Emphasis on the dozen, add more yolks.
If the history of fiction has proven anything, it’s that villains are far more likely to be more fun to watch than the heroes. So a natural way to get a great arc on paper is to shove all your villains in one place and see how it unfolds. Eggman’s Dozen does exactly that, but will it prove the perfect dish or be a case of putting all the eggs in the wrong basket? Read on and find out!
The Mission Summary
Remember how Scrambled had one part about Eggman with Egg Boss interaction, and the other three issues were about Eggman sorting business elsewhere while the Egg Bosses were sent home? Imagine that one issue as an entire arc, and that’s Eggman’s Dozen in a nut(egg?)shell.
The story starts out with set-up throughout part 1. Eggman is surveying his base at Eggmanland with Metal Sonic after the Badnik command centre doesn’t respond to him, and after a flashback to an early time he and Sonic were captured. Not only does he find Walter Naugus hanging about the area, he discovers that he’s brought along some company; his sister Wendy and the gang working for her, referred to as the Witchcarters. The Naugus twins manage to subdue Metal Sonic after an onslaught from Bearenger, Falke Wolf and Carrotia, but Eggman narrowly escapes becoming their prisoner. With Eggmanland now under siege by the invading villains, Eggman decides that he needs a proper attack force and thus all eleven current Egg Bosses are called in individually. Most of them have been introduced to us in some capacity before (or mentioned, in the case of Akhlut), but it’s still nice for them to have proper segways into the arc. This issue also features a flashback, showing when Eggman kidnapped Tails only to be disrupted by the Naugus twins, capturing Eggman and Sonic in crystal with Tails resolving to save Sonic. This is obviously a sort of link into the events of Tails Sky Patrol.
Part 2 is where things get busy. Eggman has his Egg Bosses gather in a base away from the centre of Eggmanland. Here, he briefs them on the mission at hand, the obstacles they face, the consequences of disobedience (with a live demonstration) and then pairs the Egg Bosses off into teams based on skills and traits. Tundra and Akhlut are paired for sheer irony (they used to be at war with each other) and they have to shut down the main generator. Clove and Thunderbolt are paired together for being quick, and they’re shutting down the inner defences. Maw and Nephthys are working together due to being the newest Egg Bosses, and the mission there is to knock out the Badnik command tower. Conquering Storm and Mordred Hood are both tasked with taking out the Witchcarters. The Grand Battle Kukku XV and Abyss end up partnered (because they have beaks), and their job is to shut down the back-up generator.
If this feels familiar, it’s very similar to how Worlds Unite handled the crossover hero encounters. While this ended up being very repetitive in Worlds Unite, it’s used much more effectively here. For one, every team has a different goal. All of the segments contribute towards the ultimate goal of reclaiming the base, but the secondary goals vary. Secondly, the obstacles each team faces is different. Instead of each of them just facing some wave of mooks, they range from ambushes by masses of enemies to falling prey to traps to misjudgment to even themselves. Used in this way, it’s an effective way to organise the action as opposed to repetitive to the point of tedium. In any case, the issue ends with each team on the ropes, and Eggman falling to his death.
Part 3 is basically the resolution to each of these team stories. While the last issue showed the problems in order of team number (so team 1, team 2, team 3 etc), this issue opts for the issues to be fixed in a more natural order of progression. Axel saves Eggman from a fiery fall, Abyss and the Grand Battle Kukku take out the back-up generator by switching roles, Eggman’s inspired to make Tundra and Akhlut work together to stop the main generator, the Witchcarters are weakened to the point Mordred can get them under control, Maw resolves the Badnik problem (albeit questionably) so he and Nephthys can disable the tower, and Clove and Thunderbolt work together to survive and disable the inner traps. This change of pace prevents the team focus from becoming repetitive in the same way the last issue varies it up.
Once the objectives are done, Eggman confronts the Naugus Twins while they’re still perplexed as to what has happened, with Egg Bosses (and some very mad Witchcarters) in tow. Just as they seemed cornered by the might of the unified Egg force, they reveal they still have some tricks up their sleeve (like still being able to control Badniks on a smaller scale and the Witchcarters being dragged back into hypnotising range), and they unleash their ultimate trump card; Crystal Sonic, Metal Sonic under the power of their crystallising control.
