Comics, Humor

How Fleetway Played The Games, Part 8: Of Flickies and Space Marines

part8-01Goodness, has it really been a year since the last time we visited the world of Sonic the Comic? Well, as time marches on, so does the progress in our quest, as we cover the penultimate game adaptation in the Fleetway series – Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island (Or Sonic 3D: Blast, as the Yanks might know it, but as that name was only used in North America we won’t be seeing it again in this Euro-focused story!) It’s a short one this time, only covering 3 issues. Written at a time when games were beginning to become thin on the ground in the late 90s, the writers went in a slightly different direction with the story, as we’ll see. The island itself was featured in the comic for a few months afterwards as a base of operations for Dr Robotnik, but just as a location now available for the writers to use. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start back at the beginning, shall we? Hit the jump to continue – there is of course spoilers a-plenty ahead.

“Flickies’ Island” by the team of Nigel Kitching and Richard Elson ran from StC issue #104 to #106: the 27th of May to the 24th of June, 1997. Issue #100 having just passed, quite a bit has happened since Porker Lewis was trapped on the Miracle Planet back in Part 7, but we’ll touch on it as we go. We start with a shot of our heroes standing on a beach at the east coast of the Emerald Hill Zone; Sonic, Tails, Amy Rose and Johnny Lightfoot – Porker Lewis having come back from the Miracle Planet and retired from the Freedom Fighters to the Floating Island since we last saw him, due to the nerves of the job. Sonic asks if everyone is ready, with the rabbit replying that they’re as ready as they’ll ever be.

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Sonic tells everyone to get ready for the incoming threat… but it turns out to not be a threat, as we get a full-page shot of the Emerald Hill folk, once again in a variety of boats just like they were at the end of Part 6. This time however, they’re not leaving the Zone to get to the Floating Island, but are in fact coming the other way and returning home. Robotnik was deposed and captured in issue #100, and though he then managed to escape into hiding thanks to Grimer, it’s been judged safe enough for the Emerald Hill folk to return. Sonic and Johnny start hauling boats ashore as the inhabitants arrive, hardly able to believe they’re able to return to their homes with Robotnik’s defeat. One asks Sonic what he’s going to do with himself now Robotnik isn’t around to battle against, which just earns a glare from the hedgehog as the Floating Island, previously parked in the sea, now lifts back off the surface and heads skywards.

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Amy passes over the video-call suitcase (magnificently retro. Loose wires on it, a visible aerial, and the screen barely covers half of the right of the top piece!) to Sonic, who answers it. It’s everyone’s favourite chuckling echidna, Knuckles, who’s extremely pleased. He tells Sonic that it is a great day, because not only does Sonic get to be the hero who defeated Robotnik, Knuckles gets to have the Floating Island all to himself again. Well, almost – Porker Lewis takes over from Knuckles to tell Sonic that he’s not come back with the others and is going to stay on the island for a while. Seems the pig has been attracted by the ancient computer systems on the landmass (stone Spectrums?) and thinks he can help out with them (presumably the joy Knuckles is feeling with the Emerald Hill folk having gone blinding him into allowing Porker to stay on. That or he’s gotten used to having guests? Who knows). Sonic says the pig can suit himself, but then Knuckles barges back on-screen, quipping that he figures that like the pig, Sonic can now also retire. Sonic doesn’t take this well.

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Oh, are the maths levels in Sonic’s Schoolhouse not good enough for you now, Sonic? Tails asks Sonic if everything’s alright, obviously having been attracted by the noise of the suitcase slam, but Sonic just asks him what could possibly be wrong? After all, this is the day they’ve been fighting for all along. And of course, Sonic’s not lying in the slightest, right?

