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Skye Prower's Comic Reviews

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So it’s been a long, long while since my last review.  And next up is the Sally mini-series, which I’d like to do as single review.  That’ll be a big one to do and could take a bit of time (insert your own snarky comment here! ;) ).  So given all that I thought I’d do a little extra.  A quick Look At something from the recent World’s Unite crossover.  So spoiler warnings even more in effect than normal.

 

Still here?  Okay!  I wanna take a look at what I think was one of the biggest missteps of the Crossover from a writing point-of-view, the handling of the death of Shadow.

 

A Look at: To Kill a Shadow.

 

To recap, in Part 4 of World’s Unite, Mega Man Issue 50, Mobius and Earth started to Fuse.  GUN’s Helicarrier… er, sorry, I mean Cloudbase, er, no, the Valiant…… Darn it….  GUN’s flying aircraft carrier starts to merge, somehow, with a Government building.  I feel I should point out both are in mid-air which makes zero sense.  But we see inside the fusing aircraft/building to see Shadow and Rouge trying to evacuate, then exterior cut to both building and aircraft exploding.  Sonic sees one of Shadow’s Inhibitor Rings falling from the explosion, runs to catch it, and assumes Shadow is dead because of it.

 

So, what’s the problem here? There’s several.  Let’s start with the biggest one.  Everything about the situation suggests Shadow is not dead.  How about a list…

 

We don’t see the death, or the body.  Now of course given the target age group we wouldn’t expect to see the death itself, but not seeing either is a common shorthand in fiction for ‘not really dead’.  (Of course, even seeing a body is no guarantee of death in a world with robots, clones, magic etc etc)  You could have even had Sonic and the other react to finding the body while we the reader do not see it directly. 

 

Shadow tends to come back.  It is kinda his stich.  Admittedly mostly because almost every version of Sonic he’s in does their own Sonic Adventure 2 adaption, but still, Shadow seeming to be dead but not is pretty common.

 

A loose Inhibitor Ring is a stronger sign of survival.  Shadow takes his rings off when circumstances are dire to give him a power boost.  So in this case the scenario rights itself.  Seeing the imminent disaster, Shadow removes his Rings in to Chaos Control everyone to safety.

 

You do not kill off a main character in such a cheap way.  Especially not a character who is probably the most popular and well known after the main trio.  Well…. Unless you’re a Star Trek writer.  Those guys do NOT know how to handle a death scene unless the guy dying is called Spock.

 

All these together kill the impact of Shadow’s death by making it way more likely he survived.  So why even kill him in the first place?  Well there are usually three reasons for killing a character.  First is real life issues.  Such as an actor quitting a TV show.  Of course, the comics have had more than their fair share of those, but it’s unlikely to be the case here.  Second is to thin out the cast.  Now an argument could be made for this, given that combining the Sonic and Mega-Man character pool does result in several characters.  But conversely, at the end of the cross-over there are so many characters that one more wouldn’t have made a difference.  Besides, there was no reason for Shadow and GUN’s Val-heli-base to be near New Mobotropolis.   Also, if it was just to remove Shadow from the fights, death was unnecessary.  Having overused his powers saving everyone resulting in weakness/coma would have sufficed.

 

The final reason, and most likely, is to show how serious a situation is.  It must be if a main character is dead.  But this backfires.  First because of the death scene indicating more that Shadow is alive and second because there is no way Shadow could be killed off permanently along with Rouge, in such an unsatisfying way.  As such, it is a clear signpost that the story has gone from ‘THIS IS SERIOUS’ to ‘This will all be reset so it never happened’, therefore nothing in the story matters.  It is one thing to have a reset at the end of a story.  It is another when the reader is certain it’s coming from the first act.  If the impact wished to be maintained, a prominent side character should have been the victim.  Honey the Cat or Quake Woman come to mind.  Both could be killed off but are minor/side character who nevertheless have large roles (well, Honey’ role is small but it’s large for the reboot) but could be killed of without the reader thinking ‘Nah, they’d never do that’.

 

And so, killing Shadow is a misstep, first because the immediate impact is lost by the evidence suggesting he survived, and second because it is a sign, if you believe he’s dead, of the inevitable reset button, and therefore nothing of consequence will occur within the story.  It could have been the plan that Shadow was meant to reappear nearer the end but didn’t, but in not doing so the damage is done.

 

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Posted

On the Worlds Unite thing, it should also be noted that a lot of the problems could very well be traced back to Paul Kaminski (the former editor for Archie Sonic & Mega Man) demanding that certain things be done in the crossover, before he left and was replaced by the new editor, Vincent Lovallo, just before the crossover started. (I believe Paul's now working at either Marvel or DC...) Anyway, the things he wanted included the multiple SEGA/Capcom franchises (but were only allowed to appear in the final act, barring Street Fighter, possibly due to licensing costs), make Xander Payne pretty much THE main character of the arc (this was heavily trimmed down, thankfully) and have someone notable killed off to "up the stakes" for the main characters.

This post from Ian Flynn himself, back when Worlds Unite was happening, should clear some things up in regards to Team Dark's (temporary) demise:

Paul Kaminski felt the stakes were not personal enough for the heroes. I felt like losing your entire planet was personal enough, and I didn't want the crossovers to be required reading to enjoy the regular books. When it was made clear I had to kill someone off, we had a long debate over who, and Paul made it clear it had to be someone important. So I went with Shadow and Team Dark. You know SEGA wouldn't let us kill them off, so I felt it would take some sting out of the inevitable death-cheat. If I have to insert that kind of drama, I'm going to try to lampshade it so fans know I'm aware of it.

So yeah, Ian didn't want someone to die (at least, not permanently) in a crossover event, which makes sense to me. I mean, what if your only a fan of one series, decide to skip the crossover, then learn that someone important died during that "just for fun" event? Hence, Ian chose someone(s) who knowledgeable readers would know are gonna survive anyway. Cop-out? I guess, but to me it still makes sense in the grand scheme of things.

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Guess I was wrong about it being unlikely to be a Real life issue.  I just never thought anyone would be stupid enough to insist on 'Kill Shadow'.  Sure, that wasn't the exact case here, but still.  The more I learn about editors for comics, the more crazy they seem to be.

 

I tend to try and not refer to real-life events with regards to my reviews because I'm more interested on how the stories stand on their own than 'what could have been', and also because that's a rabbit warren I really don't wanna tumble down! :P 

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Posted

Heh, makes sense. I was just clearing up the bit of confusion on the subject. Looking forward to reading more reviews. :)

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Thanks!  For both.  It great to hear the story behind the story! ;)   And I'll try not to take so long with the next review! 

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Nice work as usual Skye! Keep it up!

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*blushes* T-thank's g-guys...

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So I said I hoped to post reviews more often.  That was on New Years Day…… whoops.  Well, here’s a review of the Sally Mini-Series in its entirety.  Hopefully it makes up a little for the delay!

 

Mini-Series – Princess Sally

 

Deadliest of the Species: Parts 1 - 3

 

We start pretty much where we left off in Issue 20.  Er… you don’t remember?  But it’s only been…. Over half a year…. Ahem… Okay, there is a short recap of Sally infiltrating Robotnik’s base Goldfinger style and meeting up with Geoffrey St. John for the first time.  And then a Swat Bot taking careful aim at Sally.

