In Which Super Sonic Basically Makes a Mess of Everything

That is one decked out throne, Sally. I wonder if she ordered it from the available catalogue of "Modern Princess."

The Lizard of Odd!
Writer: Michael Gallagher
Penciler: Dave Manak
Inker: Henry Scarpelli
Letterer: Bill Yoshida
Colorist (and “Production”): Barry Grossman
Universalamander Special Effects Team: Industrial Light & Magic

Robotnik is tired of losing to Sonic! He vows to turn the next captured animal into the ultimate hedgehog-busting forest-devastating hyperbole-inducing robot! So naturally, due to the rules of comedy, the Swatbots bring him a tiny salamander (even though he’s “big for his age”). Ivo is a man of his word, however, and he plunges the tiny creature into the ‘robo-machine’ (a downgrade from the ‘robot-maker’; I guess Robotnik was reserving his newer models for expanded territories, like the South). But Buzzbomber accidentally flips the SIZE CONTROL KNOB, which… makes the machine explode. Along with the entire building. Oh, and the salamander is enormous and totally evil now.

Fun fact: the control knob also affected the size of his ego.

Back at Knothole, Sonic acts like a diva because he hasn’t been featured in the first three pages of his own comic book. The Freedom Fighters see the giant robot stampeding through the Forest and Sonic leaps into the big slide (which looks different again), only to run into Robotnik flying off in his “Egg-O-Matic” (aka Egg Mobile), terrified of Universalamander.

I have to add in another picture right now because of his awful this panel is.

Well, it could have been any secret tree stump! There's no telling where that one leads! WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT

The subject of Knothole’s concealment is, all things considered, handled really poorly pretty much all of the time. Even as Endgame approaches, before Robotnik “officially” finds it, he has ample opportunities to do so. Numerous plotholes are created because Robotnik overlooks it or forgets it or doesn’t notice it or something. The Freedom Fighters don’t even bother concealing themselves a lot of the time, often running out of the tree stump entrance without looking to see if anyone’s coming. This issue’s particularly painful, because Robotnik literally sees where the entrance is, Sonic literally sees him flying by, and it’s never mentioned again. At least in the current issues, Eggman knows where New Mobotropolis is – he just can’t get in. (Which is a separate issue entirely, but again, we’ll get there eventually.)

So Sonic pops out of the tree stump and sees Universalamander rampaging through the forest, seemingly right behind Robotnik, which is weird if you consider that Robotnik was presumably flying for a while and I don’t think a giant robot would be able to move that quickly, but hey, he’s a terrifying giant lizard robot, maybe he has Godzilla powers. I’m pretty sure one Godzilla incarnation had super speed. Anyway, Universalamander then eats Sonic. This doesn’t really count as part of the Sonic and Sally Death Principle, given that they believe he’s dead for two panels, but still! Sonic is – you guessed it – running in circles inside the robot’s mouth, which makes the lizard vomit him out.

Then Sonic offhandedly reveals that he was able to recently acquire all seven chaos emeralds and fifty rings and stash them near a star post. He entreats the reader to help him collect fifty more rings in “this special zone” so he can become Super Sonic. And I held a memorial service for the fourth wall.

There are so many issues with this. So. Many. Issues. Sonic just happens to have seven chaos emeralds handy – when did he get them? Why are they all green? Why does he need to enter the special zone if he has all seven emeralds already? Shouldn’t 50 rings cover it? What is a “star post” doing randomly in the middle of the Great Forest? What does a star post even do in the comic?

It gets better (and by ‘it gets better’ I mean ‘it gets worse’). Super Sonic jumps through Universalamander, which he claims is one of his powers. Okay, so it’s obvious that Mike Gallagher doesn’t quite understand the source material here. It’s alright if it’s a little inaccurate – the comics aren’t meant to be exact replicas of the games, after all – but they’re obviously trying to give off the impression that this is the same sequence from the game, and they’re failing pretty spectacularly at it.

But even more egregious than all this Super Sonic/game mechanics malarky is this next bit, in which Sonic goes off to borrow the robo-machine they salvaged from when they rescued Bunnie last issue so he can use the ‘reduce/enlarge component.’ If you’ll recall from last issue, Sonic and Boomer dashed out of the South with an unconscious Bunnie in tow, rushing back to Knothole to give her medical aid. When exactly would they have had time to go back and retrieve a robo-machine? It’s not like it was right around the corner from Knothole. And why would they need that anyway? I guess maybe to analyze it so they can come up with a way to reverse its effects? If I were Bunnie I’d be a little uncomfortable that there’s this grisly reminder of my disfigurement just floating around Knothole, but she’s probably too busy flirting with anything that moves to care.