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Well, if you’re looking for something to do, Sonic, maybe you could try out for a football team? I’m sure your speed would come in handy… Any potential thoughts about becoming the next Lionel Messi are quickly put aside however, as Tails flies overhead yelling for help, asking Sonic to assist quickly. The fox leads Sonic over to a tree branch, which has sitting on it… a small, innocent-looking bird. Sonic isn’t impressed with Tails’ apparent new interest in ornithology, somewhat annoyed that Tails has brought him out all that way to show him a “cutesy woodland creature”, but the fox says that Sonic doesn’t understand – it’s a Flicky, and there’s danger.

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Well there’s nothing to say someone as chatty as Tails wouldn’t be able to tweet, Sonic. He probably registered @zonerunner within a month or so of Twitter launching. Tails’ rather blunt reply of “Uh, yes” has stunned Sonic into an uncharacteristic silence. Come up with an insult reply to that one!

Meanwhile, elsewhere, a poor Flicky is strapped down to a bench with electrical connections all over its head and stomach. Who else could it be but ol’ walrus-chops himself? Apparently he’s been busy since fleeing. Grimer reports that all the tests they’ve been running have come back positive – it seems that the Flickies make perfect organic batteries for badniks, even better than the usual animal stock.

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Well, we could reel off the list of reasons why, Doc: attempted genocide, terrorism, enslavement, dictatorial rule, heavy emphasis on egg sandwiches in shops… Returning to the plot, Robotnik orders Grimer to bring him the other Flicky they captured, but Grimer nervously stammers out that it escaped. Angry with this news, Robotnik immediately grabs Grimer by the throat and starts choking him, but then lets him go:

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Oh, how wrong you are, Doc. Because just as he loudly shouts about how it is time for the inhabitants of Flickies’ Island to meet their new master, we see that Sonic & Tails, accompanied by that escaped Flicky, are powering towards the isle on board the Tornado. Sonic just tells Tails not to broadcast the fact the only reason they’re going was because of something he was told by a little bird. That’s very specist of you, Sonic…

2 weeks of real-time pass by, and our heroes have safely landed the Tornado on a beach of the island. All’s quiet, says Sonic, and he questions that the Flicky told Tails there was trouble. We then get this magnificent panel of explanation:

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Well, glad that that’s cleared up. Amazingly enough, Sonic actually buys this explanation, wondering out loud that it must be some kind of telepathy. Since when has Tails ever shown any sign of having telepathic powers? This gets brushed aside though, as Sonic starts walking off, ever impatient, telling Tails that they’re going to take a look around because if there is something going on, he wants to know what it is. A bit of wandering around later, we come across a temple, straight out of the background of Green Grove Zone.

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So, uh, if the building is a ruin and you’re looking for signs of new trouble on the island, why are we taking such an interest in an obviously ancient construction? Apparently around the same time Tails got his interest in birdwatching, Sonic seems to have got one for archaeology, because they go inside anyway. Though Tails stammers out that the Flicky says there’s danger here, Sonic points out that he only has the fox’s word for that as only he can understand what the Flicky’s saying – what, you’re saying Tails is lying, Sonic? The hedgehog finally gives up and yells out that they’re wasting their time, no-one’s here, and the building is deserted. Right on cue, a voice from behind says “Wrong as usual, hedgehog!”

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Bloody hell, how could you miss him, Sonic? That amount of girth isn’t exactly built for stealth, is it? Robotnik rather gleefully tells the hedgehog that he’s just in time to witness something rather interesting, but Sonic doesn’t care, tensing himself up and preparing to attack. Tails grabs him by the arm though, saying that maybe they should wait a moment and see what it is that they’re up against, the fox clearly having read the list of things that an evil villain should never do and not wanting Robotnik to stop the whole ‘explain the evil plan to the good guy’ cliché. Robotnik cheerfully continues on, showing Sonic a Giant Ring that he throws one end of a cable connection into. He says that he’d always planned to investigate Flickies’ Island’s mysteries, but due to the way things turned out (what with him being deposed and everything) he’s had to speed up his plans somewhat. Sonic shoots back that ever since they threw the scientist out of the Metropolis Zone his days of ruling are over, but Robotnik tells him to not be so sure of that. There’s a bit of back and forth of the usual villain-vs-hero variety, before Grimer turns to Robotnik and says that he thinks the fat man “has caught one!” Robotnik gleefully turns to Sonic, telling him to watch as he’ll find this interesting… He promptly hauls the cabling back out, and there’s a Flicky on the end of it! Robotnik continues, saying that they’d always wondered where it was that the Flickies went when they weren’t on the island for the few weeks every year that they’re visible. Well, it seems he’s found out – it’s a side-dimension and he now knows how to catch them.

