Botman Begins

All the past reviews have been filled to the brim with weird humor, inconsistent continuity, and all manner of conundrums, not the least of which is how many Darth Vaders villains are. But I will tell you this, all five people who check this blog:

If you choose to read any early issue, make it this one.

What is about to ensue is the most ludicrous, over-the-top malarkey this side of an Animaniacs episode. It goes so far over the edge that it… well, have you heard the term “refuge in audacity”? This is basically “refuge in preposterousness.” You have been warned… and encouraged.

A gun on an Archie cover? Well I never.

“Bot’s All, Folks!”
Writer: Mike Gallagher
Penciler: Dave Manak
Inker: Jon D’Agostino
Letterer: Bill Yoshida
Colorist: Barry Grossman

The fourth wall had just reassembled itself after Super Sonic came into existence by way of a Genesis controller in issue 4. But then a Swatbot caught Crabmeat reading Sonic comic books, and it all came crashing down again. Robotnik is OUTRAGED (with a giant WHAT? speech bubble), probably because they don’t make Robotnik comic books, and he prepares to send Crabmeat to the spare parts departme- er, separator. Crabmeat tries to get out of this one (with puppy dog eyes no less!) by saying that he was researching potential super-powered robots to help Robotnik defeat Sonic. Robotnik gives the idea serious consideration before tossing both Crabmeat and the Swatbot into the spare parts machine. Get it? It’s funny because sentient robots aren’t people.

Days later, the dictator prepares to cut down the forest and build a toxic dumping pond – oh wait, sorry, an “inefficient, unlicensed, outdated” toxic dumping pond. But is it profitable? That’s my question. Sonic predictably shows up to ruin Ivo’s fun… but Robotnik actually saw it coming! WHAT? He shines a flashlight into the sky that throws up a silhouette of his face, and who should appear but…

Botman is a cowardly and superstitious bot.

Botman kicks Sonic and withstands the hedgehog running into him at 250 miles per hour; Sonic and Botman then tussle briefly before Botman gains the upper hand, standing victoriously over Sonic’s cross-eyed, prone body. In the middle of all that, Robotnik provides the camerabot with some filming advice, proclaiming that “I like being a power-hungry tyrant… but what I really want to do is direct!”

I can’t help but feel that, as hilarious as the concept of Botman is, there were missed opportunities with this, given how eminently parody-friendly Batman’s character is. This was in the mid-90s and DC was trying all this random grim and gritty junk, so there’s that. Plus the 60s Batman TV show could have amounted to some excellent in-jokes… sure, kids wouldn’t get them, but when has that ever stopped Mike Gallagher before? Ah well.

So Robotnik does a jig (and I’m pretty sure he breaks like three Robotnik Rules in the process) and Botman keels over, his chest emblem now reading YOUR AD HERE and TILT. It seems that Sonic took Botman apart pretty handily instead of being defeated by him, and that he just posed the empty husk to drive Robotnik batty. Oh, that wascawwy hedgehog!

But Robotnik’s not done yet! He still has all of Crabmeat’s comics (despite this being a totally different Crabmeat bot) and prepares to unleash the vicious and devastating WOLVERINE bot. But “it seems there’s been a slight communications glitch”… and this is what we get instead:

It's a rare condition, this day and age.

Fun fact: there is, somewhere on Archie’s Sonic blog on their official site,  a piece of fanart for the Sonic vs. Villains contest that features Wolvurkel. And it is GLORIOUS.

Robotnik then cranks it up to eleven with the SPAWNMOWER, which is just what it sounds like – it’s a giant Spawn with a lawnmower for its lower half. Like Botman, this doesn’t seem to have much to do with the actual character so much as it is a visual gag. Still, they find time to cram in a bunch of puns – Sonic says “Holy Toddledo” when the Spawnmower shows up, he pushes it out to the “McFar Lane” (both are references to Spawn’s creator, Todd McFarlane) and, upon shoving it over a cliff, says “This character’s really over the edge!”

Sonic defeats some more crappy superhero bots and then prepares to go for the fat man himself, but he slips on some spilled oil and Robotnik escapes… by riding on Crabmeat. This image is so hilarious by itself I kinda want to make it my desktop background.

The lowercase, no-punctuation 'oi' kills me every time.

Back at Knothole, Rotor snarks that all the comic in-jokes will make this issue highly collectible, and the fourth wall gets shattered to the farthest reaches of the universe.




A Little Sonic Goes a Long Way!
Writer: Mike Gallagher
Penciler: Dave Manak
Inker: Jon D’Agostino

This story is significantly less exciting and hilarious than the previous one. The Freedom Fighters are just kinda standing around listening to Sonic playing guitar. One of the musical notes goes on an odyssey towards Robotropolis, where it lands in Robotnik’s ear, who promptly freaks the hell out. Maybe Sonic was playing Brokencyde or something. Snively (!!) comes in to say that he’s invented something (!!!!): a size reducer that… reduces things in size. But it only lasts for ONE HOUR. That’s five whole minutes in comic book time! But for Robotnik, it’s enough time.

Of note: the map Robotnik looks at places the Forbidden Zone in between the Great Forest and Robotropolis. But wait, you ask yourself, isn’t the Great Forest basically right outside the city, as shown in prior issues? Congrats! You’re paying attention more than the editorial staff was. Of course, the Forbidden Zone later gets moved around even more, so eh.

The Freedom Fighters head towards the abandoned concert hall to find more instruments to play with. Bunnie makes the obligatory over-the-heads-of-readers pun of the issue when she says she wants to play cymbals and a saxophone:

Sadly, Bunnie was unable to perform with the rest of the Freedom Fighters due to a wardrobe malfunction. (She didn't seem to mind, though!)

As soon as they enter, Robotnik shrinks them with Snively’s device, because he knew where they were thanks to the “Freedom Fighter Finder,” which he says works when they leave the Great Forest. That’s pretty handy. The rest of the team proves themselves to be useless and pretty much gives up (including Bunnie, who could probably lift Robotnik’s vacuum thing by herself), but Robotnik only has eyes for Sonic. After some trickery, Robotnik’s mobile robo-maker is destroyed, but he whips out a handheld version that sucks up Sonic. Just as he’s about to press the button, he’s distracted by the other FFs actually doing something – flinging musical bits at him. It’s enough of a distraction that the shrinkage (lol) wears off, because it’s been an hour. Riiiiiight.

Robotnik is outnumbered (and, as Antoine points out, “almost outweighed”), but he signals for an army of Badniks to arrive in a few minutes. So what do the Freedom Fighters do in response? The one thing Robotnik can’t stand.

I find the image of Tails playing the tuba hilarious.

After Robotnik flees from music poisoning, Rotor finds the shrinker and ships the Badniks back to Robotropolis as a small favor to him. Get it? SMALL FAVOR DOHOHOHO THAT’S RICH

Sonic-Grams is notable this issue because… well, remember in Issue 2, when the story invited people to color in a particular panel, and if you did you’d get recognized as an “official freedom fighter”? The comic had been regularly printing the names of people who did that every issue since. In this issue though, Sonic himself (!!) shows up and says that, hey, it’s great that you guys love coloring, but why not do some fanart and we’ll publish that instead?

And thus, a proud tradition was born.

God bless you, fanart. (And may Aurora look down upon you with kindness, Bryan S.)