Sonic the Hedgehog #248 (June 2013)

     Spaziante/Herms cover: Sonic fighting Mega Man: “It’s on!” Can I change the channel?



     “When Worlds Collide Part 3: No Holds Barred”

     Story: Ian Flynn; Art: Jamal Peppers; Ink: Jim Amash; Color: Matt Herms; Lettering: John E. Workman; Assistant Editor: Vincent Lovallo; Editor: Paul Kaminski; Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick; Matchmaker to Evil Geniuses: Mike Pellerito; Video game drones: Anthony Gaccione and Cindy Chau (Sega) and Brian Oliveira (Capcom). Sorry, I don’t know kanji.


     Put your brain on auto-pilot during the ass-kicking. Sonic gave himself an opportunity to break out of Idiot Plot mode, but Mega doesn’t take him up on it. For his part, Mega gets mixed signals as to whether Sonic is organic or a bot, but before he can knock out Sonic and take it back home to the lab, Sonic just about drops a piece of Green Hill Zone on him.

     All this action is being relayed by Tails Man for the amusement of Eggman and Wiley. As they continue to give each other strokes and the reader exposition, the Knuckles, Shadow and Amy Rose bots return with the Chaos Emerald they can add to the five they’ve already acquired but Wiley would rather watch the game.

     At this point, Sonic and Mega are staying in their corners catching their breath and trying to figure out their opponents. Sonic’s plan of attack is simple: get a running start into one of the loops and cannonball into Mega Man. And then do some variations on the same move. When it looks like Sonic has knocked Mega out, Sonic goes into gloat mode. Huge mistake as Mega socks him.

     Back at the lab Proto/Blues warps in with a flash drive of data on the robbery and the time warp. Roll gets in his visored face and escorts him to sick bay. There follows a page of word walls between Dr. Light and Auto which ends with Light e-mailing Duo. Hope it makes sense to you.

     Meanwhile, a portal opens in the Green Hill Zone and Mega automatically thinks jumping through it would be a good idea. His plan: start to enter the ring, then when Sonic comes at him, turn around and go into soccer goalie mode.

     Back at the bad guy HQ, Wiley orders Tails to follow the two into the ring, which it does. This then gives Wiley a chance to give a short discourse on Dr. Thomas Light. Short version of Wiley’s strategy: Bass and Metal Sonic are going to go and turn out the Light.

     And Sonic emerges in Mega City. Or, as Mega Man calls it, “my home turf.” And he gets back-up from a robo-dog, -cat, and –bird. You’d think, given that Mobius is a furry world, this wouldn’t be very intimidating.



     HEAD: I can’t make up my mind about this story. On the one hand, a story featuring Sonic and Mega mixing it up, broken up by lots of exposition, is a disappointment. On the other hand, it’s also no surprise.

     It’s no coincidence that, since the fight takes place in an issue of the Sonic comic, the hedgehog would have the better of the encounter, at least initially. With the scene shifting to Mega City and Mega back in his own hood and the story shifting to Mega’s book, expect the tide to turn.

     The story feinted in one or two interesting directions but never followed up. I was most interested in Roll, Rock’s sister and her short-lived scene. But I’ll wait until the Heart section to cover that game.

     The information about Tom Light was too little to provide more than background. As a Mega Man newb, I’m working to bring myself up to speed here and without access to the Mega Man titles it’s not easy. I figure I can wait until the omnibus edition comes out to make sense of the story arc as a whole (not that it’s all that complex; we’re not talking Dostoevsky-level writing here). But at this point it’s not that interesting, either. Head Score: 3.

     EYE: So far, Jamal Peppers continues his streak of doing good work with both Sonic and Mega Man characters. Eye Score: 9.

     HEART: As a twin, I’m sensitive to one of the curses of twin life: cute names. In the case of myself and my brother, the cuteness factor was that our Dad was looking for an Irish effect: hence we were named Patrick and Danny. It also works with pairs of pets and other animals. Possibly the worst example I’ve seen was in an episode of the animated series “Horseland” where twin white foals were named “Cream” and “Sugar.” I swear, had I been a character in that episode and heard those names I would have said “If anybody needs me, I’ll be at the other end of the barn throwing up.”

     But I digress. The cute name convention here is that Mega Man and his robo sister are known, collectively, as “Rock” and “Roll.” So I fully expected to see them team up at some point. I mean, c’mon, that’s a built-in catch-phrase right there: “Let’s Rock and Roll!” It would be a shame to waste it.

     And yet when I asked Mega Man fans if there’s any Rock and Roll action as part of the Mega Man action, here’s what I learned:

     According to Will Keaton, “Unlike all the other robots Dr. Light made, Rock and Roll were originally designed not to carry out dangerous tasks but instead were made to simulate human appearance and behavior. Or maybe just act as maids and do housework. Anyway when … [Wiley] stole and reprogrammed Light's other robots Rock was rebuilt as a combat robot. But Roll? Yeah, she never got an upgrade so she is not combat capable any more than you'd expect a girl of her size to be. I don't know exactly what the comics do with her but in the games she never gets anywhere near a fight.”