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It’s nice of Sonic to just stand by while a terrified animal gets robotisised right in front of him… Robotnik then gives the order for the badniks to attack. Rather sarcastically asking Tails whether it’s time for them to attack yet, the fox stammers out that he guesses they don’t have a choice, at which point Sonic finally revvs up and starts crashing into Badniks… only for some reason, his Super Spin Attack isn’t working. Tails is shocked by this, but Sonic just brushes it off, saying that he’s just out of practice. However, he thinks to himself that the fox is actually right and that should have worked. Robotnik just starts laughing, saying that as the Flickies are the perfect power source, the new badniks are unbeatable.

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Let’s pause for thought here a moment though. Why would a new power source make these badniks indestructible all of a sudden? If I have a Ford Fiesta and I put the engine from a Subaru Impreza in it, I just have a far faster car. It doesn’t make the bodywork any stronger. Has it ever been said that all badniks have some sort of EM shielding? Sonic decides to put everything he has into another attack, and try to ignore what will happen if it doesn’t work. He flies into the badnik a second time, landing with a crouch – but still it stands!  The hedgehog, wide-eyed, just stares at the badnik, thinking that he’s never hit a badnik harder than that and it still didn’t work… but just as he’s coming to terms with this, it falls apart and the newly-imprisoned Flicky flies free of the new pile of robot parts. Sonic triumphantly exclaims that there’s still no badnik built that he can’t smash. One small problem, though.

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Good job avoiding the badniks, Tails. Cliff-hanger time!

Another fortnight later, we return to the final part of the story. Robotnik warns Sonic not to come any closer, lest something happen to Tails. Sonic complains that he knew it was a mistake to bring the fox along. Um, how would you have been able to converse with the Flicky without him, Sonic? Besides, as the fox points out, Tails had asked him to come, not the other way around, to find out what was happening to the Flickies. Well, we all know why now – badnik conversion. Robotnik recaps for the audience that they’re a perfect badnik power source, to which Sonic quips about how it’s badniks again, that Robotnik doesn’t ever get any new ideas. Entirely ignoring the barb, Robotnik just starts wistfully ranting about how he will soon have created enough for a full scale attack and become ruler of the planet again, making the people really suffer this time.

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Sonic doesn’t seem to like anyone doing heroics apart from him, does he? I’d make a joke about him hogging all the glory, but he slammed Porker Lewis down in part 3 for the exact same thing, if you recall… Before Sonic has a chance to enter the cage though, the Giant Ring suddenly starts glowing and arcing electrical streams – and I mean really glowing. It’s so bright that no-one can see, closing their eyes and turning away – though Sonic can’t resist a chance to have a poke at Tails, saying that “He’d never have noticed” to Tails’ line about the light being blinding. The light suddenly disappears and normality is restored – sort of.

This is where the proverbial really hits the fan.

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Welp. I don’t remember Space Marines being in Sonic 3D. So the Drakon Empire was a thing from here onwards in StC right up until the end of the run, though some groundwork for an alien race who’d been on Mobius centuries earlier had actually been laid as far back as issue #29 (8th July 1994, 3 years previously), where Sonic met one of their Sentinels in Aquatic Ruin Zone. I could go into depth at this point, but I’m not going to. Not just yet…

The new arrival having announced himself, Sonic decides that though he neither knows nor cares who the Prosecutor is, he knows a distraction when he sees one. Putting as much force as he can into it, the hedgehog smashes both the badniks holding Tails, and the fox flies away, now free. The Prosecutor orders everyone to remain still or face consequences, but Sonic has other things to take care of. Racing towards Robotnik, zig-zagging as he does so despite the Prosecutor’s staff being aimed at him, Sonic yells out that there’s no way the Drakon’ll be able to hit the hedgehog with any ray blast from it. However the Prosecutor has other plans, instead just switching the staff on and increasing the room’s gravitational field. Slam!

