I shall have to try that expression the next time I suffer harm. It seems… unexpected.
Rarity steals the show next page with a full-drama entrance, complete with treating her bed-ridden sister as if she were on death’s doorstep. Followed by confirmation that she’s not contagious. This is what I enjoy about Rarity: her extreme reactions with snippets that show something beneath the fashionista tropes.
Anyway, it’s off to Manehatten for Rarity for another round of being Sapphire Shores’ designer. Things take a turn as Babs shows up. Rather poor communication on Sweetie Belle’s part not to tell Rarity that Babs was coming. Then again, the ponies in this franchise really aren’t great at logistics.
The comic does several things right with Babs. First of all, it’s not a case of a redeemed character. They did that in the Manehattan Mysteries arc with Babs and Trixie; and while there’s an over-reliance on continuity references in this comic, I really like that they’re not defining Babs by past mistakes. The second strength is the adorable poses. She truly looks crestfallen when she learns her friend isn’t there. We’ll get to the third strength shortly.
Rarity seems to sense a problem and dotes on Babs… for eight pages.
It’s a long stretch. And while there are funny moments, such as a psychotic mane stylist, it’s pretty one-sided. Rarity is shown doing the same thing she did with Twilight in the series premier: showing a generous spirit with a narrow focus. It’s charming and in-character, but it eats up a chunk of time. Almost half the comic!
We don’t get to understand what’s driving Babs until she rushes off, mentioning her disconnect with her parents. After some excellent counseling from Sapphire Shores, Rarity begins to step outside of her own viewpoint and takes Babs to a special event: a mare roller derby.
Where we learn that Princess Cadance is leading a double life! Oh, you can say that “Shining Harmer” just looks like a certain somepony due to limited redesigning, but we all know the truth. Our perfect pink princess pummels ponies as a pastime!
Best part about all this is that Rarity never makes a comment on the uniforms or any of the usual fashion quotes. It’s very easy for writers to go for the quick joke there, but this presentation makes her more dynamic. She’s politely interested, a little confused, and she’s enjoying that Babs is having fun. This is the third strength of Babs: her conflict helps flesh out Rarity as well.
This is the fun of putting two polar opposite personalities together. Despite their differences, a common theme emerges. Both Rarity and Babs have interests that aren’t readily understood by friends and family. What Brony couldn’t identify with such a concept? Yet by acknowledging this, Rarity’s able to build a bridge between the two of them and connect. Not over a shared interest, but the enjoyment of seeing someone else happy.
Much like a roller derby, this comic is slow to start off with the participants gaining momentum. Yet when it gets moving, there’s a big impact. The moral is great, the secondary characters do a lot to contribute, and both Rarity and Babs come away as enjoyable.
I think the comic would have been strengthened if they’d cut down on Rarity’s pampering tour and used the space to flesh out the awkwardness with her own family. Perhaps a flashback of her trying to get her father interested in fashion. A small change, yet a significant one.
All in all, I’d recommend this comic with the caveat that it requires patience in the middle. Things will pick up in the end with a satisfying payoff.
Now… commence with the Roller Derby Cadance fan art!