A My Little Pony series from IDW Publishing based on Friendship is Magic, and part of the overall My Little Pony G4 universe. Friends Forever is the second spin-off monthly comic series from the main pony comic, and replacing the limited-run micro-series. As opposed to the micro-series where stories were focused on a single character, Friends Forever will feature one-issue stories based on pairing the various characters, including those from the Mane 6, background characters, and other fan-favorites. According to editor Bobby Curnow, this gives them space to play around more, and more potential for future one-off stories while leaving the more serial stories to the main comic. It will feature a similar revolving writer and artist.
Tropes applying to Individual Issues:
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Issue #1: The Pie's the Limit (Pinkie Pie and Applejack)
Written by Alex de Campi, Art by Carla Speed McNeil
Pinkie Pie is entering the Equestria Super Chef Championship against other bakers in Equestria, but attempts to mentally cram as many recipes she can before going there. Meanwhile, Applejack is delivering a pie for Granny Smith as part of the backstage catering for the event. As the show starts, AJ is mistaken for one of the entrants in the show, Marine Sandwich, who tries to take her proper spot but is kicked off stage, and she vows to get revenge. In the first round, where the contestants are judged on a pre-made dish, Pinkie realizes she forgot to bring anything in her haste to remember her recipes, while AJ wins thanks to the pie she brought.During intermission, Pinkie and AJ meet with another competitor, Toffee Truffle, who is trying to win the prize money to reopen a restaurant in Dodge City, and both Pinkie and AJ agree to do their worst to allow Toffee to win. Despite using food from the garbage to make up the desserts for the next round, Pinkie still manages to win. Before the final round, Toffee tells them she appreciates their help but she'd rather compete fair and square.The final round has the competitors make their favorite food; AJ presents a simple apple, while Pinkie produces a number of pies with which she begins to throw around the stage, neither which impress the judges. Toffee's dessert, however, has impressed them but before they can announce the winners, Marine bursts in with a fondant gun, freezing many of the competitors and crowd. Toffee and Pinkie use Toffee's sticky dessert and a portable party cannon to clog up Marine's gun, stopping her madness. The judges award Toffee the grand prize for both a tasty and practical dessert, with Pinkie and AJ happy for her success.
Abnormal Ammo: Marine Sandwich produces a weapon that shoots fondant, which traps those it hits.
And I Must Scream: Parodied. Marine Sandhich rants about how she'll trap everypony in her icing forever, and the ponies she "freezes" all bear pretty shocked expressions (including Marine herself, when the frosting gun backfires)...and then when Marine is defeated, Pinkie easily frees everypony...by eating the icing. She even says it tasted good!
Circle of Shame: After Pinkie Pie succumbs to performance anxiety, costing her the first round of the contest, she imagines all the baking ingredients laughing at her.
Continuity Nod: Pinkie produces a Z&R Mark 4 portable party cannon from her hair Hammerspace. The Pinkie microseries comic identified her normal party cannon as a Z&R Mark 3.
Covers Always Lie: One of the covers have AJ and Pinkie apparently going against each other in the competition. However, in the story, AJ not only is not opposing Pinkie in any way, but she wasn't supposed to be in the competition in the first place.
Exactly What I Aimed At: Pinkie and Toffee fire a party cannon full of pastries at Marine Sandwich, and seemingly miss... except they actually meant to clog up her frosting gun, causing it to self-destruct and trap her in the icing.
Mad Artist: Marine Sandwich is a "food performance artist" who seems to be a bit unhinged. She goes berserk when she thinks Applejack deliberately impersonated her, and at the climax attacks the contest with a frosting gun.
Blade Sparxx is clearly a pyromaniac masquerading as a cook.
Written by Jeremy Whitley, Art by Tony Fleecs, Coloring by Lauren Perry
The CMC try to plan how they will try to get their cutie marks but find they have exhausted their own list of ideas. They hear Discord singing outside, where he claims he had been given permission by Applejack, as part of his amended ways, to try to help with creating flavored apples in the orchard. The CMC realize that Discord might have some novel ideas for them to try to get their cutie mark and get him to help them. Discord uses his magic to warp reality to put the CMC in a number of different scenarios, including one case which temporarily involves Spike and Angel Bunny. When Discord shifts to another reality, Spike and Angel find themselves ejected back into Sweet Apple Acres, where a reality bubble has formed around where the CMC and Discord are. They race back to town to warn the others.Meanwhile, while the CMC try in earnest at each new reality to get their cutie mark, they fail. Discord, slowly becoming annoyed with the trio, continues to invent new scenarios for them to try, unaware that the reality bubble is growing larger on the outside and starting to consume parts of Ponyville, with the Mane 6 trying to stop it. As the scenarios continue to get more contrived and Discord's patience with the CMC wears thin, the CMC comment to Discord that despite not being successful at getting their cutie marks, they really appreciate the help he's been given them and offer to make him an honorary member of the CMC. Discord is touched by their offer, dispelling the reality bubble and returning everything to normal, apologizing to the Mane 6 as being unaware of the effect of his magic. As the ponies return to their normal life, Celestia appears and reminds Discord how good it can feel to help others.
