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First off, I’d like to apologize for not getting the Reflections review done. Life just came up but in some ways that work better as this comic is a direct follow-up to Sombra’s FIENDship issue.  Looking at it that way truly helps and follows up on the idea of destiny.  I believe this helps to paint how destiny isn’t concrete and shows how there is much more to one’s life than they perceive. This also plays into how the show version of Sombra and comics Sombra are two different characters as Sombra in the comics has more of an arc and actually learns a lesson by the time this arc is done whereas the Sombra that we see return at the start of season 9 is still evil.
That’s something that I’ll discuss a bit more when I get into the meat of the actual review but between the tragic backstory in FIENDship and this story, it shows how destiny isn’t always defined and that yes, even if it does look as though your destiny had been laid out for you.  When looking at it through this lens, this arc presents a rather interesting angle.

The Plot
 
 
The comic opens on a pony traveling in the arctic North. It’s Radiant Hope, no need to hide the surprise. And this is where things get weird as she recruits Flim and Flam, Lighting Dust, and Iron Will to help her.  Bit of an odd lineup but in all reality, they are just a distraction to the real plan.  These villains have been brought to The Crystal Empire at a Crystal Faire and they get the Mane Six trapped after Queen Chrysalis shows up to fight Twily one more time.  And yeah  it doesn’t go well.

 

During this knockout distraction, Hope heads to the Crystal Palace and uses the spell that was seen in FIENDship to head to Sombra’s office and brings him back to life.

 

This shot is perfect in showing how much of a threat Sombra can actually be. In many regards, this feels like something out of a horror comic, and that works in showing the type of threat that Sombra can be.  It also plays into the perception that the ponies sans Hope have of Sombra of just being a monster and nothing more than that.  Hope knows and well has Hope that the friend she made as a filly is still somewhere in there.
She restores to him what he once was and the next issue is mainly a flashback in the beginning to the events of FIENDship # 1 albeit truncated.  Still, that helps as that in many serves as a rather important prologue to this story.  I wish to jump ahead as we learn that Hope had spent time living amongst the Unbrum (the creature that Sombra ) as they deceived her. As noted in the Villains Wiki entry for their leader.

the Umbrum, and when she entered their prison, they made her think they were good, and were simply misunderstood by ponies.

This is perhaps the most important part to look at as Hope truly believed what she was doing was good and would make things right. They make themselves appear like the pixies that were her imaginary friends as a child.  Which helps to show how easily Hope fell for their ploy.  This is further expanded upon as Cadence had been spying on Hope and what is happening.  This all happens as Sombra turns the two princesses to stone.  Which for him is a rather fitting punishment.  This is also where Hope is starting to sense that she may have gone awry with her plans but isn’t willing to admit it to herself just yet. We also learn that unleashing the Unbrum into Equestria will be bad news for the Changelings as they cruel and unfeeling and this still a period where the Changelings feed on creatures’ emotions to power them. Sombra and Hope head back to the palace and there is a rather tragic line.

 

—Everything I’ve done is for you.

This line from Hope speaks to something majorly important, Hope still holds onto the idea of hope and will help her oldest friend no matter the cost because she still believes there is good to be found within him. Cadence overhears this my favorite princess can close the spell leading to Sombra’s secret location and feels fine.  Hope takes Cadence to the red crystal that the Unbrum had been trapped in to meet them and at first, it seems as though Hope’s story checks out.  Then we meet Rabia and Ira.  And again,  it seems cute and checks out but then it looks like something out of a horror comic.

 

 

Rabia now in her real form attacks Hope and while the comic doesn’t outright say it, it is heavily implied that she is Sombra’s mother.  The Unbrum devised a plan when he was but a boy to lock away all his darkness and make him look as though he were a regular pony. And that is when The Unbrum decides to attack and well, things go from bad to worse.  As they return Sombra is about ready to take control of The Crystal Empire once more.  And well the Mane Six after defeating the distraction villains show up to attack Sombra and Hope gets hurt in the crosshairs.  This returns to the idea of how Sombra views himself and how the world sees him as Twilight has this line.
You are a monster! And I told you’d be punished!

That line is important because it speaks to Sombra being told how his life that he was nothing more than a monster and that is how society has seen for so long, so he gives into that and gives them the monster that he has been labeled as. To put it another way and to borrow from Wicked.