Part 4 takes the story in a direction I don’t think was expected given the publicity slant. While the Egg Bosses are busy fighting off what remains under Walter and Wendy’s control, The Naugus Twins sic Crystal Sonic onto Eggman. But Eggman has a secret weapon to go; hard-light armour, immune to their crystallisation spell. But instead of being a sprawling fight, Eggman curbstomps Crystal Sonic, the “fight” lasts five pages at most, and Crystal Sonic is reverted when Eggman is trying to blast Walter and he’s controlled to block the shot. This is disappointing for two reasons. It’s not a very good show of Metal Sonic’s capabilities, and it’s very little payoff for an event that was hyped up and would be something general fans would have wanted to see.
Instead, most of the issue deals with the departures of the Egg Bosses. After a bit of negotiation (and nearly being killed), Wendy becomes Eggman’s twelfth Egg Boss, the others go home and start to progress their own plans or rest up, and Eggman prepares to start his final plan for world domination with Dark Gaia. Right at the end, we see that Walter has retreated to a mysterious chamber…with the Master Emerald, or so it seems if you don’t know better.
The story is very light but, much like Champions before it, this is an intentional choice to let the characters lead the narrative. The first three parts go at practically a perfect pace and the right mix of breezy, cheesy fun and subtle hints of world building. The fourth part seems a bit rushed in comparison, not so much in feeling like it was desperate to wrap up but in terms of the balance between Eggman’s fight and the Egg Boss dismissal. Still, it’s entertaining to read.
The Diagram Supplements
For the first time in a long time, the story art credits don’t simply boil down to “Tracy Yardley does lineart, Jim Amash does inks”. Yardley does do the first part and the second half of the second part, the rest is lined by relative newcomer Adam Bryce Thomas. Inks and colours do retain the same people throughout, Amash and Matt Herms. As always, Amash does a great job with inks, and Herms’ colours work well regardless of whose lineart it’s being applied to.
Yardley differs depending on which issue we’re talking about. Sonic Universe #83 has good art, with the usual fun with actions and expressions that you would expect from his work (like Great Chaos Caper before it, and generally all the other arcs he’s ever done for Universe sans the really serious ones). His Eggman can be a bit shaky in the face in some places, and the backgrounds vary from being less detailed than his usual stuff to non-existent which is odd. Otherwise, I haven’t got anything else to say on this issue.
Sonic Universe #84 is a bit different. There’s certainly a sensation of the issue feeling rushed in some parts, and it’s definitely not his best work. Some notable points of this would be Clove not looking right during his art on the scene where she and Thunderbolt get into trouble, Mordred not even staying consistent with his SU#83 appearance (and at one point having a side view of him that looks more like Vector than himself), some silhouettes that seem misshapen and a twinge of off-ness in the Maw and Nephthys scenes. Given the strange way the issue is split in half for pencils, and how the last issue was just fine, I don’t think this was entirely Yardley’s fault and perhaps a side effect of some behind-the-scenes stuff as well. Still, it’s decent for the most part, just not as on form for what I expect of him.
Adam Bryce Thomas is relatively new to the comic’s art team. He’s done stories before (see “Cold-Hearted” from Sonic the Hedgehog #276 or “Castaway” from Sonic Digest #15 for examples), but this is the first time he’s really had the chance to sink his teeth into a larger comic arc. And for the first time in a big gig? He’s a decent artist in his own right. Generally the characters look on-model and the artwork is pleasant to look at, which is the main thing. He tends to draw his characters softer in the linework, and this is very apparent when you have Yardley’s artwork in the same issue in SU#84. It’s distinct, and it’s nice to have another style on board.
