Praising with Faint Damnation: A Defense of Spike

This is a commissioned post for the Phyre Family, who donated very generously to the My Little Po-Mo vol. 3 Kickstarter. They have very patiently waited without comment for the months it has taken me to figure out how to approach this article. Thank you!

It should come as no surprise to long-time My Little Po-Mo readers that I am not particularly a fan of Spike. I have in the past been quite harsh on him, probably unfairly so. So when I was commissioned to write an essay about Spike and bullying, with no further information on what was desired, I struggled to figure out how to approach it.

My immediate instinct was to write about Spike as a bully. After all, he frequently displays an entitled attitude, self-centeredness, and greed, and more than one of his focus episodes involves him either self-aggrandizing or taking advantage of a position of power. It should be easy to come up with examples of him bullying others, surely?

It wasn’t. It turned out, in fact, to be essentially impossible. Recall our discussion in regards to “One Bad Apple”: not all poor treatment of others is necessarily bullying. Following David Dupper, we defined bullying as utilizing a position of relative power to create an ongoing pattern of psychological or physical abuse against a victim who cannot defend themselves.

Spike has never done this. Oh, Spike has been in positions of power or authority which he abused, such as when he grew to enormous size in “Secret of My Excess” or foisted all the work involved in his pet-care business onto his unpaid interns, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, in “Just for Sidekicks.” But while he does in fact use this power to harm others and take what he wants from them, that’s not actually bullying.

At the core of bullying is a sense of entitlement to power and status over others. The abuse of others is simply a way of demonstrating or expressing the power that the bully believes is theirs by right. That’s not really what Spike is doing in either the examples above. In “Secret of My Excess” he is, first of all, not entirely in control of his behavior, and second, he’s driven not by a desire to demonstrate power he already possesses, but by a desire to take something others possess. Bullying is not, despite common folk-psychology to the contrary, actually driven by jealousy, but by a desire to put others in “their place,” to remind them that their hierarchical status is below the bully’s. A bully doesn’t steal another child’s lunch money because they want or need the money–or, at least, not solely or primarily because they want or need the money–but rather because they want to demonstrate that the other child possesses nothing the bully cannot take.

That’s simply not the motivation Spike expresses in “Secret of My Excess.” He’s after the possessions of others–actually motivated by greed and jealousy, in other words–not trying to set himself up above them. Likewise, in “Just for Sidekicks” he does mistreat the Cutie Mark Crusaders and the pets, but again it’s not out of a desire to demonstrate power over them, but rather a combination of laziness and greed: he wants to get as many gems as possible with as little effort as possible, and neglecting the pets and exploiting the Cutie Mark Crusaders is how he does it.

In other words, when Spike abuses or mistreats people he has power over, it’s in pursuit of something else, while for bullies, bullying is its own reward. Contrast to Spike the behavior of actual bullies, like Diamond Tiara (pre-“Crusaders of the Lost Mark”) or the dragons Spike encounters in “Dragon Quest” and “Gauntlet of Fire” (with the exception of Princess Ember). To take the latter case, the Dragon Lord is a classic bully. He doesn’t receive anything from the other dragons, isn’t exploiting them to gain anything; he simply uses his size and strength to intimidate them into obedience, and takes pleasure in that.

Garble in “Dragon Quest” is a little more complicated. At first, Spike has nothing he wants or respects, so Garble is dismissive and cruel for the sake of it, encouraging Spike to take part in activities Garble is certain he cannot handle, so that Garble and his friends can laugh at Spike’s humiliation. That’s straightforward bullying, but then when Spike is able to handle a bellyflop into lava without injury, Garble’s view changes. Now he sees Spike as “tough,” or at least not completely without toughness, which is to say that Spike has demonstrated a quality Garble values. Garble remains pushy and manipulative, but he is no longer bullying Spike when he takes him on the phoenix egg hunt, but rather trying to include Spike in an activity–he has accepted Spike as, if not an equal, at least someone who has value beyond being a tool for demonstrating Garble’s own superiority. This of course reverses when Spike refuses to destroy the phoenix egg and is defended by the ponies, which Garble interprets as weakness, negating the value he saw in Spike. Thus by “Gauntlet of Fire” Garble is back to bullying Spike, though that takes a backseat to the titular competition.

