culprits. This vignette embodies the core concept of the Friends Forever series perfectly and literally, two ponies coming together, pooling their strengths, making up for each other’s weaknesses, and solving the problem in tandem. Their solution is equally creative and awesome, which makes for a great climax. It’s certainly the most action-packed comic of the bundle, playing out like a straight adventure rather than the usual slice of life the show is famous for.
My only issue is with the ending, where Twilight let’s the villains go, saying that they’ll have plenty of time to learn their lesson. The problem is that these ponies looked vengeful as they left and not in any mind to learn a lesson. Since there are no prisons in Equestria, there will be no one to supervise them and make sure they actually learn their lesson. That’s just a minor nitpick, though, and it doesn’t detract too much from how amazing the rest of it is.
The next story follows Shining Armor, Twilight’s brother, and Prince Blueblood, a snooty aristocrat with a real classism problem. The two have been tasked to travel to the land of the Yaks to negotiate trade with the ever-volatile Prince Rutherford of Yakyakistan. This is sadly the weakest of the bunch. It already had an uphill climb by featuring two very unpopular characters of the show (Blueblood and Rutherford), but the writing also did not help. Shining Armor had no impact on the plot; you could have written him out and everything would have played out as it did. It was as if he was there to be taught that Blueblood has layers and to see how awesome he is, except Blueblood is still entitled, shallow, and pompous as ever and seems to learn nothing. Prince Rutherford doesn’t help with his one-note attitude of throwing a tantrum if things aren’t perfect, and Shining Armor just repeats his sister’s mistakes from the show’s episode “Party Pooped.” The art is pleasant to look at, capturing the show aesthetics very well, but overall this is the weakest story.
Up next is the tale of Pinkie Pie, Ponyville’s party pony, and Granny Smith of the Apple family. When the elderly mare throws out her hip during cider season, she has to rely on Pinkie Pie to help her with shopping and cider-making duties. This one is absolutely brilliant, using the comic medium for some great comedy. Granny Smith’s crankiness feels very in-character and doesn’t go too far, as is the same with Pinkie obliviously and cheerfully saying, “Yes, Granny,” to all of her gripes. The two really are great foils.
There’s also an amazing moral that Granny Smith learns and best of all, it’s learned naturally. Far too often, especially in children’s entertainment, characters learn the lesson out of the blue, apropos of nothing, but Granny’s revelation flowed with the story. In fact, the whole story had a great and very natural flow, as if these characters were made for each other. I hope they get paired up in future comics or even in the show, but only if the future writer can keep this level of chemistry between them.
The final vignette pairs up the Cutie Mark Crusaders, three fillies who help other children find their paths in life, and Princess Luna, who rules the night and controls the moon in Equestria. It falls to Princess Luna to host a slumber party in the royal castle for some of the brilliant fillies across the land. The young Crusaders are happy to help her out because Luna was trapped in the moon for a thousand years and isn’t familiar with such customs. But when a filly named Thestra is bullied for her cutie mark (a mark on a pony’s flank that appears when they’ve discovered their true calling), it falls to the Crusaders, whose calling is to help ponies with cutie mark problems, and Princess Luna, who used to be an outcast herself, to help her through her distress.
This one clearly has a lot of backstory that needs to be squeezed into the comic that may make it a bit intimidating for newcomers. That’s a shame too, because this story is pretty good. Luna has helped the Crusaders in the show quite a few times, so it’s nice to see them returning the favor. It also helps that Luna is very adorable in her awkwardness around the children, while also being a pony to look up to in times of need.
That said, I find it a little odd that Luna doesn’t notice the bullying happening right in front of her. The Crusaders are the ones to bring it to her attention and it’s too jarring when it was pushed to the forefront of the panels. The ending, though, is incredibly heartwarming and more than makes up for it. Add in some creative scenarios, adorable art, and a hilarious follow up to one of the scenarios in the Shining Armor/Blueblood piece, and you’ve got one great comic.
This volume gives the readers plenty of action, humor, heart, and… Blueblood. The majority of these stories are gems, so I would recommend this to any fans. Would newcomers get as much out of it? Probably not, but it might still intrigue them to explore the world of ponies. For those in the herd, though, it’s quite the read.