Where Thomas excels is his willingness to experiment, especially in regards to expressions. Throughout the 50 pages he works on, there are various times where an expression is emphasised with extreme shadow or as part of a visual effect. This is something I think works well, and gives some moments that might otherwise be overlooked memorability in their imagery. Special mention has to go to Eggman’s terrifying face to Tassel Boy and the effect of Thunderbolt in her mech. There are also some characters he has down pat. His Clove is absolutely spot-on, his Thunderbolt has a cuteness that balances with her psychotic-ness, and I’d say most of the other characters look good in his style too.
That said, there are some flaws that stick out quite a lot. I don’t particularly like the two-page spread in Sonic Universe #86, as the thing as a whole feels stiff. I think it’s because everything feels disconnected from one another and the action is so far apart that there’s a lack of dynamism. It doesn’t help that the posing of the characters comes off as stiff there as well. This doesn’t apply to his smaller action scenes though, because those feel much more lively. He also has a tendency to have his characters with more musculature than they should, especially in the legs. While it’s certainly not nearly as bad as some artists in the past (whose musculature went too far into questionable territory), it’s something that’s pretty apparent when you’re paying attention. Like Yardley’s parts, the backgrounds are either very simplified or non-existent, which is a shame for some of the scenes he gets to do. Finally, while he does an okay Battle Kukku, it’s not as good as Yardley’s (although Yardley does a perfect Battle Kukku so that probably is an unfair comparison), and his Mordred is a bit strange for both the leg thing mentioned before and a quirk in style unique to Mordred. Overall though, I’m fine with having Thomas take over for Yardley in Universe if this is the quality he puts to the table from the start.
But of course, there’s also the cover art to consider, so below is breakdown of each of those;
Sonic Universe #83 Regular Cover – It’s a pretty standard collage of characters. The lineart by Tracy Yardley is great as usual, but what really sells it is Herms’ colours. The background and effects are noted and the characters are shaded in ways that convey dynamic interaction between parts (eg Eggman in the crystal surrounding has a blue tint in parts, Wendy’s body has a green shade in front as Walter’s magic is reflecting). It’s small but brings together the cover in a way it otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Sonic Universe #83 Variant Cover – Rafa Knight steps up to create another 3D render, and this one is pretty visually striking, helped by the background being very cool colours to contrast with his fiery red colours. If I have any problem with it, it’s that the jaw looks kinda weird here, like it’s actually in the coat instead of over it.
Sonic Universe #84 Regular Cover – Probably the most accurate depiction of the arc out of all the covers. It’s a bunch of static shots of the Egg Bosses and Eggman, but for the most part they convey the characters pretty well (although three of them having just shoulder shots is out of sync with the rest), and it complements Jamal Peppers’ style well. What’s weird is Nephthys on the cover; it made sense at the time the cover was revealed as Nephthys was still relatively unknown aside from how we knew she’d appear in some upcoming issues, but in the context of what we found out later, there’s no reason for her to be treated as this ominous being.
Sonic Universe #84 Variant Cover – Lamar Wells did pencils for this one. From a drawing standpoint, this is one is kind of a mixed bag. Eggman, Thunderbolt and Axel look spot on, but Clove’s head looks off, Mordred looks like he was drawn with a ruler around the hood, and what is up with Tundra’s arms? And I find it kind of strange that a variant all about the bosses would include only five of them. On the other hand, I do like how the layout is done, from the target reticules (of different colours) on the Egg Bosses to the background being of Eggman’s colours to unify them, and even the variant cover logo is stylised to match. Steve Downer’s colours are on point as well.
Sonic Universe #85 Regular Cover – This fiery cover by Diana Skelley is probably my favourite of the entire arc. While it is slightly misleading (probably for drama – Axel wanting to kill Eggman is more dramatic than Axel wanting to save Eggman), it perfectly conveys the mood it wants while still having a great scene and a wonderful expression for Eggman himself. Add in the wonderful colours and it’s a spicy mix that pleases the palette.
Sonic Universe #85 Variant Cover – Taken on its own, it’s okay. It’s certainly a nice pose with nice effects and spiffy colours, but otherwise a bit similar in style to the regular covers. Unfortunately, the cover feels repetitive when the regular cover of Sonic Universe #83 did almost exactly the same thing but as part of a collage of characters. Oops. And it’s not like it was just recycled by the same artist; this was done by Dan Schoening with Luis Antonio Delgado on colours.