 

I want to repeat that.  The Swat Bot is taking CAREFUL aim.  Because in the next panel we see the Swat Bot and its squad open fire.  And ALL of them miss.  These guys would give Storm Troopers a run for their money in the Poor Aim Olympics.  No, that was not meant to be a topical joke.  Sally and Geoffrey snark at each other for a bit before making their escape.  Sally mentions being with a unit, but not the rest of the Freedom Fighters as you might expect, but a new group of trainees.  In the midst of the trainees discussing how Sally seems to be late and what to do, Geoffrey literally bursts in and wrestles with one of them, Hamlin.  Sally arrives to call Geoffrey off, and wearing a slightly different coloured vest, but that probably won’t be important.  Despite her assurances however, Hamlin remains suspicious of Geoffrey, though both are kind jerks about it.

 

The next morning begins with Sally giving a briefing.  Starting with ‘As you know’!  Gah!  How NOT to write exposition!  Anyway, Rotor has come up with a plan that knocking out several power substations outside Robotropolis would disrupt its defence grid, allowing the Freedom Fighters to attack.  The Freedom Fighters have split up to take out other substations, while Sally will lead her team to take out three, though Sally took out the first one solo in issue 20.   After Hamlin and Geoffrey do some more Alpha male posturing, the team sets off. 

 

Unlike the first which looked like a factory, the second substation is either built inside, or built to look like, and old Aztec or Incan style temple.  Aside from some fire throwing cannons quickly taken out by a grenade, as well as the Swat Bots next to them, the place seems surprisingly undefended.  At least until AFTER Sally has planted a computer virus to trigger the self-destruct mechanism.  At which point two massive Orb Bots; egg shaped bodies, eye stalks, lasers and two big stompy legs, burst in.  I think Robotnik needs to work on his security.  It’s kinda lacking for the big defenders to show up so late.  Almost suspiciously so…

 

A bit more snark between Geoffrey and Sally, then Sally removes a panel, yanks out some wires, and uses them to trip one of the bots.  Those are some very strong wires.  If Robotnik made his bots out of the same stuff they’d be indestructible!  The bot almost squishes Hamlin as it falls, but Geoffrey swings in and yanks him out the way.  With the self-destruct counting down the group legs it, followed by the second Orb Bot.  Which, somehow, they manage to lure off a cliff because… it somehow didn’t see the cliff it was looking straight at the panel before.  Given the Swat Bot’s aim at the start of the story, and how they failed to spot Sonic last issue, I think Robotnik’s bots have serious sight issues.  Back to the workshop Doc!

 

Despite the successful mission and having his life saved, Hamlin is still highly suspicious for Geoffrey, who responds pretty much in kind.  Sally takes umbridge, saying that if Hamlin doesn’t trust Geoffrey, he shouldn’t trust her.

 

But maybe Hamlin is right, as during the night Geoffrey sneaks off from camp and…. Uses a teleporter watch.  Wait, what?  Where did that come from?  Okay, spoiler warning, but then you wouldn’t be reading these if you were worried about those, but he got it from Robotnik.  So, Robotnik has teleporter tech able to be mounted in watches.  Even if it is limited to one fixed destination, that is still a crazy advantage.  Couple that with his indestructible wires, there is no way Robotnik should be losing against the Freedom Fighters.

 

Anyway, Geoffrey teleports to a secluded building, heads inside, where we find another Sally held inside some kind of status pod, with Geoffrey giving an ominous ‘soon’.  I think that call for a ‘Dun Dun Dun’!

 

Onto issue 2.  After the recap, we see Geoffrey and Hamlin at it again, taking a training exercise too far.  This time its Geoffrey who gets the lecture from Sally after she quickly floors him.  After that it’s onto the next briefing.  This substation is much better defended, on a small island surrounded by cliffs.  So how do they intend to reach it?  Using hang gilders.  Okay, not bad, aside from two things.  First the awkward implication that Rotor has invented them and just happened to give them the same name.  And second, doing so in broad daylight!  And of course, the island has anti air defences.  I would say it’s a miracle that only one of the group, Arlo, gets shot down.  But given the aiming skills and bot eyesight I’d say it’s a miracle they managed to shoot any of them down.

 

Everyone else manages to land safely, and soon find the injured Arlo.  Penelope, another of the trainees, decides to remain with her while the rest of the group moves on with the mission.  A quick comic panel shows some observation equipment tracking them, then the reach the substation, this one looking Incan mixed with European castle.  Just one Swat Bot guards the door, swiftly changing tense to ‘guarded’, and the interior is looking somewhat run down.  But this time the big security bot is already waiting.  A multi-tentacled monstrosity called an Octo-pod.  Which…  given it’s got more than eight limbs is kinda a fail at naming.  It doesn’t even look anything like an octopus before you bring that up, aside from having tentacles.  It’s more like a shrimp!  Anyway, like any horror movie it grabs the girl from the shadows first.  Hamlin and Dylan, the last trainee, are swiftly grabbed as well, while Geoffrey sneaks underneath and plants one of the charges the team took to blow the substation. 

 

Then we get to an odd part.  First off, Sally whips out a can of hair spray.  Okay, maybe she’s still not back to her normal colours and is using aids, but why did she have the can with her on a mission?  Then she sprays it in the robot’s compound eye, which, in the second oddity, cause it to scream in pain and rub its eyes, dropping Sally and the trainees.  Seriously, what is up with the robots and their eyes?  The group runs for it again as the Octo-pod blows up, shortly followed by the substation as well.  

 

However, on returning to where Arlo and Penelope were left, both have vanished.  With not even tracks to follow, Sally orders the rest of the team to return to the camp, hoping Arlo and Penelope made their way back.  But even after several hours there is no sign of them. 

 

That night Geoffrey again makes a trip via teleporter, this time with an unconscious Sally on his back.  Back inside the building he places Sally inside another status pod, then contacts a mysterious controller.  Even though we only see part of him and in shadow, it’s obvious it’s Doc Robotnik, aside from having a pet cat for…. some reason.  Geoffrey informs Robotnik the exchange has been made, then opens the other status pod where the other Sally (in a blue waistcoat) was being held, telling her that ‘Everything is going to plan and no one suspects anything.’ 

 

Another time skip to the next morning and Sally is leading Hamlin and Dylan in the assault on Robotopolis.  Alone.  Even with the defensives down that seems foolhardy.  Hamlin comments on the lack of a Geoffrey, but Sally isn’t concerned.  Only then we see Geoffrey wheeling in the status pod with Sally inside to a waiting, and triumphant, Robotnick.

 

After the recap issue 3 starts with the assault in progress.  It seems the Freedom Fighters have learned just how vulnerable robot’s eyes are, using paint guns to blind them.  Interesting just how gun like these paint guns are in design, given how later comics would be fanatically anti-gun.  Hamlin once again ends up almost getting killed as a walkway is shot out from underneath him, and this time it falls to Sally to save him.

