Sonic the Hedgehog and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Archie Comics and Sega of America
We’re back with another look at the comic books that came out right around the time that Sonic Mania is so DESPERATELY trying to recreate! Now if the NEXT Sonic Mania introduced the Freedom Fighters, you might just hit MY nostalgic sweet spot as well, so get on that SEGA!! Anyway, let’s go ahead and make this recent resurgence of Classic Sonic complete with a look at two more issues of the comic!!
Issue 10 – (May 1994)
The issue begins with Sonic doing something that’s actually pretty awesome and is a very useful application of his speed; namely, detonating land mines placed by Robotnik’s robo-minions.
Now doing something like that would be rewarding on its own, but the Freedom Fighters are also in need of electricity, so they’re killing two bird with one stone by digging up the cleared area looking for access points to siphon off Robotnik’s own electricity to their base of operations. Unfortunately, Robotnik is just a smidgen cleverer than the Freedom Fighters give him credit form as he seems to have booby trapped his electrical infrastructure; trapping the Freedom Fighters in some sort of electric cage and setting off an alarm. Luckily for them, Robotnik’s force field has one fatal flaw, as demonstrated by some sort of mole creature sticking his ugly head out from under the earth where the force field can’t reach. Thinking quickly, the Freedom Fighters shove the ugly little bastard back where he came from and all of them climb down the hole to salvation!
The creatures known as Nerbs (ugh…) live underground, have terrible fashion sense, and are OBVIOUSLY very anti-social which means the King of the Nerbs (I’m surprised they didn’t call him Lan Stee) kicks them out immediately as they never mingle with the surface dwellers. They like it just fine where they are, safe in their basements… I mean underground kingdom. Seems like a pretty bad move considering that Robotnik’s recent underground construction projects are threatening the stability of their ecosystem, but you know how nerds are! … I mean how Nerbs are. Moving on, with the Freedom Fighters receiving a perma-ban from the underground paradise of Nerb-topia, they start wandering through the neigh infinite series of tunnels to find their way back to the surface. I would think that SOMEONE in this group could just start digging upward, but the point becomes moot once Sonic instead finds an entry to the Mobius sewer system. Oh boy! A sewer level!
So wait, before the rise of the Robo-empire, the cuddly animal creatures of Mobius managed to install a fully functioning waste management system? I mean, I guess if they had Music Halls before Robotnik took over then they must have had SOME degree of technological advancement, but at this point I’m just really curious to see more of what life was like before Robotnik took over, as every new detail (yes, even the sewers) brings a lot of dimension to a world that’s slowly transitioning from a basic setting for pun based humor into an epic world with history and depth. Anyway, Sonic heads into the sewer to scout the situation out (he apparently traveled through this pipe all the time when he was a kid), and finds that Robotnik’s underground construction program is even closer to the Nerb capitol than anyone would have thought. Not only that, but the cruel bastard has kidnapped some Nerbs as well! For what reason… I don’t know, but we can pretty much just assume it’s because he’s EVIL and doesn’t have anything better to do. Fortunately (and predictably) Sonic is able to outsmart the supposed genius megalomaniac and brings the Nerbs back to safety before executing his final plan to stop Robotnik once and for all! Or at least until the next story starts.
So what does Sonic have in store for his dastardly nemesis? He’s gonna drown the sucker of course! Apparently there’s a GIANT DOOR in the sewers which is all that stands between a properly functioning cesspool of robo-waste and giant underground toilet bowl that no one is able to flush. Meh. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. At least it will screw up Robotnik’s plans! Sonic releases the floodgates and starts running for his life; so much so in fact that I’m pretty sure he broke the space time continuum and merged two separate realities together.
Presumably unofficial crossovers aside, Sonic’s plan works about as well as you’d hope it would and Robotnik is not only flushed out from the underground caverns but his current base of operations is launched up into the sky as well! Feeling satisfied with a job well done, Sonic regales us with yet another cringe worthy pun, BECAUSE WE CERTAINLY CAN’T HAVE ENOUGH OF THOSE, NOW CAN WE!?
