Sonic Universe #47 (February 2013)
Tracy Austin!/Jim Amash/Steve Downer cover: “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?” I don’t know, maybe because it’s the Year of the Snake. The last time we had one of those it was … 2001 … Anyway, the Chaotix confront Hood, and I’m sure that the three reptiles and an insect have a lot to talk about as to how the mammals are pretty much running this comic.
“All For One Part 2: Ongoing Investigation”
Story: Ian Flynn; Art: Tracy Yardley!; Ink: Jim Amash; Color: Matt Herms; Lettering: Jack Morelli; Assistant Editor: Vince Lovallo; Editor: Paul Kaminski; Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick; Snake Handler: Mike Pellerito; Sega Licensing reps: Mayuka Kobayashi, Anthony Gaccione and Cindy Chau.
SPOILER ALERT: For whatever reason, Ian leads with a “Prologue” that’s a monumental SPOILER: that Ray made it to the Badlands and is running with the Sandblast City Freedom Fighters, led by One-Eyed Jack Rabbit, under the assumed name “Flex.” Since as far as I’m concerned Ray’s hunt for his sister Matilda is the Heart of this story, I don’t really need to know what happens to the Chaotix and Bow the Sparrow’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But we press on.
The good guys slog through the castle sewer until they come to a parting of the pipes. Vector says that they’ll look for the computer while Bow’s brigade heads for the dungeon. Since I’m not seeing any signage either Bow has done this before or else someone packing a GPS. That point appears to be academic as bars trap the good guys until Charmy slips through the bars and works the “Manual Release” switch. How convenient.
Since Espio suspects that Hood is aware of their presence, he decides to go with Plan B: have Bow visualize the dungeon and use the Warp Ring to get there. While the Chaotix freak out a couple of comedy relief guards, Bow’s crew learns that the King and family are not among the prisoners. Honestly, I’m not sure what the third panel on page  is all about, especially Friar Buck’s “King’s speech” remark except as an attempt to goof on the 2010 motion picture of the same name. While Hood scrambles his troops to the dungeon, Charmy locates the local Eggnet Café. Espio tries hacking in while Vector and Charmy take out the incoming guards.
Meanwhile, Hood does a slow clap (I think) as he bad-mouths the King. Bow gets off an exploding arrow then tries to Warp out of there but there follows a weak keep-away segment until Lop makes the catch. This is the cue for Munch Rat and Alan Quail to resume the hey-nonny nonsense while they beat on the guards. Hood pulls it together and goes into Kaa mode and hypnotizes the heroes. Hood then makes the rookie mistake of yapping his hooded head off: “For two generations of kings, I’ve tried to bring order…” blah blah blah. This gives Vector the chance to show up from … well, I have no idea where he came in but he’s the hero clocking the villain so we’re supposed to applaud rather than understand it.
Espio, meanwhile, has finally gotten past the Eggman’s Net Nanny and accessed the file that just happens to show Matilda having thrown in with the Sand Blast Citizens. There’s also stuff about fake orders which frankly I don’t get.
Cut to the front gate where Espio takes out the guards and opens the gate for the Mercians who leave, at which point Bow lowers the gate. As for the last leg of the journey, they Warp Ring to Hideaway where they intend to party like it’s the final scene of “Return of the Jedi.” But Espio decides to indulge in some exposition with Bow about how the King is still on the move.
The following day, despite whatever hangovers they may be feeling from partying with the Mercians, they warp to the outskirts of Sand Blast City but still close enough to be mistaken as defectors to Baron Beauregard Rabbot by Jack Rabbit, who is prepared to start interrogating them without a lawyer present. Or a medic. Somebody call Amnesty International.
HEAD: There’s nothing unusual about the shifting venues in this story, which now segues from Mercia to the Badlands. Moving from location to location is common in action stories. For one example, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” meandered from the Peruvian jungle to the University of California at Berkeley to the Himalayas to Egypt to a Nazi submarine base on some convenient island in the Mediterranean. Sometimes the backgrounds lend glamor to the proceedings (Monte Carlo in “Casino Royale”), sometimes they contribute to the funk factor (the Mos Eisley canteen in “Star Wars”).