 

Bursting into the control room the trainees are surprised to find Robotnik not only waiting but criticising their performance.  Now now Robotnik, that’s MY job!  Geoffrey is there as well, confirming Hamlin’s suspicious that he’s the traitor.  Not wasting time he attacks the skunk, and seems to actually have the upper hand over the trained secret service agent.  See Geoffrey, this is what happens when you get out of shape!  But Hamlin is suddenly threatened by Sally, prompting Robotnik to make the big reveal.  This Sally is not the real Princess Sally, but a robot duplicate called an Auto-Automation.  The whole power substation mission was concocted by Robotnik to test the robot’s capabilities’…. Uh… I’ll come back to that point later.  But now the Auto-Automation has been successful Robotnik plans in constructing more, and robotizing the real Princess, still in a status pod. But when the robotizer is switched on, Sally explodes!  Rather gruesome, until it’s revealed the only way for that to occur was if the one robotized was already a robot.

 

Yes, the auto-automation was actually in the status pod, and the real Sally was pretending to be the robotic impersonator with Geoffrey’s help.  And now they have Robotnik at their mercy.  For…what…?  Like the fifth time now in the comic’s run?  At least they plan to do something this time!  Robotnik also has a plan, with hidden robots in the wall activating to attack.  And credit where it’s due, these robots are actually visible in the previous panels, just appearing to be more decorative artwork, so kudos there.  But he’s not the only one with reinforcements, as a burrowing tank bursts through the floor, with members of Geoffrey’s secret service, as well as Arlo and Penelope, revealing that they were rescued by the secret service when they disappeared before.  Though, given Arlo has to use a crutch, maybe someone shouldn’t be on the battlefield.  Wait a second, burrowing tank capable of entering Robotropolis?  Again, like the teleporter watch, something that gives such a massive advantage it should have ended this war ages ago!

 

Sensing defeat, Robotnik escapes through a hidden tunnel and triggers the self-destruct.  Just for the factory, not the whole city!  With the burrowing tank destroyed by one of the robots the Freedom Fighters and Secret Service flee into a hanger where they find…. flying craft that look suspiciously like the D.E.L. saucers that will feature later on.  Hmm, wonder if Robotnik had uncovered something during his stay on Angel Island?  But anyway, they use them to escape with ease, and after the mission the trainees are promoted to full Freedom Fighter members and given medals.

 

On a final night of camping the explanation for what happened is given.  Geoffrey had discovered the auto-automation plot and faked siding with Robotnik to try and disrupt it.  After meeting Sally, the two had activated the robot early without Robotnik’s knowledge.  This happened off screen, after the first base was destroyed, but before we were introduced to the trainees.  The real Sally waited in a status pod, while Geoffrey observed the auto-automation and its capabilities ‘in the wild’.  When the time came from the ‘proper’ switch, Geoffrey placed the robot in a pod and opened the real Sally’s pod, but the watching Robotnik though it was his robot being activated.  This is why Sally swapped vest colours.  Sally having a blue vest, the duplicate a purple one.  There’s…. more to this, but I’ll get to that soon.

 

Sally says something weird though.  She says they tricked Robotnik into thinking that the auto-automation was recognized as an imposter, not that Geoffrey told them about the duplicate.  And with this failure Robotnik will discontinue the line.  But surely Robotnik’s first thought on finding where Geoffrey’s true allegiances lay would be to think he’d told them the truth. 

 

The next morning Sally and Geoffrey share their regret that duties mean they have to part, but before they do, they share a kiss.  Which means….. Geoffrey feel for a robot, and Sally for a guy she knew for only a couple of hours.  Not the most romantic couple it has to be said.  The mini-series ends with Sally wondering where here heart should go, but seriously, if it’s that easily swayed, maaaaybe you’re not as keen on Sonic as you though Sally.  I’m just saying!

 

The Sally mini-series is probably the highlight of the second year.  It’s a fun action-heavy tale with a more serious vibe than was found in the main comic up to this point.  You may have noticed that the story summary tends to go very quickly.  This is because the story could easily be compressed to two issues without anything being cut, but the extra issue allows a lot of extra panels, which rather than making it feel padded out, gives it a far less rushed and more measured pace than usual.  And allows for more detailed and longer action scenes.  This probably helps give it a more serious feel as I mentioned before. 

 

While Geoffrey is given a lot of character, you may have noticed that outside Hamlin I haven’t mentioned the trainees much.  That’s because most are very lacking in character.  Hamlin is the brash, angry outspoken one, and the one who decided Geoffrey is bad news, so he gets the most to do.  For the others, Dylan is the cautious one, Penelope the middle of the road one, and Arlo is…. Just there.  A shame they didn’t use the extra space to help develop the supporting cast a bit more.  The use of the teleporter is also a strange element.  It doesn’t need to exist for the story to work, and all it does is raise the question of ‘Why isn’t this used again’.  The burrow tank is similar, but more forgivable.

 

But the explanation at the end…. Oh boy.  It actually makes things MORE confusing than they were before.  I’ve given the sensible points above.  But it gets more complicated.

 

First in showing Sally the auto-automation, Geoffrey was able to win her trust.  She’s lucky he wasn’t a traitor after all.

“I trust you!”

“Good, now get in this status pod as part of the plan.”

“Okay!” And Sally gets into the pod and is delivered to Robotnik.

 

Second, the fact the second and third power substations were Robotnik’s plot to test the robot.  SO many questions from this.  How did the robot or Robotnik know about the attack on the first substation and work it into the plot?  Why would Sally describe the plan as ‘as you know’ if only SHE knew it?  And most of all, if the second and third substations were only meant to be attacked as part of the robot’s plot, why wasn’t Robotnik suspicious when they were attacked BEFORE he thought the robot was activated??!!?!  Seriously, there is no explanation for that.

 

In summary, it is a fun story that falls apart when it makes the explanations at the end more complex than they needed to be.   The glaring and confusing plot holes, and the rather forced romance at the end spoils what was otherwise a great early story.  

 

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Well that was a lot faster!

 

 

 

Issue 21

 

 

 

3 Phases of E.V.E.

 

 

 

No hanging around with this story, as we start with Sonic smashing apart a squad of Swat Bots.  With such ease that Sonic doesn’t see the point of the attack.  Neither does Snively, watching the fight alongside Robotnik.  But Robotnik seems oddly chipper about the whole thing.  In fact, it’s all part of his plan.  While Sonic fights, Robotnik’s computers are analysing him and recording the data.  All the data is being printed out… even for when the comic was out reams of print outs were dated, surely someone like Robotnik would have a more advanced method of data storage.  Especially when he introduces his newest invention; Nanites.  Okay, he doesn’t refer to it as such, as this is before the term Nanite become widespread, but that’s what it is.  A robot organism comprised of millions of microscope robots allowing it to reform as necessary. 

 

 

 

The new robot is named E.V.E.  Exceptionally Versatile Evolvanoid.  I.e.  Robot that can rebuild itself into different forms.  I’ll just call it Eve for the sake of ease on my keyboard.  Robotnik feeds it the info recorded on Sonic, programs it to hunt the hedgehog, and lets it lose.

 

 

 

Back with Sonic, he and Tails are discussing what appears to be Robotnik’s recent lack of effort.  Which is, of course, when Eve strikes.  Bursting from the ground in the form of a large Swat Bot, which does make sense for a first form.  Of course, she is far tougher than your average Swat Bot, but Sonic manages to defeat her by tricking her into blasting a tree, which then topples and crushes her. 

 

 

 

Sonic then makes the classic horror movie mistake, turning your back on the monster thinking its dead.  As Eve reforms T1000 style, Robotnik explains that Eve is more than just machinery and programming.  She incorporates brain cells from Robotnik, granting her his intelligence, and a quill from Sonic that…er.. somehow adds resourcefulness.  Don’t ask me how that works even in comic book land. 