Sonic Universe #86 Regular Cover – Yardley’s back on the cover again, this time with a callback to Sonic Universe #83. It’s technically more dynamic as it’s Eggman fighting Metal Sonic while the Naugus Twins’ ghostly images look on, but the background seems more sparse and the colours are more regular than reacting to other objects. It’s still a good one though.
Sonic Universe #86 Variant Cover – For me, this is the weakest cover out of the lot. The drawings for the characters seem off-model for quite a few of them, especially for the likes of Crystal Sonic and Bearenger, and I’m not a fan of how the colours for the backgrounds combine with the characters. What’s odd is that Ryan Jampole is no amateur, and even did a bit of Sonic stuff for Worlds Collide. Doesn’t help that Tails’ muzzle, ears and belly are coloured wrong. On the other hand, it does have a level of interactivity not present on the other covers, so it has a welcomed fun streak to it.
The Agent Profiles
Remember how I said Champions had a lot of main characters? Well, Eggman’s Dozen took that as a challenge and outdid it in the character department very easily. There are sixteen main characters (eighteen if you separate the Witchcarters out), which is pretty hefty for a four-issue arc. And with so many personalities throwing in their weight, there’s bound to be a difference in opinion for each.
Dr Eggman – The big bad himself…well, usually the big bad. Here, he’s as pompous and fun as ever, messing with his minions through his methods of controlling them, bragging when comes out top against the twins with his ingenious workaround of their crystal magic, and even getting in some humorous small talk as he steals Axel’s talk on comradery ad verbatim (with a dark twist after).
Metal Sonic – Metal Sonic is seen surprisingly little in this arc. The first time was part of the set-up for the Egg Bosses to be brought in, and he doesn’t really stand up against the Witchcarters and the Naugus Twins’ crystal magic. The second time is under the control of said twins, where he’s defeated very quickly by Eggman in the Hard Light armour. A very underwhelming showing for the metallic blur this time around.
Walter Naugus – For the main baddie of this arc, he’s pretty limited in his presence, but he’s good when he’s there. He has a very distinct dynamic with his sister, with his hammy persona playing against her dry humour. Seeing them bicker even as they work together to take out Eggman is amusing. But his limited appearance here is mitigated by the set-up hinted at by Mordred’s overview of trolls and on the very last page…
Wendy Naugus – Wendy has more time to strut her stuff here, being the more active player of the twins in countering Eggman. While the “surprise” of her becoming the twelfth Egg Boss was very heavily telegraphed, this doesn’t diminish the way she plays off Eggman once the time comes. Especially now Thunderbolt sees her as a threat to her own affections for the mad doctor.
The Witchcarters – In my opinion, these are the worst characters of the arc. Their designs are uninspired (two are mash-ups of other characters with little distinction, one is a bear), and their personalities are very limited. One is always angry, one is always laughing mad, and one is always ditzy. The time they have out of hypnosis is negligible, so there’s hardly a chance to see them outside of that. Plus, they’re not even entertaining when they’re on panel because they’re so generic. And with them being in Wendy’s control while she’s under Eggman, I doubt that’ll change soon unfortunately.
Tundra the Walrus – For being Rotor’s father, he doesn’t really jump out that much. His feud with Akhlut is great though (he tried to conquer Akhlut’s place, but he seems more chill…so to speak), as is his added depth in what seems to be some regret for the way life has gone (even if he has to continue fighting on that path). Otherwise, he is pretty understated and less memorable.
Akhlut the Orca – Queen Angelica was pretty concerned about this guy being in the area, and Eggman’s Dozen makes it very clear why. Bloodthirsty and eager to provoke others, he wants to rekindle the venom between him and Tundra that he thought had been lost years prior. This guy thrives off that dynamic in this arc, to the point where he tries to kill Tundra with his psychic powers (carried over from his old universe skillset) and only gets stopped by being frozen in retaliation. Sadistic through and through, this guy leaves a big impression.