That competition gives us the key to Spike’s relationship with bullying and the best roles he can play as a character–and I’m using the word “key” deliberately as a reference to the Key episodes of the Season Four. Those episodes, along with Season Five’s Map episodes, involve the ponies taking up teacher or mentor roles, learning more about their Element of Harmony by teaching it to others. And at the end of Season Four, Spike was given a seat at the map table, implying that he would be taking on that role despite not having a (stated) Element of Harmony.

And sure enough, at the beginning of “Gauntlet of Fire” Spike starts glowing just as the Mane Six’s cutie marks glow at the beginnings of their Map episodes; “Gauntlet of Fire” is Spike’s Map episode, his opportunity to teach the lessons he’s learned to another. That other is clearly signposted as well: it is Princess Ember who has the clearest character arc over the course of the episode. What, then, is the lesson? What is it that Spike has learned over the course of the series, and now teaches?

Spike is the little guy, literally–he’s smaller than the other characters and the only male main character. He’s less skilled than the others, less experienced, lacks any obvious specialty. He is a prime target for bullying, and that experience means that he knows what it’s like to be bullied. Enter Princess Ember: smaller than the other dragons, the first girl in what the series had previously portrayed as very much a boys’ club–indeed, as I argued regarding “Dragon Quest,” the dragons are easily readable as a portrayal of toxic, fragile masculinity the series holds up in contrast to the healthy, stable femininity of the ponies. And Ember is definitely bullied by the dragons, and particularly the Dragon Lord: her gender, size, and relative lack of physical power are regarded as markers of inferiority, and she is thus denied participation in the Gauntlet of Fire, which is to say access to leadership positions and social power. She is being held down because she’s seen as inferior, as a means of ensuring the other dragons get to continue to feel superior, which is quite close to our definition of bullying above.

Spike then models for her what it takes to survive being bullied. He refuses to allow his power to be taken from him by participating in the Gauntlet, and helps Ember to make the same refusal. He even demonstrates for her how the ostensibly weak can overcome the powerful, by cooperation–a lesson which she gives every sign of having taken to heart in the episode’s closing. And just as the Mane Six’s Map episodes are as much about developing their characters as educating the guest stars, “Gauntlet of Fire” advances Spike significantly as well: he is no longer alone. Before, he was a new kind of dragon, a postdragon if you will, who embraced the pony way of life and experimented with combining it with his own concepts of what it might mean to be a dragon. Now Ember has learned from him, and stands in a position of power, a healthy feminine presence rising above the toxic masculinity of draconic culture. But she’s learned Spike’s lesson, and does not seek to forcibly impose herself or destroy the other dragons’ masculinity. Instead, she ends the episode using her authority to teach rather than force, to show a different way, to give the dragons the freedom to be themselves that was snatched from them by the toxicity and fragility of their conception of masculinity.

So what is the lesson Spike taught? It was the ability to take the best of others and incorporate it into yourself. The ability to transcend, adapt, evolve–ironically for a character who often struggles to retain his lessons from episode to episode, it turns out that Spike’s equivalent to an Element of Harmony is Change itself. He is a vision of a masculinity that starts toxic and fragile, that must dominate or shatter, but over time allows what it previously rejected as feminine into itself, and constructs a new form of masculinity that can deviate from a narrow path without losing itself.

The danger with Spike has always been that as he grew up he would become the monster from “Secret of My Excess,” the creature of power that can only take, never give, that crushed and destroyed and trampled. But now a new path has opened for him: he can grow up to be Big Mac instead.

My Little Po-Mo vol. 3 Book Launch!

My Little Po-Mo vol. 3 coverMy Little Po-Mo: Unauthorized Critical Essays on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season Three and Derivative Works is now available for purchase!

Like them or hate them, the fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic have created a plethora of derivative works, from the typical fanfiction and fanart to long-running comics, audio dramas, video games, songs, and even animation! Not to be outdone, licensed derivative works have proliferated as well in the years since the series began. But is this a natural and healthy expression of fandom? Or appropriation by adult men of one of the few quality works not created with them in mind?
This third volume of essays adapted from the blog My Little Po-Mo combines a critical study of the third season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with analysis of both licensed derivative works and a selection of fanworks to explore these questions and the show which inspired them.
This volume includes:

  • Critical essays on every episode of the third season.
  • Additional essays on licensed works such as the IDW comics series and the Equestria Girls spin-off movies.
  • Analysis of more than a dozen fanworks, including Friendship Is Witchcraft, Ask Jappleack, “Rainbow Factory,” and Mega Pony!
  • A case study of Doctor Whooves as an instance of fan influence on the show.

And more!

