Yet Another Retrospective: Sonic the Hedgehog (comics)

I’ve been wanting to do this for months, ever since I finished with my failed Spider-Man retrospective. However, a combination of factors, including school, work, and general humiliation in regards to the subject matter have held the project back. Finally, I think I’m ready to give it a whirl, even if it does end up as yet another in a long line of failures.

Note: This is a retrospective of the Archie Sonic the Hedgehog series. I have read the UK comic; however, since this was the one I grew up with, and therefore have the most memories of, I will focus on its strengths and many, many weaknesses.

<b>Table of contents:
Chapter One: Beginnings: The games, the cartoons, and the seeds of destruction.
Chapter Two: The first 25 issues.
Chapter Three: Issues 25-50, the miniseries, and Endgame.
Chapter Four: The Knuckles the Echidna spin-off.
Chapter Five: The Dead Zone: Issues 51-75
Chapter Six: Sega Takes Over: Issues 76-100
Chapter Seven: The Worst Origin Ever: Issues 101-125
Chapter Eight: A Litany of Failures and Hubris: Issues 126-150
Chapter Nine: Slow Redemption: The Present</b>

<b>Chapter One: Beginnings</b>

Our story’s genesis begins on a dark day in 1990. Sega, having been royally destroyed in the 8-bit market by Nintendo, was placing their bets on their new piece of hardware, the Genesis. However, they still didn’t have an actual game that could compete with the NES’ enormous market share; the packaged title, Altered Beast, was certainly all right, but was not the killer app the company desperately needed. So, a bunch of people got locked into a room until they could come up with a new mascot for the company. After consuming what can safely be assumed to be massive amounts of LSD and caffeine, the team came up with a blue hedgehog that ran really fast.

And so Sonic the Hedgehog was born. The game was coded and shipped out the next year, and became the hit Sega needed. Not only was the game technically superior to the NES’ capabilities in a number of ways (no framerate drops, incredibly well-designed levels, bright graphics), it also boasted a very different kind of mascot for the company. Unlike Mario, who was basically a kind plumber that also shot fireballs, Sonic was meant to be XTREME! long before it became cliched. (I’m looking at you, Punisher.) The character himself started to catch on, and before long he even overtook Mario in terms of popularity. So, Sega did what every company would do: they immediately started hocking up every kind of merchandise imaginable. And among those was not one, but two Saturday Morning Cartoons.

The two shows, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog (referred to as SatAM), were made by the same company (DiC), were both voiced by Jaleel White, and even premiered in the same month. However, they were very different in terms of tone and approach to the character. Adventures was, more or less, a preschooler version, with horrid puns, terrible slapstick, incredibly sloppy animation, etc. In fact, quite possibly the only reasons anyone remembers the show is because it stars Sonic, and because it’s become the subject of a zillion YouTube poops. (Right up there with the Zelda CDi games and “It’s over 9000!” in terms of overuse.)

The other show, SatAM, was…shall we say, very dark for a kids show at the time. It also departed more heavily from the games than Adventure, focusing on a cast of “original” characters and placing Sonic in a vastly different setting. The general premise was that Sonic lived on planet Mobius (the name came from a mistaken quote by one of the developers…let’s not get into that, shall we?), which has been taken over by the morbidly obese-but-very-evil Dr. Robotnik. Robotnik’s first order of business was using a device called the Roboticizer to turn the planet’s population into mindless robots, save for a few kids that slipped into the forest of Knothole. From there, they waged a guerilla war against Robotnik, eventually ending with the tyrant’s defeat and an incredibly unsatisfying cliffhanger ending. And of course, Sonic was pretty much the only fucking reason they could accomplish anything, leaving the cast with one superpowered character and a whole crew of hanger-ons, but I digress.

The point is, the character was already in cartoons, so comics seemed like the next logical leap. Enter Archie Comics, proud publishers of the same fucking gags for damn near a century. And considering how little children are the only people that would be caught dead reading anything Archie ever produced, they seemed the perfect fit for turning a video game into a funny book. Problem was, the games (thankfully!) still lacked a plot, so they had to turn to the cartoons. Only, there were two WILDLY different shows on at the same time, each with a polarizing view on the character. So, Archie decided to try and merge both shows into a singular universe.

