Archives for posts with tag: underground cage

Robotnik Started Making Trouble in My Nerberhood

Alright, here’s how I think the story pitch for this issue went: “Hey, nerds are funny, right? Like, kids who read comic books like making fun of nerds, so it’ll be funny if we do a story that makes fun of them. Except we won’t actually have them do anything nerdy. They’ll just wear typical nerdy clothing – glasses, pocket protectors, you know. Oh and they’ll be completely unpleasant and socially maladjusted people, so I guess that’s kinda nerdy. But yeah – and here’s the big punchline, I hope you’re ready – their name totally sounds like ‘nerds.’ That way people totally get the joke we’re making. ISN’T THAT HILARIOUS????”

Yeah, it’s pretty bad when that’s the only facet of your joke – that the characters’ names sound like something funny. Whoops.

You too can take home your very own collectible Sonic for the low, low price of forfeiting your existence to a lifetime of robo-slavery! Act now and you’ll also receive a blender!

Revenge of the Nerbs!
Writer: Angelo DeCesare
Penciler:
Dave Manak
Inker:
Art Mawhinney
Letterer:
Bill Yoshida
Colorist (and Production):
Barry Grossman

The Freedom Fighters are attempting to siphon electrical power from one of Robotnik’s underground cables (which, again, you’d think he could easily trace), so Sonic is using his speed to prematurely detonate landmines. “Must you make a game of everything?” Sally nags, even though you gotta figure she knows he’s gonna be fine. She’s the princess – it’s her job to nag. As Rotor digs around near some cables, the gang gets trapped by an ELECTRIC FORCE FIELD. Guess Robotnik really doesn’t like moochers! Sonic muses that he can’t break the field with a sonic spin and seems to forget that he can just burrow through the ground. Why does he always forget thi- oh god what the hell is that thing

The Nerb is so frightening that Tails loses all the color in his stomach.

So the gang gets taken to the NERBERHOOD. There are pens and calculators strewn all over the ground here (GET IT DO YOU GET THE JOKE YET). The Nerb King explains that his people don’t exactly fraternize with surface-dwellers, but he blames them all for mucking up the underground air and water with RECKLESS BUILDING. This is obviously Robotnik’s doing (guess they didn’t check the “Made in Robotropolis” tags) but they don’t particularly care; when Sonic suggests they join forces, they get summarily kicked out of the Nerberhood. But who will they call for tech support now???

They blunder around the caverns for hours (and somehow don’t die of suffocation) before coming to a door to the “Mobius Sewer System” (ughhhhh naaaaaaames). Sonic says he knows it leads to the surface because he “used to play down here when [he] was a kid!”

Let that sink in a bit.

Sonic hears screaming (can’t be Sally’s EEK this time, she’s right next to him) and runs off to investigate, instructing everyone else to wait by the horrible-smelling sewer. Turns out it’s Robotnik piloting a giant robot excavator and giggling about how he loves his toy. Guess he doesn’t have anything better to do since he’s taken over the planet. Sonic sees three Nerbs trapped in a literal UNDERGROUND CAGE (not like the fake one from the Original Mini-Series) and one of them yells “Let us out of here… but don’t talk to us!” which is absolutely hilarious. Friggin’ basement-dwelling Nerbs.

Robotnik blunders around, unintentionally freeing the Nerbs (who now look totally different from the prior page) somehow, and they still don’t want to come with Sonic because he’s an outsider. Sonic just scoops them into a damn wheelbarrow and dashes off, deposting them in the busom of his team before running away again. Oh, that Sonic! There’s also an editor’s note about keeping Nerbs as pets, which is a little weird.

So Sonic makes his way through the winding sewer pipes (which he totally remembers because he totally used to play down here as a kid which, ignoring the blatant continuity problem, is just twenty kinds of disgustingly inappropriate) and finds what he’s looking for: a door to the “Mobius River” ARE WE INCAPABLE OF NAMING ANYTHING CREATIVELY HERE

Our hero opens the gate with his MIGHTIEST BUZZSAW SPIN and then, as he tries to outrun the river, ends up killing the cameo appearance.