Apple Bloom: Are you girls thinking what I'm thinking? Scootaloo: You bet! But do you really think I could hang glide onto my scooter? Sweetie Belle: I didn't know we were supposed to be thinking. Can you stop so i can catch up?
Batman Gambit: Discord knows exactly what strings to pull to bring the CMC into his trickery.
One scenario puts the CMC into playing "Oubliettes and Ogres", the Dungeons & Dragons game played by Shining Armor and friends in Issues #11-12 of the main comic series.
Freudian Excuse: Implied for Discord—when Sweetie Belle points out that not having her cutie mark makes her (and the other Crusaders, for that matter) feel like they don't belong anywhere, and no one really understands them; the chaos spirit admits that he knows what that feels like. This seems to add more to the little that's known about him. Him never having a friend before was probably due to him standing out like this. It also seems to imply that Discord hasn't been around other draconequui.
Hidden Depths: Near the end of the issue, Sweetie Belle gives a rather mature explanation for why she and her fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders are so desperate to find their special talent—they feel like they're alienated from everyone else, and no one understands them.
Licked by the Dog: Discord. Despite the mayhem caused during his efforts to help the CMC find their cutie marks, Sweetie Belle genuinely thanks him for trying, and Scootaloo gives him a hug. Both times, he's visibly moved by the displays of gratitude and friendship.
Noodle Incident: Implied by the number of different attempts the CMC have made for getting their cutie marks, but include specifically previous attempts at lion taming and firefighting.
Pet the Dog: Even if he had mischievous intentions, Discord genuinely used his powers to try and help the Cutie Mark Crusaders find their cutie marks. The backlash of his reality bubble raising havoc in Ponyville was just a side-effect. He even apologizes to Twilight for that!
Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: Discord is confident he'll be able to think outside the box enough to let the CMC try something they've never thought of to get their cutie marks. Cue his mounting frustration when it turns out that they've already tried many of the scenarios that he comes up with.
Issue #3: Princess Celestia And Spike
Written by Ted Anderson, Art by Agnes Garbowska
Spike seeks help from Princess Celestia when picking out a birthday present for Twilight, noting that her old telescope is wearing out. Celestia's astronomy adviser, Starry Eyed, can make one but he notes they need crystals for lens, only available on a distant mountain. To Spike's surprise, Celestia cancels her appointments for the day and goes to accompany Spike to get the crystals.En route, Celestia notes she's not been able to spend much time with Spike since he hatched, but as they talk, the two are set on by rock lobsters that cage the two. Spike complains about not be an adventurer, with Twilight and the others overshadowing him when they go on their own, but Celestia assures him that she herself is not an adventurer too, but instead inspires others to do their best. This gives Spike the idea to show the rock lobsters that dragons eat rocks, and the lobsters quickly let them go, promising they were only holding them for ransom money.They continue to the crystal mountain and Spike sniffs out the perfect crystals for the lens. As they leave, a volcano on the mountain erupts. Spike drops the crystals into the lava flow but jumps in to rescue them, with Celestia helping to catch him before he falls over a lava-fall. Fleeing a fireball, they get trapped in a cave with a large boulder blocking the exit, and though Spike tries to push it aside, Celestia knows he's far too weak and she blasts the boulder away; she notes to Spike that sometimes, the teacher needs to help the student in more difficult problems. They return safely to Canterlot and Starry Eyed completes the new telescope. Twilight is thrilled with Spike's gift, and Spike receives a letter from Celestia which notes that she felt their time together was very meaningful and considers herself Spike's friend forever.