 

 

 

Eve’s second form attacks, this time a giant wasp robot with a cannon in its tail.  Again, Sonic tricks it into destroying itself, this time by causing it to crash into a cliff when it can’t pull away in time.  This time however Sonic sees Eve liquefy and start changing to her new form.  Not hanging around, Sonic heads straight to Robotropolis, trying to find out what is going on.  He gets inside with surprising ease.  Either Sally did more damage than we thought in her Mini-Series, or Robotnik let him in to watch Sonic’s demise first hand.  Either’s possible. 

 

 

 

Robotnik barely has time to tell Sonic the name of his new robot before Eve arrives again, this time in the form of….. Oh, Eve, Eve, Eve.  You DON’T take the form of a giant snake.  Ever!  It never helps!  Case in point, it’s not too long before Sonic has the snake literally tired up in knots.  You know, that’s the third time Sonic has beaten Eve by making her defeat herself.  For a learning robot, she sure is slow with that one.  Sonic gives the smuggest expression I have ever seen him make, and that’s saying something!  He’s just asking for something bad to happen, which it does as Eve once again reforms, this time into, according to Robotnik, her final form.  Hmmm….. that’s a total of four forms, not three.  I think whoever came up with the title can’t count!  Anyway, Eve’s fourth and final form is…

 

 

 

HOLY HELLFIRE!  THAT’S HORRIFIC!!!

 

 

 

It has a disembodied mouth locked in a permanent scream of anguish, with realistic looking human teeth, but no gums.  Above that are to glowing white orbs with green pupils.  Behind, a massive crystalline brain, from which extend numerous squirming tentacles.

 

 

 

That is NOT an advanced robot!  That’s a freaking ELDRITCH ABOMINATION!  Whoever designed that was either coming off a fever dream, or mistook a book of H.P. Lovecraft stories for ‘how to draw robots’.  I wonder if it gave any of the readers nightmares?

 

 

 

Eve states, in a creepy voice of course, that her goal is to surpass her limitations.  And she has decided her biggest limitation is Robotnik.  Uh oh.  Apparently from Robotnik’s brain cells, rather than acquiring his intelligence, she acquired his evil.  Uh, oooooookay.  I didn’t think evil was genetic.  But from Sonic’s cells she gain the ability to think for herself, which overwrote the evil.  Okay, whoever came up with this has NO idea how genetics work.  Robotnik tries to fight back, but his attacks prove useless.

 

 

 

Striking back, Eve vaporises Robotnik.  Over three panels.  Well…. That got kinda dark pretty quickly!  Eve then turns her attention to Sonic, intending to fulfil her programmed mission to kill him.  But thinking quickly Sonic points out that Eve’s programming is now her biggest limitation, and the one she should try and surpass.  Eve accepts this, sparing Sonic’s life, and takes off into the stars, giving a smile that would make the Joker recoil in horror as her tentacles form something that looks like a moth made of dripping blood.  *shivers* Urg… I’m glad she’s gone.

 

 

 

Tails and Sonic debate what Robitnik’s death could mean, before a tearful Snively shouts at them to leave, wondering how he can go on without someone shouting at him all the time.  As they go, Sonic and Tails ponder if Robotnik is truly dead, or if he may return.  Well, this IS a comic book.  It’s not like they’d ever kill of Robotnik permanently…. Right…?

 

 

 

This is a far darker story than anything before.  Not just in terms of Eve’s appearance and the ‘death’ of Robotnik, but there is also a lack of humour.  Sonic makes his usual in fight quips, but they seem much lower key than usual.  In terms of story this issue is actually quite light.  You have Robotnik explaining his new robot, several fights, then the showdown at the end.  Most of the space is given to the multiple fight scenes between Sonic and Eve, similar to the volume they were given in the Princess Sally mini-series.  Though this does mean the ‘talky’ bits of the story feel a little rushed in comparison.  This wasn’t a story that stuck with me, even though it contained important elements such as Robotnik’s ‘death’ which will have long term consequences.  I think the slightly rushed nature of the non-fight parts of the story, and the alien, both in a literal and in terms of the Sonic style, appearance of Eve, made it feel less important than such a momentous event should have been, rather like if it was a ‘what if’ comic as opposed to a main issue.  Despite this, it is a very solid story.  

 

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Given the recent changes to the comic situation I am not sure it would be right for me to continue with these reviews.  So I thought I'd ask the rest of you.

Basically, three options.

1) Don't worry and keep going.

2) Stop

3) Start from the beginning of the reboot, therefore not treading on toes.

What do you guys think?

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As someone who's reviewing the comics on my YouTube channel myself, I say don't worry about it and keep going. There's nothing wrong with preserving the past via review.

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Well there’s not much interest but I enjoy doing these so ONWARDS!

Issue 22

So last Issue came the shocking event of Robotnik’s death.  How would things play out now?  Would Snively take over the Empire?  Would the Freedom Fighters disband?  Could Robotnik return?

Well, put that suspense to the side as the cover loudly proclaims Robotnik’s return.  Okay, it’s mostly silhouette, be we still see his clothes pattern and Sonic says everything short of ‘Robotnik’ so… yeah… Way to kill the suspense comic cover!

But let’s see what’s inside!

Story 1 – The Return

We open with Sonic and Sally enjoying a day out.  With their kids.  Which means this is either the future, an alternate Zone, or both.  This peaceful family gathering is interrupted by a sudden flash of lightning, which forms into the image of Robotnik.  Only for it to vanish a few moments later.  Sally wonders if Robotnik could have returned, but Sonic claims he saw Robotnik die, and there was no way he could come back.  Which still doesn’t help clarify if this is a future or other Zone yet.

The lightning flash is redirected to a satellite in orbit, where it does indeed reform into the Robotnik we all know and well.. I’m not sure ‘love’ is the word, but, anyway.  A creepy voice expresses curiosity, and as Robotnik tries to gain his bearings he comes face to face with himself!  Or rather, a robotic version of himself on a screen.  Well that confirms the ‘other Zone’ theory.

This ‘Robotnik-mach 2’ as I shall refer to him explains his backstory.  How Sonic was close to defeating him, so he robotized himself, but even that wasn’t enough.  So he transferred his now mechanical mind to an orbiting satellite.  Now this background, plus the fact that this Zone’s Sally is alive and nether she or Sonic are cyborgs shows this is a very different alternate Robotnik to the Robo-Robotnik seen in Issue 19.  So of course they would never try and combine the two into one character, surely?

Ahem, anyway, back to the present…er, such as it is given the Zone’s timelines don’t sync up.  Robotnik-mach 2 (Okay, calling him Robo2 from now on to save my keyboard) says that the satellite’s power is limited, and slowly draining so he is unable to take any actions.  Uh huh… how were you able to pick up Robotnik’s Zone crossing lighting teleport then?  Wouldn’t that take a helluva lot of power?  Also, this satellite clearly has life support as Robotnik can breathe.  I hope Robo2 didn’t leave the air, or the lights for that matter, on cause he doesn’t really need them!

Our Robotnik explains to Robo2 what just happened about being killed by Eve…. Yeah… that’s odd.  I thought you killed him, not teleported him to another Zone Eve.  What the heck is that all about?  Stupid creepy Lovecraftian AI.  Trying to come up with a reason for this is like trying to come up for a reason to why it looked so utterly horrific.

