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Reflections

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Reflections
IDW comics issue 18-19 combined
Issue №: 17-20
Published: March 19, 2014 (#17)
April 30, 2014 (#18)
May 28, 2014 (#19)
June 25, 2014 (#20)
Writer: Katie Cook
Matt Anderson (#19 pp. 26-29)
Artist: Andy Price
Katie Cook (#17 pp. 23-24, #18 pp. 23-24, #19 pp. 23-24, #20 pp. 24-25)
Antonio Campo (#19 pp. 26-29)
Colorist: Heather Breckel
Diego Rodriguez (#19 pp. 26-29)
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Tom B. Long (#19 pp. 26-29)
Editor: Bobby Curnow
See also
GalleryAllusionsIDW Publishing
IDW LimitedIDW Publishing Forums
Issue guide
Previous
IDW comics sixth story arc
Next
Manehattan Mysteries

Reflections is the seventh story arc of IDW Comics' comic series, spanning issues #17-20. In this story, Twilight Sparkle and her friends travel to a mirror version of Equestria and encounter a good version of King Sombra and evil versions of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.

Development

Katie Cook stated on March 5, 2014 that she "had an idea that needed a parallel world to tell it, the mirror was a readily available item from the MLP universe" and that Hasbro "approved the initial pitch that explored the possibilities of the EQ mirror... after they saw the pencils for the first issue, we got word that we WEREN'T allowed to use the EQ mirror. You'll notice it looks different in the comic. It's a different mirror (a prototype?). I think it was too late to make changes to the covers that were still using it."[1]

According to Andy Price, Reflections' "story went through a number of changes, even as we were getting it ready for print".[2]

Summary

Issue #17

In Canterlot Castle at nighttime, Princess Luna strolls happily through the castle hallways. In the throne room, she sees Princess Celestia disappear into a magical mirror. Unable to follow, Luna calls out for her sister to return. At the same time in Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle and Spike are approached by a gray-coated stallion in a black suit and fedora, who simply tells them "there is more than one of everything" before disappearing.

One week later, Princess Luna summons Twilight and her friends to the castle to inform them of Celestia's disappearance. She leads them to the entrance to Star Swirl the Bearded's personal library, which she believes holds information about the mirror Celestia had gone through. Believing Twilight and her friends capable of navigating the mountain cave systems of Canterlot, Luna entrusts them with finding the library and figuring out where Celestia went. Twilight tells Spike to stay with Luna and to come get them if something happens.

Twilight can barely contain her excitement about walking the very same passageways that Star Swirl the Bearded walked through hundreds of years ago. In a flashback, a slightly younger Celestia speaks with Star Swirl about his discovery of other universes. She mentions a growing worry about her sister Luna and how distant she's becoming, but Star Swirl assures her that they'll help her.

In present day, Twilight and company finally find Star Swirl's athenaeum. Inside, they find several of Star Swirl's original belongings and books, as well as a statue of him and a painting of a young Celestia. As she regards the artwork, Twilight says to her friends that she always thought she'd follow in Star Swirl's footsteps instead of Celestia's and starts to worry about her responsibilities as a princess. Luckily, her friends are near to calm and reassure her.

In Star Swirl's study, Twilight and company find an extensive record of every alternate world he and Celestia visited. In another flashback, Star Swirl shows Celestia his completed mirror. The two spend decades visiting various worlds, the very first of which was inhabited by dinosaurs with cutie marks. One day, Star Swirl discovers that Celestia had been visiting one particular world numerous times. He scolds her for visiting that world too often, and before Celestia's actions put two kingdoms at risk, he closes the mirror permanently.

After this "incident", the research Twilight and the others have found ends. Having found what they were looking for, the ponies make their way back to Princess Luna through a secret passage Pinkie Pie discovers. As Twilight gives the results of their research to the princess, the mirror shines brightly and Celestia—covered in bruises—steps through. As Celestia collapses onto the floor, Twilight and her friends see a silhouetted figure inside the mirror: the figure of King Sombra.

Issue #18

As Celestia is nursed back to health, Twilight and her friends worry over her condition—while Luna demands an explanation on where she's been. She tells them that she was attacked; when Fluttershy asks if it was King Sombra who attacked her, Celestia firmly denies it. She explains that the mirror she came through is a prototype of the Crystal Mirror seen in My Little Pony Equestria Girls and she used it to visit a world both similar to and different from theirs, where King Sombra is a "kind and wonderful ruler" of Equestria.