All-Powerful Bystander: Invoked. The comic finally addresses why Princess Celestia doesn't handle many of the situations the Mane Six end up having to deal with. note Celestia is actually far from the level of "All-Powerful" that this trope normally implies. Without the Elements of Harmony as a final option, she's been taken out at least three times, including being vanished by Nightmare Moon, kidnapped by Plunder Seeds, and losing a head-to-head duel with Queen Chrysalis.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Spike's list of the bullies the Mane 6 have defeated on adventures includes things like manticores, changelings, dragons, and bad manners.
Continuity Nod: A representative from Apploosa appears to provide census results.
Spike, in complaining about being the sidekick to the adventures the Mane 6 have, calls back to the Manticore (from "Friendship is Magic, Part 2"), Changelings ("A Canterlot Wedding"), adult dragons ("Dragonshy"), teen dragons ("Dragon Quest"), the hydra ("Feeling Pinkie Keen"), and nightmares ("Friendship is Magic, Part 2")
Dragons are immune to lava, as previously shown in "Dragon Quest".
Lonely at the Top: Celestia confesses to Spike that she often wishes she could join Twilight and friends on their adventures, but her duties as Princess of Equestria never allow her to do anything she really wants.
Mugging the Monster: Double Subverted. The Rock Lobsters kidnap Celestia and Spike with little fuss. Celestia's shown enough power to fry them on the spot, but she's content to languish behind the bars of a Bamboo Prison as long as Spike isn't injured. However, Spike then points out that as a dragon, he can eat his way out the prison (which he demonstrates), and then reminds the Rock Lobsters how dragons also eat rocks, ensuring a swift release.
Mythology Gag: One of Celestia's agenda items is to prepare for the seapony delegation.
Noodle Incident: Spike mentions how Twilight accidentally turned all of Ponyville upside down for a few hours, while Celestia is reminded when Twilight accidently turned her class - including herself - into palm trees.
Remembered I Could Fly: This is the first time that a writer makes Spike purposely use his dragon skills (his powerful jaws, indestructible teeth and his ability to swim on magma) to correctly solve his problems.
Shown Their Work: The three rock lobsters are named Iggy, Metty, and Seddy; these three names are often used as a mnemonic for the three basic types of rock, Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary respectively.
And indeed, Iggy is a smooth basalt black, Seddy is striped like a stratified bedding, and Metty is covered with swirled foliations.
Sink or Swim Mentor: Subverted. Princess Celestia confesses that she shows shades of this trope, letting Twilight learn by handling dangerous situations that Celestia herself could have handled on their own. However, as evidenced when rescuing Spike, Celestia steps in immediately when the student is actually about to drown.
Issue #4: Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor
Written by Rob Anderson, Drawn by Amy Mebberson, Colored by Heather Breckel.
Twilight is preparing to visit Shining Armor in the Crystal Empire, reminiscing about their youth and how they would play "monster hunters". When she arrives there, she finds Shining struggling to keep up with the endless discussions Lexicon and other advisers have brought to him with Princess Cadance currently away from the castle, and Shining apologizes to Twilight that he can't spend much time at the moment. That evening, one of Twilight's books is taken, and she finds from Lexicon that this has been happening frequently and the rest of the staff believes a ghost in the castle is at work. When Shining finds out what is going on, he and Twilight agree to find out the truth behind this "ghost", reliving their "monster hunter" game of the past.Finding a secret passage in the castle, the two explore an old cave system under the castle, with several traps that Shining presumes were placed by King Sombra. They eventually come across the "ghost", a crystal bard creature crying to itself and surrounded by the stolen books. The two find the creature is far from dangerous, and the crystal bard explains that it had been captured by King Sombra during his reign, forcing the bard to read out of the books. One day, the bard had been able to escape into the caves, and Sombra had set up the various traps they saw to try to recapture the creature, but the creature figured out how to sidestep these traps to go and obtain books to read. Twilight and Shining tell the creature that Sombra has long since been defeated and it has nothing to fear now, and realizing that the creature is well versed with the books, offer it a position as the castle's librarian. Shining and Twilight happily finish off her visit in peace.
Achievements in Ignorance: Lexicon manages to walk through a trap filled cave unharmed while his glasses are broken, thinking he's heading to his room.
Awesomeness by Analysis: Twilight and Shining Armor memorized their "Monster-pedia" to the point that they can remember the precise page numbers of the various entries.
Bigger Bad: The entire conflict is pretty much Sombra's fault, but he's too busy being dead to participate.
Blind Without 'Em: Lexicon is near blind without his glasses, and manages to wander through a trap-filled cave thinking he's heading to his bedroom when they're broken.
