This issue centers on Rainbow Dash, and while the popular Pegasus gets a lot of face time in both the comics (and the TV series,) this issue focuses on an aspect of Rainbow Dash that does not get much print time: her involvement with the Wonderbolts.
The Wonderbolts appear more often in the show than in the comic. For the uninitiated, the Wonderbolts are the precision flying and aerobatics team of Equestria. They are quasi-military Pegasi (Pegasus, but ‘Pony’ will be used here for clarity). On the TV series, a young Rainbow Dash aspires to join, and tried out for the team. She makes some mistakes and gets the nickname Rainbow Crash.
Rainbow Dash becomes a member of the Wonderbolts and in time, she becomes a respected and valuable member of the team.
One of the other members is Soarin. After Spitfire, he is the second in command of the team. Initially somewhat adversarial, the relationship between Rainbow Dash and Soarin turns to competitive friendship. In a later competition, Spitfire chooses Rainbow Dash over the more senior Pony.
This story takes place several months later. The team is on Winter Hiatus, and Rainbow Dash is back in Ponyville. Spitfire unexpectedly shows up in Ponyville.
Soarin, after what he deems as a major personal failure, has left. He has gone off to fly in very dangerous territory to test himself. He is seeking some kind of personal redemption or validation. The Wonderbolt Commander asks Rainbow Dash to go after him.
The winged Pony quickly packs and is on her way deep into the Yaket (Mountain) Range, where he finds Soarin running mercy flights in dangerous territory. Bringing him safely out is a challenge on multiple levels to Rainbow Dash.
Christina Rice has written a pretty straightforward comic. This story would easily translate into an episode of the series. Like IDW’s entire MLP writing team, she has a strong grasp of the characters, the themes, and the style of the series. The Wonderbolts are a group not seen a lot in the comics, but Rice brings them in quite seamlessly. She manages to bring them in and provide the needed exposition without slowing the pace down.
Tony Fleecs’ artwork is more than competent. His Ponies look exactly like they do on TV. It was interesting to note this with characters like Spitfire and Soarin, who aren’t in the comics very often. The effort to get even relatively obscure characters correct speaks well not only for him, but for the entire IDW creative team.
Written by: Christina Rice
Illustrated by: Tony Fleecs