And so the day is saved once again by the too cool for school blue hedgehog with an attitude! Clearly a celebration is in order as the Nerbs finally accept outsiders into their society and present them with their traditional sacred garbs! Now they’re a SHOE IN for that job in the IT department!
Well THAT was a complete waste of time. Aside from the brief glimpses of what the world MIGHT have looked like prior to Robotnik’s take over, there’s hardly much in this to keep you engaged; ESPECIALLY not the Nerbs who are the lowest of low hanging fruit and will hopefully disappear to never be heard from again. They can hang out with HorizontAL and VertiCAL, the two losers from issue two that no one cares about. Wait, did I not even MENTION them in my recap of issue two? Well there you GO! THAT’S HOW LITTLE THEY MATTERED!! Speaking of useless characters, the next story focuses on Antoine the French Dude (what is he, some sort of cat?) who finally deigns to show us the one thing he’s good at; namely flying hot air balloons! I mean… it’s not the most PRACTICAL skill out there, but it could be useful in helpful in a pinch!
With Antoine’s balloon in tatters due to Robotnik’s bumble bee bots, everyone else just abandons his ass to go have a picnic while he stays behind to clean up the mess. JEEZ!! I know Antoine is an egotistical jerk, but that’s just harsh! Oh don’t worry! This is a quick and breezy story so Antoine redeems himself a few pages later by coming back with his repaired balloon just as Robotnik crashes the picnic; humiliating the obese overload and saving the Freedom Fighters all in one fell swoop! Surely he’s earned the respect of his peers, right!?
Neither one of the stories in this issue was all that interesting, but at least the latter one kept it short, sweet, and to the point. The Nerb story just kept going on and on with details that ultimately won’t matter in future issues (even if the Nerbs come back, I doubt they’ll be any more integral to the story than they are here), so while the basic adventure setup isn’t all that bad, it’s drag down by how extraneous everything around it is. That said, even if the Antoine story was the superior one because of how much it streamlined things, it was still hardly an engaging story considering how little it deviated from what we’ve gotten from these books up to this point. No, we’ll have to wait for the NEXT issue to get something like that!
Issue 11 (June 1994)
Gonna let you all know right now that I’ve read a few issues ahead of this one (PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!) and this story is going to become important later on as the first true example of this book attempting genuine world building and consistent continuity which is what I’ve been waiting for this whole time! Does that make it a GOOD story though? Well… let’s find out!! As per usual Dr. Robotnik is up to no good, though he seems to be phoning it in this time around considering the best he can come up with is dumping sewage into the drinking supply. Come on, man! You don’t need a robot army to do something like that! All you need is lax regulations and you TOO can be as big a scum bag as Freedom Industries! Anyway, Sally calls up Sonic to clean that stuff up, but apparently even HE isn’t fast enough to get there on time so instead he decides to take a shortcut through an inter-dimensional portal!
I mean, I GUESS this could in some way be connected to the Special Zones from all the way back in issue four (one of the few times the comic tries to tie directly to the video games), or maybe they’re trying to throw some Sonic CD stuff into this which I BELIEVE had a time traveling aspect to it, but this STILL is coming completely out of nowhere! No setup, no mythology, just a freaking hole in the space time continuum! Now as you’d expect from an overzealous hedgehog trying to navigate the delicate fabric of space and time, the dummy ends up overshooting his intended goal and instead ends up in another dimension rather than shaving fifteen minutes off of his commute. What kind of dimension is this? What do you THINK it is? It’s a freaking MIRROR-verse, complete with a GOOD Doctor Robotnik (who still has the creepy evil eyes) and a gang of dorky looking EVIL Freedom Fighters.