Even with his glasses, his eyesight isn't very good. Heck, he thought Twilight was Celestia! Besides both being alicorns, they don't look even remotely similar (Celestia being white as opposed to Twilight's purple, as well as being a lot taller). Shining lampshades this, asking Lex if he'd gotten his eyes checked again like he promised.
Call Back: Twilight mentions meeting a cave troll, events from Issue #2 of the main comic series.
Twilight and Spike mention Oubliettes and Orges, the in-universe tabletop role-playing game introduced in main series #11-12, the Shining Armor/Cadance story. It even calls out to the two-page short in Issue #11 that suggested Twilight played along with Shining and his friends when they were younger.
Crystal berries, tiny ewes and flugelhorns are brought up again.
Character Development: Arguably, we learn a bit more about King Sombra from this story in the short flashbacks than we did in the two-parter featuring him, in that he was egotistical and a well-educated tyrant. And that he was a bit stinky...
Continuity Nod: As noted by the solicitation, this is the first comic of any of the series to take place in the Crystal Empire.
Shining Armor frequently refers to Twilight as "Twylie!"
Sombra's attention to setting traps as he did to protect the Crystal Heart is re-enforced by his attempts to trap the Crystal Bard.
Covers Always Lie: The staircase featured on the special subscription cover is filled with fire and frickin' laser beams; in the comic proper, it's the only part of the secret passage that doesn't have traps in it.
Mooks: A flashback confirms the fanon that Sombra had pony soldiers.
More Hero Than Thou/Who Will Bell the Cat?: Twilight and Shining in a flashback, trying to decide which of the "brave monster hunters" be the first to enter the damp, dark cave deep in the forest. Later, in the present day, they laugh it off and step inside together.
Twilight (to Lexicon): You aren't scared of ghosts?
Lexicon: Scared or not, something is stealing books...
Lexicon (with sudden turn of head): And they're overdue.
Sadly Mythtaken: In-universe, the crystal bard is referred to as a crystal ghost in the Monster-pedia.
Skewed Priorities: One of the ponies at Shining's meeting is really focused on flugelhorns, despite there being more serious issues.
Issue #5: Fluttershy and Zecora
Written by Thomas Zahler, Art by Tony Fleecs
Fluttershy wakes up one day to find that all her animal friends can talk to her in normal, pony-based language instead of chirps and squeaks. When she tries to explain this to Rarity, her friend just passes it off as a sign of being too tired. Fearing she is losing her senses, she goes to Zecora to see if she knows anything. The zebra runs Fluttershy through a number of tests, mostly to verify that she herself hasn't been charmed or magicked. Zecora brings in a raccoon to try to have it "speak" to Fluttershy, but the critter stays silent, and Zecora starts to wonder if Fluttershy is going crazy.While Zecora tends to something in a different room, the raccoon speaks up and says he needs to get to some planned event and leaves, with Fluttershy giving chase. When Zecora finds Fluttershy absent, she brings in two wandering cats and interrogates them - and then forces them through a comedy routine - eventually discovering that they can talk, but were told only to talk to Fluttershy by an entity they can't reveal. Zecora heads off to find Fluttershy.Meanwhile, Fluttershy has followed the raccoon back to a large gathering of animals, lead by a very talkative Angel Bunny. By the time Zecora arrives, she discovers that the animals have all set up a giant tea party for Fluttershy, and are anxious to hear more of her adventure stories. While Fluttershy is having fun, she realizes that this is still unnatural, and prompted by Zecora, determines the true culprit: Discord. The Spirit of Chaos appears, saying this was all a gift for Fluttershy for being good friends. Fluttershy, though still a bit distraught on the suddenness of the gift, thanks Discord and goes back to talking to her animals. Zecora, having a feeling Discord was behind it, reminds him he'll have to turn the animals back to normal, still wary of his mischievous ways. Discord promises and admits that this was all in hopes of helping to keep his friendship with Fluttershy in his path of reformation.
Bait and Switch: The attitudes of the animals hinted that they were planning something sinister. Turns out they were throwing Fluttershy a surprise party.
Batman Gambit: Zecora starts a comedy routine on the two cats she grabbed, then pretends to forget the punchline of a joke, leading to one of the cats bursting out the answer in frustration.
Blade on a Stick: Zecora's Jaffa Stick, a tribal-esque spear. How she plans on using that to solve Fluttershy's problems is a mystery.
Continuity Nod: The animals make mention of Fluttershy's adventures in the "Crystal Kingdom".
