On the second day of Christmas, Retro gave to me…
…the return of Fleetway’s Christmas Sonic comics.
For those who were around last year, you may remember that I started to go through the Christmas issues of the U.K. Sonic the Comic series by Fleetway. I only got through two articles before I realized I didn’t have much time before Christmas, and while I said I was going to do them after…well, this is still after, right? For those who need a refresher course, the Fleetway series was the comic book Europe was able to read, based on the storyline Sega of America came up with about Dr. Ovi Kintobor and the R.O.C.C. Fellow Retro staff member Overlord has been going through how the comic handled its game adaptations, but I called the Christmas issues long ago. So with apologies to the English, I continue on with the third and final part of the series, taking a look at issue 145 to see how Sonic spent his Christmas on the other side of the pond.
The first story, entitled “Child’s Play,” is done by the veritable duo of Nigel Kitching and Richard Elson, two fellows who still interact with fans on a semi-regular basis. Nigel Kitching was even at Summer of Sonic this year, though I doubt anyone thought to ask what their inspiration was behind this story. We begin in the Emerald Hill Zone, with one of its folk busy shoveling the falling snow. We’re told it’s always a white Christmas there, which seems a bit odd. Shouldn’t the Emerald Hill be a tropical locale? But hey, I guess that sort of thinking would kill the Christmas mood. Once he gets his path cleared, the unnamed Mobiun gets no rest as Sonic rushes through, undoing all of his hard work. The random dog tries to complain, but he should know by now one solid fact – Sonic the Hedgehog is a huge dick. Sure, he might be using the ol’ “this is an emergency” shtick, but we all know better.
So why is Sonic running at the speed of sound? Because a group of kids contacted him, asking him to save them from a rogue badnik that happens to be terrorizing the zone. And by “terrorizing the zone” I mean standing around doing nothing. Even Sonic thinks something is amiss, asking, “so that’s your deadly badnik, is it?” The kids tell him to stop it before it starts moving again, but the blue blur just stands around. Now, before you go thinking that Sonic really just doesn’t care about these kids, we see in the very next panel two more of them hiding out of sight, one holding a makeshift remote control. Seems that the robot is actually a hastily put together creation of one of the kids who simply wanted to get Sonic’s attention so that they could seem him in action. The other kid asks why Sonic isn’t doing anything, wondering aloud if he suspects their ruse. The one in charge is quick to deny it, saying all he needs is to make the robot move, so it looks more convincing.
Even when the robot lifts its arm to attack, Sonic looks unconvinced, and only starts to engage the non-badnik when the controller malfunctions, causing the robot to become a threat. Dodging its attack, Sonic wonders aloud where it could have come from, with even more kids freaking out, guessing that the hero of Mobius has picked up on their thinly-veiled ploy. Really, why do you think he wouldn’t? He’s been fighting Robotnik since he came into existence! If there’s anyone who would pick up the evil dictator’s style, it’s Sonic. The shoddy production values of the kid-friendly enemy does get a hit on Sonic, but only because its arm flies off, getting a cheap shot at Sonic’s back. Rightfully pissed off, Sonic goes head first into it, declaring he’s going to finish it of and then…
Well, we don’t get to hear the second half of the sentence as the non-badnik explodes, causing Sonic to fly right into the snow. As all the random kids circle around their fallen icon, they jump to the only conclusion they can – they must have killed Sonic the Hedgehog. With him laying there, unmoving, they start freaking out. All they wanted was to videotape their hero in action, but now they’re going to prison, even though the one who made the robot desperately tries to argue that it wasn’t their fault! And Sonic…
…Sonic. You dick.