Anyway, Super Sonic shrinks Universalamander to tiny size and the story ends. The only things he did differently as Super Sonic were faster speed (he runs from the battle to Knothole in seconds) and jumping through Universalamander. They really needed to pad this story out! Universalamander, for his part, just tore up a bunch of trees and ate Sonic, but it’s more than Robotnik’s accomplished yet! No wonder the dictator was scared of him.

Speaking of padding things out, this issue has a lot more filler than usual. Here is what you’ll get with a purchase of Sonic the Hedgehog Issue #4:

  • Antoine D’Coolette giving a monologue about assembling Sally’s “vanity,” which I’ll be the first to admit that I had to look up the definition of >_>
  • A Robotnik birthday card (…seriously)
  • Al and Cal playing baseball
  • A Super Sonic pin-up poster
  • Scratch, Grounder, and COCONUTS THE MONKEY WHO THROWS EXPLODING COCONUTS at a villain audition
  • Bunnie giving Sally an electrified perm

I hope his cape catches on fire.

That’s six pages of filler. Couple that with the first story being insubstantial and flat-out bad, and I think we have a candidate for worst issue yet. Yeah, even worse than “Its head is a washing machine” (aka #3 from the original miniseries). Oddly enough, Universalamander makes another appearance in quite possibly the only Archie Sonic story I’ve never read, in a bonus tale from Sonic Archives 5. I guess people wanted more of this guy? Maybe Mike Gallagher’s constant pleading started to work!

Tails’ Little Tale!
…credits here are unlisted. We’ll just assume everybody who worked on the first story did this one!

It was only a matter of time before Tails – being the only other game hero at this point – got the spotlight, and now that Sonic is napping after his bout with the giant lizard robot, Tails is ready to “take over the hero chores.” On a sidenote, I thought super forms gave you an extra boost of energy after they ended (see: Issue 196). HMMM

Tails grabs a vantage point on top of a hill, completely missing the “company picnic” Robotnik is holding for his robots, free from the questionable menace of Universalamander. This guy’s such a weird boss – he throws his workers into the “slag shop” routinely, yet he builds casinos for them and hosts company picnics. He’s like a tough dad – he’s hard on his kids because he just wants to see them succeed, and he doesn’t believe in lavishing praise otherwise. He also gives them birthday cards (oh sorry, BOTDAY cards).

Once the picnic ends, Orbinaut and Buzzbomber immediately spy Tails and prepare to take him as a hostage and/or kill him (Orbinaut basically says both things at different points). Tails wonders what his hero Sonic would do in this situation, and this gives him the chutzpah to singlehandedly defeat both Badniks. He actually destroys the Buzzbomber by crushing it in between his two tails. Nice job, kid! Sonic is truly an inspiration to us all.

The secret origin story of CAPTAIN SUPER FOX-MAN, THE MUTANT CYBORG CLONE has been revealed.

After taking out two Badniks, Tails says to himself, hey, I’m pretty good at this hero thing, why not just finish off Robotnik myself? He then runs into a wall. I mean that literally – he sees a fat shadow and charges into it at full speed. What is it with walls? Last issue Robotnik and a batallion of Swatbots did the same thing. Is a three-dimensional plane a new concept to these people?

“What would my hero Sonic say in this situation?” Man, this kid has a one-track mind. But before he can bust out new moves like kitsune jujitsu or some crap, Sonic shows up and bails him out. Sonic prepares to lay a beatdown on the Swatbots who grabbed Tails, but they hit their self-destruct buttons (!!!) and Sonic and Tails have to amscray. This is the first time we’ve seen Badniks that haven’t been solely about self-preservation – these dudes were more than willing to take one for the team. That’s hardcore.

Sonic ruminates that he hopes Tails learned about patience. I… don’t really get how patience was the lesson of the day. I could see being observant (Tails was oblivious to the Badniks and the fake silhouette) or overconfidence (“I’m the Michael Jordan of the Freedom Fighters!”), but patience didn’t really figure into the story. Sonic probably wasn’t paying that much attention and just threw in some generic ‘important lesson’ buzzword for Tails’s benefit. “Remember, Tails: always brush your teeth before running into walls! Also, random fox girls on deserted islands are probably evil robot automatons who will majorly mess up your love life for the next 150 issues. And don’t go building little robo-puppies, they kind of terrify me. And – you’re not even listening, are you? Oh, you got stuck behind a wall. Let me turn into Super Sonic so I can become intangible and free you.”

In Sonic-Grams news we learn Daryl Edelman jumped ship to one of Archie’s “colossal competitors” (aka he ran out of caramel creams). I wonder if Daryl kept his same early-90s bodacious hyperbole for X-Factor, which was apparently what he ended up working on. I hope he got to interact with Rob Liefeld at some point – I’m imagining horrible disproportionate muscles and tiny feet with “YOWZA! Cable’s FUTURE TENSE is just PSYCHO-KINETICALLY SENSE-DEAFENING!” The new editors aren’t nearly as unintentionally hilarious, so naturally they’ll be around for a while.