 

All right, enough, so be it, so be it, then
Let all Oz be agreed
I’m wicked through and through

Observing these lines from Elphaba and how they speak to Sombra are quite important in that if the ponies are going to call him a monster, he’ll give them a monster.  Sombra seeing what Twilight did Hope unleashes the Unbrum and things go from bad to worse as the two remaining have been taken prisoner and Sombra has reigned over the Crystal Empire.

 

 

 

And Well Cadence and Twily aren’t budging until Shining Armor is brought out as a prisoner and yeah, things aren’t going great. Cadence reveals where the rest of the ponies are.  After this, Sombra goes to check on Hope and this is where we get perhaps the most important exchange in the comic.

Sombra: When we looked in the Crystal Hear that Day, I saw this! I saw what I am now! I saw my destiny. Rabia confirmed it. She told me I was a weapon. They made me the way I am so I could the other monsters! I was born to be a monster.

Radiant Hope: Look at me.

Sombra: What?

Radiant Hope: When we looked into that heart, you hid what I saw, I told you what I saw. What did I see, Sombra?

Sombra: You saw yourself as a princess

Radiant Hope: And I am a princess?

Sombra: Aren’t you?

Radiant Hope: No. After What happened with you I left my training. I went out to try and find you and help you.

Sombra: So, you never became a princess because of me?

Radiant Hope: That’s right. …. Sombra you’re a fool. …. You didn’t rob me of anything. I had a choice between my destiny and you. I chose you. …. No more talk about destiny, Sombra. I’ve never believed in it.

 

 

A bit of a lengthy exchange but it’s important in showing something, even if your destiny is laid out in front of you and you believe that is the only course that you have to take, that’s not the case and you can change the path of your future at any time. Destiny doesn’t control you, you control it.  After this rather important discussion, the Mane Six and their families show up and attack the Unbrum and things go better for them. As the fight goes on, this is where we get one of the most important moments for Sombra as a character. Sombra uses the Crystal Heart to make his own destiny to lock away the Unbrum.

There is a sweet moment where Sombra finally gets to attend his first Crystal Faire and considers it quite lovely.  Celestia and Luna had been freed and along with the younger princesses and Hope, they use their magic to bring Sobmra back.  And he’s a new pony and promises to make amends for the wrongs that he has caused starting with restoring Princess Amore back to life as he didn’t kill her but rather just shattered her. Yeah, that killed The Storm King in the movie, so I don’t know how shattering isn’t killing but whatever.  Sombra and Hope head off to be by each other’s side finally able to embrace one another’s love as Sombra is forgiven for what he’s done as he saved Equestria from the Unbrum.

This comic is quite good and a really great arc for Sombra as it allows him to grow and become more than just a snarling monster. I appreciate that and enjoy how the comic took a rather barebones villain from the show and truly fleshed him out.

Characters

I’m only going to focus on Sombra and Radiant Hope as this is truly their story.

Sombra

 

I greatly prefer this version of Sombra and not just because he’s reformed but because unlike his show counterpart, he has a bit of character to him and goes through growth and change.  He struggles with the internal conflict of is he the monster that he has been told that he is or can be more than that monster. The answer is yes but it takes him quite some time to realize that for himself.

Radiant Hope

 

Radiant Hope is a character I wish had been existed in the show as she brought another angle to Sombra that the show version is missing. Hope shows that no matter how monstrous someone may believe themselves to be, there are still those that love them and will never give up on them. The show version of Sombra never had that and instead, we just had to be treated to a snarling monster that didn’t have any semblance of a personality until the final season.

Villain

Rabia

 

Rabia is quite a scary-looking villain.  and that works in her favor as she sees herself as a monster and pleasures in being one as it gives her power.  Let’s also not forget how she dupes Hope so quite easily by pretending to be something cute and friendly to gain her trust.  This is a similar move to how Double Trouble on She-Ra pretends to be Flutterina to learn what the Princesses are up to.

 

Though I do understand how some took issue with DT’s appearance and trickery.  Rabia’s isn’t that bad but is still a rather interesting idea and shows how Rabia was able to play off the sympathy and feelings that Hope has, especially for her feelings towards Sombra.

My Final Thoughts

This comic is great and I love it as it did a lot of great work with Sombra and made him so much more than what he was in the source material. This is a rare time where a tie-in comic series takes a character and does better work with him than the show ever did by just taking the idea of who and what is a monster and exploring it in a rather thoughtful manner.

By Moviefan12

Disney Geek, Oncer, Brony, and Expressionist

2 thoughts on “Trotting Towards Nightmare Night: Siege of the Crystal Empire (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #34 – # 37)”

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