You can buy it as an ebook on Smashwords (preferred–you get it in your choice of DRM-free formats, and I get more royalties than the other sites), the Kindle store, Barnes & Noble, or the iTunes iBook store!

Or if you prefer, get it in print on CreateSpace (preferred–this site pays the author more royalties) or Amazon–other stores to follow!

ETA: And if you’re interested in the first two books in the series, or my other books, you can find them here!

Elements of Harmony 7: Cadance Is Best Pony

The Elements of Harmony series are commissioned essays in which I examine a character selected by the Kickstarter backer who commissioned the essay, and construct an argument on why that character is best pony.

For starters, Cadance has one of the best names in the series, and almost certainly the most oversignified. Start with the first name given for her, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza. Mi amore is, of course, Italian for “my love,” and likely a title indicating the nature and source of her power; much as Twilight Sparkle is the Princess of Friendship, Cadance is the Princess of Love. But cadenza has a very different meaning: it is a musical term, referring to an ornamental passage, usually a solo designed to show off the virtuosity of one musician, placed near the end of a work. This is very much Cadance’s role in her first appearance.

Let us go back, a moment, to the end of Season Two. It has been something of a triumph, with a number of episodes that stand among the series’ best: “The Return of Harmony,” “Lesson Zero,” “Sweet and Elite,” “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000,” “Read It and Weep,” “It’s About Time.” Now, here at the end of the series, we’re introduced to a new character, Princess Cadance, and just as swiftly (a mere couple of minutes into “A Canterlot Wedding, Part Two”) introduced to the real Princess Cadance, bedraggled, scratched up, desperate to save Shining Armor. What follows can only be described as a virtuoso solo passage, as the two Cadances sing “This Day Aria.” It is easily the best song in the show to that point, alternating verses in which the true and false Cadance sing light and dark versions of each other’s lines, with the false Cadance, Queen Chrysalis, wanting to control and devour, while the true Cadance mourns the disruption of her special day and worries about the loss of her love, Shining Armor.

Chrysalis isn’t just disguised as Cadance; in a sense, she is Cadance, another side of the same coin. Their song together is an aria–a piece performed by one singer–not a duet, and their power is the same: love. Chrysalis devours while Cadance creates, yes, but such is the nature of love; it can be grasping, greedy, possessive, or it can be giving, nurturing, healing. Usually, it’s both at once. And within a universe where friendship is magic, love is pure power; Chrysalis is able to defeat Celestia in a direct battle of power against power, and Cadance in turn is able to empower Shining Armor to do what Celestia can’t, and drive the Changelings from Equestria. Because, of course, one lover alone can only be selfish; it’s when love is shared by two or more people that it becomes able to accomplish something good.

This is the power of love: connection, binding, bridging gaps, enabling sharing and cooperation. Cadance is, in more ways than one, a bridge. She is, for example, a unicorn that became an alicorn princess: according to Lauren Faust, Cadance was a unicorn, neither an alicorn nor a princess, when “A Canterlot Wedding” was first planned; sometime after Faust left, she became an alicorn princess. This, perhaps, is why she is so different from Celestia and Luna: less distant, smaller, more down-to-earth and approachable. She is a living bridge between “ordinary” magical ponies and the goddess-like Princesses of Sun and Moon, someone who has ascended extradiegetically, and thus traced the path for Twilight to do so extradiegetically a season from now.

But Princess Mi Amore Cadenza is only one of her names. She has two more: Cadence and Cadance, the former her name according to the credits and closed captioning of some episodes, the latter her name in other episodes, most merchandise, and the Elements of Harmony guidebook. Cadence has multiple meanings, all related to sound. First, it is a musical term, the sequence of chords that ends a passage, with different types of cadences used to different effects–deceptive cadence, for instance, generates a feeling of hanging incompleteness. (As something of a joke, “B.B.B.F.F. (Reprise)” in “A Canterlot Wedding” ends with a deceptive cadence, moments before Chrysalis-as-Cadance attacks Twilight.) It can also mean a particular style of speech or intonation, or a rhythm.

These latter meanings of the word resonate with Cadance’s second major appearance, in “The Crystal Empire.” Though she spends most of the episode sidelined, her role is tremendously important, as she is (with Shining Armor’s support, a nice reversal of their roles from the climax of “A Canterlot Wedding”) the one actually battling King Sombra; the entire plot of the two-parter is Twilight trying to find ways to help Cadance finish him off. She’s the obviously correct choice for the job; having already confronted her own dark mirror in Chrysalis, she is more than prepared to take on the Shadow. But there are subtler ways in which cadence permeates the episode. For example, the Crystal Ponies are marked by a particular cadence of speech, a dour and overprecise intonation that represents the repression of their past and their light. As the Crystal Faire frees them, they begin speaking with a more normal cadence and regain their full shine, only to lose it again to Sombra. Their light and their cadence are equated, and it is Cadence who brings both once she grasps the Crystal Heart, recovered by Twilight and Spike.