Clove the Pronghorn – Clove gets some moments to shine here, such as her humourous deflection of Thunderbolt’s accusations of disloyalty after saving her from being crushed, and there’s a moment where she looks nervous about Eggman’s command to kill Wendy which reflects her good-natured personality. She’s nice, although this isn’t her best outing (then again, it’ll be hard fot them to top “Hidden Costs”).
Thunderbolt the Chinchilla – Thunderbolt is what you’d expect at this point; loud, hammy and a joy to watch as she vies for the affection of Eggman. Eggman’s Dozen shows the further extent of this, with her cherishing his creations (to the point that having to destroy them can bring her to tears) and her thoughts that everyone should worship Eggman like her. Naturally, this thought is brought into conflict when Wendy acts the same, bringing up inevitable jealousy. A good showing for her.
Nephthys the Vulture – Nephthys doesn’t have as strong a presence here as “Face of the Enemy”, but what bolsters her in this arc is her attitude of being an Egg Boss because she feels she has to for the greater good (even if she recognises Eggman as evil) contrasted against Maw’s attitude of being in it for the greater good but considering Eggman as a savior in himself. That, and she has some amusing banter with the Battle Kukku.
Maw the Thylacine – The first Egg Boss who debuted in this arc. This arc doesn’t reveal too much about Maw’s goals, so he’s the most elusive of the Egg Bosses. He acts with a poise that gentlemanly but unsettling, especially when he considers Eggman as a savior to everyone and roboticisation “promising”. Combine this with his species (went extinct in real life in the 1930’s) and his sentiments on the little animals he used his power on being able to live forever, and it’s at least a sensible guess that immortality at any cost is his Modus Operandi. Not the most exciting character here, but this is likely set-up for a true monster later on.
Conquering Storm – Say what you will about her old universe credentials, Conquering Storm is my least favourite of the Egg Bosses so far. Her character has been super-focused into being all about strength, but this comes at the expense of her being blind to basic information (Eggman warned about the Witchcarters being powered up by Dark Gaia Energy) and rushing into situations without thinking first. Outside of that, she makes very little contribution. Combined with her appearance in “Wings of Fire” and I’d outright call her an idiot in terms of how much she’s narrow-minded about sheer strength. Let’s hope future appearances give her a bit more of a rethink on her tactics.
Mordred Hood – Mordred has had an overhaul from his old universe self. While visually identical (to the point where one of his Who’s Who images in this arc is from “Chaotix Quest”!), he’s gone from a rather sadistic and self-confident leader with hypnosis powers who can take the battle to fighters if needed, to a complete coward with vertigo inducing powers who would rather avoid confrontation completely and gain power through backstabbing behind the scenes. This results in him being able to stand out a lot more both on his own and in dynamics, either through Conquering Storm belittling him or Falke Wolf targeting his brand of crazy on him. This is balanced out by him being intelligent and perceptive (and willing to read the mission report). He’s also the Egg Boss with the most utility in this arc, being a direct counter to Hypnosis (ironically). While he’s not that deep so far, he is well rounded and fun to watch.
Grand Battle Kukku XV – Battle Kukku, while being under direct control from Eggman instead of just being an associate, hasn’t changed much as a character. His supremacy for the sky is still on full display, and he rocks his scenes with his grandiose presentation, cultured conduct and sheer magnitude of destruction. It’s a great return to form for the bird with no defined species.
Abyss the Squid – The second Egg Boss who debuted in this arc. Contrary to her cutesy, youthful looks, she’s a ruthless raiding pirate who has dry wit and sass to spare. Doesn’t have too much in the way of nuance so far (aside from perhaps getting rattled when the Dark Gaia Monsters unexpectedly turn up), but she still livens up the page when she’s there, and her design is very creative. At least it’s possible she’ll get some time to shine pretty soon.
Axel the Water Buffalo – Out of all the Egg Bosses, Axel is the one that least stood out to me. Sure, he has the whole angle of having the mindset of a heroic character when it comes to comradery being the key to victory, but otherwise he didn’t have the same presence as the other Egg Bosses, not helped by him being partnered with Eggman and thus not having someone of equal rank to bounce off. He does have some nice down-to-earth moments with his troops, though.