Anyway, back to the story, Robo2 believes he could send Robotnik back.  Wait…. Despite the whole ‘low power’ issue?  Is the teleporter attached to a separate unconnected battery or some such?  Well, common sense seems to have been left in the other Zone, so it works and Robotnik is send back home.

Speaking of back home, in the Prime Zone the Freedom Fighters are clearing out a warehouse of robot parts, not that we ever find out exactly why.  Observing them on a monitory, Snively laments that he is completely powerless as Robotnik never trusted him with some much as a password, only for him to speak the phrase ‘Sonic has finally won it all’.  Which turns out to be a password.  Huh, shouldn’t voice activated passwords be limited to a certain voice?  Especially if they trigger ‘scorched earth’ plans, like this one does.  Yep, every Swat Bot and other armed robot is activated with just one mission; Destroy EVERYTHING!  And a pre-recorded message from Robotnik plays, giving the usual ‘If I can’t have the world NO ONE WILL’ speech. 

Swat Bots swarm the warehouse where the Freedom Fighters are, and despite their best efforts they’re trapped inside, and can only delay the inevitable.  Snively is having his own problems as a pair of Swat Bots try to execute him.  He dodges a few shots, despite not being the most athletic person, so even on ‘destroy everything’ mode Swat Bots STILL have horrible aim.  Another explosion erupts, and suddenly Robotnik is there.  A few snide comments to Snively, then Robotnik notices the Swat Bot now taking aim at him.  So he whips out a laser pistol and blasts the bots.  Given how quick he was on the draw, you can see how he could be a threat to Sonic despite his speed.

Of course, Robotnik blames Snively for this state of affairs, which is technically true.  But Snively counters that he couldn’t know as he wasn’t told anything.  Which Robotnik retorts is protection against betrayal.  Snively then welcomes Robotnik back, and insults him under his breath.

Watching the Freedom Fighters trying and failing to escape on the monitor, Robotnik considers a dilemma.  On the one hand, the Freedom Fighters are going to be killed.  On the other, by the time they die, his robot army might have wiped out most of the planet.  So he makes a decision he knows he’ll regret, and deactivates all the robots.

But after doing so he taunts Sonic, letting him know that not only has Robotnik returned, but that Sonic owes him his life.  Robotnik’s plan is that knowing this will be a blow to Sonic’s ego, but as we’re still just getting used to the idea of continuity in the comic, it won’t come up again.  The two share a bit of back and forth dialogue, and then both leave, knowing the conflict will continue again soon.

The opening of this story is rather weak, a pretty much literal Deus Ex Machina for getting Robotnik back.  Once we return to the Prime Zone however the story kicks forward, presenting a dramatic and desperate situation, and an interesting dilemma for the villain for a change.  For this part, about the only criticism I have is, if Robotnik has enough robots to annihilate the world, can’t he just send them all stomping into the forest and wipe it all out, inevitably catching Knothole in the crossfire?  The only reason is a character trait we see far more much later in the comics, which is wanting to treat his conquest more like a ‘game’ or challenge.  Or maybe he’s just like a turtling RTS player who wants to research absolutely everything on the tech-tree before attacking.

Story 2: Tails Knight Time Story

That title is not promising.

Sally is trying to get Tails to sleep, but Tails is more interested at playing at being Sonic.  Sally tries to explain that despite appearances, Sonic’s adventures are not all fun and games.  Obviously excluding the video game side of things. She tries to give a Mobian peril, “Never wish to be someone else until you have fought a battle in their armour’ which seems a bit more clunky than ‘walk a mile in their shoes’.  But the reason is for Sally to tell a fable *groan* about a knight and his squire, based on Sonic and Tails respectively.  The fable goes on about how brave, admired and skilled the knight is, while the squire is a worthless nobody.  That is NOT my exaggeration, the story actually describes the squire as a ‘nobody’ several times.  

We get to the inevitable ‘one day the knight leaves his armour so the squire tries it on, then gets into a pickle’ part.  Only to be saved at the last second by the knight.  Which apparently makes the squire complete happy with his normal life and he lived ‘happily ever after’.

Sally might say the moral is ‘don’t wish for something unless you know everything about it’ but to me there is a far more obvious, and disturbing one.

‘Don’t try and be like your hero.  You’ll fail, so just be happy how you are.’  Seriously, the ending has the squire HAPPY to be a ‘nobody’ for the rest of his life.  This is NOT a good message to put in a kids comic.  Sure, it’s unintended, but I’d argue it is far stronger than the one they are trying to portray.  If they didn’t use the term ‘nobody’ OR end with the squire training to be a knight but knowing how dangerous it is, or both, this negative message could have been avoided.

An alternate way to look at it is the moral is ‘don’t try to rise above your social station’ which, given how backwards we find the Acorn Monarchy can be at times, wouldn’t surprise me if this was an in universe tale told to peasants to make them think it is better to just be lowly peasants.   

Either way, thankfully Tails wasn’t paying attention as he nicked Sonic’s shoes and is now running around in them, thanking Sally for the idea.  You know, ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ might have fitted better after all.

It ends with Sally saying ‘Next time I’ll stick with Fairy Tales’.  Uh… is that meant to be a joke?  It’s delivered as one, but there’s no punch line as far as I can see.

Overall

Despite a bit of an odd start the first story is pretty much important reading given how it will shape events further down the line.  And once the ‘prelude’ to the story is over it quickly shapes into a very despite last stand with a serious feeling of tension.  Shame the secondary story has to mess that all up.

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One thing I noticed you didn't bring up was that this issue marks the first time in the comics where Knothole is presented as a civilization built into the trees of the forest as opposed to the underground "bunker" we've seen portrayed as Knothole up until this point.

Yeah, this period of the comic's history tends to get very... "confused" in how it keeps jumping back and forth between the set-up to serious continuity by Penders and the trips into the absurd and silly by Gallagher. Still, nice review! Looking forward to more!

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I got kinda distracted at how horrible the fable was! ;)

But yeah, I was gonna mention that in the next issue, which brings in space aliens.  And it's blatantly obvious in Issue 33 which is crazily out of place!  But thanks tiny260.

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Issue 23


Story 1: Ivo Robotnik, Freedom Fighter.

Cool title, shame the story doesn’t turn out as you might expect from that.  Also, something that just popped into my head, I wonder if the person who translated Eggman into Robotnik was a Ghostbuster’s fan, given the character of Ivo Shandor from that film.

Back in the review of Issue 12 I said how children’s series almost all eventually do a story about time travel, as that story was, and a story about aliens, which is this one.  Like time travel, the impact of aliens has to be very carefully handled to make sense in a wider context, and likewise, this is very rarely done.   If the aliens are good, why don’t they help the heroes all the time?  Usually this will be some form of ‘don’t interfere with primitive races’ rule, like the Star Trek Prime Directive.  If they are evil or hostile, they you need to come up with more and more ridiculous excuses for why they don’t just bombard the planet from orbit.  As such, most aliens tend to be neutral, just interested in observing and studying us, though the might seem evil if they view other races as just inferior or specimens.  Which is the case we have here.

