Sonic the Hedgehog #243 (January 2013)
Yardley!/Herms cover: Death Egg. Sonic. Knuckles. Metal Knuckles. Tails in a plane. I hate it already. It’s not bad, it’s just more of the same.
“Endangered Species Part 1: On The Brink”
Story: Ian Flynn; Art: Steven Butler; Ink: Terry Austin; Color: Matt Herms; Lettering: John E. Workman; Assistant Editor: Vincent Lovallo; Editor: Paul Kaminski; Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick; Echidna Wrangler: Mike Pellerito; Sega Licensing reps: Anthony Gaccione and Cindy Chau.
Rewind three days ago to when the Death Egg shows up over “the echidna homeland.” Times are hard; so hard the country doesn’t even have a name. Either that or the name Ian wanted to use didn’t get past Archie’s Legal Dept. And in the middle of some exposition disguised as a history lesson, the Death Egg shows up to announce that school’s out … forever.
Three days later, we catch up to Sonic and the crew arriving late to yet another party. “Oh boy … the echidnas are under attack. Knuckles is not going to be happy about that.” Yeah I know that Sonic’s dialogue sucks, but this narrative is really running on empty here. As the Tornado and its crew prepare for yet one more dose of late-to-the-party heroics, something takes a shot at them. Oh look, it’s Metal Knuckles.
Sonic takes a dash at him and gets swatted for his trouble. Amy Rose hammers him but not before he does damage to the fuel tank, forcing Tails to make a crash landing. Tails isn’t dismayed about losing the Death Egg AGAIN because of the tracker. At this rate, if the Doc hasn’t found it by now he should turn in his Mad Scientist’s License. Tails confines … er, assigns T-Pup to fix up the plane and watch over it while they look for townies and stay in the story. After taking out a tank and some Legionnaires in 3 panels, they meet up with Remington, who gets to deliver the exposition. Everything was cool and they were rebuilding after “the Day of Transit” which I suppose is echidna for the Issue 225 white-out. Then the Death Egg dropped off Lien-Da, Metal Knuckles, and some troops and took off. Sorry, no flesh-eating zombies. The echidnas have been trying to fight their way into Lien-Da’s HQ to rescue the Matriarch but are now considering evacuating the civilians in their care to Mercia. Then Sonic lets slip the news that Knux is pretty much the only one left on Angel Island; I’m sure Sally could have handled delivering that news much better. Remember Sally? Anyway, in a mirror image of the plot of the Sonic Universe comic, where the Chaotix and Rob Sparrow’s gang plan to break into Hood’s headquarters to tap into the Eggnet and rescue civilians, Remington plans to break into Lien-Da’s headquarters to save the Matriarch and rescue civilians.
As for Lien-Da, she just got off the phone with Eggman who’s STILL headed for the arctic fueling station at an appropriately glacial pace. She puts on her game face to address the troops with her Benevolent Dictator pitch but the Matriarch, aka Lara-Le or, as she’s known to Knuckles, “Mom,” tries to get a word in edgewise. This sets off Lien-Da who joins Lara-Le in a back story duet until a minion does a solo of that old stand-by “We’re under attack!”
There follow two pages of attack as we learn that the Matriarch is inside, which is where Sonic is headed. Lien-Da learns that Sonic is in town and is sure that Eggman “set [her] up to fail.” Lady, you’re a comic book villain; failure is part of your job description. But she and Sonic put on a good Boss Battle until she summons Metal Knuckles to screw up the odds.
We then cut to Angel Island and what is essentially a transcription of the final page of “Unfriendly Skies” from the previous issue. It doesn’t work much better with Steven Butler doing the art instead of Jamal Peppers.
HEAD: This arc is tired and so am I. I found myself wishing that Sonic, Tails and Amy would take a look at the devastation below and say “Screw it! Let’s go after the Death Egg and let the civilians clean up after themselves!”
