The train service gets feisty in the latest issue of Sonic the Hedgehog!
The conclusion to this whistle-stop mission is due at the station, and Uproxx has a preview of it available. Sonic has managed to successfully locate Dr. Chuck and Professor Pickle, but all is not going to be smooth-sailing from here; E-106 Eta is on the attack, and Sonic is the primary target for elimination! The others still have the Badnik horde to contend with while supporting Sonic, and they’re going to have to take the fight by train and sky. Can the Freedom Fighters keep the two curmudgeons safe from the hands of evil? And just what is Dr Eggman’s ulterior motive for this particular journey? Find out in “The Chase”: Part 2.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #259
The brand new world of Sonic the Hedgehog barrels ahead at breakneck speed with “The Chase” Part Two: Sonic fights for his life against a NEW terrifying super-badnik! Just to make matters worse, they’re battling on an out-of-control train! With Dr. Eggman waiting at the depot, Sonic’s in a fight against time – and killer robots! Featuring high-speed cover art from Sonic artist supreme TRACY YARDLEY plus an exclusive SEGA game art variant!
Script: Ian Flynn
Art: Evan Stanley, Terry Austin, John Workman and Steve Downer
Cover: Tracy Yardley
Game Art Variant Cover art provided by SEGA with Vincent Lovallo
On Sale: 4/23
32-page, full color comic
Sonic the Hedgehog #259 is out now digitally and should be out in comic stores this Wednesday. Like Sonic Universe #62, it is one of the issues that is part of the After the Credits initiative, which means that there’s a different ending in each version of the comic. Check out both the standard and variant for the full picture!
The mission in space comes to an explosive end in this month’s issue!
We’re at the end of our look into the dilemma in space, and Comicosity has a preview of Sonic Universe #62 in preparation. Shadow, after revenge for what the Black Arms have done to him in the rest of the arc, is now confronting Black Death directly in a fight that neither will want the other to be able to walk away from. It’s sure to be a no holds barred beatdown! Meanwhile, the rest of team Dark and the Spider Troupe are finishing up their business on the Black Comet to escape the weapon. But to get to safety, they’ll have to get through Eclipse and the other Black Arm troops first. How will they fare? That aside, how will Eclipse’s sanity fare? Belt up and find out in “Shadow Fall”: Part 4.
The EPIC CONCLUSION to the alien-smashing saga starring Shadow the Hedgehog IS HERE! “Shadow Fall” Part Four: Shadow vs. Black Death – for the fate of the world! Who will walk away alive? Who won’t make it to see a new day? Meanwhile, Rouge and Omega desperately try to save their G.U.N. comrades as Eclipse hunts them down! All this with a ticking nuclear time-bomb in the background! Don’t miss the pulse-pounding conclusion! Featuring new cover art from Tracy Yardley and a special “CGI” variant by newcomer Sonic superstar Rafa Knight!
SONIC UNIVERSE #62
Written by Ian Flynn
Art by Jamal Peppers, Jim Amash, Jack Morelli, Matt Herms
Published by Archie Comics
Release Date: April 16, 2014
Sonic Universe #62 is out digitally, and comes out in comic stores today. There’s a little extra as well; there’s a different ending depending on whether you get the standard cover or the variant cover. Be on the look out for both if you want all the tantalising teases!
Whitehead confirms that his games will be available on launch date.
Yesterday, the electronics market was set alight from news that Amazon were entering the hardware fray with a media streaming device they call Fire TV. Amongst its streaming abilities, Amazon also aims to compete with existing consoles by providing its own gaming content at cheaper price points.
Christian Whitehead, one of the developers responsible for the critically acclaimed remakes of Sonic 1, Sonic 2 and Sonic CD, has already confirmed that these games will be included amongst the content when Gaming for Fire TV launches. Speaking on the performance capabilities of the system, he appears to think favourably of it, at least in comparison to the Ouya, which currently isn’t doing so well in the market.
As well as this, Engadget reports that Amazon has confirmed that both episodes of Sonic 4 will also be available amongst the launching software. This combined with the above brings the platform up to speed with other devices in terms of Sonic content available.
So, if you’re thinking of purchasing the Amazon Fire TV for yourself after yesterday’s news, you can be assured that it can provide you with your Sonic fix outside of watching countless reruns of the DiC cartoons.
Water, water, everywhere in June’s selection of Sonic comics!
Midtown Comics has the latest solicitations in, and there’s danger from drowning for everyone to kick off the summer months. In Sonic the Hedgehog #262, we continue exploring underwater as the submerged city comes under attack from Dark Gaia’s minions. Sonic not being able to swim won’t help, but maybe Amy can? This is “Waves of Change”: part 3.
(W) Ian Flynn, Aleah Baker (A) Evan Stanley & Various (CA) Ben Bates
Catch some sun and ride the wave as the aquatic adventure continues in ‘Waves of Change,’ Part 3! Sonic faces a city invasion by the ominous Dark Gaia Monsters! To make it even worse, the invasion is underwater – and Sonic can’t swim! As the struggle turns desperate, will it be Amy’s mission to find the key to saving them all, or will Sonic be left to drown? Then, in ‘The Light in the Dark,’ Part 2, the Freedom Fighters find what they’re looking for – but will their own divisions bring them down? Featuring new cover art from Ben Bates and an extra-special ‘monster movie’ variant from artist T.REX!
Meanwhile, in Sonic Universe #65, Knuckles and the Chaotix venture deeper into the mystery as they head to the Aquatic Mines. There’s no rap to greet them, but there’s the risk of being caved in still present. And they have to track down the Emerald thief before Team Hooligan do, to boot! This is “The Great Chaos Caper”: part 3.
(W) Ian Flynn (A) Jim Amash & Various (CA) Tracy Yardley & Various
Bust out your detective hats and hop on the case in ‘The Great Chaos Caper,’ Part 3. Knuckles and the Chaotix are in the heart of the Aquatic Mines-where their only two options are to get crushed by a cave-in, or to drown! How on earth (and below earth!) can they make it out alive? And once they do, they’ve got to chase down the unlikely Chaos Emerald thief before Nack’s team of Hooligans beat them to it! Add in ravenous Dark Gaia Monsters, and there may be too much for our heroes to handle! Featuring new cover art from Sonic comic guru Tracy Yardley and an awesome SEGA game art variant starring the Chaotix!
Finally, we take some time from the water to look back in retrospect. The Mega Drive turns 25 and Sonic Super Special Magazine #12 is taking time to reflect on its history, including the origins of other beloved game classics of its time, new art and new interviews.
(W) Ian Flynn (A) Patrick Spaz Spaziante & Various (CA) Ben Bates
Celebrate 25 years of the SEGA Genesis with this extra-special anniversary edition of Sonic Super Special Magazine! Take a look back at the SEGA system that started a revolution with this anniversary issue featuring the origins of such hit games as Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Streets of Rage, and more, alongside awesome new pin-up art from the Archie team! Plus, an interview with Sonic inker supreme Terry Austin and an all-new foil-enhanced cover from the incomparable Ben Bates! This issue is jam-packed with awesomeness!
We will have more on Sonic the Hedgehog #262 and Sonic Universe #65 closer to release.
It’s time to save valuables from the loose caboose in this month’s issue of Sonic the Hedgehog!
The Archie comic blog gives a heads-up on the latest stop in the heroes’ escapadaes, and even the ground they stand on is moving at breakneck speed! In this issue, the Freedom Fighters take on one of Eggman’s dreaded bullet trains when they find out that it’s carrying two very important hostages; Professor Chuck and Professor Pickle. They’ll have to work as a team if they want to put the brakes on this nefarious scheme, but tricks and traps lay in wait for them on board, including a new threat who won’t ask for their tickets nicely. Grab your luggage and all aboard for “The Chase”: part 1.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #258
The SHATTERED WORLD CRISIS continues! “The Chase” Part One: Uncle Chuck and Professor Pickle–CAPTURED by the nefarious Dr. Eggman! It’s up to Sonic and the Freedom Fighters to secure the precious kidnapped cargo from the Egg Train! But they’re going to be in for the surprise of their lives when they discover that there are more than just badniks guarding it! Featuring a special CGI “Return of Princess Sally” variant cover by Rafa Knight!
SCRIPT: Ian Flynn
ART: Evan Stanley, Terry Austin, John Workman and Steve Downer
Cover: Tyson Hesse
Return of Princess Sally Variant cover: Rafa Knight
Shipping Date: 2/26
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 3/12
32-page, full color comic
Sonic the Hedgehog #258 is out now on digital formats and in comic stores. You have no excuse to miss the ride!
