“The best” That’s the two words Paul Kaminski used to describe issue 230 and onward when I interviewed him back at the San Diego comic Con in July and I’ll be damned if he wasn’t right. After the mediocrity that was “Sonic: Genesis” and the bland story of Naugus trying to take the throne in the background of Sonic and Sally’s romance (which had way too much focus placed on it), I was worried that the quality of the book was starting to take a nose dive. But when tragedy hits and Eggman gets a huge victory, the story starts to get epic. This is Ian Flynn at his absolute best.
Naturally, 230 begins where “Sonic: Genesis” ends (and where #225 ends as well. Which kinda makes that side journey pointless). Sonic, using Chaos Control has reset the world back to the way it once was. However, this has not deterred Dr. Eggman. With the BEM’s effects on the planet gone, Dr. Eggman plans to launch a roboticizer ray across the entire globe. He says that this will not only turn everyone into robotic slaves, but anything that’s already mechanical will explode. Including the bottom half of Bunnie and the mechanical attachments on the Dark-Egg Legion. “After all, you can’t make an omlette without breaking a few Dark-Egg Legionares” It’s really his nastiest plan yet. With Sonic pre-occupied with both Metal Sonic and Silver Sonic, Sally manages to sneak away under the ducts. She talks to Nicole. Nicole cannot shut down the beam from her end but can re-direct the beam to her portable self which Sally is holding. Sally tells her to do it. Sacrificing herself as Snivley launches the beam which smashes through the Death Egg and destroys a good chunk of the ship along with Metal and Silver Sonic in the process. Eggman is infuriated and Sonic gloats over him thinking it was Sally who caused the explosion without realizing what has happened to her. Just then, a mechinal hand bursts through the rubble in the room. It’s Sally, fully roboticized. “Hedgehog: Priority One” she says as Eggman laughs triumphantly in the background.
This issue is Ian at his best. Fast-paced and full of action. At first, it comes off as another “hero wins the day” book as Sonic Saves Sally from her former demise, only to have his victory ripped away as Sally has herself roboticized to save the planet. Ben Bates art floods the pages with action a-plenty and shows remarkable talent for giving the story a great flow. Eggman has never looked more expressive than he does in these pages. Easily transitioning between comical and menacing at any given point. But the fun is only beginning as we look at #231 and what may be Sonic’s darkest day since issue #175 if not ever.
Issue #231 starts with Mecha Sally having her hands around Sonic’s throat. He struggles but does not fight back hard enough. He can’t bring himself to hurt her since he still feels there’s a chance to save her. Eggman, like Sonic is never one to pass up the chance to gloat at his enemy, even if it means not killing him when having the perfect chance. “I suppose the sensible thing would be to have her just walk you both into an incinerator, but I want to enjoy this little turnabout.” He orders Mecha Sally to toss Sonic out into the open air. What the hell is wrong with you Eggman?!! You had him dead to rights!! Ugh! Such is the way with Super Villains. Their desire to brag over their victories is greater than the big picture.
He orders Snivley to do a full on assault on Mobotropolis but Snivley informs him that the Chaos Emerald disappeared in the last huge blast and they are very low on power. Eggman decides to retreat, but launches projects “Titan” and “Deadly Cuddles” as the Death Egg leaves. (Oh man, when you read what “Deadly Cuddles” is.) Tails catches Sonic on the wing of the Tornado ala Sonic 2. They, along with the Freedom Fighters Jet, attack the Death Egg. In the meantime, “Titan” has been launched onto the city and it’s a giant Metal Sonic the size of freakin’ Mecha Godzilla! It’s destroying the city as the citizens flee for their lives while Big the cat protects a frightened Vanilla and Cream. Meanwhile, a groggy Ixis Naugus wakes from the world reset to find the city he wishes to rule being torn apart. The FF’s see the same and launch Bunnie Rabbot out to fight the mechanical monster. Both Naugus and Bunnie attack from different sides, but when Naugus gets hit, his arrogance takes over and he launches a very powerful spell from his staff that not only crystalizes the giant, but most of Bunnie as well!
In the meantime, (Man! There’s a lot going on and it’s not even a full issue as there’s a side story!) Eggman chooses to ignore his own retreat and launches a huge beam onto the city. Naugus uses his new “Crystal Golem” to block the attack shattering it into giant pieces. As the pieces fall onto the city, Cream sees the injured Bunnie right before giant piece of crystal is about to hit her. She rescues Bunnie in just the nick of time only to find a doll on the ground. She decides to take it with her. The doll is most likely “Deadly Cuddles” who has not seemed to have activated yet. The doll is…the Tails doll. MAJOR FANSERVICE SERVED!! The Tails doll is now officially part of the comic and it’s unknown what it’s evil purpose is. Damn that’s awesome!
AHEM! Anyway, Big takes Bunnie to Dr. Quack while Sonic and the others land on the outskirts of the city. Sonic is determined to go back to the Death Egg to save Sally, but Amy and the others stop him. they convince him that he’s in no shape to go alone and the city needs their help. As they head toward the city, they hear cheering and see large pieces of green crystal (parts of the former Sonic Titan) everywhere. They find Dr. Quack hovering over poor Bunnie. He says she’s stable but he doesn’t know how deal with what’s happened to her since it’s magic. Vanilla tells the rest what has happened and Amy and Sonic notice what the crowd has been cheering. “Hooray to the King! Naugus! Naugus! Naugus!”
There’s also a short story about Naugus that takes place just after the white light. The three other Ixis Wizards want to take control over his body. He fights them off, but it seems this may be a problem for him in the future. It’s mainly Ian planting little plot seeds for later. Also, there’s a hilarious Cream and Tails Doll strip at the end of the book. Did I go overboard in describing the issue? Yea. I think I did.
Wow. Just…wow! What an issue! Pretty much anything bad that could happen to poor Sonic and the Freedom Fighters happens in these two comics. This is without a doubt, the “Empire Strikes Back” of Sonic sagas. Not only does Sonic and friends lose Sally to robotization, but possibly Bunnie to Naugus’ crystal magic. Then, to top it all off, one of their top villains outside of Eggman is paraded as the hero to the citizens of Mobotropolis despite the fact that he damaged a good chunk of the city when the Crystal Titan was destroyed. Speaking of, this is how Naugus will be king. I always thought his claim to the throne was not strong enough in previous issues and I wondered where Ian was going with it. But’s it’s obvious now that he’s got almost the entire city foolishly behind him through their own fear of Eggman and Nicole. I love the fact that unlike #175, this is a big downturn for the heroes that will not be just fixed by the end of the next issue. This will be an uphill struggle. Something that will test the will of Sonic and the other Freedom Fighters for issues to come and I really look forward to it.
Once again, I have to give a huge heap of praise to Ben Bates. His Eggman can can express emotion like no Eggman I’ve seen. His use of angles and stylized action helped put a ton of story into such a small package. We should also thank Ian Flynn for that as well. If there’s anyone who can write a lot of story in a small amount of space while keeping the pace quick, it’s him. If you’ve ever been a fan of the comics, these are two issues not to miss. We’re finally seeing the kind of huge, epic Sonic saga that we’ve been waiting for.
Plus…the Tails Doll! I mean, C’mon!