With one final lament about how after all those battles with Dr. Robotnik this is what caused Sonic to die, the hedgehog springs back to life, confirming that, yes, that would be a stupid way for the comic to end. I don’t know about you, but if I was any of those kids, I’d have a heart attack right then and there. “Sonic! You’re alive!” “Hey, you’re not complaining, are you?” Really, Sonic? First you play possum, then you insult the guy you’re trying to teach a lesson to based on his choice of words. I mean, you didn’t just make one kid think you were dead. You made a whole group start freaking out! And you don’t even know them! Makes me wonder, is there an issue of Sonic the Comic where you trick “Tails” into thinking that he accidentally murdered you?!
When the kids tell him they just wanted to meet him, Sonic starts to perk up, wondering aloud “this was the only way you could think of meeting me, huh?” One of them grabs Sonic’s arm, asking him to do something with his super speed, and instead of taking that kid and whipping him around like he was Santa Claus, Sonic becomes a blur around the kids. Oh god, what are you going to do now, Sonic? Are you going to put them in a snow jail? Are you going to make them listen to one of Porker Lewis‘ stories?! Are you…
…oh. You built them a snow fort. That’s…kinda nice of you. With Sonic going on about how this is the first Christmas they’ve been able to spend without Robotnik (wait, I thought last Christmas was), the time of the season must have gotten to him, with the kids being spared any more humiliation. Too bad “Tails” wasn’t around, I’m sure he would have enjoyed this sudden change of heart.
The next story in the issue is one of the Amy and Tekno tales that ran in the comic for a while, though I don’t know the full reasons as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. One of the downfalls of having never read every issue, I suppose. “Dream On,” written by Lew Stringer and drawn by Roberto Corona, the duo of Ms. Rose and Ms. Canary show up at the next stop on their “alien world tour.” Trying to figure out where they are, Tekno’s scanner-thing is coming up fuzzy. That’s always a comforting sign. They soon come across the most generic looking alien ever, who is…freaking out about Christmas.
I guess I shouldn’t be too thrown off, seeing as Mobius and Earth are completely separate in the Fleetway universe, but how does every planet in the comic have Christmas? That doesn’t make much sense to me. Best not to think about it. Amy and Tekno approach generic alien man to ask him what’s wrong, when he points to the most freaky snowman I’ve seen in a long time. Singing a Christmas carol about how he wants to squash them, the alien chases after a present with legs, with Amy saying that this world is a nightmare. Somehow, this makes Tekno realize they’re not just on an alien planet, but that they are inside an alien’s dream. Oh.
Amy suggests they wake up the alien, but Tekno veto’s the idea, saying that him waking up could make them disappear forever. If that’s the case…why were they transported inside of his dream?! Wouldn’t it have been way better for them to just show up while he was awake? It’s not like he’s hooked up to some strange sleep-inducing machine that they need to free from the inside out. They are just in his dream. He could wake up because the neighbors decided to start blasting their stereo! Either way, they walk up to him, and the alien laments about his life. He got laid off, he doesn’t have money for Christmas presents, he’s worried his family will hate him…and Amy cheers him up in the most generic way possible. And it works. And the duo leave so he can wake up.
When he does, we find out that it is Christmas already. Guess he didn’t want to tell his family until after the fact. And looking at his family, I could understand why. Does that one alien have acne or stubble? Either way, all’s well that ends well, seeing as he gets a letter offering him work that stars for the new year. But since mail doesn’t come on Christmas, where did it come from? That’s right: alien Santa. We don’t get to see him be an alien, but I find it hard to believe that the same Santa Claus is going around every single planet in the universe at once. Then again, what do I know?
On the last page, we get to see the female duo return to Mobius for the holidays, a gift from the Ring of Eternity, who I suppose is the one who allows them to jump across the universe and save aliens from bad dreams. Finally, we get to see Amy and Sonic together again for Christmas! I’ve been waiting for this payoff from the wink she did all the way back in issue 42! I bet she’s going to do something absolutely crazy to Sonic!
…or they can share generic small talk about nothing. That works too.
