People love anniversary issues in the comic book world. Every 25 issues, something intense has to happen. Something crazy. And with the 50 and 100 marks, it has to be even bigger and crazier. Sonic the Hedgehog is no exception to this rule, and his first anniversary issue wanted to be nothing but the biggest and best. Devoting an entire issue to one story, the crew at Archie comics decided to adapt Sonic’s other “best game ever,” the one and only Sonic the Hedgehog CD. And even though it features the Knothole Freedom Fighters, I can say right now that it stays far more faithful than Sonic’s last two outings in the world of game adaptations. With that said, was it any good? Did people care? How was Sonic‘s silver anniversary when all was said and done? Read on and find out, good sirs and madams!
Sonic the Hedgehog #25 begins as many Archie tales do, inside Knothole Village with Sonic the Hedgehog standing around looking annoyed. The speedster taps his foot while Rotor fiddles around with his shoe, Tails looking quite excited at what is going on, Sally even more so. Wait, is this a scene I should be looking at? Antoine‘s wandering in, good. Now I know I’m safe. We’re alerted to the reason why Rotor is so interested in Sonic’s footwear – seems he’s installed a small fiberoptic “Sonicam” into the base so the Freedom Fighters can watch wherever Sonic is instantly. Ok, not going to lie. I don’t see how useful this’ll come in handy (aside from this particular issue) and I don’t recall another instance that even bring up the fact he has a miniature camera mounted in his shoe. Doesn’t that bring up all sorts of privacy issues? What about when he uses the bathroom? Or what if someone turns on the camera while he and Sally are out having one of their disco-dancin’ dates? The pictures might end up on the cover of The Knothole Knews! Dr. Ovi Kintobor would never have dared to make that!
Sonic is taken by surprise just as much as Antoine is (wait, Sonic didn’t know what Rotor was doing to his shoe?!) but doesn’t seem annoyed at all, pointing the camera at his face and letting himself bask in his own hedgehog self. Sonic starts revvin’ up, wanting to see what happens to the camera when he hits top speed. Our favorite Antoine gets sick immediately, but Rotor turns on his “slow motion compensator” to make the image visible to the naked eye. Oh, that’s convenient. Not sure how that works, or if the images are really in slow motion (making anything they see in the feed completely pointless) but hey, as long as we don’t have to deal with anymore hurl jokes. Sonic is so wrapped up in the camera and making sure he looks at it that he doesn’t notice the wall right in front of him. Oh, that Sonic!
Sally breaks up the comic relief to inform everyone that they are all in grave danger. Why? Because she’s been alerted to the appearance of a new zone. The same kind of zones you play in Sonic games! At least that’s what the editor note on the bottom tells me. But while in the games zones are fun little adventures, Sally makes a really big deal out of it. How it might be highly disruptive and must be explored (wait isn’t that a bit of a contradiction). I’m almost tempted to believe she thinks its disruptive because she found out the name of the place, and not because of anything her fancy equipment told them.
Just a small side note: The Archie Freedom Fighters sure have access to technology. The Saturday morning Freedom Fighters had to spend an entire episode to get a lightbulb working, while here they have sophisticated computer systems and microscopic cameras. Oh well. Doesn’t matter. Let’s move on.