Character Development: For Discord, we learn that he sees his path to redemption as being through maintaining his friendship with Fluttershy. Given this came out after the Season 4 finale, in which the friendship between Discord and Fluttershy is tested, gives Discord's motivation here a much more poignant meaning.
G-Rated Drug: Zecora uses catnip as a bribe to two cats to get them to spill the beans.
Talking Animal: While the show implied that she had at least a base understanding of their languages, the animals becoming Suddenly Voiced and able to speak to Fluttershy in a language everypony can understand is new.
Rainbow Dash receives a message to come perform at a distant kingdom, and she eagerly takes off despite the warnings of her friends. She is surprised to find that the kingdom is one run by Diamond Dogs, though much more refined than the trio she had met before. Rainbow is taken to their new queen that had sent for her - Trixie. After dismissing her staff-in-waiting, Trixie anxiously begs Rainbow for help, as she only became queen after the Diamond Dogs found her looking for prop jewels in a mud pit believing that she was gifted in dousing for gems. Though initially thrilled to be treated as royalty, the Diamond Dogs won't let her leave, hoping Rainbow can help her out before they find she really can't douse for gems.Rainbow tries the straight-forward route - flying Trixie out of the kingdom - but they find her crown is really a collar that magically prevents her from leaving. Rainbow manages to coax information from some of the Dogs that they've gone through a lot of rulers and the collar they gave Trixie will keep her in only as long as they believe in her abilities. Rainbow and Trixie scheme a plan to weaken the trust the Dogs have in Trixie - as Rainbow performs an aerial show for the gathered kingdom, Trixie suggests that they give Rainbow the entire treasury of gems as respect. The Dogs begin to doubt Trixie, long enough for Rainbow Dash to pull off a Sonic Rainboom and in its wake, fly Trixie off and leaving the collar behind. Trixie thanks Rainbow for her help and promises not to get into any similar jams.
0% Approval Rating: It turns out that the only way to get the crown off is to invoke this and make it so that the Diamond Dogs don't want Trixie as their Queen anymore by making them lose faith in her.
Gilded Cage: The Diamond Dogs fall for Trixie's bragging and make her the queen of their kingdom. She relishes in her new position...until she realizes that not only is she not allowed to leave, she cannot leave at all because the crown she wears is enchanted specifically to keep her from leaving and cannot be taken off normally.
Hidden Depths: A few Diamond Dogs have surprisingly varied vocabulary. One moment, they'll be talking about how half of them can't even read, the next moment they're talking about how executive power is derived from the people.
Hurricane of Excuses: What essentially kept Trixie from having to reveal that she can't find gems. These include anything from "The stars are out of alignment" to "I don't work on Sundays". It helps that the Diamond Dogs are dumb enough to fall for them every time.
No Kill Like Overkill: Part of the plan is for Trixie to rile up the Diamond Dogs so that they don't accept her as their queen anymore which will disable crown. The problem is that she riles them a little too well and keeps going even as the dogs form an angry mob. It's probably a good thing Rainbow got her out of there when she did.
Restraining Bolt: Trixie's crown, which prevents her from leaving. It was created specifically because their previous rulers quickly left not long after being recognized by the Diamond Dogs.
Summaries Always Lie: The summary claims that Trixie has a hidden agenda, and that Rainbow Dash might not want to help her once she finds out. Trixie doesn't. She genuinely just wants to escape, simple as that.
Trixie's narration: I was bearing the situation with my usual grace and poise, of course.
Trixie: (In her Flashback) Why? Why do these things always happen to me?!
Issue # 7 Princess Luna and Pinkie Pie
Written by Jeremy Whitley, drawn by Tony Fleecs, colored by Heather Breckel
The annual Chuckle-lot event, instituted by Princess Celestia during Nightmare Moon's banishment to help raise the morale of her subjects, is coming up soon, and Princess Luna, still trying to acclimate to normal life, worries she is not funny enough to participate. She first turns to Twilight Sparkle, but Twilight's by-the-books lessons on humor bore Luna. Twilight instead suggests going to Pinkie Pie. Pinkie is only glad to help, and tries to help teach Luna, first by the aspects of physical comedy and slapstick, and then helping to show her how to do practical jokes on the various groups at Canterlot.However, with the Chuckle-lot event the next day, Luna still doesn't have anything for the event, too worried about being laughed at herself as she tries to upstage Celestia. Pinkie reminds her that being funny is not just about making others laugh but being able to laugh at yourself, as well as being oneself. Pinkie and Twilight attend the event the next day and Celestia is disappointed to announce that Luna would not be attending. Luna suddenly appears, and offers a gift to her sister. Celestia opens it and is splatted in the face with a cream pie. Pinkie finds several other presents at the event are also cream pies, and a pie fight soon breaks out. Luna trips up in the pie filling on stage and crashes into her sister, and realizes the humor of the situation, leading off a round of laughter from the entire audience.