The final story in the issue, “Captain Christmas,” is once again by Nigel Kitching, with Nigel Dobbyn taking on the artistic duties this go-round. A solo story focusing on “Tails,” it begins in some generic city on Christmas Eve, with people shopping and carolers singing. The peace is soon interrupted by some crazy giant sheep, appropriately named Baa Humbug (see it’s a pun). Luckily for us, “Tails” happens to be flying overhead, though he is suffering from a cold. The two-tailed fox swoops down to stop him, but instead gets hit over the head with a Christmas tree. “Beatings of the season, Tails!” Oh, is that also a pun? I’m not sure.
Before “Tails” can get his bearings, we’re introduced to Captain Christmas, who acts like he has no idea who the real star of the story is. I mean, I know he’s second fiddle to Sonic, but still. If someone knows who Batman is, they also know of Robin. They might not respect Robin, but they know his name! We quickly slip into an extremely cheesy fight, where Captain Christmas fights off Baa Humbug with Pudding of Justice and Decorations of Destiny. I…well, all I can say is that the fight would be extremely awkward if it happened in the middle of July.
The day is saved, and everyone gathers around Captain Christmas, asking them how they can repay him, which he follows up with “I’m sure you can think of something.” That’s not suspicious at all! Immediately, everyone around the Captain starts giving him the presents they bought. Once again, not suspicious at all! When “Tails” asks why everyone is doing this, they just respond that the Captain is so wonderful. Even Baa gets into the swing of things, giving away his car. With that, “Tails” is certain something is wrong, and picks up some random fur that apparently flew off Captain Christmas during the fight. Kinda weird that’s the first thing he’d think of to investigate what’s going on, but his hunch proves correct. Feeding the fur into the freaky looking Kintobor computer, “Tails” finds out that Captain Christmas is really Dog Malone, a former employee of Robotnik at the Chemical Plant Zone. Wait, Robotnik hired real people?! I thought that’s why he built robots, so that he wouldn’t have to deal with people needing to go to sleep or ask for money!
We also find out the only reason everyone loves him is because of some strange body spray, which is why “Tails” was immune – he has a cold! Jumping back to the city, we see Captain Christmas wander around some more, laughing to himself as a woman offers up her womb to him. Thankfully, our favorite fox shows up to stop where the comic could have gone, proclaiming him a phony. No one listens, of course, and we get to hear of even more holiday-themed weapons. Calamity Cracker. Holly of Horror. These are either the worst ideas ever conceived, or the most amazing. Before he can do anything more, “Tails” throws a snowball at the oversized dog, which makes everyone immediately fall out of love with him. “Tails” reveals that he whipped up a quick antidote to nullify the effects of the spray, and while the townspeople want to tear Captain Christmas in ways they would reserve for a non-calamity cracker, “Tails” airlifts him away, revealing he has something far more devilish thought up.
Why yes, that is Captain Christmas being forced to deliver presents by Santa Claus. Your eyes do not deceive you.
Since this review has gone on long enough, I just want to briefly mention issue 171, the very last new issue released around the holidays. “Planet in Peril!” by Lew Stringer and drawn by Richard Elson is done on a Christmas backdrop, with “Tails” proudly proclaiming the time of year. And while there is a Christmas tree that meets its untimely demise, it is far more a winter-esque story, with everyone having to fight against a crazy snow monster created by Robotnik that flows into the next story that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. It definitely is part of the lead up to Lew Stringer’s final story arc, and deserves to be told in some future article, but instead, all you get is the first panel. Because that’s about as Christmasy as it gets.
All in all, the Fleetway stories are certainly entertaining when it comes to celebrating Christmas, though they can get a little goofy at times. Really, though, how often does a story about Christmas not fall into some cheesy moments? You just can’t escape that if you’re writing anything contemporary with a Christmas theme. And they did way more with it than Archie ever did!…though to be fair, if Archie did something yearly, I’m certain it wouldn’t have turned out that great. I mean, their single effort was…well, we’ll get to that another day.