We don’t get to hear Sally say the name of the zone. “Collision Chaos” (oh man that’s the second level of Sonic CD) comes out of the mouth of the villain of the piece, Dr. Ivo Robotnik. He reveals that he is the one behind the creation of this new locale, for some reason echoing The Wizard of Oz in the process. I understand it’s supposed to be a joke for a children’s comic and every child has seen The Wizard of Oz at least once, but wasn’t the whole reveal supposed to be shocking? That the wizard wasn’t all powerful but was really some schmuck from the midwest? I’m probably overthinking this, let me move on. He reveals to his pet piranha-bot (who he feeds junked computer parts!) that he allowed the Freedom Fighters to find the portal to the zone, and that it’s all part of his latest plan. Then, in perhaps the biggest fourth-wall shattering moment in the comic, the evil doctor pulls out a bag of letters for Sonic that he intercepted from the mail system. The letters? “Sonic-Grams.” Addressed to Archie Comics. Oh god oh god, I hope he hasn’t read all of them. Can you image what insanity is inside? Maybe he finally got the address for that one girl…
Robotnik reaches in and pulls out a letter at random, the author being none other than Amy Rose, the pink kidnap victim from the game making her first comic appearance. Robotnik reads the letter aloud, and the fish remarks on her cuteness. He responds by wondering how cute she’ll still look when she encounters “him.” Who could “him” be? Well, if you’ve looked at the cover of the comic (or ever played Sonic CD) you know the answer. But that doesn’t stop the artist from drawing the silhouette of the mechanical creation, or just drawing its hand as it clutches the letter Robotnik hands it, telling his newest invention to apprehend the girl.
Another side note: I’m sure you all know this by now, but Amy “Rosy the Rascal” Rose is a character with quite the checkered past when it comes to the west. Introduced for the games Sonic CD, she was actually created for the Japanese magna that came out in 1992, making her what every Princess Sally fan desires – a character that jumped from the printed page to the game. Sega of America probably had no idea about any of that, and in an effort to promote their new Sonic the Hedgehog show, changed Amy Rose’s name to “Princess Sally” in the game manual. A bit odd since anyone who played the game realized that the sprite inside was a pink hedgehog and not the brown squirrel in the show. Heck, even the pinkish Sally from the early comics looks nothing like Amy. So introducing Amy into the comics confused enough people that they had to clarify what they did in an installment of “Sonic-Grams.” Good going, SEGA!
Robotnik broadcasts a signal to the Freedom Fighters, addressing them as Sonic comments they’re glad they got a widescreen TV. Because Robotnik is fat. Robotnik taunts Sonic back, saying he would find it amusing if Sonic was “too chicken” to enter Collision Chaos. Sonic defends himself, all the while Sally trying to calm the hedgehog, saying it’s only a trap. Isn’t anything involving Robotnik a trap, though? I don’t recall them ever just having a friendly picnic. The entire city is basically one huge trap designed to bother Princess Sally’s fashion sense. Robotnik is prepared for Sally’s interference, revealing his ace in the hole – the kidnapped Amy Rose. Sonic sure seems upset at this turn of events…a bit unsettling. In the games, Sonic just kinda sighs or laughs when Amy is made the victim. Here he’s flipping out. And he hasn’t even met the girl!
Oh. Maybe that’s why.
Back to Robotnik’s hideout, he comments on the sharpness of Amy’s spines before Snively stumbles in, dressed as Robotnik. The ruler of Robotropolis explains his plan, citing the reason for the costume is so Snively can follow behind Sonic, burning up the trial so Sonic is forced to enter the second zone he created. Part two starts off again in Knothole, with Sonic talking to the Knothole Council or whatever they call themselves. Even though its made up of Sally, Antoine, and Rotor. They don’t really need the official status, do they? I mean, how many people even live in Knothole to begin with? Sonic goes on to argue that he needs to run off and save Amy, since she’s one of his best pen-pals. Still feel weird about that. Sally continues on, saying that while they intend on saving Amy, she’s not sure if they should really storm in without any plan. Unfettered, Sonic says that Tails can watch from above, and report back. Though nervous at first, Tails is excited to fly off and show what he’s made of!…only to be immediately kidnapped by a group of SWATbots. Great job, Tails. No wonder Fleetway Sonic always insults you.
Not able to wait for Tails any longer, Sonic runs over to the entrance of the Collision Chaos Zone, having a dialogue with Robotnik through a television screen. Shades of the Robotnik Show? I think so. He even flubs his lines! Either way, Sonic discovers Tails is also kidnapped, and no longer hesitates, running straight into the level. Hey, what happened to Palmtree Panic? I refuse to accept the Great Forest is every single green level in a Sonic game.