Always Someone Better: Part of Luna's problem is that she sees herself as inferior to Celestia and she wants to best Celestia in the Chuckle-Lot without losing the respect of their subjects.
Be Yourself: Ultimately, the aesop. Pinkie tells her that if she had stopped trying to compare herself to her sister and be herself, she wouldn't need anypony else to teach her how to have fun. Luckily, Luna heeds Pinkie's words in the end.
Brick Joke: Pinkie demonstrates several practical jokes, but a pie catapult doesn't go off. Until a few pages later when Luna walks in front of it, which then causes her to stumble into all the other pranks.
Pinkie calls Luna Nightmare Moon again.
Call Back: Pinkie's inanimate friends from "Party of One" return.
The Cameo: Several IDW-specific ponies reappear: Flax Seed and Wheat Grass from the Rarity micro, the PNN newspony and one of the Cloud Gremlins (or at least a costume of him) from the Rainbow Dash micro, and Praiser Pan from the Fluttershy micro, and Tiberus, Luna's pet possum, from her micro.
The Comically Serious: Twilight teaching about humor in the most dry and boring way possible. Later, Luna realizes this is the best role for her at Chuckle-Lot.
Pinkie: Laughing and mocking are not the same thing.
Luna: You do not understand, Pinkie Pie. I'm very important. You're just a clown.
Pinkie: (crestfallen) Oh, I see.
Luna: Pinkie, I didn't mean it like that. It's just that I have responsibilities and you...
Pinkie: And making ponies happy isn't important.
Continuity Nod: The reason for the annual Chuckle-Lot event is tied to the banishment of Nightmare Moon. Pinkie also still calls Luna as "Nightmare Moon" when she first sees here, and it's implied that Luna holds a bit of a grudge.
Mood Whiplash: When Pinkie calls out Luna for being motivated by wanting to beat Celestia instead of a genuine desire to be funny, their argument ends with Pinkie sadly trudging out of Luna's bedroom, and Luna slumping down on her desk in despair.
Moral Guardians: The role Luna ends up playing at Chuckle-Lot, becoming the straight mare to Celestia's comedian.
No Indoor Voice: Luna arrives at Twilight's library with the Royal Canterlot Voice. Lampshaded later when Pinkie turns to address Luna in the same manner.
Pinkie: You don't really want to learn about being funny. You just want to beat Celestia at something. (...) Maybe if you stopped worrying about what you are supposed to be and were just yourself you wouldn't need somepony to teach you how to have fun.
Issue # 8 Reins, Trains, and Carts with Wheels (Applejack and Rarity)
Written by Katie Cook, drawn by Andy Price, coloring by Heather Breckel
The Apples get a letter, and Granny reads off that AJ's cousins on the west coast want her to bring some of her apples to Applewood to use in a dessert. Realizing this as a potential financial opportunity, AJ prepares to leave and asks Rarity for a traveling bag. Rarity, upon hearing the name "Applewood" is immediately eager to join AJ, not only to meet the celebrities in Applewood and its fashion sense, but also to sightsee along the way.Their first stop puts them at Salt Lick City with a few hours layover, and Rarity suggests they go see the Largest Ball of Cashmere Yarn in Equestria. AJ obliges, but gets bored and falls asleep quickly. When she wakes, she realizes they are late for the train and barely make it on before it leaves the station - only to learn that this train is not theirs, which is running late, but one bound for Seaddle, where they can transfer to the right train - after another brief layover. Rarity, again, suggests taking in a seaside attraction. However, when their taxi back to the station is wrecked, and they get caught in a rain shower, they hastily take shelter for the night, knowing they'll miss the train. Fortunately, Rarity finds a pedal-powered aircraft that they take.The two get into an argument over the lack of any serious business plan AJ has to sell her apples, causing them to crash into Mount Monument. As they get down safely, AJ realizes they were flying the wrong way, but they are fortunate to find a small western town with a stagecoach puller willing to take them to San Franciscolt where they can catch a quick train ride to Applewood. Rarity insists on more sightseeing but AJ shuts her up, until they are attacked by a gang of Cattle Rustlers. AJ and Rarity manage to work together despite their arguments to fend off the bulls and help reach safety.A brief train ride later lands them in Applewood, and the two apologize for each others behavior. AJ has a way of making it up to Rarity, taking her to Whinnyland as she had been asking during the trip. The two enjoy a fruitful day as friends before they head to AJ's relatives. They are as surprised to see her and have no need for her apples, but Rarity sees they are throwing a party and joins in, dragging AJ along with her.Back in Ponyville, Granny Smith realizes that she misread the letter and sent AJ off in the wrong direction, and it was really Aunt and Uncle Orange in Manehatten that wanted the fruit.