What is the connection between Cadance and the Heart? The Crystal Ponies seem to recognize her as the Crystal Princess, and after “The Crystal Empire” accept her and Shining Armor as their ruler. The Crystal Heart bears a close resemblance to Cadance’s cutie mark, and flares to life when when she takes it, after which she leads the Crystal Ponies in using its power to dispel Sombra’s Shadow for good. But she’s not a Crystal Pony: like the Mane Six, she sparkles only temporarily after the activation of the Crystal Heart, not permanently like the Crystal Ponies, and she clearly has no memory of their realm, so she’s not their millennia-lost princess. What she is, however, is Cadance, which is to say, cadence, a rhythm–and the most primal rhythm of all, one accelerated both by the love that is Cadance’s power and the fear that is Sombra’s, is the beating of a heart.

Which brings us to her third, and apparently official, name: Cadance. Which is not itself a word, but fusion of two, cadence and dance. Dancing is, of course, another activity closely associated with both rhythm and with love, but the name carries more meaning than that: Cadance, from her first appearance, has been a character who dances on the edge of the spotlight, doing important things but never being at the heart of the story. She is not a mentor like Celestia, nor is she someone who can serve as the focus character for an episode like Twilight or Luna; she is the friend, the loved one, the one who holds down the home fort while others go questing. This fits well with her personality, as one of the most grounded and down-to-earth characters in the series. In “Three’s a Crowd,” for example, she’s happy to go along with either visiting the Star-Swirl the Bearded Museum or going on Discord’s absurd quest with Twilight, while in “Games Ponies Play” she tries to get Twilight and the others to relax and accept events as they unfold. And, as already observed, she is a pony who works by empowering others.

Friend, lover, wife, mother, quest-giver. The balanced center around which all else revolves, a font of power which others wield, the beating heart of the Crystal Empire whose love is refracted across all Equestria. Bridge between the three tribes of ponies and the alicorns, between the everyday and the exalted. Yes, there is definitely a case to be made for Cadance as best pony.

My Little Po-Mo Volume 3 is coming!

My Little Po-Mo: Unauthorized Critical Essays on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season Three and Derivative Works is on its way! Content is now completely finalized, it’s fully formatted for print version, and I’m working on formatting for e-book. The cover designer is working her magic, things are humming along. I’m hoping to have it available for purchase by Black Friday, but I’ve learned never to guarantee a release date.

Have the TOC:

