Archives for posts with tag: knothole is right freaking there

The Betty Butterfly Variety Hour

Before Metal Sonic came around (and around and around and around), Robotnik tried another robotic duplicate, one that pretty much nobody but (surprise, surprise) Mike Gallagher cared about. I hear there was a character with the same name in an episode of the slapstick cartoon, but he was rather different in design; given how badly Archie was kept out of the loop in these early years, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was a total coincidence. Ladies and gentlebots, let’s give it up for PSEUDO-SONIC (uhhh).

Featuring: "Sonic of Two Worlds!" A spectacular story that is sure to become a classic!

Pseudo-Sonic!
Writer: Mike Gallagher
Penciler: Dave Manak
Inker: Henry Scarpelli
Letterer: Bill Yoshida
Colorist: Barry Grossman

So Robotnik’s been doing his research. “I know everything about you!” he yells to the poster of Sonic, which has as its only visible categories “Name” (Sonic the Hedgehog – where’s the Maurice?) and “Location” (Great Forest; ace deduction on that one, Ivo). He’s used this massive amount of completely helpful information to build Pseudo-Sonic, who basically looks like a clunkier version of the later Sonic robots, with absolutely no streamlining. Obviously Robotnik isn’t concerned about aesthetics! Pseudo shows off that he can run as fast as Sonic (which he… does not actually do at any other point in this story) and that he has a bit of a “bug problem.” Hopefully the Terminate-Nator isn’t around.

Soon after, Sonic leaves the HIDDEN TREE STUMP TO THE HIDDEN AREA OF KNOTHOLE VILLAGE, which is being guarded by Antoine, who is standing directly over it. You’d think there would be more surreptitious ways of concealing an entrance to your hidden base than having the guard on duty stand on top of it. “Hey, what are you hiding over there?” “Zut alors! Eet is just your normal tree stump. I do ze standing here when I am thinking in my brains, non?” Honestly though by this point you could drive a Death Egg through the plot hole that is Knothole’s location, and we’re less than 15 issues in.

Anyway, Sonic’s even more of a jerk than usual to Antoine, and he speeds off without telling anyone where he’s headed – why, he’s off to pick flowers for Sally, of course! What a guy. Any princess would sure be lucky to have passive-aggressive romantic tension with a hedgehog like that. As Sonic chills in the random meadow (mercifully not called “Mobius Meadow”), who should show up but our dear old friend, one of the greatest characters of the entire comic’s run.

I’m talking, of course, about Tommy Turtle.

Er… wait, no, it’s this random thing.

Butterflies can't understand ground Mobian concepts like "hideously allergic to poison sumac" and "introduction sequences that aren't horribly awkward". WHAT!

Betty Butterfly acts all familiar with Sonic (and later in this issue, the rest of the team) despite never showing up before, never being formally introduced, and – rather humorously – never showing up again. Basically she’s a plot device to tell Sonic he just wandered into poison sumac and to tell the Freedom Fighters that Sonic just wandered into poison sumac. It’s wouldn’t surprise me if people seem to remember her more than Pseudo-Sonic just for the sheer comedic value.

So OUR DEAR OLD FRIEND BETTY BUTTERFLY chills out with Swollen Sonic (who looks like a pinata) as Pseudo-Sonic basically gets let into Knothole by Antoine because it’s almost time for curfew (“Gesundheit!”). What a clever plan. Hey, it’s more than Metal Sonic ever seems to accomplish!

Inside Knothole, Bunnie is locking up her hair salon for no reason, since apparently nobody else but the six Freedom Fighters live in Knothole. Boome-excuse me, ROTOR (the name badge he was wearing reminded me) says Antoine and Sonic are late, and as Sonic arrives Tails decides to audition for a Tex Avery cartoon.

That's Tails's face when he runs off a cliff, looks down, and waves goodbye to the camera.

He also prepares to defend himself with a broom, which is kind of cute and hilarious. Something I also noticed here: Sally kinda runs to Rotor’s side in defense. They’ve been portrayed in earlier issues as having a unique relationship: remember in the Original Mini-Series, when Sally did her dumb Royal Proclamation that involved going on a mission to sabotage the portable robot-robomaker-that-makes-robots-WHILE-U-WAIT? She explicitly lied about this to everyone… except Rotor. You could argue that she needed him to design the special shoes for the mission, but in these early issues I’ve seen the two of them interacting probably more than any other non-Sonic duo, even Sally and Antoine, which is actually kind of a plot point. I’m not saying there’s any romantic potential there necessarily, just that there seems to be a foundation of trust that the others don’t seem to have. Curious.

Anyway, Robotnik has Pseudo on a monitor, which… is somehow able to look at both Pseudo and the Freedom Fighters. Is this a weird camera thing? If Robotnik can just follow along with Pseudo’s movements, why does he need Pseudo to send him the coordinates? Nobody else seems to care, maybe because Antoine is too busy giving the funniest excuse for anything in the history of ever:

Rotor, being the most fourth-wall-aware of the bunch, only looks concerned over the potential for abusing the artist. Also, nice little touch with having Pseudo tap his foot like Sonic.

Pseudo prepares to send him the coordinates to Knothole (ugh) which he prepares to write down on a memo pad because apparently he’s not a technological genius or anything (???).

BUT WAIT

IT’S

TAILS??????