Anyone remember how they tried to smash together all of Deux Ex’s endings, so that everyone could say their decision mattered in the sequel? It’s a lot like that, only an even more epic failure.

More to come…

Yeesh, AGAIN with the “failures?” In between your saying that and all the doomsday threads you’ve been posting, d, I’m getting the impression you’re on a very negative kick of late. It’s almost enough to keep me from reading them… if they weren’t so interesting, that is. ;D

Ok, getting to the matter at hand: It’s funny that you post about Sonic now; I was precisely reading about it the other day, and heard how people were furious at some of the later interpretations: how there were too many characters, how they ruined Sally, how much they hate Shadow, etc. I really don’t know what they were talking about, since I’ve never played the games or seen the cartoons, with the exception of some episodes of the later one were Sonic is- hanging around with the son of the US President? Looks like Anime, too (?) Whatever, the point is, I know little about Sonic, and I must admit I’m surprised it has lasted this long, especially the comic book. So, reading this should be informative- and fun.

Despite your whining. :stuck_out_tongue:


You said Robotnik. I strongly approve.

edit: Wil, there are many videos online with people playing games. You could watch some in your quest to become a game-pedia. Code word: speed run.

Oi, I remember watching the Sonic the Hedgehog show. -_- It wasn’t very good. Though Robotnik was funny with his two idiot robots at the time. XP

Another thing is, I have lost contact with Sonic since seeing the ‘meh’ Sonic X series and it’s game off-shoots. sigh Sonic didn’t last long as a good character. -_-

Man, I haven’t watched those in a LONG time. I couldn’t even try to remember how long ago that was. But as kid, as long it’s entertaining, it’s hard to care if it’s bad. Was decent I suppose. As far as the comics go, I only ever read one. Lots of confusion ensued.

On another note, Sega should do like Mega Man 9 and just go back to basics with the Sonic series. None of this 3-D crap or whatever else they’ve been putting out the last couple of years. Just take the Sonic 3/S3&K engine, make a new game, scrap the extra characters (just Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles) and go with it from there. Hell, have a crappy plot w/Robotnik just trying to destroy everything. I bet it would actually be decent.

Now I haven’t played the GBA/DS Sonic games, but I personally don’t care for Sonic on a portable scale.

I’ve had contact with various Sonic stories throughout my life. I remember my first one was a SatAM comic. It was near the end of the show and Sonic had been turned into an evil robot. I liked it because I was young and I liked the idea of everyone trying to defeat Sonic instead of Sonic being the hero.

I also saw the silly Sonic t.v. show. I thought it was pretty good, but I was young and foolish.

Years later, I played Sonic Adventure 2. I thought the story was interesting, but lacked depth. Funny thing is I actually liked Shadow since he had an aura of mystery around him and was a dark hero. Unfortunately, the later Sonic games ruined his potential. After playing SA 2, I started foolishly hoping a Sonic game with a deeper and better written story would come out. Now I know better.:too bad:

My favorite Sonic story is Sonic the Movie. The story is just a lot of action with some good humor thrown in, but I like a good action movie. I remember thinking Sonic was actually cool, instead of corny fake-cool, in this movie.

I watched some Sonic X, but I didn’t get into it.

I wonder what the Bioware Sonic story is like?:thinking:

Ther are far better than the 3D games etc. Only problem is you have to guess where you’re running to.

I swear I’m like the only one to watch that dreadfully shitty Sonic Revolution (or whatever the fuck it was called). It was suppose to be the continuation of SatAM Sonic, but rather than continue from where the previous show left off it scraped everybody save for Sonic, Dr. Robotnik and his henchman from SatAM (and the only reference to SatAM was a brief glossing over prior to Sonic’s training montage in the first episode). Instead they introduced Sonic’s long lost siblings (back before the rampant hedgehog introductions in the last six years) where they would battle the forces of evil to reclaim their lost kingdom (ya rly!), though sadly, not with the power of blistering speed like you’d think, but with really crappy jam sessions instead which they’d break into at the end of every episode (YA RLY!!!).