In this case, my question isn’t “Why did it have to be snakes?” so much as “Why did it have to be Mercia?” Ian tried sweetening the pot with useless clues about the king, fact bytes dropped down the Loose Continuity hole to be forgotten until they can be molded into something resembling a story sometime in the future. But honestly, there was no compelling reason to go to Mercia to access the Eggnet. They could have gone pretty much anywhere to do that, especially since they were in possession of a Warp Ring. With that handy dandy plot device, they could have jumped to the ARK if it was still orbiting above the planet. But as I said, the only really compelling reason to go to Mercia was to set up a story that may not be told for several years yet. Loose continuity; why’d it have to be loose continuity?
The Mercians work well enough as comedy Freedom Fighters and Hood manages to generate some menace but honestly, it doesn’t look like anybody brought their A game to this playground. It’s especially lame when you realize that we’ve just wrapped up what would ordinarily be Act 1 of a 3-act story arc. This doesn’t bode well for the next two installments. Having wasted plenty of pages to get to Sand Blast City, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes from here. The good news is the odds are really slim that the Mercians will be back anytime soon. Head Score: 6.
EYE: Tracy Yardley!’s art is good but doesn’t really jump off the page this time. Even his page layouts are just sort of … there. I expected something better than what he delivered in the Warp Ring Keep-Away segment. I think the tedium of slogging through this drawn-out story arc is getting to him. Eye Score: 7.
HEART: The odds are that Mighty will finally be reunited with his long-lost sister, Matilda, in the next issue or two. I can only hope so, anyway.
When I was growing up, one of the newspaper comic strips I read on a regular basis was “Miss Peach,” a teacher-and-her-students strip by Mell Lazarus that ran from 1957-2002 (Mell, born in 1927, is still with us). One of the things that got to me about the series wasn’t the artwork, featuring balloon-sized heads on the stick bodies of the kids. It was that one of the kids, Arthur, would periodically look for a bird, I can’t even remember why now. But I got the idea that he would be perfectly happy if he ever found this bird. But he and the bird always just missed each other in the same frustrating way Charlie Brown never got to kick the football Lucy was holding in “Peanuts.”
I don’t know why, but at the time I thought this situation was heartbreaking. Why couldn’t Arthur ever achieve what he thought to be happiness? I couldn’t understand it, and I felt terrible for him.
I can only hope that Tracy Yardley hasn’t decided to follow the “Miss Peach” playbook and set up the story so that Mighty and Matilda always manage to just miss each other. Having just typed that, I really hope I’m wrong. I wouldn’t put it past Editorial to be that sadistic. I mean, look at what they’ve done to Sally. Remember Sally? Heart Score: 3, only because they supplied the Mighty-Matilda back story details.
SONIC SPIN: Setting up the Matilda plot point and flogging back issues. And I’m sorry, but my eyes are bad enough that I don’t want to try reading back issues on a SmartPhone.
FAN ART: Jacob gives us an Art 101 portrait of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. He obviously didn’t copy this from the comic because everyone’s smiling! Rebecca gives us the Blue Blur with the Death Egg just over his shoulder. And top honors go to Justin for understanding what this story arc is all about.
FAN FUNNIES: Either Sonic is stealing the Master Emerald or he’s getting ready to hump it. Either way, he’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.
OFF PANEL: And it took that long for the band to notice Vector’s headphones because…
FAN MAIL: Hannah is looking for Maria Kintobor material, which is kind of hard since she was killed 50 years before Shadow was awakened in the Sonic Adventure 2 game. The “reunion” mentioned is S171’s acclaimed (by me, anyway) story “I Am” wherein Shadow gets some closure concerning Maria’s fate. Jessica gives a shout-out for Shard. Tyler asks “will there ever be any other mecha enemies for our heroes to fight.” Hey, in this comic that’s like asking whether the sun will come up in the east.