You thought Sonic was gonna save the day and end up tangling with his robotic doppelganger? Naw, this is Tails’s time to shine, and he singlehandedly manages to disable Pseudo with a technique Sonic taught him. Raise your hand if you thought it wouldn’t involve running in circles. (I hope none of you have your hands raised.)

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE MEADOW, Sonic is crawling out of the sumac patch and it’s daytime again for some reason despite Antoine saying it was getting dark out because it was almost time for curfew (“Gesundheit!”). Robotnik, however, has “triangulated the approximate area of Pseudo-Sonic’s last call” and shows up, ready to dine on hedgehog soup. As Rotor makes the incredible observation that Pseudo was built by Robotnik (guess that’s why he gets scientist pay), Betty Butterfly just barges into Knothole and tells them Sonic is in great danger !!!!! You know what else is in danger, Betty? My willing suspension of disbelief that you somehow got into this supposedly secret base and… okay, forget it, I’m just gonna drive myself crazy. >_>

Robotnik shoots this burst of flame from his Egg Mobile that ends up hitting pretty much inches from Sonic’s feet… while Sonic is just sitting there. So Robotnik didn’t just attend an academy for inept dictators, he went to the Imperial Stormtrooper School of Marksmanship as well. Good to know. He’s about to finish Sonic off but then we actually get to see everyone’s favorite sassy, Southern, pissed-off rabbit in action! Bunnie blows up Robotnik’s ship with one blast from ARM CANNON FINGERS (nice modification), does this weird bunny hop thing, lifts him up and then flies with him back to Robotropolis, hurling him into a factory. There’s also some actual continuity (!) – Robotnik’s never met Bunnie before and he reacts accordingly… well, except for last issue, when she was in the abandoned concert hall with the rest of the team. But this is the first time he’s seen her up close. Guess he’s not used to anyone other than Sonic being a threat!

Now that Robotnik’s been routed, Bunnie (who looks like she’s come down with a bad case of the Off-Models) shoots something else from her ARM CANNON FINGERS – some sort of disgusting ointment for Sonic’s rash from her “Aunt Lulumae.” (Wonder if that’s Beauregard’s wife.) Rotor then gets snarky again and makes fun of Sonic (“Aw, nothin’ much happens without you around!”) and Sonic completely misses the joke. And they put Pseudo’s remains in a trash can outside the hidden tree stump as he begs readers to write in for another appearance. And I weep.

Honestly though? Not a bad story. It was nice seeing the other members of the crew do something – Tails and Bunnie actually got to save the day, early Rotor is always a treat, and Antoine had that great line. Dave Manak’s art was a little funky though – as I said earlier, Bunnie’s hair kept looking strange and it threw off her model, Sonic looked very chubby the entire time, and Robotnik’s teeth rivaled Julia Roberts’s.

As far as Pseudo-Sonic goes, there’s probably a reason we didn’t see him again until Mike Gallagher forced him back into the story, and that’s because he did absolutely nothing. Seriously – guy shows up, walks into Knothole, prepares to broadcast the coordinates, and then loses. That’s it! Universalamander did more. Termite-Nator did more. Hell, that giant Burrobot Sonic and Bunnie fought did more! Pseudo’s a neat piece of Archie Sonic history, but that’s pretty much where he belongs.

What’s the Point?
Writer: Angelo DeCesare
Penciler: Dave Manak
Inker: Henry Scarpelli
That’s it for the listed credits!

Okay so it’s Sally’s birthday, and Sonic doesn’t have a present for her! This is particularly funny because the story doesn’t ever say that Sonic doesn’t have a present for her, but he’s running around before the party picking flowers and doesn’t have anything else planned once they get ruined due to his EXTREME SPEED. It’s like they don’t want you to see how bad a friend Sonic is.

But the answer falls out of the sky! Literally. It’s a bird. A “Mobian needle bird… half bird, half porcupine!” I have no idea how that works. We’ll say XORDA GENE BOMB and be done with it. Sonic sees the little dude’s wing is injured, gets him some berries (“Just remember that the black one is my nose!”), names him Thorny, and decides to give him to Sally as a replacement present. “She’ll be so happy!”

Cut to the obligatory next-page gag where Sally is not happy, citing all the times Robotnik’s used pets to almost infiltrate Knothole. To make matters even worse, Thorny starts eating Sally’s needleberry cake! She probably got that recipe from Modern Princess Magazine, too. Rotor offers to bake “another cake” (SEE????) but Sally runs off to pick berries, which will help blow off some stream. She then gets caught by a giant hideous tree robot, which Robotnik just randomly planted (DOHOHO) there. God why is everyone in this comic such an idiot.

Sonic, having stashed Thorny away safely, hears the EEK (“That was Sally’s EEK!”) and speeds off to her rescue… but not before this:

It would be pretty 'tree'sonous to not find this funny.

And suddenly the entire story becomes worthwhile.

I’m not even gonna bother summarizing the rest of this in detail, since you can probably figure out what happens – Thorny comes back to save the day because his wing randomly healed due to UNEXPLAINED PLOT and Sally ends up accepting him as an honorary member of the team. I guess he colored in that page and mailed it to Archie! As you can probably guess, Thorny never shows up again, lounging around with Betty Butterfly in the pile of “characters even Ian Flynn won’t touch.” Then again, who knows with that guy. He could probably do an OAK-K job of it if he wanted.

Sonic-Grams has a funny moment: when someone asks where is Mobius is, the editorial staff responds with “Mobius is a planet at an unspecified point in space.” Translation WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA

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.