Basically in a word it’s best described as UUURRRAAAAAHHHHHGGGGGG!!! and I really envy everybody who missed it.

I remember seeing the opening ages ago on a 30 minute montage. I had to fidn it again after you mentioned it, and for those who missed it: prepare to facepalm.

Aw, I actually liked both the juvenile, silly version of the cartoon and the more serious one, way back when, but in terms of the kiddie-friendly version, I was very easy to please when it came to cartoons. Mainly because we didn’t get much except for He-man and Disney over here.

I rewatched some of SatAM a while back and thought it really was good for what it was (the other characters desperately needed to be more equal to Sonic though). What I did like was how Robotnik was almost alway treated as a real threat, there are even some scenes where Sonic seems vary of him. Not to forget that one where Sonic and Sally go back in time to when they were kids, trying to stop Robotnik before he conquers the world, and this exchange takes place:

Robotnik: “Who are you?”
Older Sonic (unusually solemn): “Somebody you’re going to learn to hate.”

But then I got hung up on HOW THE HECK censors allowed some of the sounds Robotnik makes when he seems to be just about to win. It’s especially apparent when he has Sonic trapped in a robotizerwhatchamacallit in the last episode. The fat man goes “O~ooh ye~e~esss…” in a VERY disturbing, breathless voice. I found it to be very powerful and creepy as hell for what it was, buuut not quite appropriate.

That queen sure has a lot of free time to broodingly perch on a cliff and talk to herself in rhyme

Here it is…the first real bulk of issues. Really, I wanted to do a whole lot more, but stuff came up. And no, it has nothing to do with me finishing Fallout 3, and writing down the names of everyone involved so I can hunt them down and MURDER them. It probably has more to do with the general poorness of these early chapters, even when compared to the later crap.

Alright, let’s continue:

<b>Chapter Two: Opening Segments (Issues 1-25)</b>

<i>Last time, on "As Mobius Turns…</i>

Ivo Robotnik, a beyond morbidly obese scientist and engineer, managed to take over the peaceful planet of Mobius through the use of his Roboticizer. With much of the population reduced to thoughtless machines, a handful of survivors fled into the Great Forest, where they settled in the underground caves known as Knothole. With the aid of Sonic the Hedgehog, they wage a continuous war against Robotnik’s tyranny!

<i>And now, back to your regularly scheduled retrospective…</i>

There…really isn’t a whole lot to be said about the first twenty-five issues. You see, the early issues fell into the same trap that a lot of Cerebus Syndrome-suffering comics fall into: namely, they create so many stupid gag stories in the beginning that, when everyone goes back and compares their original material to today’s issues, they will notice the trillions of flub-ups, corny lines, and general nonsensical bullcrap. But, I digress.

In the early days, Robotnik had ruled over the course of ten years, and had managed to turn a stereotypically peaceful and beautiful planet into a stinking, rotting hellhole, all the while sitting in his Corner Construction Manager’s Office of Doom! ™. I’m dead serious; the ruler of an entire planet has not only managed to destroy the whole place JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT, but he rules from behind an office desk, in the middle of a factory.

The main thorn in Robotnik’s yacht-sized keyster is the Freedom Fighters, scattered resistance groups consisting of Mobius’ sole remaining non-robotic beings. In particular, his attention is focused on a nearby group, led by the disposed Princess Sally Acorn, and practically riding on the back of the super-fast Sonic the Hedgehog. Despite the fact that he can clearly see the forest out his office window, and could just construct an army in a manner of seconds, march over to the Great Forest, and burn or nuke the whole place in no time at all, he’s more content to just capture animals, turn them into robots, and then send them over.