Celestia further explains that the two worlds are binding too closely together and Sombra's fight against evil in the other world is beginning to encroach on their world. Luna is eager to go into the other world and fight this evil, but Celestia says the two of them cannot be involved because they themselves are the evil—in the other world, Celestia and Luna are the villains. She entrusts Twilight and her friends in bringing the Elements of Harmony to King Sombra and using them to defeat the other Celestia and Luna. As Spike goes to fetch the Elements, Celestia teaches Twilight a spell to use to return home. Their task set, Twilight and the others step through the portal.

The seven emerge from the other side of the portal and arrive in a bleak version of Canterlot. They are spotted by royal guards who, upon recognizing them from a wanted poster, immediately arrest them. A flashback shows a similarly jailed Celestia and Star Swirl; Celestia suggests they simply teleport out, but Star Swirl advises they not cause a ruckus until they straighten things out with the king.

In present day, as the imprisoned Mane Six and Spike wonder how they're going to find King Sombra, Pinkie Pie reminds Twilight of her magic, and Twilight teleports all of them out of the jail cell. The seven friends walk through the castle toward the throne room. Meanwhile, in their home universe, Luna barks at Celestia for not telling her about everything that's happened, and Celestia feels utter shame for her youthful recklessness. Luna consoles her and asks about her adventures with Star Swirl.

Back in the other universe, Twilight and company reach the throne room and meet the other King Sombra, much friendlier than his Crystal Empire counterpart. Sombra expresses his thanks for their arrival and says he's heard much from Celestia about their use of the Elements of Harmony to save their home world. As they talk, the evil Celestia and Luna appear, wondering if Sombra has "reconsidered [their] offer". Sombra is about to refuse this offer when Twilight and her friends step in. Eager to end this quickly, the Mane Six start fighting them, but King Sombra tells them to stop, as "there are rules to this fight". Suddenly, Spike receives a message from the good Celestia and Luna; as soon as Sombra reads it, he forces the two sides to stop fighting with a magic barrier.

Back home, as Celestia and Luna walk through the castle, Celestia suddenly feels pain and collapses. When Luna realizes what's happening, she calls the guards to bring her parchment and a quill.

In the other universe, the evil Celestia and Luna, bored from the fight's forced intermission, take their leave and tell Sombra that he "can't say 'no' forever". Twilight reads the good Luna's message and discovers that whatever they do to the evil princesses will hurt the good princesses as well. As Sombra asks about the good Celestia, Twilight and her friends make a discovery even more shocking:

Princess Celestia and King Sombra are in love.

Issue #19

In the alternate Celestia and Luna's castle, the evil princesses wonder about King Sombra's new companions and their plans to defeat them. Evil Celestia laments over not having more time to coerce answers out of her other self before she escaped. Evil Luna suggests spying on the ponies to see what they know, to which Celestia agrees, and she heads back to Sombra's castle in the form of red smoke.

At Sombra's castle, as Twilight records all of the differences between the two Equestrias for posterity, Rarity and Fluttershy ask Sombra how he first met the good Celestia.

In the flashback to when Princess Celestia and Star Swirl the Bearded were imprisoned, King Sombra releases them and welcomes them to Canterlot; Celestia appears immediately taken by his looks. Over tea, Sombra acquaints the two with his world, including the presence of a villainous Celestia in it. Celestia, initially awkward around Sombra, asks to see more of his kingdom and meets the alternate, friendly Princess Luna. The four of them spend the day taking in the wonders of Canterlot. As Celestia and Star Swirl bid farewell to their new friends, King Sombra invites them—especially Celestia—to visit again soon. Celestia entertains that very notion as she and Star Swirl return to their dimension.

In present day, in Twilight's home universe, Celestia explains to Luna that she accompanied Star Swirl on each of his trips to the other world and eventually started going through the mirror without him. However, Star Swirl noticed small parallel changes between the universes the more they traveled through the mirror, such as books disappearing in their universe whenever Star Swirl borrowed books from Sombra. The two decided to limit their dimensional travels and stopped bringing anything back with them. When Star Swirl found out about Celestia's secret trips through the mirror, he became livid, and their friendship suffered a hefty blow.