So many branches of the franchise, you can’t help but step on one.
Sonic Boom! Exciting prospects, huh? Officially its own branch in continuity with a huge media push behind it. It’s far from the first time that the series has dealt with alternate media though. Currently active is the Archie Sonic comic that gets covered on our site, and in the past there have been programmes like Sonic X (pretty much as big as Sonic Boom when it was announced), the Sonic OVA and the western cartoons. But aside from these, there are yet more branches along the path where either original Sonic stories have been told or other stories have been altered so much that they become their own thing. In this article, I will be covering five pieces of alternate media that may not be so familiar to the average person.
1. Sonic the Comic
1993 was quite a busy year for alternate media. SatAM and AoStH came out and managed to get video game tie-ins in some form, and the Archie comic was launched toward the end of the year which combined the setting and tone of the two cartoons together, at least at first. While this was all well and good for America, what could be used to fill the void for Britain? Enter Egmont Fleetway and their own comic adaptation of the property called Sonic the Comic.
Unlike the Archie comic, Sonic the Comic was a weekly instalment. In return, the individual Sonic stories were generally shorter than their American counterparts, which meant more space for other character stories (sort of like a mini-Sonic Universe) and even stories on other SEGA franchises like Kid Chameleon and Decap Attack (although for this overview, I will not be covering them). It lasted for 223 issues until its eventual cancellation in 2002, although the comic had become mostly reprints by as early as the 180’s which was more due to the management of the company.
The tone from the very start varied between shorter comedic pieces and more serious story arcs, and stayed consistent with the entire run. The setting for the comic has far more game elements in it than Archie did at the time, but it also has a very unique British flair (not that surprising). The art matches that setting to a tee, although whether you like it or not really depends on your taste for the “surreal” interpretation for a lot of the material. The writing also matches the British edge…which means that there are times that characterisation and tone are quite a bit more cynical than other media, to the point that it can come off as strange (for example, Sonic is less social and friendly here than most other interpretations, to the point that his best friend Tails is often the outlet for his verbal frustration).
Speaking of which, talking about the game characters here first is warranted to go at length about the differences of the adaptation of elements.
Sonic, despite his more Marmite personality, is ironically the most similar to the games in every other respect. He is a hero from Mobius who opposes Dr Robotnik’s schemes to take over Mobius, and his super form works differently to other media. What differs most is the origin; he used to be a normal hedgehog who gained his colour and power through an experiment done by the kindly (and thin) Ovi Kintobor.
The downside is that not long after, an accident (set up by Sonic and the Chaotix in the future) made Ovi Kintobor into the mad AoStH-looking Dr Robotnik. Despite looking more like the clownish cartoon incarnation, this man is not to be messed with.
Sonic’s best friend is Tails, a fox from the Nameless Zone who has to prove himself a hero to his peers back home since he claimed to be the hero of Mobius (not unlike game Tails wanting to prove himself). His real name here might as well be Pixel Brain.
Amy used to be the helplessly smitten fangirl before she took up the crossbow part way through the run and became part of the girl power movement. She is also good friends with a comic-exclusive character, Tekno.
Knuckles is an Echidna from the ancient past, reincarnated through various vessels. He also has a neck ring in place of a marking. Tikal summoned Sonic from the past and told him this, while Chaos was a Drakon (Fish monster thing) Prosecutor who was unrelentingly evil.
The Chaotix herald from the Special Zone, which contains important locales like New Tek City. Mighty and Espio are hot-headed rivals, Vector is the leader, only sane man and technical planner, and Charmy is…dumb, hyper and hated by everyone else (this was in 1995, remember. Not something Sonic Heroes influenced). Fang was a member in his comic début, but he quickly showed his true nature by betraying them to Dr Robotnik. They also have a powerful computer-like being with them called the Omni-Viewer.
Metal Sonic isn’t one character. Instead, they’re a whole army of them called the Brotherhood of Metallix. Their power here cannot be overstated, and in one story the only way to stop them was to go back in time and make sure Ovi got caught in the transforming accident (ain’t time a harsh mistress).
Outside of the game cast carried over from the games, there’s a huge array of exclusive characters to add to the mix. Forefront of the lot are the other Freedom Fighters of this continuity; Tekno the Canary, a gadgeteer who is best friends with Amy and often supports Shortfuse both in and out of his armour. Johnny Lightfoot the Rabbit, a friendly rival to Sonic (as friendly as Sonic can be) who is (was) generally a nice guy. Porker Lewis, also a tech expert later on, but is foremost a bit of a scaredy-cat. Finally, Shortfuse the Squirrel Cybernik, a hot-blooded scrapper and good friend of Tekno who was used in an experiment which had him fused with cybernetic armour, although this was reversed near the end. Robotnik’s right-hand man, maintaining the similarities to SatAm (likely because they’re derisive of the same American concept bible), is Grimer. Intelligent and slimy, he’s often the voice of reason for Robotnik, although he’s also very intelligent and loyal to his master. This is probably why he was allowed to shine when Robotnik was out of commission for a while. Dr Zachary is the only other surviving Echidna and is purely out for his own gains. He makes a powerful adversary to Knuckles through how tricky his tactics are. These are just the tip of the ice berg of the cast, which is absolutely huge in part due to how many one-time characters there are.
As said before, the plot varies between a comedic tone (usually in one part comics) and larger, more narrative-based arcs. To sum up the story throughout the comic, the first few issues had Sonic doing his usual job of going around zones and freeing his fellow animals from Badniks, which is revealed to have been a result of him being stuck in a six-month time warp due to shenanigans which let Robotnik conquer. Over this period, a lot of the recurring cast are introduced and there are plenty of lighter stories and game adaptations. It also introduced a fair few of the oddball villains of the comic. The first big game changer was the arrival of the Metallix (which forced Sonic and the Chaotix to go back in time to make sure the accident occurred and thus stopped the evil army’s time meddling) which made Porker Lewis leave the Freedom Fighters, a super Badnik called Brutus being allowed to strike out on his own and forcing Tails to stop him on his own, and Sonic’s super side going a little out of control and leaving him trapped in the Special Zone as Omni-Viewer held said super side.
With Sonic out of the equation and dealing with problems in the Special Zone (mostly New Tek City), Robotnik was free to wreck even more havoc, with only the remaining Freedom Fighters left to control things. Knuckles was occupied with the newly introduced Dr Zachary so couldn’t really help lest Zachary boy got his way and annihilated Mobius. While the Freedom Fighters led on with a rebellion, the situation eventually got resolved when Super Sonic (still separate from Sonic) was sent back to Mobius and the energy shorted out Robotnik’s entire army. This led to a new Robotnik-less period with many minor villains and crooks trying to get a piece of the action, and a group called DRAT working to revive Robotnik back to power. Robotnik himself had gone to the Drakons for help, and was successful in getting the Chaos Emeralds and becoming a god. Sonic won the ensuing fight and Robotnik was assumed dead. After this, the other Freedom Fighters got to branch out and do their own hero work (including the Amy and Tekno stories that led to a running gag about them).
Eventually, it turned out that Robotnik had been sent to a planet called Shanazar, with Sonic on his tail while being made an outlaw there. Despite his plan to merge the two planets together coming to fruition, the actual event didn’t do anything, which left Mobius in another calm period where the heores explored new zones and time periods from the formed portals…but left Robotnik completely homicidal and wanting to destroy Mobius instead of just taking it over. The next plan ended no better for him and left him down in the dumps. As a result, Grimer released Chaos to try and make things better, only for him to bail when Robotnik gathered the Chaos Emeralds with intent to destroy Mobius. The fight between Perfect Chaos and the Freedom Fighters left Johnny Lightfoot dead, Sonic knowing about Knuckles’ ancient past, and Super Sonic (who had been rendered pacifist by the time of being sent back to Mobius) back to being less savoury and forced to merge with Sonic once again to take down the monster. The resolution of the Sonic Adventure adaptation was the final new story in Sonic the Comic, and it would be exclusively reprints for another fifty issues before finally getting the axe.
During its run, the comic gained quite a large fan following. After it went out of print, several fans have come together to keep continuing the stories they loved through online fancomics. The most famous of these is Sonic the Comic, which still updates to this day and has backing from Sonic the Comic writers and artists alike (as well as being able to get in Archie artists for one of its features). It’s notable for continuing the tone of the original comic while integrating later game characters and adding their own spin to the world. Whether it’s this or other continuations about, even though the comic stopped over a decade ago, it’s certainly lived on afterwards quite healthily.