Action Girl: Applejack manages to beat up several of the rustlers, with Rarity getting in a few licks as well.
Adorkable : Both AJ and Rarity when at Whinnyland; their excitement is comparable to Real Life adults visiting Disneyland for the first time.
All Animals Are Dogs: After getting caught in the Seaddle rain, AJ and Rarity take shelter; Rarity has managed to stay mostly dry but AJ is sopping wet, and not amused. Rarity tells AJ to calm down, goading AJ into shaking off the water like a wet dog would, totally drenching Rarity.
Whinnyland includes an attraction based on Pirates of the Caribbean, and in it is Captain Hoofbeard from the pirate arc of the main series, who himself is an Expy of Captain Jack Sparrow.
The Observer ponies briefly show up again.
Jim the Troll (based on "Big" Jim Miller, the show's co-producer) is on a billboard and called out as "Big Jim".
Aunt and Uncle Orange appear, albeit at the very end.
Captain Obvious: In the finale montage, "Apple Bloom: Did not get her cutie mark in base jumping"
Casual Danger Dialogue: Applejack and Rarity get into disagreements over AJ's business plan while flying a plane and fighting off the Rustlers.
Continuity Nod: Mount Monument is in the middle of an expansion to add Princess Twilight Sparkle's head to the sculpture. A small sign, petitioning to add Queen Chrysalis's head, is hidden below it, and with only one signature, Chryssy's herself.
Rarity offering to help AJ with her business plan despite the anger between them mirrors Rarity's line from "Testing Testing 1 2 3" where she's willing to help Rainbow Dash despite her offhanded comment.
Rarity and AJ are doing The Navigator dance (from the Big Mac arc of the main series) at the "City Bear Disco" attraction at Whinnyland.
In a Brick Joke, they decide to actually deconstruct the trope, of all the tropes to deconstruct. Rarity is exasperated that Applejack thinks business is that simple, wondering how the farmer expects to settle a supplier/salespony partnership contract if her business model begins and ends at "fruit stand".
Museum of Boredom: Rarity eagerly drags AJ to visit the Largest Ball of Cashmere Yarn and its associated museum while at a scheduled train stop at Salt Lick City. While she is initially impressed and gets to pet the goat, AJ tires of it quickly.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero : Literally, with Big Macintosh destroying the barn more than once, and Applejack and Rarity wrecking the aircraft.
Noodle Incident: Oh, we see how Big Mac destroyed the barn, but AJ's Death Glare suggests this is not the first time this happened with Big Mac. From the images at the end, it appears that he just isn't very good at making sure the barn is sturdy. That or he's so strong that any attempts would end up breaking the barn even more.
Schizo Tech: Rarity and Applejack use a pedal-powered two-seater airplane (a "gyro-flyer") at one point of their trip.
Shown Their Work: Assuming that the geography in Equestria is similar to the real world, the travel challenges in this issue make sense. They leave from Ponyville (somewhere in the mid-west) , to Salt Lake City, get on the wrong train to Seattle, find the plane but take it the wrong direction (east, instead of south) as to end up in South Dakota, then find a western town that is close to San Francisco which is then a short train ride to Hollywood/Los Angeles. Mind you, some of the attractions don't make sense (the Biggest Ball of Twine is in Minnesota, and Seattle doesn't have the type of body of water to make a good water-skiing show, at least as large as the one shown with sharks and dolphins), but otherwise still spot on. The inconsistencies can probably be pinned on the fact that Equestria isn't an exact copy of Earth.
Skewed Priorities: Rarity gets into an argument over AJ's (lack of a) business plan for selling her apples while flying a plane. They crash.
Stealth Pun: There's a mention of Rodeo Drive, which given the series' fondness of horse-based puns is likely pronounced just how it looks, unlike the real street in Beverly Hills which is pronounced "Ro-DAY-o."