In another flashback, Celestia goes to see Sombra. She despairs over breaking her promise to Star Swirl, but Sombra assures her it'll be fine. He takes Celestia to a "wishing garden", where ponies write down wishes and tie them to trees in hopes that they come true. There, Celestia and Sombra make a wish to always be together. When Celestia returns home, Star Swirl discovers what she has been doing and, in his anger, closes the mirror permanently. Celestia deeply laments being unable to say goodbye to Sombra; she goes behind Star Swirl's back once again and attempts to reopen the mirror, which she succeeds in doing.

Back in present day, in the other universe, Sombra explains to Twilight and her friends that the evil princesses' reign has take a high toll on both the land and the population. He tells them that, while the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters in their world is in ruins, the Castle in his world still stands and is where the evil princesses live. The "offer" that the evil Celestia was trying to make Sombra agree to earlier was a trade: the good Celestia can come and live with him forever and his subjects would be free from further torment, and in exchange, the evil princesses may cross over into the other world and continue their reign of terror. Sombra refused, knowing what he'd be dooming Twilight's world to if he accepted.

As the ponies discuss how to beat the evil princesses without hurting them, Twilight theorizes that what defeated the evil King Sombra will help defeat them as well: use the Elements of Harmony to imprison them in crystal. Sombra considers this a sound plan, and they get ready to invade the princesses' castle. Evil Luna, having spied on their whole conversation, leaves to warn her sister.

A short time later, Twilight visits Sombra in his study while he's changing his armor and asks for some advice about being a leader. The best advice he can give is "whatever kind of pony you are, be a good one". As she leaves, Sombra opens a small box and finds Celestia's written wish, slipping it inside his armor chestplate.

At the evil princesses' castle, Luna arrives to tell Celestia what she's learned.

Issue #20

The issue starts off with a recap about Princess Celestia having "everything she wanted and everything she knew she shouldn't have". In Twilight's home universe, Luna is angry that Celestia replaced her with another Luna after her own banishment; Celestia explains she was going through a tough time in her life and needed somepony to talk to. Celestia notices green clouds gathering in the sky and wonders if the rift between the worlds is getting worse.

On the other side of the mirror, King Sombra also notices the ominous sky and becomes worried. Twilight tells Spike to send a message to Celestia about their plan; Sombra tells Spike to add that, in case they never see each other again, he's thinking of her. On the castle balcony, the evil Celestia and Luna see the Mane Six, Spike, and Sombra approaching. Luna fears their imprisonment is near, but Celestia has a plan that involves bringing her other self to their world and forcing the spell into the other world out of her.

Back home, Celestia reads Twilight's message and cries at the thought of never seeing Sombra again. As Luna consoles her, Celestia wishes she could apologize to Star Swirl for causing all this. In the final flashback, Celestia greets Star Swirl as he returns from a trip and tries to apologize. Star Swirl forgives her, saying "making decisions you don't want to make is part of being a ruler" and apologizes back for making a decision for her. He suggests they forget the whole thing ever happened, but Celestia is wracked with guilt.

Back in present day, the ponies reach the evil princesses' castle, and Celestia gives Sombra one last chance to accept her offer. When Sombra refuses, Celestia tries to sweeten the deal by luring the good Celestia to their world. To do so, she attacks her sister with magic. This causes the good Luna in the other world to be thrown back against the mirror, shattering it to pieces. The rift between the universes finally reaches its breaking point, causing the sky to crack and the worlds to slowly merge.

Wanting to put an end to this, Celestia leaves the injured Luna in Sombra's care and attacks her evil counterpart. Twilight and her friends ready the Elements of Harmony, and Sombra stops the two Celestias' brawl so the Elements can be used. However, as crystal starts to encase the evil Celestia, the good Celestia starts to become encased as well. Good Celestia tells the Mane 6 not to stop and resigns herself to her fate, entrusting Twilight and Luna to lead Equestria from now on. Twilight says she's not ready, but Celestia has faith in her as a leader; echoing the words of Star Swirl the Bearded, she apologizes to Twilight for making a decision for her.