Accessibility: While the issues aren’t super common, they can turn up on eBay a bit since Sonic the Comic was pretty popular while it was in print. Alternatively, there are users online who sell on occasion through message boards.
This particular overlooked media (which is from the company who also made an adaptation of Sonic 1 which marked Vector’s first publicised appearance) is an oddity amongst its brethren; amongst all media that isn’t the games, the earlier series is far and away the single most influential of them all. Debuting in 1992, most people know that it brought with it two characters that are well known to Sonic gamers; Amy Rose and Charmy Bee. What they were like, how the design process went for them and many other features of the Manga are otherwise elusive even to the most dedicated of media researchers. For example, the regular Shogakukan series had one set of designs, while the CoroCoro specials had different designs which were muck closer to the SegaSonic standard (indeed, that’s where CD Amy’s design is taken from). But we do know quite a bit at least, so here are some of the many oddities that this important piece of history has.
To start with, Sonic is Superman…sort of. Nicky is an ordinary hedgehog boy who ends up crashing into a stand of bottles during one of his regular beatings. After this, a strange thing happens in times of futility; he turns into Sonic the Hedgehog and is ready to deliver pain upon whoever wronged him! This is partially tied into the Mary Garnet story that’s mentioned in the Japanese Sonic game bible, as Sonic is revealed to be the spirit of the pilot in the story, who also worked to bring Nicky’s parents together in war.
Speaking of which, we might as well run down the character cast and setting. Aside from Nicky Kent, we have his sister Tania (or Anita based on the story) and parents Paulie and Brenda. Paulie is a pilot whose plane was brought down in an undisclosed war, who gives life advice to Nicky and even joins him on the occasional escapade. Brenda was a mechanic in the same war, although in the present time she acts more as a housewife. Tania is mostly just a handful who even makes Eggman suffer when he abducts her. They live in a town called Hedgehog Town (creative) where the majority of the residents are the same species. Amongst them is Amy Rose, a hedgehog Nicky is in love with, which is problematic when Amy is in love with his alter-ego. Little Jon exists.
Some non-Hedgehogs round out the cast of oddballs, the latter three of which may be familiar. Anton Veruca is the bully of the cast, not unlike 80’s Saturday morning villains like Catchem or Croc (brownies if you know those dopes). Sometimes he’s merely a nuisance with his brothers/gang (one of who, Matt, is named), other times he’s being an
accomplice with Dr Eggman, and sometimes he’s trying to date Amy ala Bowser. Dr Eggman is the main villain. As per the games, comes with traps and machines to eliminate Sonic, who he quickly works out is connected to Nicky. The plots involving him are as zany as you’d expect from the mad doctor. Tails is here too, and he’s slightly more…punk than usual, at least for a while. At first he’s more insistent on being cool and distant, but as soon as Anton acts up he’s willing to pitch a hand, and he’s more than enthusiastic about seeing Sonic. Finally, Charmy Bee is Silver the Hedgehog. Or he might as well be since he was so different. In his début, he was able to control time, and exclusively helped out the super side when he was in peril. Of what we know of CoroCoro’s adaptation of Sonic 2 that would have included Charmy, he acted more like a helper for Sonic and Tails and much more closely resembled his Sonic Heroes design.
Plot-wise, the early Manga series isn’t that plot heavy. Usually it’s either Eggman having come up with a machine to terrorise Sonic (and as a result the other residents of Hedgehog Town), or Anton trying to push his affection onto Amy in some way, or sometimes even both! The stories do come with some nice character moments though, and the aforementioned exposition on how Nicky’s parents met and its link to the Mary Garnet story is a touching read (it’s Archie equivalent is how the now non-existing Jules and Bernie met in the Great War). That said, the Manga is still very light-hearted in tone, and while there are moments of peril, it never gets dark (unless you find Bowser’s obsession with Peach dark, anyway).
Before we finish up with this section, I want to make a nod to Shogakukan’s later Sonic Manga series, Dash and Spin. Spanning two volumes and released between 2003 and 2005, these Manga were far removed from their then-decade old forerunners. They were very loosely based on Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 and the Advance games released prior to 2003. By which I mean they has the characters from the Adventure games while Cream and Rouge made a cameo in the second volume. The premises for these stories (both the short strips and the longer stories) were downright nonsensical and not linked by any particular plot. It’s easily one of the most out-there pieces of media ever made under the official Sonic name. And it’s a barrel of fun for it.
Accessibility: Good luck trying to get any pages of the 1992-1993 series from even Japanese sources, this thing is super rare! There used to be a dedicated site hosting scanlations, but it has since become defunct. If you want to read them, pretty much the only option now is Youtube which has the ones scanlated up. In this case, I don’t think going there is such a big deal.
Dash and Spin is pretty rare, but not as rare because it’s more recent. You can probably find it through Japanese sources or some seller who’s imported it.
PS: The old chestnut about the old Manga appearing in Shogaku Yonensei is a bit off; the Manga was in books with grades, but ironically enough it seems it was never present in Yonensei. A younger grade like Ninensei was more likely to have them.
3. Man Of The Year
An animation from a video game that’s somehow forgotten.
Man of the Year is a short animation feature that was present in Sonic Jam, the Saturn’s compilation of the classic Mega Drive games. When you ask Sonic fans what Sonic Jam’s most distinctive feature is, most will point to the 3D overworld that acts as a hub to play the games, view the galleries and complete challenges.
However, tucked away amongst the galleries is this little cartoon. Surprisingly, the animation for the most part is very Western in style, to the point that the humans look like they stepped out of a Warner animation. It’s a very simple premise; Sonic is voted Man of the Year (should really be ‘Hog of the Year), Eggman gets angry about it, tries to defame Sonic. Set to a score of both public domain music and Sonic CD music, what sets it apart is just how bombastic and fantastic Eggman is in this short. He’s always emotive and energetic. At the start he’s in his pyjamas (a reference to the concept art?) and simply raging like a maniac until he gets his big idea. In the city, he lets loose and becomes a ball of fun as he terrorises the citizens with face-drawing, spindashing (!) and car-jumping antics, showing agility that not even outrunning Super Sonic can match.
Furthermore, despite the “To be continued” text, it never was finished, so technically Eggman won in the same way he won Sonic Chronicles. Who says you have to be super serious to be a success.
Accessibility: Unlike the other entries, this one is super easy to gain access to; it’s on Youtube as of writing. Otherwise, you need a SEGA Saturn and a copy of Sonic Jam, which are pretty hard to get hold of now.
4. Sonic Adventures: Dans Les Griffes De Robotnik
In the mid-nineties, everyone was having a go at adapting the games into comic format in their own way. Archie and Fleetway had various ones under their belt, faithfulness varying, and even Shogakukan had some parts of Sonic 2 adapted. Not ones to be left out, French publisher Sirène had their own shot at adapting Sonic 3 and Knuckles with two volumes as part of a series called Sonic Adventures. While this wouldn’t seem so odd at first, there are a few subtle changes that propel this from just a plain comic adaptation to a strange continuity in its own right.
Being that this was European, Sonic Adventures has much in common with the British Sonc the Comic. For example, the designs of Dr Robotnik and Amy are very similar to that of their Fleetway portrayals, and the grey Chaos Emerald has a heightened importance here that’s not in the games. Plot-wise, the comic starts out very simply; Robotnik has Sonic in his hands (the title, “Dans Les Griffes De Robotnik”, translates to “In the Clutches of Robotnik”), Tails helps Sonic escape, Robotnik kidnaps Amy as bait, Sonic and Tails have to go rescue her. While not entirely faithful to Sonic 3, it starts out benign enough. Sonic and Tails travel through environments with game elements while avoiding peril, then get knocked into water, follow the river course and come across a tribe of Echidnas working on the cliff face by the waterfall they’re about to go down.
This is probably the big thing about this particular alternate media. The Echidnas aren’t all dead, they’re alive and well! At least Knuckles is leading the tribe, right?
Meet Princess Alucion, Knuckles’ replacement for the duration of the first issue. She’s the leader of the Echidna tribe, and is pretty similar to Knuckles in almost every personality aspect aside from being able to tell Robotnik isn’t such a good doctor much more quickly. At least she has that rocking outfit to go with it.
Why did Sirène make this change? Beats me. The rest of the comic, while dealing with the Echidna tribe as well, ultimately follows a game-faithful path of getting the Chaos Emeralds, earning Knu—I mean Alucion’s trust so she helps them, and just saving the day in general (although Tails does think Sonic and Amy died at one point). You even get special stages and the typical Super Sonic ending here (something which they got from the games and not from Fleetway). Even though the changes are minor, they give this comic the honour of being the first to introduce the ideas of both a Knuckles tribe and a named female Echidna, pre-dating Archie by about three years (both volumes came out in 1994).