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Now he’s pinned on the floor, Sonic decides now is finally the time to talk to the Drakon, asking what exactly the Mobius Ring is. The Prosecutor is only too happy to oblige, telling Sonic, Tails & Robotnik that thousands of years prior, the Drakon race had an outpost on Mobius (the aforementioned Aquatic Ruin base). The native Mobians were primitive then, and the Drakon eventually got bored and left. Before doing so, they left behind the Mobius Ring (not named something like Drakon Ring? If this was a stock device for use on many planets, which you’d assume it would have been given the Drakon were a vast empire, you’d have thought they would have the same name for the device on any given planet it’s on) so that when the inhabitants eventually reached a level of being able to understand how to use it, they’d perhaps be a threat to the Drakon and at that point need to be dealt with. We could ask here why they’d leave a way to reach the Drakon in the hands of a potential threat, as it seems a stupid idea, but I digress… Sonic tells the Prosecutor that Mobians are a peace-loving people apart from Robotnik, who he points at. This seems to satisfy the alien as being told Robotnik was the one who activated the Ring.

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Good god, he’s strong, isn’t he? Not only is he lifting Robotnik’s bulk with a single hand, but doing so in a gravity field pinning everyone to the floor! Taking Sonic’s word entirely for granted and ignoring Robotnik’s protests, the Drakon starts marching towards the Mobius Ring, which is beginning to glow again, saying that the Drakon are very thorough with their interrogating and will find out the truth of the situation. Sonic gets up and starts running towards the pair (evidently the effort of re-activating the ring means the Prosecutor’s had to stop messing about with the room’s gravity). Tails, stating the obvious being his speciality as we all know, says that he would have thought that Sonic would want rid of Robotnik, but Sonic’s having none of it: Robotnik is wanted for crimes on Mobius, and they take care of their own problems.

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Sonic’s cockiness once again proves his undoing though, as a powerful electrical surge from the Prosecutor causes him to fall to the ground in pain. The Prosecutor’s energy levels are running low, and he makes a dash for the Ring with Robotnik in his grasp as Tails makes one last ditch effort to stop him (having changed his mind following Sonic’s little speech). The fox is far too slow though, and with another blinding flash of light the Prosecutor (and Robotnik with him) is gone. The pair haul themselves back to their feet once again to look at the now-smoking Mobius Ring, which appears to have stopped working, leaving them no way to follow after Robotnik. Sonic mutters that he’s worried about the Drakon Empire, especially about Mobius being a threat to them that presumably they’ll want to deal with at some point. Tails finds a small item on the floor that fell off the Prosecutor’s armour (presumably when Sonic smacked into him), and Sonic looks at it. He says it’s familiar, though he can’t place from where (it’s the afore-mentioned Sentinel). Sonic chucks the face back to Tails, who catches it and asks if this time is the last they’ll see of Robotnik. Sonic doubts it though.

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Hey, guys, where are you going? You’re just going to leave the Ring there? It’s a rare artefact that might have some use to you and… oh, never mind.

This is where StC began to wildly divert from the game continuity – and given how few titles we saw in this period, you can’t really blame the comic’s staff too much. The temple’s from Green Grove, the base story plot about the Flickies’ home & capture is largely similar to the opening cutscenes from Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island, and the ring is even used for dimensional travel; albeit not by Sonic here, but still by the Flickies. Part 3 is where the spanner gets thrown in the works though with the introduction of the Drakon Empire, and though some base seeds had been sown years earlier it was only from here onwards that their story began. Entirely unrelated to the games continuity, the Drakon would play a large presence right until the end of the comic – we’ll be seeing them again.

