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What stuck out to me in Power Ponies is how most of the super powers the mane six are portrayed with are things that they could already do. Rainbow Dash controls the weather, Twilight can use all kinds of crazy magic, Pinkie can travel at unusual speeds, Applejack can lasso anything, and Fluttershy becomes extra powerful when she’s mad. Arguably Rarity also is great at making things from her imagination, though in her case the power becomes a few magnitudes more literal.
As a result of this, the narrative is really not so much about the mane six gaining new powers, as it is about emphasizing how much more useful all of them are compared to Spike already. It’s meant to show you how the mane six essentially are superheroes, and Spike doesn’t really do much of anything.
However, just like in Daring Don’t, I feel like this would’ve been delivered better if it really had just been Spike drawing a parallel between the comic book and reality, just as Rainbow Dash did in Read It and Weep. It might’ve seemed like reusing a plotline, but we wouldn’t have the issue of this episode’s set up taking so long. More than half of the episode is spent setting up and introducing concepts that are supposed to pay off in the remaining less than ten minutes. We end up with a location, a villain, six superpowers, and magical objects that all feel critically underdeveloped and leave little lasting impact.
Spike draws the parallel between himself and the comic pretty early on, so the middle section of the episode just feels like so much waiting around for him to get on with saving the day, and the situations that play out come across stilted and rushed. The episode pays homage to a ton of comic super heroes, so you can kinda have fun recognizing all the shoutouts, but if you’re not that into comics then it probably won’t feel that special.
The one thing which did pay off big time was Flutterhulk, and a big part of that was how they clearly paid homage not only to the idea of the Hulk, but to the way that the Hulk’s arc is actually portrayed in the Avengers. It has the same build up, and contention from the Banner character over their lack of desire to actually transform. Plus, following through on having Fluttershy hulk out was a big payoff.
Other than that, I enjoyed seeing that Rarity’s castle restoration project wasn’t just a silly one-off joke in Castle Mane-ia, and I’m suspecting that this castle will continue to make important appearances across the season. I also thought it was clever how Mane-iac’s hair allowed her to move in a way similar to Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man. The Pinkie Pie cupcakes joke was funny, some of Rarity’s projections were clever, and… that’s it. That’s all I’ve got to say about it. It’s a Spike episode. Whad’ja expect. If you think I missed something important, let me know in the comments.