  • Dear Princess Celestia… (Introduction) – Fully rewritten from the one used in past books!
  • I’ve finally figured out why you’re having so much trouble being liked! (The Crystal Empire) – with expanded coverage of Sombra as a Shadow archetype to several characters!
  • Maybe something less over-the-top and not so super-hyper (Too Many Pinkie Pies)
  • I’ll be embarrassed, shamed, disgraced, mortified, humiliated… (One Bad Apple)
  • You will never have the amazing, show-stopping ability (Magic Duel)
  • Actually, Twilight Sparkle, I’m the main singer tonight (Sleepless in Ponyville)
  • The Wonderbolts will never let a loser like me join! (Wonderbolts Academy) – revised to examine the ways Lightning Dust pushes Rainbow Dash to be better!
  • Now hold on, everypony. We’ve done our best to improve supply this year. (Apple Family Reunion)
  • That’s future Spike’s problem (Spike at Your Service) – revised to be hard on Spike as opposed to brutally unfair!
  • Sometimes it can be hard for a shy pony like me to stand up for myself (Keep Calm and Flutter On)
  • SPIKE WANT! (Just for Sidekicks) – see “Spike at Your Service”!
  • I’m bored. (Games Ponies Play)
  • Princess Celestia Is Best Pony
  • I don’t know when she changed, but she changed! (Magical Mystery Cure) – revised to make at least 20% more sense!
  • I wonder where I’m going now/What my role is meant to be/I don’t know how to travel/To a future I can’t see (Magical Mystery Cure)
  • Alchemical Fandom: A Case Study in Doctor Whooves – revised from my guest post on TARDIS Eruditorum for a pony audience rather than a Doctor Who audience
  • Last Survivor of Gallopfrey (Time Lords and Terror)
  • Save Derpy (Doctor Whooves and Assistant)
  • Fire the Orbital Friendship Beam (Double Rainboom)
  • [Pony] Is My Waifu (Snowdrop)
  • Welcome to the Herd (Friendship Is Dragons) – revised with more arcs of the comic, more coverage of the development of the campaign comic genre, and more accurate history of tabletop RPGs!
  • Confound These Ponies (Friendship Is Witchcraft)
  • Haters Gonna Hate (My Little Po-Mo: Unauthorized Critical Essays on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season One) – completely replaced with a piece by my editor about what a POS that first volume was before he got his hands on it!
  • The Glorious Lunar Republic (The Lunaverse, Season One)
  • Princesses as Celebrities in Equestria
  • Mods Are Asleep (The Return of Queen Chrysalis Part 1-4)
  • To the Mooooooooooooooon! (Nightmare Rarity, Parts 1-4)
  • Big McIntosh is Best Pony
  • Hit Its Weak Point for Massive Damage (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Volumes 3 and 4)
  • Solar Empire (Reflections) – Book-exclusive coverage of comic issues 17-20!
  • Hate Detected (Turnabout Storm)
  • Ponify Everything! (My Litle Investigations Case 1: True Blue Scootaloo)
  • Get Equipped With Magic (Mega Pony)
  • My Favorite Background Pony Is Applejack (Background Pony) – heavily revised to be more analytical and less caustic
  • Glorious Pegasus Master Race (Rainbow Factory) – also heavily revised for expanded discussion of the theory of the grotesque
  • Apples and Apple Accessories (Ask Jappleack/ – Book exclusive!
  • RIP Golden Oak Library (The Elements of Harmony)
  • From a feminist perspective, has MLP:FIM changed the world? – significantly expanded!
  • Gak (Equestria Girls) – expanded to discuss the theme of mirrors and the parallels between Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer
  • I Watch It For the Plot (Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks) – Book exclusive!
  • …Today I Learned…

ETA: Corrected what “Glorious Pegasus Master Race” is about–I had the wrong fic listed originally.

Elements of Harmony 6: Twilight Sparkle Is Best Pony

The Elements of Harmony series are commissioned essays in which I examine a character selected by the Kickstarter backer who commissioned the essay, and construct an argument on why that character is best pony.

Because of course she is. It’s hardly even a question. Twilight has had more focus than any other pony, and is nearly always depicted positively. Even when her behavior is shown in a negative light, as in “Lesson Zero” or “It’s About Time,” she learns from it and improves—there is a steady decline in her neuroticism from the frantic panicking of those episodes, to the visibly manageable anxiety of “The Crystal Empire,” to the strength and determination of “Twilight’s Kingdom.” She is still worry-prone and detail-oriented, but in increasingly mature ways over the course of the first four seasons. So let us take it as a given that Twilight is best pony, and focus on Twilight as a character, on who she is and what role she plays.

Twilight’s role is right there in her name: she is a creature of liminal spaces and transitional moments. She balances on the edge between light and dark, night and day, most obviously in the sense that she is responsible for reuniting Luna and Celestia in the premiere, but in many other ways as well. Twilight moves from a tower in Canterlot to a tree in Ponyville, and later into a crystalline hybrid of tree and tower; towers and trees both act as bridges from Earth to Heaven, and so are deeply appropriate to a character whose storyline has been dominated by ascension.

And what an ascension it has been. Twilight began as the classic nerd character, grumpy, neurotic, and far more interested in the acquisition of data than in her relationships with others. Not that there is anything wrong with being inclined to scholarly pursuits, and the show has never shamed Twilight for that. She has never lost her love of learning, but it has gone from being the totality of her limited existence to one aspect of a more complete person. The premiere was an epiphany for her, opening her eyes to her own incompleteness, and over the course of the first two seasons she grew in her understanding of others. Most significant here was her transformation in “Winter Wrap Up,” where she discovered her organizational skills and slight tendency to arrogant certainty combined to make her a natural leader. From that point, the course of her evolution was effectively set: to master magic and social interaction alike, and ascend to princesshood.