It’s very much a shorter games adaptation this time, certainly a departure from the past where doing the story from a game could take months in real-time. I like it though, and arguably this was the point where the writers really began to stretch their wings creatively, though one could ask how much of this was necessity given how little assistance they had from here onwards from Sega Europe. They’d gone from giving the team early versions of the relevant game to play and get ideas from, up to the final Sonic the Comic games adaptation, where a single screenshot of the upcoming title was all that was supplied to work from. And what would this title be, you ask? Well…

Next time:

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Green eyes? That can only mean one thing: it’s Sonic Adventure. The grand finalé!

New to the saga, now approaching 5 years since the beginning? Catch up on the previous seven parts right here:

How Fleetway Played The Games, Part One: Of Flying Battleships and Space Eggs
How Fleetway Played The Games, Part 2: Of Time Stones and Shrink Lasers
How Fleetway Played The Games, Part 3: Of Emeralds and Echidnas
How Fleetway Played The Games, Part 4: Of Evacuating and Electricians
How Fleetway Played The Games, Part 5: Of Ice and Repairing
How Fleetway Played The Games, Part 6: Of Master Emeralds and Death Eggs
How Fleetway Played The Games, Part 7: Of Chaotix and Metallixes

And in case you didn’t know, David the Lurker’s been doing the same thing for the USA’s Archie comic version of the blue spiky one! Check those out here:

How Archie Played the Games, Part One: Of Pinball and Echidnas
How Archie Played the Games, Part Two: Of Floating Islands
How Archie Played The Games, Part Three: Of Pink And Metal Hedgehogs
How Archie Played The Games, Part Four: Of Walkers and Snipers
How Archie Played The Games, Part Five: Of Rodents and Giants
How Archie Played The Games, Part 6A: Of Death Eggs and Robot Birds
How Archie Played The Games, Part 6B: Of Silver Hedgehogs and Falling Islands
How Archie Played The Games, Part 7: Of FLiCKIES and Remote Atolls
How Archie Played The Games, Part 8: Of Abandoned Bases and Obscure Characters

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5 Comments

  • Reply

    Awesome, I was wondering if we’d ever see any more of these. The Fleetway and Archie versions are both my favorite features here! =)

    • Reply

      Totally un related but are you the same LBD from the Mega Man Network? Cool to see you!! Haha. these posts are so awesome and interesting to read

  • Reply

    You’re quite right about all those little plot holes (although I’m not sure how many of them I was aware of at the time). Thing is because I had so little space to tell a story I quite often would just not put in the expository dialogue it would have taken to cover these things. Characters explaining stuff to each other isn’t much fun for anyone. As far as the switch away for games inspired content, well, that was just down to me having fun and wanting to get some of my (and Richard Elson’s) characters and ideas into the stories. This was now very much feeling like ‘our’ Sonic Universe. We had big plans for the Drakon Empire but a lot of it never made it to the page.

    • Reply

      Hi Nigel! Really humbled to see you post on my little rambling train of nonsense. Big fan of StC back in the day, you and the rest of the team’s latest issue was something I looked forward to every fortnight. Was chuffed I got to meet you a couple of times at Summer of Sonic as well!

      Fair point on the exposition stuff, there IS only so much you can do with a few pages of an issue. I wish we’d been able to see more of what you’d had planned – it’s a shame that the comic got past the “quiet” period of the franchise between Sonic 3D and SA1, only to finally go entirely to reprints at that point. Moreso because the Yanks got away with it, and StC is the better comic. =P

  • Reply

    OMG the art in this!! AMY OMG WHY do you look like this!! Sonic is so angry, And I always find it hilarious when the comics tried to adapt a w hole game in like an issue or two cuz it’s like an abridged version of the game and they’d for some reason add in other plot points for no reason and try to make it stick in with the canon of the comics.

    It’s always a mess. Nice job overload you and David’s summaries of these comics are great.

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