Jumping and running, Rotor and Sally watch from back at Knothole through Sonic’s sneaker cam. Even though the lens is supposed to be focused wherever the point of his shoes are, Sally is able to clearly see something that is actually behind Sonic…namely, Snively-dressed-as-Robotnik that’s following the blue blur. What, you couldn’t have designed an outfit which had a hook or something to keep the mask on? Or…I don’t know, build a robot to follow Sonic instead of using Snively?! SatAM Robotnik would never have let this plan go through! Sally questions aloud what Robotnik’s plan is and…wait a minute. You go through all this trouble to install a camera into Sonic’s shoe, but you can’t be bothered to give him a communicator so you can give him helpful hints as to what you can see with it?
Sonic reaches the end of the zone, remarking that it wasn’t up to Robotnik’s usual level of traps and treachery. Maybe if he had run through the actual Collision Chaos and not the pink mess depicted in the comic, he’d feel differently. But its quickly forgotten as we hit the main event. We’re done with silhouettes, my friend. We’re at part 3, and we get nothing less than Metal Sonic in all his glory. With Metal taunting Sonic, challenging him to the Stardust Speedway race, and Sonic noticing Robotnik and his death beam in the background, the stage is set. A proper adaptation to one of the most famous sequences in any Sonic the Hedgehog game. You better not screw this up.
Oh wait, you already did Archie. Because you called him Mecha Sonic. He’s Metal! Mecha is the silver robot from Sonic 2! And…unless you’re a Sonic nerd, you don’t care about what they call him. You care about how sexy he looks. And I admit, he looks sexy. Robotnik can’t help but be excited as Metal Sonic starts fighting with the real deal, Amy and Tails forced to sit helpless, still wrapped up in that rope. At least Amy holds true to her fangirl mentality, not being upset at the fact she’s kidnapped, but that Sonic may not be able to propose to her.
We’re then treated to a two page spread of the Stardust Speedway, complete with Eggman-esque statue in the background and plenty of Sega Saturn advertisements. Shown as being evenly matched, Sonic is unable to escape his robot duplicate. Distracted from multiple ends, Sonic is unaware of the conversation happening ahead of him, Dr. Robotnik making sure the finish-line crush works just fine. Poor Crabmeat! The ever-faithful robot friend since the mini-series, now nothing more but broken pieces just to prove that, yes, heave things that fall will crush you. I suppose it’s to show that Robotnik is really evil without having to have him kill anyone. It is a Sonic the Hedgehog comic, after all. Though if it was closer to the games…oh man, the poor animal inside!
Part four shows the race still going, Sonic being as cocky as ever. Too bad that cockiness is disrupted when Metal reveals Sonic has been racing a hologram for an unspecified amount of time, and the real one was waiting ahead to trip Sonic. A holographic Metal Sonic? Like the ones in the games where he’s stepping on animals?! I guess they have been paying attention more than I thought! Wait a minute. If Robotnik can make holograms that good, why didn’t he just have a hologram of himself chase Sonic this whole time? We then jump to Rotor and Sally that are on another fake-Tornado, this time in brilliant yellow. Flying over Stardust Speedway, they went to check up on Sonic when the cam went dead from interference in the zone. Sally parachutes away when she sees the unmistakable silhouette of Robotnik, and Rotor has a brief one panel thought about why Sonic is so crazy about her. And for some reason, I’m not all that bothered by it. Maybe because this hint of romance is nothing more than a thought bubble from a third party. I can handle this in my Sonic comics. Not twelves issues of Sonic and Sally crying over each other because of a misunderstanding.