In fact, Remington and the civilians aren’t doing a bad job. Sonic and his gang don’t really add much, especially at the end where Sonic finds himself going two against one, which is pretty rotten. He’s not having a good day; I mean, even Tails dismantles a tank that Sonic could have spin-dashed into.
But mainly this story is about re-introducing us to the echidnas, who haven’t put in an appearance in this comic since I don’t know when. It used to be that they had a pretty complex society and, when Ken Penders could afford it, some character development. But this is classic Archie and we can’t have any of that now, can we? Lara-Le had an interesting back story but here she’s on for all of four panels. Not pages, panels! And when Lien-Da is on, she’s cranked up to eleven.
Otherwise it’s the usual Action and More Action and I’m really getting sick of it. This comic is in such a rut! Sonic and the Tornado crew have been chasing the Death Egg and getting distracted and chasing the Death Egg and getting distracted. This is as bad as the Across The Universe series where Sonic made his way from one planet to another and accomplished absolutely nothing. Head Score: 3.
EYE: Stephen Butler does good work, as always, but not much of it jumps off the page at you. The echidna schoolroom opening was worthwhile, as was the Lien-Da electric eye thingy at the end. Eye Score: 8.
HEART: Having brought the echidnas back into the comic, you’d think that the noobs would deserve more than a serving of the same old exposition. After all, the echidnas came with a truck load of emotional baggage.
Lara-Le especially. We old-timers can remember what the Knuckles stories used to be like. And even for the noobs, knowing that Lara-Le is Knuckles’s mother would kick the story up a notch in terms of involvement. And Ian could have altered the dialogue between her and Lien-Da so easily to let that fact slip out. “You were chosen solely for your connection to Knuckles” could have been written as “You were chosen solely because Knuckles is your son” and it wouldn’t have been a hardship for John Workman.
In the animated series “Adventure Time,” I thought for the longest time that the Ice King was just a comedy villain. But they’ve slowly re-presented him so that he hasn’t lost any villainy but he’s less of a buffoon. And then came the episode “I Remember You” and it totally developed both the Ice King and Marcelline in a direction I did not see coming. Powerful stuff, far more than we’ve been getting in the Sonic comics lately.
I have to bring in “Adventure Time” as an example of what this comic could be if … frankly, I’m stumped as to why this comic has become so anemic. There has to be more to it than Ian’s Action and More Action credo. I’ve been wondering for the past two decades, about as long as the comic’s been in existence, whether good storytelling isn’t viewed by Editorial as some species of bug that needs to be squashed on sight.
Maybe I’m just tired of the repetition, but this story needed something to keep the readers awake, and things such as character development and emotional involvement usually do the trick. Unless they’ve been taken out back behind the dumpsters and beaten to death. Shame on Ian Flynn if it never occurred to him. If it had, shame on Paul Kaminski and his Editorial minions for suppressing it. Heart Score: 2.
SONIC SPIN: The same old hype. Wake me when Paul changes his tune.
FAN ART: Will tries to divine the identity of the traitor, as if anybody still cares. Remember, at the discretion of Editorial this whole narrative could shift focus and the next thing you know it’s three years later and the writer is only just getting back to that plot point. Melissa gives us Fiona and Scourge. And Elizabeth takes a cue from a frame of the opening sequence to “Sonic X” where she’s inserted a drawing of herself (I’m betting) instead of Amy Rose. Wait until she learns PhotoShop.
FAN FUNNIES: Jaxx gives us some crossover humor. I think this is a goof on one of the Mario Brothers games but I’m just guessing.
OFF PANEL: Sonic walks out in a difference of opinion with the writer. I so know that feeling.
SONIC GRAMS: Nader wants to see more of Tails and Speedy from the Battle Bird Armada duking it out; I lost my taste for the whole bird thing when the comic upgraded the Boss bird for no good reason. He also wants to see some Tails/Cream shipping and the Suppression Squad, hopefully not in the same story arc. Daniel wants to see Scourge, Sally, and Thrash. Me, I’d settle for Sally, Sally, and Sally.