As a little addition, Sirène also published a guide for Sonic and Knuckles with its own little comic. Knuckles is present this time…but it’s not exactly a big adventure. Sonic and Knuckles are playing the video game in a home. That’s about it. Thrill a minute, isn’t it.
Accessibility: Tricky, but not impossible. I’m sure copies turn up on occasion on eBay, but it might be better to just check French auction sites instead.
5. Storybooks. Lots Of Them.
The written word is likely the most overlooked media out of all of them. When you think of characters from outside the games, you’d be more likely to find mentions of characters from all of the above than the likes of, say, Digger the Woodchuck or Whiffy the Skunk. And yet, there have been several series of story books and game books in both the UK and the US. Some are more like side stories to other media; others are worlds all to themselves.
Firstly, there are the stories from Golden Books. These are US-based and are essentially tie-ins to SatAM/Archie. Their tone, however, was more akin to AoStH or, more accurately, the pilot episode of SatAM. This is probably why the series had nonsensical plots about secret admirers and missing shoes, and why the designs were of the beta looks. Very simple stuff that’s more geared toward SatAM fans (if you like slapstick though). Otherwise, they’re not particularly that significant.
Also from America are the novels from Troll Associates publishing. This series is also set within the SatAM/Archie setting, although this time it takes its cues from the more serious side. That is, when it’s a story and not just a fact book. Notable for this story series is the fact that a book was made called Sonic X-Treme, although it has zero association with the cancelled game of the same name. Otherwise, the books are typical children’s novels with the occasional picture thrown in for good measure. They also try to expand on the SatAM universe, using original characters and concepts, like the idea of there being a master list of all the Freedom Fighter members. There’s even one book which brings Knuckles into the equation, something not done in more famous alternate media until Sonic Underground! It also sometimes contradicts things established in the cartoon series itself, and other times gets things flat-out wrong (Rotor is not a Sea Lion…). Simple stories, but the better option if you want some SatAM reading.
Ladybird, a big name in British publishing, produced a number of both story books and game books between 1994 and 1995. The story books are like the Golden Books in tone, but the setting is very firmly based in the games and not SatAM or even Sonic the Comic. The stories themselves are for very young readers so there isn’t much to them aside from Robotnik making a plan and Sonic and Tails stopping him, since both are based on Sonic 2. The game books are in the “Choose Your Own Adventure” style and are for a slightly older audience. These books are bigger in length and feature later games in their narratives as well. Overall, these books aren’t big on differentiating themselves, but they’re the closest to adapting the games faithfully of pretty much any alternate media ever made for Sonic.
The Virgin Publishing books, written by three people under one name, are text-based, which is unique amongst the alternate Sonic media. It is a mix of comedy and serious narrative which is…not particularly set in any other media. The origin story is shared with Sonic the Comic, but the characters from other media that appear (Johnny, Porker, Sally, Tux) are more based on the game animals than their comic selves. And there’s also extra supporting cast although none that are particularly memorable. Even if the new characters aren’t that memorable, the stories are; for example, Sonic and the Silicon Warriors is Sonic and Tails jumping between video games and fighting their characters (knock-offs of real ones like Tetris and Mario) to beat Robotnik, and Sonic in the Fourth Dimension is about Sonic going back in time to stop Robotnik from being formed only for some sort of Mythos Creature to catalyse the change anyway (which isn’t how StC dealt with it). Quite the bizarre premises. There’s also a little flipbook animation in the corner of the pages, how quaint.
Finally, there are the Penguin Fantail game books. These are also in the “Choose Your Own Adventure” style, and steeped very much in Sonic the Comic lore (to the point that they published Stay Sonic, which is Sonic’s origin in the Fleetway comic). These are longer and darker stories at about 200 pages each. While the stories can sound pretty basic, there are some dark moments in them (for example, in the Zone Zapper, Tails can end up roboticised and Sonic has to leave his friend with tears in his eyes). It has Knuckles and Amy in later books, and even a doppelgänger of Sonic called Zonic in-text (Zonik on the cover)! If you like game books and more heavy hitting moments, these might be up your alley.
Accessibility: Actually quite easy for the British books. You’ll probably need to go to Amazon and eBay, sure, but they’re more common than the comics. You can probably pick up a used copy from a general book seller for cheap. You can get the American ones via the same avenues…but for quite a bit more.
Note: I was unable to look over the Virgin Publishing books myself (that’s how overlooked they are), which is why that section was written under guidance from Doctor MK, who owns all four books. He enjoys the books.
As you can see, there’s a plethora of alternate media that’s been tucked away and left out of sight for a long while. Part of this is likely due to the age in which they were released; things were harder to keep tabs on in the 90’s when there was little to no internet available. As such, it’s unlikely that such overlooked alternate media will spring up in the future of the franchise. But if it somehow does, it’ll be quite fun to discover and explore it as we should do!
It’s comrade against comrade as stakes get pushed further in this month’s issue of Sonic Universe!
We jump back to the new Black Comet for this month’s issue of Sonic Universe with a preview from Comic Book Resources. Shadow has been brainwashed by Black Death and is currently doing his bidding in trying to take out the rest of team Dark. How can Rouge and Omega snap him out of it when the Black Arms have such control? More importantly, how will they able to stand their ground when the Ultimate Lifeform is aiming to eliminate them? Meanwhile, the Black Arms are also making a move on securing a nuclear weapon, and Eclipse is at the forefront of the attack on G.U.N. How much closer will they get? Find out in “Shadow Fall”: Part 3.
“Shadow Fall” Part Three: Shadow – agent of the brutal Black Arms?! It’s up to Rouge and Omega to bring their former friend to his senses – if he doesn’t destroy them all first! Meanwhile, the vicious alien race have stolen G.U.N.’s tactical nuclear device for – and that can only spell trouble! Will Team Dark survive the mission with the deadly and devious ECLIPSE lurking in the shadows? Find out in the penultimate chapter to this expansive space epic, featuring cover art from Tracy Yardley! and a special SEGA variant cover!
The issue is due out February 26th for digital media, and will be out in comic stores soon after. In the meantime, the preview pages for the conflicts are below!
A new month brings new issue details, and this month is bringing in the monsters on the covers!
Midtown Comics is covering both of the new issue details this time. Firstly from them, Sonic, Amy and Rotor continue their underwater recovery of the Chaos Emeralds, only to run afoul of political problems when their new friend Coral (who isn’t actually on the regular cover at all, he’s a new Mantis Shrimp character!) gets in bad books with her own government. Then, continuing the back-up story of last issue, the plan that Sally concocted to tackle Eggman’s plans appears to have gone awry! This is “Waves of Change”: Part 2 and back-up “Light in the Dark”: Part 2;
(W) Ian Flynn, Aleah Baker (A) Evan Stanley & Various (CA) Matt Herms, Tracy Yardley
Dive into the action in ‘Waves of Change’ Part Two! Sonic, Amy, and Rotor-in the deep sea and in deeper trouble! When their new friend Coral has run afoul of her government, will Sonic and the Freedom Fighters stand by her side? Or will they risk becoming fugitives? Then, in ‘The Light in the Dark,’ Sally’s simple raiding plans take a turn for the worse! Featuring new cover art from Sonic superstar Ben Bates and a hilarious new ‘Is it Summer Yet??’ Variant cover by Tracy Yardley! and Matt Herms!
Then, as was simultaneously revealed, the fight between team Chaotix and team Hooligan wages on. Knuckles has his own job to do so he has to work on through the mad grab for the Chaos Emerald. But who he finds is arguably more striking (not the match on the regular cover, though)…and dare I say possibly more important. This is “The Great Chaos Caper”: Part 2.
(W) Ian Flynn (A) Jim Amash & Various (CA) Tracy Yardley
‘The Great Chaos Caper,’ Part Two. The chaos continues! It’s hijinks and high explosives galore with Knuckles caught in the middle of all the action! The Chaotix and the Hooligans are falling over each other to get to a Chaos Emerald – the key to saving (or dooming) the world! It’s up to Knuckles to power through the madness and complete his own mission, and in his travels, you’ll never believe who he finds! Featuring new cover art from Tracy Yardley and a rad red SEGA Variant cover!
Whatever happens in these issues, you can guarantee that there will at least be a good amount of Gaia minion thrashing! We’ll have more info on these issues closer to their release.
It’s a rescue mission in Station Square in this month’s issue of Sonic the Hegdehog.