Okay, first? That outfit is absolutely spectacular. Sonic should wear leather all the time. Second… how does he know they’re in the REVERSE universe? What makes Bad Sonic so sure that he’s the aberration rather than the norm? Does it just fit better with his rebellious attitude to pretend that he’s some warped cosmic re-imagining of someone more straight-laced? Sadly we don’t spend the rest of the issue getting answers to these questions and instead Sonic Prime tries to make a B-Line straight for the cosmic gateway which will hopefully lead him back home instead of to ANOTHER alternate dimension where they’re all were-hogs or something. Man, wouldn’t THAT be stupid!? EVIL Sonic however has other plans (okay, he doesn’t REALLY other plans besides just being a dick), and tries to stop him from leaving so soon. Sonic Prime decides to use his quick wit instead of just his quick movements to outsmart the guy and he comes up with the perfect plan! He runs straight into GOOD Robotnick’s animal hospital (he’s THAT much of a good guy in this world) and gets them all riled up (thinking he’s EVIL Sonic) and sidesteps them at the last moment so that EVIL Sonic takes the harsh beat down he and his animals friends are ready to inflict. Once the comedic dust clouds have settled, GOOD Robotnick thanks Sonic Prime for his efforts by giving him some sort of anti-pollution weapon and sends the blue bastard on his way to clean up the mess that Robotnick Prime was causing all the way back at the beginning of the story! Hey, at least they didn’t have to call Captain Planet to deal with this!
The story is pretty corny and a complete rip off of… well every other comic book every made (seriously has ANY comic managed not to do a mirror universe story at some point?), but it’s got a certain amount of charm to it and I do like the idea of the writers trying to expand the world and the mythology which this is CERTAINLY doing. As I said, this is an issue that will become important at some point later, so as something that tries to both be an entertaining little story as well as laying out the groundwork for a future story arc; I’d say it succeeds just fine. I can’t say as much for the next story though which is a VERY obvious bit of filler that I kind of wish they didn’t even bother with and just used those pages to flesh out the previous story some more. Coconuts managed to capture ALL the Freedom Fighters except Sonic and tied them to a bomb that will go off in mere seconds. Fortunately, Sonic has JUST enough time to save them and we get a few puns for the trouble. Hooray…
The next story is admittedly just as frivolous, but at least it’s…. memorable. Yeah, let’s go with that. Sonic eats too many chili-dogs, and… well let’s just say things get a little weird from there.
Now I’m no stranger to ridiculous depictions of Sonic (try googling Sonic Christian fan art if you haven’t already), but it’s always interesting to see when OFFICIAL artwork starts to mimic the unrestrained ambition of the most ardent Sonic fans. What, think I’m making too much out of Sonic in a Chili Dog suit!? Oh you haven’t seen ANYTHING yet!!
Alright, enough beating around the bush! Sonic the Chili-Dog goes to save the unholy offspring of Yoko Kurama and Frylock from being dumped in a vat of boiling oil, but surprisingly FAILS in this task and is captured by Doctor Burger-Man! Before he is forced to live out his own horrific and scalding death, he’s woken up from his dreams and proceeds to eat MANY more chili-dogs! Oh what a cad!
While I have read a certain number of issues ahead and have a VAGUE idea of what’s happening later on, I’m still not sure exactly when the format of these comics will change from a series of short stories following the Freedom Fighters on random (and pun filled) adventures into a more traditional comic book structure where each issue is another chapter in one big overarching story. The fragmented nature of these early issues does hurt this one a bit considering there’s clearly one solid story with filler tacked on at the end, but even as far as filler goes it’s not the WORST stories we’ve gotten from these books. We’ll get to the payoff of the EVIL Universe story line soon enough, but even without the caveat of that story serving a purpose in a later story, this is a somewhat above average issue of the comic whose charm JUST barely manages to outweigh its weaker moments. If nothing else, we can add Sonic the Chili-Dog to the disturbingly increasing number of official artwork that no one ever wanted to see; including Pin-Up Sonic and Allergic Reaction Sonic!