We open with Sally once again being critical, this time thinking Sonic is messing around when in fact he’s got ants in his shoes.  Ants wearing teeny tiny clothes, dress as stereotypical hillbillies.  How they weren’t crushed by how fast Sonic was moving his feet I’ll never know. 

These ants are from Rotor’s ant farm.  Remember that?  So… these ants wear clothing, which shows they’re intelligent.  Yet Rotor keeps them as pets in an ant farm.

Please, let that rattle around in your head.  A FREEDOM FIGHTER IS KEEPING INTELLIGENT CREATURES PRISONER!  I know this is meant to be the point of the story, but still, the hypocrisy on display is horrible.  Anyway, Rotor says they like living in his ant farm, but given they keep escaping, something Sonic comments on, I doubt Rotor asked them.  Sally cuts the discussion short by telling the two to hurry up finding the medical berries they are harvesting close to Robotropolis. So… berries are growing very close to a polluting city….. okay.  And it’s not like they are thriving in a corrupted landscape, the whole area looks green and vibrant.  Also…. If they are out on a mission, how did the escaping ants get out here?  If they were sensible enough to say, hitch a lift on one of the Freedom Fighters this far without being detected, how did they end up in Sonic’s shoe, blowing their escape plan?  Or did Rotor take his ant farm with him?

At this point Robotnik pops up with Snively, this time with a Roboticizer ray gun.  He almost zaps Sally who gets saved by Sonic, then sets his sights on Rotor, who once again has somehow lost the ants that were just found.  Sonic rushes in to do the hero thing again, when suddenly a giant hose sucks them into what appears to be a giant sofa cushion.  The hose also sucks up all surrounding objects, bushes, even a tree or too, but when they land all that other stuff has vanished.  Despite a tree half out of the hose in the frame just before they land.

Robotnik and Sonic argue for a moment before they are greeted by their captor, a giant alien in a metal suit, who introduces himself as Car-Heem of Weeet, who has decided to study a group of Mobian’s just because.  Robotnik tries to talk Car-Heem into letting him go in return for a guidebook.  This just angers Car-Heem who plans to dispose of Robotnik calling him inferior, only for Sonic and Sally to speak up on his behalf, saying he is an important member of the Freedom Fighters.  So… yet ANOTHER opportunity to end the war thrown away.  Okay, this one is kinda understandable, but still…. 

Car-heem is intrigued at how Mobian’s are interdepend as his own is independent, but still, if you have studies any other species, surely this trait wouldn’t be ‘strange’.  So he spares Robotnik and puts him, Snively and the Freedom Fighters (Sonic, Rotor, Sally and Tails) into a tank with a Mobian landscape inside.  Robotnik complains her can’t live in it because it’s non-toxic.  You know, if Robotnik need pollution to live, that does put an interesting spin on his conquering of the world.  But given they are trapped in there for days it’s probably just a case of not liking green.  A quick attempt to spin-dash through the wall fails, so of course everyone gives up and think they’re trapped.  Some Freedom Fighters you guys are!

A few days pass as the Freedom Fighters try to build a habitat, and so far have succeeded in digging a hole a few inches deep and cutting down a single tree.  Which they are chopping up to make what I can only assume are drink coasters because there is nothing else that could be made of them.  Robotnik meanwhile is goofing off, but Sonic points out that, if Car-heem thinks Robotnik is not part of the group, he could kill Robotnik.  Panicking, Robotnik is forced into taking the ‘Freedom Fighter’s Oath’.  Half of which is just insults towards Robotnik.  And then amusing Snively congratulates Robotnik.  Well, not amusing to Robotnik himself.

Finally, they start talking about escaping, with Sonic, bringing up the ants again, saying that if they act boring Car-heem might open the top, giving them a chance to get out.  But Rotor points out that getting out the tank wouldn’t get them home, so Robotnik speaks up, saying that he can build a vehicle to get everyone out the tank, and can then fly the spaceship home.  And tries to use the fact he’s a Freedom Fighter to get the others to trust him.  And they seem to….. Maybe they are indeed fools Robotnik.

So Sonic plays dead, leading to Car-heem moving to get rid of him, and the others if they are also dead.  But as the giant goes to grab the hedgehog Sonic springs up and runs inside Car-heem’s suit, irritating him like the ants did before in Sonic’s shoe.  The rest of the Freedom Fighter board Robotnik’s wooden helicopter, Tails acting as the rear propeller, which manages to just take off, losing its wheels in the process.  Not sure if they found metal wheels somewhere, or if the colourist goofed up.  They land on the control panel, Sally not sure why they’re doing so.  I getting the feeling this plan wasn’t discussed much beforehand as despite Robotnik saying he could control the ship earlier, Sally implies the plan is to hide. 

But Robotnik’s true plan becomes clear as he uses the controls to open the airlock….er… well it’s not an airlock, just a door, and sending Car-heem and Sonic into space.  Okay, Car-heem’s suit keeps him safe in vacuum and he wears it all the time, but still, an airlock would be a lot safer than just a single door.  Robotnik gloats, but then Sally and Tails grab him while Rotor sends the hose to Car-heem to grab.  Well, what did you THINK would happen there Robotnik?  Didn’t you have a follow-up plan?  Or did you assume because the Freedom Fighters were giving up to easily before they would do the same with Sonic trapped in space.

Anyway, Car-Heem is pulled back in, and somehow this has given him a change of heart.  No idea why, it just happens.  So he is going to send everyone home.  Robotnik as well… ho hum, the war rages on.

We end with Rotor setting his ants free.  So… is the moral of the story ‘don’t keep intelligent creatures as pet’ which seems freaking obvious, or… ‘don’t keep pets’… which seems rather mean!

Story 2 – The Vol-Ant-teer

A story focused on Antoine for those confused by the title.  Its night in the now established Knothole village, and Antoine is spooked by a large shadow on the wall.  But it turns out it’s Tails, who’s glum because he lost a Power Ring and worries that it means he won’t be allowed on anymore missions.  Antoine say’s he’ll fetch it for Tails, only to be told that it’s in Robotropolis.  Antoine panics at first, but, despite being the group coward, goes anyway.  Let me repeat that.  Antoine decides of his free will to go into Robotropolis alone for no other reason than to help a friend out.  He didn’t need to, heck he could have helped by just sticking up for Tails when he told Sonic and Sally about the lost ring, but no, he goes out.

The talk has woken up Bunnie, and Tails explains what’s going on (Except for exactly what he lost) but then Bunnie disappears.

The story moves into Robotropolis, Antoine already in the city, sticking out of a manhole cover as he tries to read a map Tails made for him.  A robot car spots him and tries to run him over, only to be stopped by a falling girder out of seemingly nowhere.  Antoine however is more annoyed by the noise so goes back into the sewers.  Soon he finds the tall building where Tails backpack has been left, Power Ring inside, and starts climbing a ladder to reach the top.  Three Swat Bots spit him and follow up the ladder, only for it to be torn from the building side causing all three to fall and smash.  We see a mysterious shadow on the building side, only it’s clearly recognizable as Bunnie.  I wonder how Antoine got down though now the ladder has gone.  Also, those three Swat Bots have some weird speech patterns.  There’s no humour to it, it’s just weird for no reason.

Suddenly Antoine is outside the city, just a toxic river between him and safety, so he crawls through a pipe running one side from another.  Robotnik has been awoken and has spotted the coyote, planning to ram the pipe with his hovercraft.  Only the pipe suddenly moves and the hovercraft crashes into the ooze.