Comic Book Resources has the preview pages for Sonic the Hedgehog #257. In this issue, the Freedom Fighters engage on their first mission in the context of the soft reboot. Following on from the Countdown to Chaos, havoc has already hit Station Square (isn’t it always under some havoc though?) and the Freedom Fighters go out to help everyone in the city. Learn more about the new team dynamic in an applied context. Also find out what effect the memory jolts had on their work. Meanwhile, Eggman is hatching a new scheme and it’s going to be big…and perhaps involving cucumber sandwiches. This is “Damage Control”.
The “COUNTDOWN” is over, the “CHAOS” has just begun! “Damage Control”: The shattered world is causing chaos everywhere, and Station Square is about to implode! Sonic and the Freedom Fighters must spring into action to save the day, unless someone beats them to the punch. Cue: Dr. Eggman. Will the evil doctor be the one to save the world? Or will his newfound power give him ultimate control? If the ending to issue 256 left you breathless, you cannot miss the next chapter in the ALL-NEW saga of Sonic’s comic adventures! Featuring a special wrap-around cover by Rafa Knight and Variant art from Lamar Wells!
The issue is already out digitally and should be out in comic stores February 12th. Check out the aftermath of the countdown here!
The adventure in space continues in this month’s issue of Sonic Universe!
We have a preview for Sonic Universe #60 courtesy of Den of Geek. Our journey into Black Arms territory continues this month as team Dark and the military venture deeper into the Black Comet. Rouge and Omega have been left with the Spider troupe to get to the heart of it all and stop the alien menace with whatever force necessary as they get assaulted by the enemies. It’s not all fun and games for Shadow either when his scouting leads him into the company of Eclipse the Darkling, self-proclaimed “brother” of Shadow who seems…cheerfully keen on bringing him to their side. It’s both brute force and mind games in “Shadow Fall”: Part 2.
SONIC UNIVERSE #60
Shadow and Team Dark versus an invading alien army! “Shadow Fall” Part Two: The mission to save humanity is falling to pieces! With Rouge, Omega and G.U.N. are on the run from murderous aliens and Shadow battling for his life – and his free will – against the malicious Black Death and Eclipse, the world is running out of time! Loyalties are tested, aliens are blasted, and NEW characters make their debut in this space-faring new issue! Featuring cover art from Tracy Yardley and an Alien Invasion Variant from Vincent Riley (Native Drums).
SCRIPT: Ian Flynn
ART: Jamal Peppers, Jim Amash, Jack Morelli and Matt Herms
Cover: Tracy Yardley, Jim Amash and Matt Herms
“Alien Invasion” Variant cover by Vince Riley
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 2/5
32-page, full color comic
Sonic Universe #60 is out now digitally and should be out in comic stores this Wednesday. Don’t miss the second part of this otherworldly adventure!
To continue on with the gaming mood the Sonic franchise has been put in, we have some gaming-related trade paperbacks that have hit shelves!
Firstly, SSSM#10 has been previewed by Comixology. Most of it is reprints of older Archie Sonic stories, but it has some new content in the form of a Sonic Dash adaptation. How can the fastest thing alive not be quick enough to get some time alone? Pick up the issue to read about Sonic’s follies with a red ring and some friends!
Dash along with Sonic on another all-new story featuring the world of the hit SEGA iOS game: SONIC DASH! The SONIC SUPER SPECIAL MAGAZINE gives you the world of Sonic the Hedgehog comics as you’ve never seen it before, with tons of comic stories, special features and exclusive articles on the latest and greatest in the world of everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog-hero! This issue also features a special spotlight on SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG, and what place he and Team Dark have in the NEW Sonic comic universe! All this plus all of the extra features you love, and interview with Sonic colorist Steve Downer!
Then, we take a trip back to the past as Archie gives the low-down on Sonic Archives #22. It is a reprint of the latter half of the Sonic Adventure saga (the first half being in Sonic Archives #21), containing Sonic the Hedgehog #83-#84 and Sonic Super Special #13 (not to be confused with the magazine series!). I suppose most people won’t need a reminder of the story, but it’s still a classic adaptation.
Archie’s bestselling Sonic Archives graphic novel series continues! Get ready for super Sonic adventure as Sonic and his Freedom Fighter friends continue their battle in the lost city of Station Square amidst its mysterious human inhabitants! Buckle up for the dramatic conclusion to the Sonic Adventure videogame tie-in story as Super Sonic and Knuckles take on the gigantic monster Perfect Chaos in a battle that will leave you breathless! SONIC ARCHIVES VOLUME 22 collects SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #83-84 and SONIC SUPER SPECIAL #13.
Script & Art: Various
Cover: Patrick “SPAZ” Spaziante
5 x 7 3/8”
Both of these trade paperbacks are out right now digitally, and should be in their respective grocery stores and comic shops. Pick up the pace and make a dash for your own copy!
Where’s the kaboom? There was supposed to be a Mobius-Shattering Kaboom!
Let’s get things clear; the last year of the Archie Sonic comic has been like no other. Following some rather bitter endings in Endangered Species way back at #243-#246, we got “At All Costs”: Part 1. This led us on the hunt for Mecha Sally up in the Arctic region, and team Fighters, together with the Arctic Freedom Fighters and Silver, had her where they wanted her. Team Freedom, meanwhile, had a rather abominate-looking Tails Doll to deal with.
That’s where the normality ends, though. Right on the cliff-hangers of these shenanigans, the planet was warped by a reality-altering wave, which allowed for the headline-grabbing “When Worlds Collide” crossover between the Mega Man and Sonic franchises. After dealing with allies and enemies alike, the two blue heroes teamed for a final assault against nefarious doctors Eggman and Wily. Mega Man’s attempt to alter reality back to normal went smoothly, with his comic resuming just about where they left off before the crossover. Sonic on the other hand, suffered a bit of a hiccup thanks to Eggman, and here is where the review truly begins.
Be warned, as there are detailed spoilers for issues #252-256. The last is especially important as it isn’t even widely available yet.
The Story of New Beginnings
Sonic the Hedgehog #252 is where this story really begins. Technically speaking, the story in the issue is the second part to the one started all the way back in #247. I’d personally also call it Countdown to Chaos: The Prologue. While a bit disorientating at first, it does quickly reveal itself to make a nice bridge between the realities. You have the wrap-up of Naugus besieging the throne, the Tails Doll monster still wreaking havoc in not-new Mobotropolis and the Death Egg still being in Artika (new name for the Northern Tundra), which sets up the side story for Eggman neatly since he’s stuck way down in Efrika with a broken Egg Mobile.
Speaking of set-up, much of the issue is dedicated to setting up points which will be referenced often in the true Countdown to Chaos (CtC) arc. Naugus gets a memory jolt from NICOLE, which not only sets up the fact that NICOLE has memory restoring energy in her, but also the fact she’s broken. Tails having a jolt sets up the point that the restoration of memory slowly fixes her, and gives the readers an idea of the plan of action to follow. The numerous game references strewn into the narrative makes clear that this is not exactly the same world we once knew, which is only further reinforced as Sonic’s memories of King Acorn (not Max any more) trusting Dr Robotnik are altered to be more attuned with the world he’s landed in. Mix this in with new characters and snappy game-influenced action when Sonic and Tails take on the Tails Doll, and this makes for a great link between old and new while beginning its own mysteries.
The four issues that form CtC itself have a defined but flexible narrative structure to them, and how much you’ll notice really depends on the issue. The basic framework is that each issue has some sort of breather period for exposition and contemplation for the characters, an introduction to each freedom fighter in turn, a couple of Eggman intermissions where he gets to strut his stuff, an action piece and a scene where the Freedom Fighter introduced earlier has their memory restored, although not necessarily in that order. This uniformity is quite an ironic echo to the growing chaos that approaches the world, but the purpose of this arc is to reintroduce readers into the changes that have occurred so the organisation seen is to be expected.
#253 and #254 are quieter arcs that are more focused on Sonic and Tails getting to grips with new locations (for example, the Sky Patrol that gets used for the base of operations was parked in the Mystic Ruins, and Knothole is now located in or nearby the scrapped Wood Zone from Sonic 2). Even though it is quieter, it does skip by a lot. In #253, Silver Sonic (one of the big threats of the comic circa Sally’s transformation) isn’t even dealt with by Sonic, it’s left to Big in quite a comical fashion. And the rediscovery of Knothole, Sonic’s home for much of his childhood prior to the Super Genesis Wave, is relegated to an off-screen event. It doesn’t knock the stories overall, but they might be little things you notice when you think about it afterwards. Otherwise, the narrative in these issues flows like a charm, with more than a few hints to what’s going to happen at the end of the arc.