But this was not, in itself, a destination. It is in the nature of twilight to be transitional, and so it is for Twilight; she is always evolving, always connecting realms. Almost immediately after her ascension, she found herself the bridge between two worlds, namely Equestria and the human world in Equestria Girls. Passing through a mirror, she entered the mirror realm, full of reflections of the ponies she knew, and there she encountered her own dark reflection, Sunset Shimmer—even their names are synonymous! This in turn opened a path to seeing Sunset Shimmer’s own reflection, the human Twilight Sparkle (as shown in Equestria Girls: Friendship Games), who never had the lessons she did and so remained incomplete. That Twilight, drunk on knowledge and magical power but lacking friendship to anchor her, nearly slid into a demonic transformation worthy of Nightmare Moon—but Sunset Shimmer helped bring her back to herself, closing the circle.

This is one of Twilight’s greatest powers and greatest gifts. In Friendship Games we see just how close she is to the darkness, how easily she could have become another Sombra or Nightmare Moon. But that liminal existence, that transition from darkness to light, is exactly what enables her to help others ascend. Twilight is the bridge between Luna and Celestia, which is why she was able to heal Nightmare Moon in the first place. She is not only one who ascends, but one who descends to help others.

This, too, is why she had to be the bearer of the powers of the other princesses in “Twilight’s Kingdom.” Luna and Celestia form a binary, light and dark, night and day, sun and moon, gold and silver. Cadance is an outlier, unconnected to either. It is Twilight who partakes in all three—in the obvious sense that twilight is both day and night, but also in the sense that, as the Princess of Friendship, her domain naturally overlaps with the Princess of Love. Her liminality also makes her the one most able to hold the vast quantities of magic involved, as it is in the liminal spaces that magic thrives—one encounters it most in the surfaces of mirrors and the deep woods, in caverns and the backs of cupboards, between sunset and moonrise.

Twilight stands between night and day, between darkness and night, so it is necessarily Twilight who serves as the first line of defense against the darkness. We rarely see Celestia or Cadance fight the terrors that haunt Equestria, and when they do, they are usually less than entirely successful, but Twilight and her friends regularly fight evil, because that is who she is and where she stands—“liminal” comes from the Latin for “threshold,” and it is on the threshold that Twilight stands, Equestria’s gatekeeper. Like her brother, captain of the guard, she is a defender against evils that try to enter the realm, be they dragons, creatures of chaos, or her own Shadow.

Discord in particular is a perfect foil for Twilight. She is nigh-obsessively organized, and he is chaos incarnate, so they naturally clash. At the same time, both stand on opposite sides of the threshold: as master of chaos (in itself a paradoxical concept, because by its nature chaos cannot have a master), a walking grotesque, Discord’s role is to disrupt the order Twilight protects, and in so doing demonstrate its weaknesses and flaws. It is the nature of the grotesque to transgress boundaries, and Discord does, constantly, his very appearance transgressing the boundaries between species, his actions transgressing against the boundaries laid down by the laws of physics, and his conception itself transgressing the boundaries between shows, a Star Trek character within My Little Pony.

So Twilight, in her role as gatekeeper, must face Discord, not just once but repeatedly. At the same time, she cannot simply drive him away, imprison him, or destroy him, because the chaos he represents, the transgression of boundaries, is essential to her liminal nature. She has no choice but to befriend him, and while it is Fluttershy who does the most work in persuading him to change and helping him adapt to his new roles after the change, it is Twilight who provides the key moment of transition from villain to ally.

So it is not just that Twilight is the show’s own straightforward pick for best pony. She is also the most magical pony, not merely in the superficial spell-casting sense, but in the sense of being the pony who transforms and is transformed, the one who walks across worlds, who ascends and returns with the power to help others ascend. She is the one who journeys through darkness to enlightenment, and in that sense, she is us all.

My Little Po-Mo vol. 3 Book Exclusives

The Kickstarter was a success and volume 4 is a go! That means it’s time to vote on additional content for the book!

First, here’s a list of what I’m planning to put in:

  • All existing Fanworks Month and Derivative Works Month articles, revised to include things like updates to ongoing works since I last covered them, general improvements to the articles, complete rewrites for ones that suck (the one on Background Pony for instance).
  • Something on Mega Pony, possibly the collaborative article with Fresno, possibly something else
  • Something on Doctor Whooves as a phenomenon, possibly my guest post for TARDIS Eruditorum, possibly something else
  • A piece on Rainbow Rocks
  • A piece on Fallout: Equestria

So that leaves room for at least one more derivative work. I’ve looked over the lists of suggestions and put together a top 3 for you all to vote on. Please comment with which ONE of the following you would most like to see me cover:

  • Ponies: The Anthology
  • The IDW comic #17-20