I think Sonic and the Ninja Turtles would get along pretty well. They could bond over chili dogs, pizza, and lame 90s catchphrases. At least they could if they weren’t about to be killed by an oncoming tsunami.

But wait! Sonic can’t outrun the rapidly approaching water torrents! Has our hedgehog finally met his match in speed? This potential existential crisis is not addressed; instead, he tries a SUPER SONIC SPIN (are they making things up now) which allows him to burrow up through the dirt, saving him. Sonic escapes safe and sound, but the entire city of Robotropolis (yes, the entire city) gets lifted into the air by a geyser. It’s worth noting that the comic staff still doesn’t know what Robotropolis is supposed to look like; it’s shrouded in silhouette here.

So Sonic completely saved the day, and we get the punchline to this awful joke.

And at last, Rotor is home among his people.

It’s easy to have this kind of ironic appreciation of the Nerbs, because they are quite probably the absolute worst idea to come out of the comic’s early days. And that’s saying a lot! Just browse the older reviews to see what I mean; there were so many bad concepts back in these days. (I would, however, say there are worse things the book’s done since then…) Anyway, word on the street is that when Ian Flynn took over writing duties, Jon “Dubs” Gray kept pestering him about bringing back the Nerbs… and now, years later, they have returned to the continuity. I have faith that Ian will stay true to what made the Nerbs such a time-honored part of the Sonic canon.

Truer words were never spoken.

Twan with the Wind
Writer: Angelo DeCesare
Penciler: Art Mawhinney
Everyone else: Who knows?

Some notable firsts in this story: Art Mawhinney joins the team as a penciler (I believe Mr. Mawhinney was a storyboard artist for SatAM; he also inked the first story in this issue), Antoine finally develops a French accent, and Robotropolis starts approximately resembling something like the cartoon. Only took them fourteen issues!

So Antoine is taking the gang for a ride in his whimsical hot air balloon. He claims that he was once “head of balloons” for the king, who, in a brief dream bubble, looks like Sally with a white beard and crown. He also insists that the balloon can be a “beeeg help” in the fight against Robotnik. …yeah, not seeing it, Twan. I am seeing you make up for lost time with that accent, though!

Predictably, two Buzzbombers fly along and puncture their dreams, hopes, and balloon. I like how they don’t even care about capturing them – they just kinda bully the team a bit and then fly away. Everybody (except Tails, who just looks confused) is peeved with Antoine for his awful balloon idea, even Bunnie, who just yells BAG IT, SUGAH, which is really funny to me for some reason. Also Rotor once again looks perfectly calm what is WITH that guy.

CUT TO Robotropolis, looking all metallic and shiny. Robotnik is berating the Buzzbombers for their wonderful tactical maneuver of just letting the Freedom Fighters go. He wonders why they were out and about, but fear not – Snively has his trusty “Freedom Fighter Fact Finder,” which reveals it’s time for the annual Freedom Fighter picnic. Snively also has Sally and Bunnie’s measurements in there, which Robotnik has DEFINITELY NEVER LOOKED AT.

Art definitely draws Robotnik differently from the Scott Shaw!/Dave Manak mold; his face is much more angular, which fits the SatAM character design a bit more. Couldn’t seem to quite get Snively right just yet, though.

Chibi-Snively’s Fact Finder lists the date as “6431” and the place as “Mobius Pond” AUGHHHH

Meanwhile Antoine is saddened by the fact that he let everyone down; Tails, ever the optimist, replies that “At least you let us down in a nice tree!” Ant decides to skip the picnic and work on repairing his balloon to prove he’s not useless. Or at least as useless.

Predictably, the picnic is attacked by the nefarious Buzzbombers, who knock Sonic’s mashed potatoes onto his head!!!! And in comes Robotnik wit-

um

…right. Anyway Antoine shows up with his balloon and actually… saves the day, somehow. He dumps a bucket of mud onto the Buzzbombers, drops sand bags full of explosives onto the Swatbots (which causes them to run away in fear uhh), and somehow manages to pick up Robotnik by the cape and dump him in the nearby lake. Sheesh! That balloon is hax.