#255 and #256 are the issues that ramp things up a bit more in the action department. #255 is action set pieces for our heroes interlaced with exposition, as the plot demands both high stakes wrapping up Bunnie’s mission and revealing some of her new backstory (since the last time we saw her, she’d had her robotics removed by magic way after the Bem had failed to because she got upgraded and the parts were incompatible and…it required quite a bit of prior knowledge). The way the comic goes about this feels rather clunky though. The transition between action and exposition isn’t smooth and the quiet parts especially drag on a bit too long. #256 handles it much better, with the action piece having good pacing despite its length, and any explaining to the characters and readers being succinct enough to get the job done while delivering on actual interaction.
And then the arc ends…with a cliffhanger, as the world is beginning to really fall apart. It really is the countdown as it turns out, since the damage has only just begun!
This Review Has No Maximum Character Limit
In CtC, a big part of what holds it together is the character writing. If we didn’t empathise or care for the Freedom Fighters and baddies caught in the ruckus, there would be pretty much no investment. Fortunately, Ian Flynn is on the ball in this department. There wasn’t a single character who overstayed their welcome, and everyone had their part to play in the show.
Sonic, of course, is our main focus here. Thus, he gets the most elaboration on his reaction to the new reality. Shaken up at first due to unfamiliarity, he quickly hits his stride as the adventure-loving, robot-busting hero everyone is familiar with. Aside from getting in on the action with his trademark speed, he has plenty of slow moments where he gets to contemplate what’s going on and have emotional reunions with all the friends he comes across. Between kicking Metal Sonic to pieces and meeting his “uncle” Chuck, Sonic reacts to each situation as you would expect him to, without ever losing his defining traits.
Tails is Sonic’s sidekick almost from the word go, and does everything he can to support Sonic. Due to being relatively fine before the Wave hit, he’s the least affected by the memory jolt, but he still reacts like a kid would to it. It’s here, and various moments like it, that really show how close their brotherly bond is. The whole bout against the Tails Doll and the scenes where he has to fly to rescue someone in #254 and #255 cement his usefulness as an active Freedom Fighter.
Eggman, Orbot and Cubot don’t get emotional moments in their little side plot. Their job is to give the reader a brief guided tour on what’s changed in the new world, as well as demonstrate the memory overwrite and the planet splitting apart gradually. Of course, given that this is Eggman and his robot lackeys we’re talking about, this tour is ever so entertaining. Eggman never misses a moment to ham it up, even when he has to improvise his plans and questions, and his Weapons Bed assault in #254 is a highlight for his sheer awesomeness. Orbot and Cubot provide the cutting cynicism and dense naiveté for Eggman to bounce off, and have their own little funny moments.
NICOLE, despite being the other character appears in every issue of the arc, doesn’t really get as much to work with as the others. She does her job as a plot device fine, and she gets her moment to sass off Naugus, but otherwise she’s stoic exposition regarding the memory jolts. If you were expecting her to get into the fray herself based on the cover of #255, you will not find it here.
Rotor gets repurposed as the genius bruiser here, helping Tails build the Sky Patrol and keeping systems running as well as pounding the innards out of Badniks. His flippant response to getting his memories back (probably especially to the fact his back was injured) demonstrates his dedication to his work as he refuses to let the shock get to him (although he is a bit agitated).
Antoine keeps up the character traits we’d seen after 20 years of development. He’s haughty with the accent, but is still a brave soldier willing to put his life on the line. Even though he’d seen himself brought into a coma with his memory jolt, his first concern is seeing Bunnie again, reinforcing his dedication to his marriage.
Bunnie, while being in an issue that was less than brilliant, doesn’t suffer for it from a character writing standpoint. Her exposition dumps might be a bit too long, but she’s thoughtful as well as a good complement to Sonic’s hasty attitude. The shock of the memory jolt sends her into an emotional breakdown that Antoine has to support her through (finding out that you had been turned flesh but were contemplating reversing it due to your husband being in a coma does that), but she demonstrates her sisterly traits an issue later when she does the same for Sally.
Amy has a slight leg up on the other characters, as she already had a full arc under her belt by the time #256 came out. As such, the issue of introducing her isn’t covered here. What is on show is her sisterly bond with Sally as they work together to beat down Metal Sonic. She still has her crush on show, but they still work together great and manage to bounce off each other. She doesn’t have such a strong reaction to her memory jolt, but she’s only confirmed to remember a game event and beating up Fang so far. She didn’t have that much to lose.
Sally has probably been the character a lot of prior fans have been waiting for, and she comes back kicking! Packed with new energy blade ring things, she cuts into the action more than she ever has. Aside from being shown as a stealth member from #252, she gets most of her time to shine with Amy as they use combos and banter to leave Metal Sonic vulnerable for when Sonic arrives. She does get a small reunion with Sonic, but it’s mostly emotion from him as he recalls last seeing her as a robot, and she doesn’t have the relationship with Sonic that she had prior to the wave (and I’d say that’s a good thing). We see her break down when recalling her stint as Mecha Sally, but we can’t really see her after that because the end of the world is a-knocking.
Naugus isn’t really used that much, but he sets the memory jolt plot in motion and demonstrates the effects such a jolt can have. It also gives a very loose closure to the King Naugus plot from before the wave.
Metal Sonic takes hits much better now, so he isn’t destroyed at the end of the issue fully for once! He stills, albeit not as much as before, and his attitude is very similar to Sonic’s. Not unexpected from the metal doppelganger.
The other characters aren’t really there enough to expand on, but all have some relevance to the advancement of the plot. Axel, Mordred and Tundra, for example, re-establish the Egg Army and how it’s shaping up, and side protagonists like Cream, Big, Chuck and Ben give support to the main characters and provide interaction outside of the core. Also Ben being new Muttski is the biggest surprise of the entire arc.
Beauty in Anarchy
Firstly, we have to judge the cover by the book. #252 stands alone on this front, as the regular cover is a single piece as opposed to the official CtC issues which are connected. The regular cover demonstrates Sonic pulling off his flashy stomp maneuver, with dynamic colouring and posing to match. Ben Bates puts in a fine effort with this one, and even though it doesn’t match the scope of the next ones it holds great on its own. The same cannot be said of the variant, though. Although the Sonic render provided is at least in a more action-orientated pose, it’s still just pasted over Green Hill Zone quite lazily. This is a trend in a lot of SEGA variants, unfortunately.
#253-256 (the regular covers, anyway) do something very different. Just take a look at it for yourself;
All the covers in the arc form one single piece of artwork when put together. This art by Ben Bates is meticulously pieced together so that each individual issue looks dynamic on its own, but looks really spectacular when all the covers are put together. Granted, this little cover trick isn’t new by any stretch; the Knuckles comic series did this with three issue arcs on a regular basis. In Ian’s run, “Darkest Storm” and “Bold New Moebius” did the same thing. But this is certainly the largest scope that’s been done across, and is probably the best example of it in the Sonic comic’s history. I would urge anyone to get the regular covers if they were to get the individual issues. But for the sake of fairness, here’s what I think of the variants as well;
#253’s variant is easily the best variant of all of them. Taking the otherwise under-utilised Silver Sonic and giving it a schematic drawing style that’s vivid and in stark contrast to every other cover, T.Rex really knocks it out of the park.
#254 is great for Eggman enthusiasts, but it follows the same style of #252 in which it’s a SEGA variant with a render pasted on top of a background. That said, the background this time has a few little details and shout-outs that make it somewhat interesting.
#255 has a layout and concept that would be cool to look at…except the character art is too off-putting for that. The characters have these weird lanky proportions for some reason, and it doesn’t look good. It wouldn’t be too far to presume that Tyler Capp, the one who did the cover, isn’t used to working with the Sonic style so much. This is a running theme with this issue.
#256 just boils down to a personal opinion for me. From a technical standpoint, it’s a great cover. It conveys the destruction that you’d expect in a variant called “The End of the World” variant and has some great colours to it. However, I think that Sonic himself doesn’t exactly gel too well with the rest of the art on the cover, and thus it has a bit of the SEGA variant stiffness underscoring it, albeit with a much better execution. This cover was done by Tracy Yardley, Phyllis Novin and Dustin Evans.
For the most part, the artwork throughout CtC is at the very least pleasing to the eyes. That said, the artwork in this arc is very inconsistent, which is slightly jarring when it’s supposed to be the big arc that redefines the world.
