Ponies in Book Land (a.k.a The Bookworm Arc)
- Story by Heather Nuhfer, Art by Amy Mebberson
Twilight discovers that a magical and uncatchable bookworm is eating through her books, while at the same time a number of strange pods have started appearing over Ponyville. Leaving AJ, Fluttershy, and Spike behind to watch the pods, Twilight, Rainbow, Pinkie, and Rarity use magic to enter the books in an attempt to repair the stories, believing that will stop the bookworm. Twilight warns her friends to keep the stories to their original form, but they cannot help but to embellish when each has a chance to be their favorite heroes across different works. Meanwhile, in Ponyville, AJ, Fluttershy, and Spike find one pod that bursts open to reveal Daring Do, and fear what other fictional characters may emerge from the others.
In one story, they attempt to thwart the bookworm, who wants to make the stories for itself. The bookworm manages to escape, and the fictional world the ponies are in begins to erase completely. The four manage to make their way through the bookworm's exit portal, only to find themselves in a void of complete white, and Twilight realizes the bookworm has managed to eat all of her books. In Ponyville, all the other pods have opened to reveal characters from the stories — some with more malicious intent than others — planning to take over this new world.
As AJ, Fluttershy, and Spike try to keep Ponyville under control, the other four argue, until realization dawns on Twilight that they can create their own stories from this void, hoping to lure the bookworm towards them with fresh fiction to eat. Between Pinkie's, Rainbow's, and Rarity's imaginations, they are able to locate the sleeping bookworm and provide a tale that wakes him, and the four race to avoid being eaten. The more evil creatures that have appeared in Ponyville have captured the others, but AJ and Fluttershy get the idea of drawing a simple comic story that will be consumed by the bookworm to explain their plight to Twilight and the others. Their plan works, and Twilight tries to reason with the bookworm, showing that his consumption of stories is threatening their friends. The bookworm explains that his actions were only meant to let him read the stories in the books, and meant no harm to anyone. The bookworm agrees to help with his exacting memory of the original stories, and Twilight reverses the spell that brought them into the books. The bookworm then begins to recall all the stories it consumed, repairing each book one by one and causing the fictional characters to disappear. With the library restored to normal, the bookworm thanks the ponies for their stories and returns back to a book safely.
These issues provide examples of:
- Big Bad: The story-eating Bookworm serves as the main antagonist who's causing all the trouble. Turns out he wasn't aware his story-eating was causing ponies to get hurt in the real world, he was just looking for a story with a worm hero.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: The worm is clearly aware of "good", "evil", "hero", "villain", etc. He just doesn't have quite the same definitions of each as the ponies do. The biggest disconnect is his eating of books, not caring that they're private property.
- Break the Cutie: Twilight gets it several times here, first going into nervous breakdowns and fits of rage when she discovers her precious books have been eaten, and even more breakdowns and frustrations with her friends recreating their stories with various improvisations.
- Continuity Nod: Spike refers to them getting accidentally sucked into a comic book, and Twilight surmises they can solve their problem by doing so purposely. Interesting to note that the episode aired less than a month before Issue #15's release, suggesting forward cohesion between the comic and show runners. note
- Furry Reminder: In the story that is similar to Robin Hood, the mane four that travel into the book gain unshorn fetlocks, something typically only seen on the stallions on the show but would be an issue for mares and stallions alike without proper care and trimming of the coat at their hooves. This continues in the next issue, when in a The Lord of the Rings-inspired story, Rainbow takes the role of Frodo the hobbit and regains the unshorn fetlocks, the equivalent of how hobbits went barefoot.
- Hardboiled Detective: The story Rarity comes up with to track down the bookworm is a film-noir style mystery with herself as one of these.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: While in the story, the mane 4 "see" the frames of the comic (perceived as edges of the pages of the ruined books) as signs of the stories being wrecked more or repaired by their efforts.
- Literal Bookworm: Twilight's library becomes infested by a bookworm resembling a fat green caterpillar, which begins eating its way through the stories in her books — not the physical books, but the stories themselves. Twilight, Rarity, Pinkie and Rainbow Dash use magic to pursue it into the books, where they discover that it's devouring stories because none exist about itself and it wants to create a new one by devouring older stories.
- Media Transmigration: Twilight, Pinkie, Dash and Rarity go into the books to stop a magical bookworm from eating the stories. When they do, they sometime end up in stories where they take on the roles of characters which Twilight insists they stick to how the story goes. Thing is though that the others either don't know how the stories play out or aren't in the roles to have it go as intended as the main characters isn't there due to being transported into Equestria, forcing them to improvise much to Twilight's chagrin.
- Mind Screw: The Daring Do based on the books now exists in Ponyville, even though there is a real Daring Do somewhere in Equestria.
- Never Say "Die": When the four find themselves in the white void, Pinkie wonders if they "bit the big one", and Rainbow considers this doesn't look like "the Great Beyond".
- Pupating Peril: After the bookworm starts devouring its way through the stories in Twilight's library, a large number of colorful cocoons starts appearing around Ponyville. These cocoons, dubbed "schmarfelpods", end up covering a large part of the town and inspire a great deal of nervousness in the characters as they wonder what's going to come out of them. Once a schmarfelpod hatches into Daring Do, it's revealed that they contain fictional characters from the stories the bookworm ate, leading to increased apprehension about which characters exactly are going to come out of the hundreds and hundreds of cocoons scattered around town. Once the rest break open, the released characters promptly wreak havoc in the town, including a league of villains who try to forcibly take it over.
- Refugee from TV Land: The main plot, thanks to a gluttonous bookworm. Coccoons scattered around Ponyville eventually reveal various characters from the books the worm has eaten, including Daring Do.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Twilight and co. attempt to fix the damage the bookworm has caused, but their inability to follow the original stories ends up doing more harm than good. Partially justified though as they have to keep moving to catch up to the worm and either can't remember how the stories go or key characters (like Daring Do in her book) are missing forcing them to improvise.
- While in the The Lord of the Rings fantasy, the others ask Pinkie why she had to drag this on so long without excitement. Pinkie offers to liven things up by summoning a horde of zombies.
- Sweetie Belle mentioning the Elements of Harmony to the Evil Queen winds up leading the queen and the book villains straight to the library where Spike, Fluttershy, Applejack and Daring Do are hiding out.
- Not Using the "Z" Word: Rainbow really doesn't want anypony else to say the word "zombie".
- Series Continuity Error: The interaction between Daring Do and AJ and Fluttershy suggests some unfamiliarity with the events of "Daring Don't", though this could be attributed to AJ not being a big fan of the series to start with.
- Take That!:
- A princess pony keeps singing at Fluttershy's furry friends... It's giving them a headache!
- "Twenty-five pages of nothing but walking later...."
- Trapped in TV Land: #15 ends with Twilight, Pinkie, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash trapped in an empty void in the books, while various villains and monsters from the books are wreaking havoc in Ponyville.
- Tyrannosaurus rex: One of the beasts from the books that rampage through Ponyville.