Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Trot Topics, *How Canon Is Expanded Universe?: The Good, The Bad And The Ponies

This was the first multi-part story arc in MLP comics for a few months, so its a little unusual to get back into the swing of things. However this story, making up Issues #25-26 of the regular MLP comic series, desperately stretches the ideas of citizenship in Equestria, as well as looking into one of their, at this time, newer frontier towns. Not unlike Appaleloosa or Dodge Junction, this is a take on the "ol' west", but also features a returning band of brigands that doesn't result in the casual redemption cliché.

The first part has the Mane 6 on yet another train ride going to visit Applejack's great granduncle Chili Pepper who owns Rancho Bronco in the small town of Canter Creek, even though Applejack ponders why anyone would have a farm in a desert, completely forgetting her cousin Braeburn in Appleloosa. AJ come looking for her uncle who has been missing for months, so Sherriff Tumbleweed takes them to the chili pepper ranch which is where most of Canter Creek's revenue comes from. The Mane 6 are introduced to the Cattle Rustlers, a gang of bulls lead by the crafty Longhorn who AJ and Rarity brushed off during their heated debate from Friends Forever #8. The Rustlers show up and push Tumbleweed and Applejack around. Twilight however claims she can't do anything about it as a princess because the bulls are non-magical citizens of Equestria, even though they clearly punched out one of her friends and an officer of the law. It's one thing to not use magic to stop a villain like King Sombra running amuck with dark magic, but as official royalty, Twilight is well within her jurisdiction to enforce the law and at least call in the royal guard or the Wonderbolts on the bulls. Since Chili Pepper has gone missing(who we never find out what really happened to), the deed for Rancho Bronco is up in the air, so Longhorn could just waltz right in and take it over as well as the whole town. Longhorn sets a barn on fire in order to try and scare the rest of the townsfolk into submission, but Twilight still claims that she can't use her magic against him even though he clearly committed public arson, either that or she just thinks its common for an Apple family barn to get wrecked. So the Sherriff and the Mane 6 pull all the townsfolk together to confab about what to do about the Rustlers, during the meeting though Longhorn and his gang ride a stampede of unaffiliated bulls through and wrecks the town, to which once again Twilight doesn't do anything! After fixing up the town a little, the Canter Creek residents decide to set up traps for the Cattle Rustlers the next time they go on a rampage. However, they didn't account for how tough the bulls are, and they ransack the town again, to which Twilight doesn't do diddly squat about. After that assault, Tumbleweed up and quits as sheriff, so Applejack takes up the mantle of, despite not having any official swearing in of authority.

The concluding chapter has some ponies outside Canter Creek recapping the first part and wonder what happens next, meaning there's some characters in the comics continuity that were created for the sole purpose for commenting on the narrative, which is strange that Pinkie is leading them. Longhorn moseys into town to claim ownership of Rancho Bronco since Chili Pepper went missing, even though you'd think the property would instead go to one of his heirs(i.e.: Applejack). So the Mane 6 plan on bamboozling Longhorn with legal red tape by making him think he didn't sign the right documents, even though they end up disguising themselves as town clerks and kidnapping the actual clerks too take their place, which Twilight seems to think is completely acceptable to do as opposed to just zapping the Cattle Rustlers out of town! A few more attempts to use this plan against Longhorn while the other ponies move the Rustlers' camp further out of the area to make them think they're still occupying the ranch within a legally precedent amount of time ends in constant failure. Although this leads to having Twilight get Celestia to declare Rancho Bronco a historical landmark, which ticks Longhorn off to no end. So he smashes the barn, and this is what makes Twilight finally get off her tail and have the Rustlers' arrested. Applejack hands the Sheriff's badge back to Tumbleweed, and ride off into the sunset, leaving Chili Pepper's fate left completely up in the air!

This has been revered in one of the worst storylines so far in the comics, and considering it comes from the regular creative team of Katie Cook and Andy Price makes it a little more disappointing. Not so much the breaks in continuity, but the total disregard for the Mane 6's behavior, and how Twilight really needs an update on how the Equestrian legal system works!

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