When the Celestias' crystal imprisonment is almost complete, Sombra intervenes with another idea to restore balance. He knocks out Twilight and her friends with his magic and takes the Elements of Harmony from them. With the Elements, Sombra extracts the evil from the alternate Celestia and Luna and absorbs it into himself. The alternate princesses are turned good again, and the alternate Sombra becomes evil just like the original. Before Celestia could say anything to him, he disappears.

The universes begin to repair, and the ponies return to their home universe before the walls between the worlds close forever. As she leaves, Celestia tells the other Luna to take care of Sombra and their Equestria.

Back home, the ponies gather up the shattered remains of the mirror, Celestia noting its destruction is "for the best". Celestia apologizes to Twilight for everything and says she meant it when she said Twilight would make a fine ruler. Twilight says she's fine with being a bookworm for the time being, especially with the master keys to Star Swirl's library. Celestia also asks Twilight's friends to keep this adventure a secret from her subjects (not that anyone would believe them anyway). When Applejack asks what to do with the pieces of the mirror, Celestia tells her to destroy them, but she keeps one shard of the mirror, as well as the wish slip from the alternate universe, for herself to serve as a reminder.

As a sorrowful Celestia says goodbye to Sombra, the Sombra of the other world, now turned evil, says goodbye to Celestia while holding on to the crown that she dropped as he sheds a single tear.

How Star Swirl Got His Hat

Issues #17, #18, and #19 each contain a bonus two-page mini-comic depicting different versions of how Star Swirl the Bearded acquired his hat.

In Issue #17's How Star Swirl Got His Hat, a hat maker makes the hat, complaining that it's the ugliest she ever made, and throws it away. The wind carries the hat into the hands of a pair of arguing ponies. A bird soon steals it, and a hobo pony picks it up. Star Swirl passes by and is immediately taken with the hat, saying it just needs bells.

In Issue #18's How Star Swirl Got His Hat... the other story, Star Swirl is out at sea, having learned of a "hat with great power" somewhere in the ocean. He gets swallowed by a whale, inside which he meets a keeper of several hats. The keeper tells him to "choose wisely," and Star Swirl picks the starry hat with bells on it. As the keeper comments on Star Swirl's poor choice, the happy Star Swirl is shot out of the whale's blowhole.

In Issue #19's How Star Swirl Got His Hat... Yet another version of the same story, a young Star Swirl has his favorite stuffed toy taken away by his older brother. He opens a magic stand to earn money for a new toy, but by the time he earns enough money, the toy has been discontinued. Much later in life, Star Swirl finds a new stuffed toy at a flea market, along with a hat-and-cloak costume modeled after the toy's. Star Swirl would wear the costume every day for the rest of his life.

The three stories are revealed to be stories that alternate Twilight Sparkle reads in a book.

Elsewhere in alternate Equestria...

The back of Issue #20 features a two-page mini-comic featuring the alternate universe counterparts of the Mane Six and Spike inside a house. Rainbow Dash expresses having a bad feeling; Pinkamena Pie shares the sentiment and hopes nopony was expecting the seven of them to "pop up in some convoluted storyline today." Rarity, Twilight, Fluttershy, and Applejack are shown at a table playing Go Fish.

Quotes

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issue #17

Rarity: One of these adventures, I'd love to go to a tropical island paradise instead of into a mountain.
Applejack: Oh, come on, Rarity. Where's your sense of adventure?
Rarity: It's in the comfort of a day spa and a hooficure, thank you very much.
Spike: Sigh... Missing out on the adventure... again...
Princess Luna: Nonsense, dragon youngling... You may be my adoring companion as we await their return! Come, you may start by fetching me a refreshment of hot cocoa with marshmallow bits.
Star Swirl the Bearded: If the secrets of cross-dimensional travel are to be kept down here, do you think I should put up some protections? Maybe a trained supernatural beast?
Princess Celestia: Maybe a hydra?
Star Swirl the Bearded: Oooooooh! I like that idea!
Twilight Sparkle: Well, I always knew I wanted to study magic. I want to do something with all that knowledge I've spent my life learning... Just like Star Swirl did. Just look at all the stuff he accomplished in his life! Now I guess I'm second guessing if that's going to be something I can continue doing... What if I'm supposed to be more like her. The weight of that many responsibilities... The things she's had to do. She had to banish her own sister to the moon for a thousand years for ponies' sake! Who needs that kind of pressure?!
Pinkie Pie: Deus ex machinaaaaaaa!
Twilight Sparkle: King Sombra? No!