Sonic and Metal are still neck and neck, and with yet another taunt from his metallic counterpart, Sonic revves up a “new move” he hasn’t yet showcased – the figure eight super peel out. Zooming ahead, Metal tries to keep up, only to have his legs melt from the friction. That’s a bit morbid, actually. Sure, he’s an evil robot that wanted to kill Sonic (and by kill I mean “beat him in a race”) but that definitely didn’t happen in the game. He gets squashed by that wall Robotnik has been hyping up this whole time! Doesn’t the robot glide around, anyway? The turbines in his back giving him that extra speed to let him match Sonic? With Metal broken, Sonic runs past the finish line just as Sally comes crashing in, kicking Robotnik and preventing him from pushing the button to squash his arch-nemesis. Rotor is also chasing Snively in the fake-Tornado, but who really cares? He barely did anything!
Being his cocky self once again, Sonic says he saw Robotnik’s trap a mile away, but decides to give the doctor a sporting chance. He stands under the archway, but steps away as Robotnik pushes the button. Expectantly, Robotnik gets even angrier, running under the arch to see how the device he personally designed could have failed him. Even Sonic knows what comes next, and yet again smashes the fourth wall, turning to the reader and telling them to do the dead themselves. With quite the interesting finger (which is meant to be mine. Or yours) the arch falls on the evil doctor. Don’t worry though, he’s not dead. Even though he should be. Ah, Loony Tunes logic. Ain’t it grand? The story ends with the collected cast of the story (minus Antoine) celebrating, Amy and Tails free of their bonds, the fangirl staring at her hero with love in her eyes. And poor Tails? He’s left to bandage his back. Guess Amy’s spines really are sharp! Now I know why everyone always asks how Sonic is able to sleep in a bed. He should destroy the mattress every night!
And so ends Archie’s Sonic CD adaptation. I didn’t mention who was in charge of the story because the credits aren’t listed until the end. Even though the zones aren’t as accurate as they should be, the pencils are some of the best in series, provided by Patrick “Spaz” Spaziante. And the story? Done by Mike Gallagher, who still embraced the fourth-wall humor and random Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog gag. While I did say this was one of the closer adaptations…it still misses huge chunks of the story. Not one sign of the Time Stones. No mysterious Little Planet flying above. And we only get two zones featured in the comic. While maybe I can forgive the omission of a zone or two, I’m just surprised that they would completely ignore the very core of the storyline. It could have fit in the comic book just fine. Heck, the Saturday morning series had an episode with a Time Stone!…that was on a Floating Island…ok, so it wasn’t accurate at all but the point is they used time travel.
What they do use in the story? They use it effectively. Metal Sonic is done pretty well (with the exception of his awkward departure…I’d rather he’d have been crushed. Give Robotnik another thing to whine about) and they do showcase the one thing everyone remembers from the game – the race. Even the use of the other Freedom Fighters isn’t overbearing. In the adaptations done so far, the author basically ignored them to keep things simple, since they don’t appear in the games. While they could have done the same thing here, Mike decided to play with it a little, giving Sally and Rotor roles that ultimately didn’t do much, but weren’t thrown in your face either. Better than having Sonic carry Sally through the race, or something silly like that. And it was the 25th issue, they had to throw them in somewhere, I suppose. All in all, a fun issue. Hey, it probably introduced a whole generation to the real Amy Rose, too. In your face, American marketing!
Oh wait, this is American marketing.
One more thing I should mention is that instead of the usual “fanart” section in the comic, this issue featured a gallery of “proart,” where the editors and writers and other members of the crew who wouldn’t normally draw in the book have the chance to render the fastest thing alive. Though most try to stay on model, there are a few…interesting takes on the hedgehog. I wouldn’t mind a story drawn in the style of Joe Pepitone. And Frank Gagliardo? I don’t know what you drew, but it frightens me. Oh, and of course Ken Penders draws Sally. To see both pages, click here and here. Interactivity!
I know I didn’t mention that this adaption came out in 1995, two years after the game. But the Sonic & Knuckles special was almost a year late, and I didn’t say a word about that. Hey, wait a minute, why didn’t I complain about the Sonic & Knuckles adaption release date?!
Next time: Sonic Triple Trouble. Which was also released a year after the game. Aw jeez. I wonder if Princess Di had days like these…(oh. That joke doesn’t work as well anymore, Sally)