#252 has an art team consisting of Evan Stanley, Terry Austin and Matt Herms. The colours are nice, and the lines and inks are fine for the most part (although there are certain times when characters, especially Tails, look off). If there was one major negative I could note, it’s that the outdoor backgrounds were very simplistic, with most additional detail being larger building shapes. As a side note, the Tails Doll monster has had a significant redesign since it last showed up in #247. If you’ve read that issue, it’s not hard to guess why.
#253 and 254 have Austin and Herms back, but pencils are provided by Tracey Yardley and Lamar Wells. These issues are just fantastic for art, with pretty much everything being on note. The landscapes and details are lush, the characters look lively and on-model, and the action is given extra oomph throughout. Truly feasts for the eyes, it’s best to see them for yourself.
#255…unfortunately goes to the other end of the quality scale. Just like the variant cover for this issue, the art here is pretty terrible in comparison to what went before. Featuring the début of Jerry Gaylord and Kent Archer, I would say that it might have been better to let them practice in more side stories instead of slotting them into such a linchpin story arc. The colours are nice as always (Herms is still here), but the proportions of the characters vary all over the place, and the outline inking of them is also inconsistent. It goes so far as to affect the impact of pretty much every scene. I’ll bring this up again in the part where I talk about the emotions of the issues…
#256 has Yardley come back for the pencils, and switches up Herms for Steve Downs. While the line art looks good, and the backgrounds are nicely detailed, the colours look flatter in this issue than any CtC issue before it (aside from the odd panel where the colours go deeper for dramatic effect). That doesn’t make the art bad at all, it still looks good. It just makes the art look a little less polished.
Jack Morelli did the lettering for #252, while John Workman handled it for CtC. It’s easy to tell them apart, but both styles compliment the art and action around it. Nothing particularly stands out as being bad, at least.
Emotions Run As High As Stakes?
The meat for the arc lies in the emotional journey that our protagonists have to face in order to restore their memories. In every issue, there’s at least one memory restoration, and each one is given the panel space needed to really convey the pain that the character is feeling from a psychological standpoint. These little money shots, while not big, are the payoff for the entire arc as characters relive memories from their past and have to reconcile it with the memories they had already. One could argue that these don’t last long enough in fact, given that there’s more action than reaction. The only issue where it felt a little cut short was #256, and that was because of that thing we keeping referring to known as the end of the world. What also has to be said is that #255’s moment is heavily affected by the art quality. What should be a heart breaking moment where Bunnie learns of her regained robotics and how Antoine was before the wave is more funny than anything else because of how skewed the proportions are and how stiff the expressions are. It completely broke the moment for me, but that might vary between different readers.
Of course, that’s not where all the emotion lies. There’s some joy to be had when Sonic’s face lights up upon seeing a fellow Freedom Fighter for the first time since after the wave, especially with the knowledge of how they were immediately prior to the wave. Sonic rushing up to “uncle” Chuck because his closest family figure after Tails is safe (let’s not bring up Jules and Bernie) is a very sweet moment, and Sonic rushing up to Sally to give her a tearful hug is completely understandable; you’d do the same if your close friend was being controlled by an evil scientist and you had to knock them out to stop them killing anyone last time you two met. There’s also plenty of fun in arc, as Sonic and Tails get accustomed with everyone’s little quirks and differences. Their reaction to Sonic’s pet dog now being an anthropomorphic research assistant is one for the ages, and Antoine’s reaction to the reunion in the same issue is probably the best of all the Freedom Fighters.
There’s one emotion that stays quiet for most of the arc, and that’s the sense of utter futility in the face of imminent danger. This is introduced in #253, and is slowly built up throughout until the chaos finally hits. While Eggman doesn’t have any emotional moments aimed at himself, his plot is the best demonstration for this element as he watches the cracks spread around the globe as he travels and realises there is nothing he can do to prevent it, all while his old memories are slowly overwritten at the same time. The protagonists have to deal with it on occasion as well, although not as centrally; one of its earthquakes is an action piece in #254, another one affects the heroes’ escape from the Metropolis Zone base in #255 (although, again thanks to the art, it doesn’t have the impact it should). That way, NICOLE’s analysis of the situation being complete anarchy with the multiverse collapse and the planet splitting itself apart is expected but still a rather large revelation at the end of the arc, and the final panels where she and Eggman proclaim that there is no fix and the heroes are left to helplessly watch the cracks get more intense are really good to end on. Although since the games had the world splitting apart once before, there’s no doubt that there’s at least some way to fix it…
There is one final disclosure that has to be made regarding emotion, and this is aimed primarily at the older readers who came in with likely years of comic experience under their belt. Some of you may find yourself disappointed with what you read. As referenced in the off-panel of #252, there were quite a lot of plot points that were left hanging before the crossover occurred. And because of the new universe, a lot of these hanging points will never be covered within the pages of the comics. There are quite a few characters from before the crossover that won’t make the transition to the new reality. Emotionally, this could affect how invested you are with the new plights given that the old plights are gone. For those readers who are fans of said plots and might miss their personal favourites, I’d suggest to treat this as a new slate, where new favourites and mysteries can be found. If all goes to plan, there will be something that will quench your curiosity later in the year.
Countdown to Chaos is a very solid arc overall. It presents its purpose with clarity and a sense of steadiness which propels it forward despite it essentially being a four (or five) issue introduction. Certainly not without its weaknesses, but with a neat narrative and some great visuals to carry the reader along, this first look into the new world is an interesting one that’s likely to keep you hooked for the ride.
Best issue: #254. This issue has the best blend of elements in my view, and makes a perfect snapshot of the tone that should be in future stories. Emotional moments that hit home whilst being short enough to fit into the narrative, some unexpected twists and good, fun action to boot. The fact that the art is great here isn’t to be snuffed at either.
Worst issue: #255. The art is by far the worst thing about it, but whether it’s enough to break the emotional core of the issue depends on the reader. Art isn’t the only thing that works against it, since the dialogue feels more jilted here as well. It’s best to get this for a complete arc narrative as opposed to what it offers as a standalone issue.
But even with Countdown to Chaos out of the way, it doesn’t mean that reintroducing the characters of old is done. Far from it; we’ve only just begun. And we all know who everyone wants to come back into the fray as soon as possible, right?
Source: DeviantArt (for Countdown to Chaos full art)
New stories are abound in April/May’s comic offering, and it’s sure to make a splash!
Thanks to Den of Geek!, we know that Sonic the Hedgehog #260 begins a new story which looks to be somewhat based on the events of Sonic Unleashed. As he deals with the now shattered planet, dark monsters have started to come out to play too! This starts off the search for the Chaos Emeralds anew, and it’s not going to be an easy one, especially when it requires a dive under the ocean and a scrap against Eggman’s latest scheme! This is “Waves of Change”: Part 1.
Journey under the sea with Sonic the Hedgehog in the first chapter of an EPIC new SAGA! “Waves of Change”: Part One – What could be worse than a world shattered to pieces? How about dark monsters rising from the abyss?! While Sonic and the Freedom Fighters race to find the Chaos Emeralds and Gaia Temples, Sonic ends up discovering a whole new world of adventure deep beneath the waves! But will those he encounters prove to be friend or foe? Then, in “Light in the Dark: Part one”, Sally, Nicole, Tails and Antoine venture into the Eggman’s latest grab for power to retrieve a desperately-needed Chaos Emerald! Featuring all-new cover art from superstar Ben Bates and a special SONIC VERSUS variant cover from Sonic artist Evan Stanley!
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #260
Script: Ian Flynn, Aleah Baker
Art: Evan Stanley, Jennifer Hernandez, Terry Austin, John Workman, and Matt Herms
Cover: Ben Bates
“SONIC VERSUS” Variant Cover: Evan Stanley and Jack Morelli
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 5/14
32-page, full color comic
Meanwhile, Flickering Myth has unveiled the next universe arc, and it looks to be chaos! Knuckles heeds forces telling him to fix the broken planet below, and wouldn’t you know it, Sally’s hired the Chaotix to hunt out the Chaos Emeralds at the same time. When their two paths meet, it only means a team up of quite the baddie-beating power, which can perhaps be used against any hooligans they happen to find alongside the Rexes and Nightmares coming out of the planet! This is “The Great Chaos [Trust me, it’s chaos] Caper”: Part 1.
Fly high above the clouds with Knuckles and the Chaotix in The Great Chaos Caper: Part One! Knuckles the Echidna has been tasked by a mysterious force to fix the shattered planet – but when the Dark Gaia monsters emerge from the word’s core, our hero finds himself in a fight for his very life! Luckily the ever-adventuring Chaotix are around to lend a hand, hired by Princess Sally to gather the all-important Chaos Emeralds. But wait, who’s that lurking in the dark?