     And glitcher elaborates in terms of the games: “Megsy's sister is … more of a supporting character. While she did get in on the action in ‘Mega Man: Powered Up’ and Capcom's VS. series, she was mainly relegated to providing her bro with equipment and cheering him on. She seems to be far more popular in Japan …
I'm sure she'll develop further in Archie's comics as time goes on. She already had her own arc with Kalinka and Tempo rescuing a ship in distress. Oh, and she was last seen in Mega Man #27.”

     So clearly there isn’t a Rock and Roll factor. Instead, she’s described in the Mega Man Knowledge Base wiki as “a kind-hearted humanoid robot created by Dr. Light to be a house keeper, helping around Dr. Light's Laboratory by cleaning and cooking. She is the ‘little sister’ of Mega Man and Proto Man. Her dream is to one day open a hospital and help people.”

     This may sound pretty anti-feminist, but it’s also typical of how teen girls are depicted (the heroines, anyway) in Japanese popular culture. And one such girl is Pinoko, from the manga/anime “Black Jack” by Osamu Tezuka.

     Hers is probably the most unique genesis even in a medium as outrageous as manga. Black Jack, Tezuka’s renegade surgeon, deals with an oversized tumor in a patient only to learn that it is a teratoid cystoma: a failed embryo whose development is cut short and becomes “absorbed” by its host instead of developing into a conjoined twin. Black Jack senses that the cystoma is sensate and vows to remove it alive. Taking the parts that have developed and using synthetics for whatever else he needs, he fashions a little girl, definitely not a bot but not technically human either, named Pinako after Carlo Collodi’s famed marionette, Pinocchio. According to an anime site, “She always helps the doctor by doing house-chores and even acting as an assistant to some of his operations. She often acts as comic relief in Black Jack, physically and in many ways mentally appearing to be around the age of five years, but claiming to be a girl of eighteen and engaged to him, despite [the fact] that he only treats her as a daughter.” I leave it to an old school Freudian to sort out that relationship. But that particular relational kink notwithstanding, she sounds as if she and Roll were cut from the same cloth.

     Another manga/anime girl who is like but also not like Roll is Winry Rockbell, from Hiromu Arakawa’s “Fullmetal Alchemist.” Winry was the childhood friend of Edward and Alfonse Elric. When their father left home and their mother died, the boys are taken in by Winry and her grandmother, Pinako. No, she’s not a grown version of Black Jack’s little sister, she’s an old lady who’s also an engineer specializing in “automail” prosthetics. That skill, which Winry shares, is put to the test when the Elric boys try resurrecting their dead mother using alchemy, and it all goes horribly wrong. Edward is fitted with an automail arm and leg; Al’s soul is inscribed in a hulking suit of armor. One of the neat hooks of the anime is listening to the armored giant speaking with the voice of a child. Anyway, Winry is described as kind, optimistic and sincere; she can also treat Ed like a kid brother when the occasion calls for it. And unlike Roll, she can get away with wearing a tube top and bandana.

     I’ve mentioned these examples the show that there is room for a character like Roll to grow out of the role of little housewife in which she appears to be trapped. Heaven knows, as a number of Mega Man fans have stated, that Capcom has done precious little with the property except sell the comic book rights to Archie, and let Mega Man himself participate in the latest Smash Brothers game. According to a review of the game at Anime News Network: “This isn't the first time a non-Nintendo character appeared in Smash Bros., but it's quite satisfying to see Mega Man recognized. Perhaps this heralds some new Mega Man game from CAPCOM. Or maybe he's just settling into the guest-star roles that a faded icon merits." “Faded icon”? Ouch, dude!

     Still, there’s not a whole lot of Heart here outside of the Roll/Blues scene, despite a boatload of potential. So long as the ass-kicking holds center stage, we can only expect bits and pieces. Heart Score: 3.



     ATTENTION READERS: More begging from Editorial for Sonic fans to embrace Mega. This is getting embarrassing.

     OFF-PANEL: Not only does replacing Metal Sonic’s turbine with off the Mega shelf hardware turn out to be a bad idea, I’m pretty sure Eggman just voided the warranty.

     SONIC-GRAMS: Matthew wonders if Sonic is in danger of being roboticized (like Sally, Matt points out) but Editorial blows him off in the name of avoiding spoilers. Mike wants to know if Antoine will come out of his coma and if those crazy kids, Blaze and Silver, will ever get together. Editorial may as well have told Mike the truth: since this story is based on a time shift, they can make it do any damned thing they want.

     FAN ART: Elena draws Shard, Robert draws Sonic, Bobby also draws Sonic with what looks like a Wisp from Sonic Colors, and William has Sonic and Mega Man contemplating their various crazy continuities.