Back home, Antoine returns the backpack to Tails, but does admit what he did was rather foolish and Tails should never take a risk like that.  Oh don’t worry Antoine, I’m sure Tails would never go off on an adventure on his own!  Tails agrees to keep it a secret and flies off, and then Antoine gives Bunnie a ‘thank you’ kiss on the cheek for their secret, showing that Antoine worked out Bunnie was helping him, and given Bunnie’s blushing face we have a confirmation of their forming relationship.

“Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened you know.  It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.” – The Third Doctor.

This is potentially the first story that has true character development, changing Antoine from an almost useless coward, to a loyal friend who will push through his fear when needed.  This I’d argue actually makes Antoine the bravest character.  He’s scared, well, terrified of the situation, but will still fight for his friends. 

Overall

When I did my overview of Year 1 I said the tone of the comics would fluctuate.  This is clear here with the somewhat silly space alien collector story following the ‘Robotnik dies and returns’ plot from the last two issues.  That’s not to say the first story is bad, it’s just more lighthearted than the past few issues, and nothing really stands out about it.  Nor will it have an impact beyond a minor cameo later.  The second story, while showing Antoine pushing past his fear, is still just a short lighthearted story.  It’s character and implications are more worthwhile than the story itself.

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Back in the review of Issue 12 I said how children’s series almost all eventually do a story about time travel, as that story was, and a story about aliens, which is this one.  Like time travel, the impact of aliens has to be very carefully handled to make sense in a wider context, and likewise, this is very rarely done.   If the aliens are good, why don’t they help the heroes all the time?  Usually this will be some form of ‘don’t interfere with primitive races’ rule, like the Star Trek Prime Directive.  If they are evil or hostile, they you need to come up with more and more ridiculous excuses for why they don’t just bombard the planet from orbit.  As such, most aliens tend to be neutral, just interested in observing and studying us, though the might seem evil if they view other races as just inferior or specimens.  Which is the case we have here.

Hahahahah! To quote Spoony, "You guys don't even know how funny that is yet"! Hoo, hello Sonic #124, 125 and the entire "Tossed in Space" arc! And let's not forget Knuckles' Mini-series with Rotor's ant farm! Seriously, this whole issue could best be summed up as "hilarious in hindsight" based on future knowledge of what's going on down the road for the series.

Another nice review, I'm glad you enjoyed the Antoine story as much as I did when first reading through it. As the series goes on, I hold he becomes one of the most developed, well-fleshed-out characters. That's a debatable claim, sure, but stories like this serve to back that up. 

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Oh, I haven't even BEGUN when it comes to the Space Arc.  I am kinda looking forward to tearing those genocidal BEM to pieces!  But yep, there are some disturbing consequences from this when you look ahead.

And thanks.  I would certainly agree with sentiment.  Especially either side of the Endgame arc is when he really picks up a lot of character.  I could be wrong, but I think he's the only character aside from Sonic to use a Power Ring directly (and maybe Tails and Nagus if you count the multi-ring fiasco) 

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I concur with tiny. Please keep this up Skye!

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Thanks Frostryu.  I'll do my best.

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I hope you realize I read your "I'll do my best" in Tails' voice. If that was intentional, well done.

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*grins* Of course it was!  I take after my Dad! ;) 

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Oh look, time for another cash-in… wait what?  Oh, it’s a tie in with the Sonic & Knuckles game?  Oh… okay.

Special: Sonic & Knuckles

With the arrival of Sonic & Knuckles, and Knux as a playable character, it’s pretty clear he wasn’t a one shot side character but part of the main cast now.  Of course, so far all he’s had just one half-comic story quite a few months ago, and nothing since then.  So now he gets a whole special to himself.  Nice!

We get a quick summary about the Floating Island and Knuckles himself, and then we’re into the stories.

Story 1: Panic in the Sky!

We open on a beach on ‘The Western Coast of the Great Continent’, which either means this was before the decision to base Mobius on Earth, or the writer has a lot of pride in the US.  Apparently this place has frequent earthquakes, mudslides, floods and, somehow, wildfires, yet is unscarred by conflict.  Yeah… just scarred by everything else.  And the natives live ‘without care’.  Despite the frequent earthquakes, mudslides, floods and wildfires.  Okay, clearly the only explanation is that local plant life is a narcotic, so whenever it floods it fills the water so anyone who drinks it gets high, ditto when it catches fire and all this trippy smoke is floating around.

Despite being said that the Mobians we’re seeing are natives, we see the trainee Freedom Fighters from Sally’s mini-series.  I doubt they’re all natives to this beach.  But as they play volleyball with each team a player short, a shadow falls across the beach.  Looking up, the ‘natives’ are shocked to see the Floating Island hovering above them.  Cue mass panic.  And I wonder if panic makes Mobian noses turn blue.  And Hamlin, if you’ve forgotten your beach trunks, don’t were your spotted boxer shorts.  It’s NOT a good look.  How NO ONE saw the Floating Island until it was right above them I have no idea…

Also, it appears that Mobius has two suns.  As our establishing frames show the sun over the landmass as we’re looking inland from the ocean.  Then, we spin 180 degrees to look out over the ocean and the Floating Island, and there is the sun again. 

We move to Knothole to see it’s been seriously upgraded with monitors and 60’s era computers, where Rotor is telling the Freedom Fighters what we’ve just seen, and that the Floating Island is heading inland towards Knothole.  Sonic and Tails arrive, immediately recognising the Floating Island, and having to fill the other’s in on the story.  Wait, you guys seriously didn’t tell anyone else about any of that adventure?  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Unsure wither they can trust Knux given his sorta neutral outlook, and presumably his ‘punch-first, ask questions later’ approach, Sonic and Tails fly up to the island in Antoine’s plane, which seems to have USAF markings…. Anyway, as they approach cannons mounted on the underside of the island open fire, much to the surprise to the three occupants of the plane.  They fly above the island, out of the guns line of fire, and Sonic and Tails jump to the surface below.  Sonic using the parachute, declining Tails’ offer of a lift out of pride.  But they’re being watched by a shadow covered Knux, and for some inexplicable reason they are trying to disguise his identity when it is so clear in the story and the art it’s him.  And he doesn’t seem happy seeing the two back despite parting on friendly terms.  We then wander into the game adaption part of the story as they wind up in Mushroom Hill Zone, complete with the giant mushrooms, the pendulums, and the floating woodcutter robot mini-boss, who’s quickly dispatched.  Kinda lacking in the ‘hill’ department though! 

Racing from the scene, Sonic ends up falling down a tiny hole.  Once again, looks like my poor controller skills have doomed Sonic.  He just manages to grab a ledge, only to see Knux above him.  Sonic is initially happy, until Knux complains about Sonic turning his Island into a warzone.  He makes to stamp on Sonic’s hand, but Tails interrupts trying to drop a rock on him.  Which knocks Knuckles AND Sonic off the ledge.  Something they both snark about as they fall.  Until the land on a small rock in a lava river.  Knux is all for continuing the punching until he spots the lava, guess the heat didn’t give it away, and Tails flies in to grab both of them and fly them back to the surface.  Sonic tells Tails to ignore his earlier comment on not wanting a lift, just as well otherwise I was gonna yell at him for ignoring all those other times! 