Sonic Universe #63 which features some new characters and familiar faces arrives on April 23, 2014.
This giant Chaos Emerald hunt and monster bash looks unmissable! We’ll cover them more closer to the time of their releases.
The countdown is nearly over, and it’s sure to end in a bang!
After the crossover threw Sonic’s world into disarray, Sonic and Tails have been fighting to solve the mystery of the changes at hand. Now, with all of the Freedom Fighters on their radar (and Amy back on their ground by means of Pirate Plunder Panic), the final piece to that small puzzle can be put into place as the end of the first main arc of the reality shift approaches. But there’s far more at stake, with Eggman on the assault with his deadly servant Metal Sonic, and a whole world is on the frizz…or maybe even more is in danger! Get ready for a blast with a five page preview of “Countdown to Chaos”: Part 4.
It’s the dramatic conclusion to the epic “Countdown to Chaos” SAGA! In Part Four, it’s a race against time as the countdown reaches its thrilling end! Metal Sonic is out to kill Sally and the Death Egg II has launched—things are not going well for our true blue hero! Can he and Tails get to the Aquatic Ruins Zone in time to save the day? And what horrifying discovery awaits Dr. Eggman? You definitely won’t want to miss this earth-shattering climax of the storyline that shook the Sonic comic books to the core! Featuring the final adjoining cover in the series from artist Ben Bates, and a special “end of the world” variant cover from Tracy Yardley!
Script: Ian Flynn
Art: Jerry Gaylord, Terry Austin, John Workman, and Steve Downer
Cover: Ben Bates
End of the World Variant Cover: Tracy Yardley!, Phyllis Novin and Dustin Evans
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 12/31
32-page, full color comic
Although it didn’t come out on the intended date quoted, it has hit the digital comic stores on January 7th, so you can download the conclusion and see it unfold for yourself!
Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed finally hits the iOS and Android platforms tomorrow, and mobile players are in for a pleasant surprise.
According to the official Facebook page of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic finally hits mobile platforms on January 2nd. Amongst the promotional images, one (pictured above) is of particular interest as it all but confirms that Ryō Hazuki of Shenmue fame will be joining the roster on these two platforms. It is unknown at this time how many other platforms he will show up on in the future, although we have already reported on him being sighted in the Yogscast Charity Stream which was the PC version. See if you can pick out all the classic SEGA and Shenmue references he comes with…and perhaps even a little jovial ribbing from Sumo Digital.
After saying farewell to nautical adventures in another dimension, it’s time see what’s happening closer to home…in space!
Sonic Universe #59 starts off our first look at team Dark in the new world. They can’t even get a moment’s rest as the impending invasion of the newly reformed Black Arms looms. What’s changed for our anti-heroes? How did the villains manage to recover from their last beat down? And what mysteries lie within the new Black Comet? Start the journey with a five page preview in anticipation of the release of “Shadow Fall”: Part 1.
BRAND NEW STORY ARC! Jump aboard the action as we begin the “Shadow Fall” saga! Team Dark is sent into the deep, dark depths of space to stop the approach of – the Black Comet?! It hasn’t even been fifty years! The Black Comet is home to an evil, violent race of aliens known as The Black Arms, but the Black Arms were defeated months ago—so who are these new alien invaders inhabiting the comet sent to consume the earth? And what sinister new villain awaits Shadow in its depths? You cannot miss this gritty, alien-blasting new storyline with art from Jamal Peppers, and cover art from Tracy Yardley! Plus a killer SHADOW variant cover from T. REX!
Script: Ian Flynn
Art: Jamal Peppers, Jim Amash, Jack Morelli and Matt Herms
Cover: Tracy Yardley! and Steve Downer
SHADOW Variant Cover: T.Rex
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 12/18
32-page, full color comic
The comic was officially released physically and digitally December 18th, so you can get your copy of this first foray into the dark unknown from your local comic shop or through digital comic providers right now!
Two more comics are coming out for the Spring period, and one particular story stands out.
First up, from Midtown Comics, we get a first look at Sonic Super Special Magazine #11. Amongst the various features and articles that the magazines usually come with, there is also an “encore presentation” of the currently running Countdown to Chaos arc (which will likely be highlights). The one feature likely of interest to everyone is Sonic Comic Origins, as this comic strip forms the magazine’s new content.
(W) Ian Flynn (A) Jennifer Hernandez, Rick Bryant (CA) Sega
The secret origin of the new Sonic universe: revealed! The Sonic Super Special Magazine gives you the world of Sonic the Hedgehog comics as you’ve never seen it before, with tons of comic stories, special features and exclusive articles on the latest and greatest in the world of everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog-hero! Along with the all-new Sonic Origins mini-feature, this issue also features a special encore presentation of the history making ‘countdown to chaos’ storyline, and much much more!
But that’s not the only place you can find the story, as Comic Book Resources has revealed! Free Comic Book Day 2014 occurs on May 3rd, and if you can get yourself down to a participating comic shop on that day, you can get this Sonic/Megaman X Flipbook comic (it’s not a crossover) and a slew of other comics for free! In this years offering, find out how the Freedom Fighters first banded together to become the world-saving force they’re known as in the new reality.
(W) Ian Flynn (A) Patrick “SPAZ” Spaziante, Jennifer Hernandez, Lamar Wells, Rick Bryant, Gary Martin, John Workman, Jack Morelli and Matt Herms
(CA) Ben Bates
Its TWO free comic books in ONE! Hot off the heels of the ultra-successful Sonic/Mega Man crossover event, “Worlds Collide”, comes a showcase issue of the hottest new storylines in both characters’ universes — exclusively for Free Comic Book Day! Somic stars in “Blast to the Past” and the origin of his Freedom Fighters! Then, on the flipside of this issue, get ready for the “Mega Man X” crossover event with this primer story!
32pgs, FC FREE!
If you want background information on the comic universe as it is now, either one of these would be great accompanying pieces! More info on both will come closer to release. You’ll have to look in the grocery shops for SSSM#11, and keep a note in your diary of the date for FCBD’14.
Two story arcs are coming to a gripping end in March 2014!
Spring is said to symbolise the beginning of new life. These first looks at Sonic the Hedgehog #259 and Sonic Universe #62 feature the endings of the stories that have been casting a first glance at the new life of several of our beloved characters in this new reality.
Courtesy of IGN, we know that Sonic the Hedgehog #259 continues the train ride from the last issue as Sonic and the Freedom Fighters square off against a fearsome Badnik foe to rescue its hostages. Can they stop this particularly radical train before it reaches its destination? This is “The Chase”: Part 2.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #259
“The brand new world of Sonic the Hedgehog barrels ahead at breakneck speed with “The Chase” Part Two: Sonic fights for his life against a NEW terrifying super-badnik! Just to make matters worse, they’re battling on an out-of-control train! With Dr. Eggman waiting at the depot, Sonic’s in a fight against time – and killer robots! Featuring high-speed cover art from Sonic artist supreme TRACY YARDLEY! plus an exclusive SEGA game art variant!”
Script: Ian Flynn
Art: Evan Stanley, Terry Austin, John Workman and Steve Downer
Cover: Tracy Yardley! Game Art Variant Cover art provided by SEGA
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 4/9
32-page, full color comic
Den of Geek reveals that Sonic Universe #62 brings a close to team Dark’s first solo arc since the very beginning of Universe’s run, and the first look at them after “When Worlds Collide”. This epic climax sounds like an action film with showdowns, rescues and a nuclear bomb waiting to go off! Read about Shadow, Rouge and Omega’s adventure in “Shadow Fall”: Part 4.
SONIC UNIVERSE #62
“The EPIC CONCLUSION to the alien-smashing saga starring Shadow the Hedgehog IS HERE! “Shadow Fall” Part Four: Shadow vs. Black Death – for the fate of the world! Who will walk away alive? Who won’t make it to see a new day? Meanwhile, Rouge and Omega desperately try to save their G.U.N. comrades as Eclipse hunts them down! All this with a ticking nuclear time-bomb in the background! Don’t miss the pulse-pounding conclusion! Featuring new cover art from Tracy Yardley! and a special “CGI” variant by newcomer Sonic superstar Rafa Knight!”
Script: Ian Flynn
Art: Jamal Peppers, Jim Amash, Jack Morelli and Matt Herms
Cover: Tracy Yardley!, Jim Amash and Steve Downer
CGI Variant Cover: Rafa Knight
On Sale at Comic Specialty Shops: 3/26
32-page, full color comic
These endings are bound to be explosive in one way or another. There will be a closer look at the comics closer to the time of release. Keep your eyes peeled!
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