The story ends with Antoine doing what he does best.

Tails looks adorable here. So does Bunnie. So does ROTOR.

Sonic-Grams brings us a request for more Bunnie (which doesn’t even have an editorial response for it; how telling), a fan who suggests a character named Freddie, who’s a fox like Tails except “a bit chubbier, and not as cute,” an inquiry about how much Tails weighs (weird), a fervent request for more Spinball (yes, really), and a Sonic response that just has to be seen to be believed.

I guess the Fleetway version of Sonic was rubbing off on the Archie version. That fox is such a pixel brain.

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Sonic vs. the Underground Cage

Issue 0 of the original miniseries gave us a brief overview of the situation between Robotnik and the Freedom Fighters, as well as some ‘backstory’ for how things got that way. Issue 1 of the OSM just keeps going with this – now that the rules are in place and we’re more familiar with the characters, we’re presented with different scenarios based on what we already know. Also more plot contrivances than you can shake a weeping willow branch at, but hey!

FAST SECOND ISSUE!!! doesn't have as good a ring to it.

Run, Sally, Run!
Writer: Michael Gallagher
Penciler: Scott Shaw!
Inker: Bill White
Letterer: Dan Nakrosis
Colorist: Barry Grossman

We open with a scene out of the games – Sonic running and Tails trying to keep up. The game resemblance is even more pronounced when Sonic leaves Tails covered in dust and ignores the fox when he slams into a tree. Hey, Tails took a lot of abuse when I played Sonic 2 at least!

Sonic is distracted because he runs into Sally (now sporting a totally different fur and hair color), who doesn’t want anything to do with Sonic or his interference. Sonic, being the stand-up guy he is, immediately assumes Antoine is responsible despite there not being anything to suggest this.

If something stinks, it's usually the D'Coolette.

So the BEST FRIENDS head over to the Knothole secret entrance but Antoine’s coming out at the same time, and he reveals that Sally has issued a Royal Proclamation: she’s going to Robotropolis to negotiate the return of her father, the king, and nobody is to interfere. Naturally the trio of Sonic, Tails, and the not-cowardly-for-some-reason-this-issue Antoine run off to save her. Because that’s what heroes do, right? RIGHT?!?!?!

Sonic interrupts Sally’s negotiations with a Buzzbomber with a Sonic Spin, but Sally interrupts Sonic’s interruption by grabbing him out of the Spin and majorly messing him up. Man, if it were that easy all the time, why doesn’t Robotnik do it? Last issue showed he’s more than capable of POWERFUL GRABS. Sally tells them all to basically calm the crap down and flies off with Buzzbomber. As the heroes plan their next move, a cage conveniently pops out of the ground and traps them.

Thanks for the insight, Antoine. I just assumed it was a naturally occurring cage formation.

When Sally arrives at the city, Robotnik’s plan is revealed – he had no intention of going along with these negotiations at all! What a stunning development. Sally has a very specific denial of “Do anything to me, but don’t throw me in that robo-machine and turn me into a robot!” Robotnik, for his part, just rubs his hands together like an idiot.

BUT WAIT

IT’S

SONIC

“How did you escape from my underground cage?” Robotnik wonders. Two points, tubby:

  1. Sonic’s entire shtick in these early issues seems to be speed and cutting through things.
  2. How was the cage underground? They were clearly standing in an open field. Unless Robotnik views everything as “beneath him,” which would technically make it all underground. It kinda fits !

Robotnik reaches for his “atomic death ray,” but Antoine reveals he pickpocketed it at some unknown point and Tails also helped in some unspecified way, as he is keen to point out. Sonic smashes the robo-machine – which Robotnik claims will take him “at least two issues to rebuild” – and they heroically take off with Sally like heroes, with Antoine holding Robotnik at gunpoint. Heroically.