After Knux comments that he’s able to glide, though he might not have gotten enough height to escape by himself, Sonic points to the sky.  Despite earlier making it clear it was only around 2 in the afternoon when they left for the Floating Island, its now dark out and the stars are out.  Knux notes that the stars are in the wrong place.  Okay… so….

The Floating Island has been moving off-course, and he hasn’t noticed until now.  Okay… if he was mostly inland and not on the edge of the island, that is maybe understandable, though a little hard to swallow.  But…. If the Island moves around Mobius normally, how can he tell when the stars are wrong?  Knux doesn’t seem the type of guy to memorise the star patterns all across Mobius.  So it’s taking him this long to realise something was wrong.  Which means he doesn’t know about the guns on the underside of the Island.  Which, in turn, means that he had no reason to accuse Sonic of brining war to his island, as he thought it was at peace.  And hence no reason to wanna see Sonic burned alive in lava. 

Knux then comments that the Island will now be above Knothole, and that nobody would notice cause it’s dark.  Okay, ignore how Knux knows they’re over Knothole when Sonic didn’t tell him that was where the Island was heading, how would nobody notice?  Those in Knothole already know about the giant Floating Island heading their way, and even if it was dark, I’m pretty sure the Island is that freaking big you’d still see it.  After all, it IS a clear night with lots of stars to block out, as we’ve just established. 

Leaving that aside, realising he’s been tricked (again) Knux opens a secret passage leading to the secret chamber when the Chaos Emerald is that keep the Island floating.  No idea why it’s called a Zoot Chute, I’m guessing that’s a reference to something.  And I have to say, a proper secure chamber is better than the small pile of rocks from the first story.  They soon arrive in the chamber which looks like someone has places multi-colours crazy paving on the wall, only to see the and energy syphon draining the Emeralds energy in this supposedly secure room.  Knux tries to grab the syphon, only to get zapped for his trouble, another game reference, or just coincidence? 

A hologram of Robotnik’s head appears, really, was it going to be anyone else?  Sonic demands to know why Robotnik turned the Island into a massive flying battleship.  Er… kinda answered your own question there Sonic.  Robotnik says ‘isn’t it obvious?’ and yes, it is.  You know have a massive flying battleship!  But no, Robotnik continues saying that of course it’s not obvious, uh…. Okay… because apparently only he had the vision to see it’s strategic importance.  Sorry, but that is seriously clear Robotnik.  I know you look down on others, but seriously, how could this NOT be as clear as glass!

Continuing on Robotnik explains how he attacked his machines to the island, creating engines and weapons and using the syphon to power them.  So now he’s flying to Knothole Village and plans to bombard it from above.

Wait…. How do you know where Knothole is?  A major part of many of the stories we’ve hand is not knowing where it is located.  A major part of FUTURE stories is not knowing where it is.  And no, he’s not meaning that he’s just gonna bombard the forest.  He’s waiting until he’s ‘directly overhead’.  Guess he’s still knocking back those amnesia drugs that made him forget about Bunnie kicking his ass. 

Ashamed at what’s happened, Knux picks up the Chaos Emerald, and smashes it.  I’m sure that will never happen again.  Unsurprisingly, this causes the Island to start falling.  Robotnik makes his escape, distracting his command ship and flying off, gloating all the while that he’ll still win as the Floating Island will destroy Knothole when it crashes.  But Knux pulls out a spare Emerald from a hiding place and jams it back on the pedestal, causing the island to start floating again just before impact.  And look, it’s daytime again!  Considering how much care they took at the start to tell us the exact time, they’ve now thrown that out the window utterly.

Knux says that next time he’ll try to ‘look before leaping to the wrong conclusion’…. Yeah, we’ll see how long THAT lasts.  He then reveals that what he said was a spare Emerald was actually the original, he just performed a sleight of hand trick and smashed a fake one… somehow.  With those mittens on I’d have thought such a switcharoo would be pretty impossible.  Sonic offers Knux and chance to join them, but Knux refuses, of course. 

Returning home, this time Sonic and Tails fill the others in about what happened, and that they doubt that Knux will ever join the Freedom Fighters.  And something really freaky is up with Sally’s eyes.  It’s like she has an extra iris or something.

In terms of action, this is a pretty middle of the road story, buoyed up by the spectacle of the Floating Island.  However, whenever it tries to do exposition, it fumbles it, hard.  And it does fall into the ‘Knuckles is tricked’ storyline again.  It’s not bad by any rate, just it could have done with a few tweaks to be truly memorable. 

Story 2: Fire Drill

Aka: The start of the plot!

Seriously.  This is the first story that kicks off a long running plot that won’t be resolved in a few issues (like the Sally stories earlier) of that isn’t just a natural part of the story (i.e. Sonic vs Robotnik) and that will have important element that will appear and reappear through the comic’s run. 

But for now, it all starts with an explosion.  Well that’s one way to get attention.  Specifically Knuckles’, who flies to the beach where the explosion came from, all the while taking to himself about how awesome he is.  And they say Sonic has an ego.  He follows some footprints from the crater, but loses the trail when they disappear into some empty bushes.  Starting to get mad, Knux jumps to two conclusions.  One, that whoever they are must have gone to the Sandopolis ruins, and two, that it must be Sonic.  And that’s how long ‘not jumping to the wrong conclusion’ lasted.  Four pages. 

He heads into the ruins, as someone triggers off a couple of traps, though they mostly just annoy Knux, rather than hurting them.  Now, credit where it’s due here, we see the shadow of the person behind all this, but it’s drawn in such a way that it does look like Sonic, but when you know who it really is, you can tell it’s them too.  Oh, yeah, spoiler warning, it’s not Sonic! ;-p

Knux travels further into the ruins, commenting that his dad told him a lot about the Floating Island, but not everything.  And then the whole place starts filling with stand, so Knux bursts out a wall to escape.  Following another trail out of the ruins, he finds it leads to the Islands edge, so Knux assumes the person he’s chasing must have left.  But we see he’s still watching, and has further plans for Knux.  Oh, further spoiler, it’s a he, not a she.  

There’s not much to add about this story.  It’s mostly, I’m afraid to say, Knuckles bumbling around while boasting about himself.  There’s little substance to it in itself, it’s mostly the setoff for payment down the road. 

Story 3: Lord of the Floating Island

This story begins with Knux gliding over the Island, commenting on the strong wings around.  He spots a young kangaroo Mobian, therefore establishing that there are others living on the Floating Island aside from Knuckles.  The kid has lost his mother, so Knux agrees to help the kid find her.  As they look, the kid mentions he knows who Knux is, and the two talk about the eclipse that’s occurring, and apparently responsible for the strong winds, because usually the Island doesn’t get windy.  Uh huh…

Their conversation is interrupted by a pack of panicking Dingos.  Knuxs mentions that they are ‘normally friendly’.  Given what will later be done with the Dingos, you couldn’t be more wrong Knux.  And it’s a something of a continuity snarl to see them here, but maybe some escaped the horrible fate we learn about later.

They soon find the kids mother, and with them happily reunited, Knux insists he’s just doing his job and it’s his duty to protect the Island and its people, and glides off.

Overall

The special is overall enjoyable, with a nice action story, a prelude story, and a world building story.  However, none of them really stand up to security, and the final story does suffer a little from some of it’s details being changed later.  Worth reading, but not spending time on.

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