Speaking of the Freedom Fighters, let’s take a look at our heroes:

*Sonic the Hedgehog, the only one to actually do anything for most of the comic’s run. Spends his time talking about or eating chili dogs, laying down groan-inducing puns, and behaving like an asshole.

*Princess Sally, the actual leader of not just our local Freedom Fighters, but all of them by virtue of being royalty. She spends the first few issues sitting on a big throne; after that, she at least takes a hand in the action. Is actually useful early on, but that’ll change…

*Antoine, the most useless guy in existence. He spends his days whining and bitching about Sonic and Sally, running from battle, and generally accomplishing jack crap.

*Rotor, the team’s brains and token fat guy. He does almost nothing over the course of the team’s adventures, besides providing a little technobabble when needed. Has a strange fetish for bugs…

*Bunnie Rabbot, introduced in the third issue, and the team’s tough girl. She was rescued by Sonic and Rotor halfway through Roboticization, meaning half of her body is now mechanical. She has increased strength, can extend her legs, and talks in the most sexuality-questioning southern accent ever put into print. Her dream? To be a hairdresser…

*N.I.C.O.L.E., introduced in Issue 17, and the team’s talking computer. She’s dragged along as Sally’s personal Palm Pilot, hacking into networks, providing logistic data, that sort of thing. Is actually from the future, where a future Rotor sent her back to help the present Sally save the world. Talk about your temporal distortions…

*Tails, the bratty, useless kid. Yes, Tails, Sonic’s best buddy and companion in the actual games, is relegated to absolute worthlessness in the comics, often only showing up to muck things up even worse than they already are, or to be a pain in the ass. For example, one issue has him eat a fruit from the Tree of Wisdom, making him an absolute genius for one day. Of course, he then decides to defeat Robotnik…just as the fruit wears off, necessitating Sonic’s intervention to save the day. Fortunately, his situation does improve as the comics go along.

*Knuckles, introduced in Issue 13 as part of a lackluster Sonic 3 adaptation. I could probably write pages upon pages of how this story contradicts not only the game it’s SUPPOSED TO BE BASED ON, but also damn near every following detail of the character to follow, but let’s not go there…yet. For now, Knuckles the Echidna hangs out on the Floating Island, guarding the Chaos Emerald that keeps the thing airborne. He’s also completely oblivious to damn near everything around him, and is easily tricked into helping Robotnik fight Sonic. He figures things out, kicks lard-butt off his island, and then goes back to sulking until he gets involved in the conflict again. Get used to this plot.

As for Robotnik’s lackeys…well, they all suck. In the early issues, his only companions were Crabmeat, an annoying robot crab he repeatedly destroyed. In the second issue, he took a page from the AoSTH series and built Scratch, Grounder and Coconuts; the former two were relegated to the scrap bin quickly, while Coconuts made a few more appearances. He also had an army of SWATBots, all of whom were apparently made of Lego blocks and Tinker Toys for how easily they were destroyed. Around Issue 6, the creators realized how much these characters sucked, and brought in Snively, Robotnik’s conniving nephew from SatAM. He didn’t do a whole lot, other than act as the Gilligan to Robotnik’s Professor.

For the most part, the early issues were pure silliness…until Issue 16. The story started out silly enough, with Robotnik capturing the Freedom Fighters and subjecting them to a ripoff of “For the Man Who Has Everything.” However, Sonic manages to break free, thanks to mental projections of his Uncle Chuck and dog, Mutski, and ends up ruining Robotnik’s plan from the confines of a fluid-filled tank. The real swerve, however, was at the end; after the heroes escaped, Robotnik orders some robots to clean up the mess: Uncle Chuck and Mutski.

This got worse in Issue 21. Robotnik unveils his latest project, EVE, a bio-mechanical machine that can morph into any form. Sonic easily defeats most of the robot’s forms, but cannot completely destroy the thing. Finally, he breaks into Robotnik’s throne room (by now thankfully remodeled to a circular steel chamber with plenty of computers, machines, and an egg-shaped throne) in order to find a means of defeating EVE. Unfortunately, EVE followed him there, and mutated into a massive brain-like thing; even more unfortunately, it realized it was formed from a combination of Robotnik and Sonic’s DNA, and decides to kill the originals. A second later, Robotnik is vaporized, and Sonic barely manages to talk EVE into leaving Mobius.