Swapped Roles: Normally Applejack is the calm and steady one, with Rarity as the Drama Queen getting worked up over small details, but Rarity is remarkably calm about things, while Applejack is the one getting stressed out more. AJ lampshades this at one point. Things apparently go back to normal after the trip is over.
Where Are They Now: A series of photos at the end of the comic shows what became of the characters after the events of the story. Applejack learned a lesson...about something. Rarity had a minor breakdown over her own project sometime later. Applebloom did not get her Cutie Mark in base jumping. Big Mac built a barn...He didn't do a very good job on the first barn and had to do it again. Granny Smith has an optometrist appointment next Tuesday. The stranger sought adventure and eventually became a hero. The curator of the world's biggest ball of yarn is currently working out how many socks can be knit with the ball of yarn. The owners of the gyro-flyer that AJ and Rarity took were incredibly confused when they returned to their barn some weeks later. The Manehatten Oranges are still waiting for Applejack.
Issue # 9 Granny Smith and Flim & Flam
Written by Christine Rice, art by Tony Fleecs
The Apples attend the annual fruit-sellers convention, though Granny Smith is bitter about the excessive amount of non-apple products the convention has added over the years. As AJ, Big Mac, and Apple Bloom set up their stall, Granny wanders the fairgrounds and is surprised to hear the voice of Flim trying to hawk a new gadget, but with no sign of Flam. Flim states he has broken up with his brother and have gone their separate ways. Later, Granny finds Flam also trying to sell the same gadget, and has the same story. Despite their past attempts to con the Apples, Granny feels this isn't right and goes to find Flim and ask him about it.Flim tells her that three weeks before the con, they were in Dodge Junction where they met Marian, a librarian pony, which caught both of their attention. They started to vie for her heart, but got so bitter towards each other that Marian decided to drop the both of them. The two brothers went their separate ways, by chance being at the fruit convention at the same time.Granny hatches a plan to bring the brothers together. After stopping them from yelling at each other, Granny tells them that in her youth, she incited the same division of the Jonagold brothers when they both tried to win her over. She opted to leave both alone, but that caused the brothers to feud, and never see each other again, and she does not want the same to happen to Flim and Flam. She helps them reconcile their differences, and by the end of the convention, they are back together and making a (legitimate!) fortune, thanks to Granny's advice.
Blatant Lies: Granny Smith initially denies helping the brothers get back together, but admits it when Applejack gives her a Death Glare.
Cassandra Truth: Flim and Flam tell Granny that they are no longer on speaking terms and are not scheming anything, but it takes awhile before Granny actually believes them.
Continuity Cavalcade: The two page spread overlooking the apple convention has too many background character cameos to list, though some notable characters include Cheese Sandwich, Maud Pie and the rest of the Pie clan, Ms. Harshwhinney, Surprise, and Daring Do.
There's also several nods to the past comics: the David Bowie - inspired pie wagon from the Rainbow Dash micro is there, as well as Flax Seed & Wheat Grass's "Goops for Stuff" from the Rarity micro. "Fancy Shmancy" from the Pinkie/Luna is in line, and the PNN reporter pony is awaiting on stage. Wheat Grass and Summer Mane also show up later.
History Repeats: Granny Smith was once courted by a pair of twins called the Jonagold brothers, who began fighting each other of her affections. Granny, unable to choose between them, broke it off with both of them, and neither spoke to the other again. Her helping Flim and Flam is an attempt to stop the same thing from happening to them.
Shout-Out: To The Music Man. Flim and Flam were originally based on Professor Harold Hill from that play, and in the backstory to the comic they vied for the love of a a mare named Marian — who is a librarian.
SiblingLove Triangle: Both of the Flim Flam brothers had a crush on one mare, named Marian, and their attempts to woo her drove them apart, and neither got her. This is situation that Granny can relate to as she was in a love triangle herself with the Jonagold brothers.
Riddle for the Ages: Flim proposes the idea that Marian had never cared for him and his brother, and was only distracting them from conning the ponies of Dodge Junction. Granny's tale implies that she couldn't choose between them and was tired of their fighting. Since she never appears outside of what Flim is telling Granny, we never know.
Written and drawn by Katie Cook, colored by Kate Carleton
Over the time of a morning, Winona transfers mud from the pigpen to Big Mac's bed, destroys Apple Bloom's spelling homework, eats Granny's bake sale pie and chases (and is then chased by) Opalescence, all while maintaining good dog status with Applejack.