Naturally, with so many main players, there isn’t much room for extra fluff, but there are some minor character roles here and there. Orbot and Cubot, surprisingly, don’t have much material here, being used mostly to carry out basic manual tasks on occasion. Cassia, Speedy and the Desert Raiders cameo when their respective Egg Boss associates come home and they greet them back. Cassia’s greeting is extra sweet, organising a little party for her big sister to show how her Egg Army appreciates all she does. As for Tassel Boy? Eh, he seemed rather stiff to me.
The Operation Objectives
Eggman’s Dozen is all about character exploration, using the sort of set-up that served as a single issue back in Scrambled (Sonic Universe #37) to lead into Eggman’s mission to hunt down Snively, and expanding it into a full arc. To this end, it fulfils the purpose with aplomb. Eggman and all of his bosses get time to shine, and for most part the limelight is used to effectively convey their personality and their reason for being allied to the Eggman Empire. This arc is very memorable for all those little moments, and is arguably the arc that has stood out the most since “Champions” (another very character driven story, albeit mostly focused on the game characters).
However, there is a bit of a downside with this approach. While it certainly adds to the middle of the story, the ending can come off as a bit sudden and slow depending on whether you were taking the Egg Bosses’ stories or Eggman’s story as the one needing the focus. For a climax that was built up so much, it plays second fiddle to seeing how every Egg Boss reacted when they got home from the mission. It does serve a plot purpose as well, but I’m not sure how necessary all of these were given that several of them probably can’t be revisited for a good while. It ends up making the sequence of Eggman defeating Crystal Sonic and scaring away Naugus extremely short in comparison, and quite an anti-climax if you were waiting to see Eggman and Metal Sonic have their face-off.
That said, what replaces it wasn’t bad by any means and it does fit in with the general ideas of the arc as a whole. Three of the Egg Boss send-offs provide set-up for other stories that were released just before it (“Key to Victory”, “Wings of Fire” and “Shards and Sparks” for Axel, Conquering Storm and Thunderbolt respectively). Some of the others are pretty obvious set-ups for potential future stories and arcs, especially Wendy’s hunt for the Cacophonic Conch that plays a role in Sonic Lost World. And even the others that could be considered unnecessary were amusing to read in their own right.
Generally, despite this being touted as an Eggman arc, it’s more akin to an Eggman and Egg Boss arc, with Eggman not getting as much focus as you’d expect (especially in the middle section of the story, where it can be easy to forget that Eggman is the star here). The story knows it though, and tries its best to balance the limelight, so it’s not really a downside if you keep in mind of that ahead of time (especially with the aforementioned use of limelight to let nearly everyone shine). Still possibly might be considered a negative for those who wanted more Eggman action akin to Scrambled.
The Final Statement
Eggman’s Dozen is an enjoyable story with memorable characters and lots of entertainment. I have my own biases as to whom I enjoyed the most, but the great thing is that all of them probably appeal to somebody due to the sheer range of personalities covered. The pacing is well done for the first three parts, and it’ll keep your attention the entire time. For the most part, the art is pleasing to look at, even if I prefer the art in arcs like Champions or Great Chaos Caper.
However, it isn’t exactly a perfect arc. Your enjoyment may be affected by just how much of Eggman’s shenanigans you were expecting this arc to have since he has to share the limelight with so many other characters, although I personally didn’t mind it. The ending, however, is a big sticking point no matter the expectations, and it’s a shame the action fizzles out at the end with Eggman and Crystal Sonic’s fight not being given due focus. The art is also patchy in places, and I don’t think any of it reaches the spectacular heights previous arcs have in terms of show-stopping art pieces.
Overall, Eggman’s Dozen isn’t my favourite story to have come out of the comic, but it is my favourite one post-Worlds Unite, and it has enough there to be seen as one of the more memorable arcs in the new universe’s run. I’d say it’s definitely worth a read at least!
Now for the obvious waiting game of seeing what each Egg Boss does next.