Once they get back to Knothole, Boomer asks how the plan went. Turns out (to nobody’s surprise) Sally had an alterior motive for wanting to get captured: she knew Robotnik would be untrustworthy, so she had Boomer design her some special boots to analyze, jam, and reverse-engineer the robo-machine, which would basically free everybody ever.

How dare you act like my friends and attempt to rescue me from a situation I had completely under control but didn't feel the need to tell you about? GEEZ

I really enjoy how Sally blames everybody else for this going wrong. This is kind of an important plan, with the lives of everyone Robotnik turned into “robots” at stake, but instead of keeping her team informed, she just issues this ambivalent Royal Proclamation, so naturally her friends are going to want to go and rescue her. If she’d bothered to keep Sonic and Antoine in the loop (Tails would’ve done whatever Sonic did), this entire mess could have been avoided. But then we wouldn’t have a story, now would we?

Honestly, looking ahead to later issues, I think this flaw of Sally’s – blaming other people for things she could have prevented – could have really led to some neat story opportunities. Once her character gets solidified she actually has the opposite problem: she blames herself for things other people do. If Sally had actually been given a compelling character flaw like this one early on, it might have led to some interesting development.

Also I like how Boomer is the only one who thinks this is remotely funny. Deadpan snarker indeed.

Something Fishy
Writer: Michael Gallagher
Penciler: Scott Shaw!
Inker: Bill White
Letterer: Dan Nakrosis
Colorist: Barry Grossman

Sonic is going fishing (again with the weird non-sentient animal implications) and he runs afoul of a strange creature that happens to be a Badnik and happens to be eating the fishing dock. Sonic looks down and notices “one of [Robotnik’s] factory drainpipes pouring pollution into the water”. Said drainpipe has a purple Bowser face for some reason. I didn’t know Robotnik was into dinosaur-turtle-gargoyle hybrid archecture.

SONIC, HOW DARE YOU DISTURB MY FAMILY VACATION

So Sonic swims down into the water, which… sometimes he’s able to do, and sometimes he can’t do it. Guess it depends on the story. (Knuckles would later have this problem, but there was no excuse for that instance, given that it was four issues apart and by the same author, and that Knuckles was able to swim from the bottom of the ocean in one issue and then not make it across a lake in another. But we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.) Sonic, for his part, gets tossed around like he’s in the Labyrinth Zone, and when he catches up with the Badnik (who I guess is accurately named “Jaws”) he gets caught in a surprise net. Man, what is with Robotnik’s forces and convenient traps? First the “underground cage” out of nowhere, then a “concealed fishnet.” I’m imagining Robotnik going around parts of Mobius, installing random traps all over the place just in case a Freedom Fighters happens to come by. Or it could just be dumb plot contrivance, that works too.

Boomer and Tails, meanwhile, are dealing with a plethora of coloring mistakes. Also, Sonic is missing in action. The walrus conveniently has access to his BATHYSPHERE, some kind of submarine thing. Cue the obligatory Mike Gallagher over-the-heads-of-the-readers pun: “Now that’s what I call a sub-plot!”

Jaws tells Sonic his fiendish plan, and Sonic spins out of the net… which tires him to the point of needing air bubbles. So… how is he able to breathe and talk underwater in the first place? He’s been doing both ever since the CONCEALED NET grabbed him. Also I’m totally hearing the drowning music from Sonic 1 in the background right now and it terrifies me. Fortunately for Sonic, the Bathysphere shows up and fires some sort of laser gun thing at Jaws, Sonic is able to get some air bubbles and thus destroy the robo-machine, and everybody lives happily ever after.

There’s some more filler pages around these stories. The only one of note stars Boomer, the clear star of this cast thus far, as he’s the only one with a consistent personality who seems to recognize the absurdity of what’s going on. This one-pager also features more poignant Mike Gallagher social commentary:

This is especially ironic given what Rotor eventually ends up doing in the comic.

Truly tragic indeed.

It’s interesting looking at Scott Shaw!’s pencils throughout the original miniseries – they really set the tone for the early issues and their distinctive cartoony look, much the same way that Tracy Yardley! gave the current issues their modern standard. I bet it’s the exclamation points.