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issue #18

Princess Celestia: You're all aware of the mirror that leads to the world where Sunset Shimmer has made her home?
Spike: Sure! I was a dog there... It was... awkward.
Princess Celestia: I have every faith you six...
Spike: Seven!
Princess Celestia: ...seven can accomplish this.
Sombra's Royal guard: What are you six...
Spike: Seven!
Sombra's Royal guard: ...seven doing here?
Princess Celestia: We're here for five seconds and you insult a palace guard. Nice.
Star Swirl the Bearded: He had on a funny hat.
Princess Celestia: You're one to talk.
Princess Luna: Not every royal needs to be untarnished. You're only a pony, after all.
Princess Celestia: Thank you.
Princess Luna: You're welcome, sister.
King Sombra: Celestia has assured me that you six...
Spike: Seven.
King Sombra: ...er, seven, are the best defense she has available.
King Sombra: Does it say anything else? Does it say if Celestia is okay?! My dear, sweet Celestia, I need to know!
Pinkie Pie: ...Your?
Applejack: ...Dear?
Rarity: ...Sweet?
Twilight Sparkle: ...Celestia?
King Sombra: No harm may come to her... I love her.
Princess Celestia: Tell them they have to save him... I love him.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issue #19

Evil Princess Luna: You're probably a pestering big sister in both worlds. Yeesh.
Pinkie Pie: Our world doesn't even make sense! Why should this one? Who needs continuity?
King Sombra: Well, it was a long time ago. Long before any of you were alive...
Pinkie Pie: Even Fluttershy? Wow, that is a long time ago!
Star Swirl the Bearded: Say... What is this stuff? I like it!
King Sombra: Surely you have coffee in your world?
Star Swirl the Bearded: Not yet, but load me up with all you can spare! It grows on trees? We have trees! I can grow this on trees and have it every day! Another cup! Six sugars please!
Princess Celestia: I refuse to believe that we were brought together only for fate to separate us.
Rarity: Ponyville! I don't even want to think about what it must be like in this ghastly place.
King Sombra: A-hem.
Twilight Sparkle: If you could pick being a normal pony or a leader, what would you pick?
King Sombra: Twilight, I am both a normal pony and a leader.. I may be a king, but I had to earn that title from my subjects, as did Celestia, as did you.
King Sombra: Whatever kind of pony you are, be a good one.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Issue #20

Princess Celestia: I am so closely bound to both you and the other Luna. You're both so dear to me... But you're the original. The best one!
Princess Luna: Quite right! Don't you forget it.
Star Swirl the Bearded: Princess, I can sympathize with you on this. I really can... But making decisions you don't want to make is part of being a ruler. I had to make a decision for you. I'm sorry.
Pinkie Pie: Well... there goes the neighborhood.
Evil Princess Celestia: Give... me... your... world!
Princess Celestia: Never!
Princess Celestia: A wise pony once told me making the decisions you don't want to make is part of what we have to do. I'm making this decision for you. I'm sorry.
Twilight Sparkle: No! I'm not ready for this. There has to be a way to save you.
Princess Celestia: I'm so proud of you, Twilight. I know that you will be an amazing leader of Equestria. Goodbye.
Princess Celestia: Twilight, I'm so sorry that you had to learn about all this. I am not without my flaws. I hope you do not think less of me.
Twilight Sparkle: Princess, if anything it made you more real. It helped me see that I can be a princess and not be perfect.
Princess Celestia: I know that I have no right to ask you, but I would appreciate it if word of this adventure did not reach my subjects.
Rainbow Dash: Another world?
Rarity: Love and intrigue?
Fluttershy: Evil princesses?
Pinkie Pie: No cake?
Applejack: Who would believe us?!
Princess Celestia: ...How lucky am I that I had some pony that makes saying goodbye so hard?
King Sombra: Goodbye, my sweet Celestia.

References

  1. Katie Cook (2014-03-05). Re: FiM #17: Reflections (1/4). The Round Stable. Retrieved on 2015 January 17.
  2. My Little Pony: Art is Magic! page 90.

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