So, Robotnik’s been murdered by his own creation. End of series, right? Well, as it turns out, he was “just teleported” to another dimension, where Sonic defeated Robotnik and everyone lived happily ever after. This dimension’s Robotnik, called Robo-Robotnik, tried to defeat Sonic by Roboticizing himself, but was still destroyed, and uploaded his mind into an old satellite station. He helps the real Robotnik build a teleporter back to his own world, where Snively accidentally activated a Doomsday Protocol. With the world saved, everything goes back to normal for a while…

Of course, Issue 25 was the first milestone, and as a result was forced by Comic Book Constitutional Law to introduce a new character. Unfortunately, Sonic CD was also released around the same time, and they decided to adapt that game’s story next…which meant they had to add that most pink of horrors, Amy Rose. As per the game, she’s presented as a ten-year-old fangirl, whose obsession with Sonic ends up getting her kidnapped by Robotnik so he can…force Sonic to race his newest creation, Metal Sonic. GASP! Sonic is racing a robot version of himself? What horrors! Fortunately, Sonic easily wins, destroying Metal Sonic with Robotnik’s own trap, and saves the day.

(Note: I actually liked Sonic CD. It’s just way too easy to mock that whole “race” level.)

And with that, the first chunk of stories end. Next time, some real content!

Despite the fact that he can clearly see the forest out his office window, and could just construct an army in a manner of seconds, march over to the Great Forest, and burn or nuke the whole place in no time at all, he’s more content to just capture animals, turn them into robots, and then send them over.

He’s thinking in the long term, d. Imagine the satisfaction, after years of hard work, in seeing your personally crafted robot armies of doom. They were just pups (or, more accurately, squirrels and birds and weird sprites) when he brought them in!

I choose to disbelieve anything you say about Fallout. (Damn, hope they didn’t really mess it up)

Nice to see you continue this, d. :slight_smile:

For those of you who don’t get some of the Comic Book references made in the article:

-Cerebus Syndrome- refers to the comic book series Cerebus the Aardvark, which lasted about a decade and went from a silly Conan the Barbarian parody to a widely-praised adventure comedy (with great art, too) to a soapbox for the author’s personal issues, including blatant misogynism (!) Used as an example of how some series can change wildly over time.

-For The Man Who Has Everything: Famous Superman story where he’s unknowingly trapped in a dream world where his life seems to be perfect, as a way to keep him helpless. Best known for the fact that Supes came out of the trance VERY. ANGRY. and proceeded to beat the crap out of the villain responsible. Was adapted very faithfully as a Justice League TV episode.

Wilfredo Martinez: Living Footnote! :hahaha;

Eagerly waiting for the next installment!

Actually, the game’s excellent. It’s the ENDING that pisses everyone off. Trust me, we do NOT want to go there.

Oh, good. Don’t spoil it for me, but I’ve been traumatised by the Overseer exiling you in the first Fallout (after you have saved everything left), so I can take another one.

Especially since you could pay him back if you dug around…

d, you are truly brave for revisiting these old pieces of Sonic, when it was so horrible, it caused men to rip their eyes out in pain. exaggeration, but you get the point

Anyways, keep on going, d, you started it, it must be finished now. :stuck_out_tongue:

…I actually remember the comics you cited, about EVE and Tails getting super smart. Wow. I mean, I never really read the comics that much, but those were like the only ones I have clear memories of.

This is not entirely accurate. While it IS named after Cerebus the Aardvark, what it’s usually referring to is a series that starts off comedic and turns dramatic. This isn’t always a bad thing, especially if the author always planned it this way.

GG: I know, that’s why I said that Cerebus Syndrome means “changes wildly over time” but didn’t say it was for the worse. Certainly, some series got better after they changed tone. For examples of both extremes, see the entry for Cerebus Syndrome in TV