When I was a spry, young lad, I could still wake up every Saturday morning at the crack of dawn. Filled with exuberance for a block of time that would soon be lost to the ages with the popularization of children’s programming on basic cable, I would arise to make sure I wouldn’t miss a second of what was to be broadcast. Fox Kids, One Saturday Morning, Kids WB, even the not-aimed-at-me TNBC block…from local programming to the last remnants of syndicated tales involving the Hardy Boys, my elementary years were spent absorbing half hour after half hour of useless information.
On this day twenty years ago – September 18th, 1993 for those who aren’t paying attention – my focus was once again squarely on the television. Sitting in bed like I did every Saturday, my eyes glazed over watching my tiny moving picture box, the same one that I had played hours upon hours of the original Sonic the Hedgehog titles. But that day was something special. Something tremendously exciting. What was it? Well, the cast of Hanging With Mr. Cooper kindly told me the night before during T.G.I.F…
Yes. Sonic the Hedgehog was now on the airwaves.
I’m not usually one to talk about Kickstarters, let alone go ahead and plug them. But seeing as this is a Sonic the Hedgehog website, when a Kickstart about a Sonic shows up, it’s hard not to mention it. What I’m speaking of is Veronica Vera’s Not Enough Rings, a printed collection of the webcomic by the same name. The premise is each strip focuses on a single act from the four classic Mega Drive games, offering a humorous spin on what lays in store for our hedgehog hero. When the Kick began, it gained plenty of coverage across the usual places including our very best friends at SEGAbits. But! The entire campaign is in its final hours, and once its over, who knows if you’ll be able to get it without spending an absurd amount of money on eBay?
Since it has reached its goal, there’s no fear of it not hitting your shelves in the near future. But for those who get very excited about the color blue, a last minute incentive has been included. If the whole thing reaches fifteen grand, the pages of the book will have blue painted edges. Exciting, no?
There’s also the usual “hey, pledge more and get other things to satisfy your cravings” type deals, but that’s best explained on the page itself. Click here to journey to the Kick, and if it seems like your type of thing, go ahead and order it. The book is only twenty five dollars. Heck, that’s like…five coffees if you like crazy things at Starbucks! And you can still call yourself a hipster.
In case you had forgotten in the simmering aftermath of E3 (what with real life catching up to all of us), SEGA is still hard at work on the latest Sonic title that’s to exclusively hit the Wii U – Sonic Lost World. With primary shades of blue and green and all sorts of running and jumping, how can one not get super excited at the prospect of being a blue dude with a cartoon attitude?
Well, to remind us all, SEGA has just released a brand new trailer through IGN for the game, showing off the return of the Wisps from Sonic Colo(u)rs. Yes, we knew they were coming back in some form. We can once again drill, laser and rocket about, but we’re not just dealing with the same ol’ perky aliens. We’re getting new ones. Some…a bit different than others. Take a gander below!
As you can see, Sonic, insanely jealous of all his friends being able to take to the sky, now has the power of EAGLE. Also new is ASTEROID, which has Sonic become a tiny planetoid, causing all sorts of subtle destruction for the platforms that so anger him. Finally, the latest Wisp to join the fray is RHYTHM, which turns Sonic into a giant music note, surely to cause desperate flashbacks to that one mission in Sonic Generations with Vector.
Peppered about are also quick looks at levels that have been previously unseen, such as what one can assume to be the first level of Desert Ruins, a jungle-type area, and a hint of the snow-capped trees in a winter level when Zeena’s smiling face shows up. Though there will surely be more info coming from SEGA before the game is released, you can now confidently say that the title is set to drop on October 22nd, 2013. Get those timers ready and set!
UPDATE: Europe will be receiving it a little earlier on October 18th, 2013. Also if you want a version of the trailer in which the word “colours” is spelled with an u SEGA has got you covered as well.
When Ken first wrote the ending to Princess Sally’s Crusade, it’s doubtful that he thought beyond that simple page of a happy ending. A moment where Sonic and Sally were able to find peace, years after their battle with the evil Dr. Robotnik had come to a close. Back when the Saturday morning cartoon still reigned supreme, before Sonic Adventure and the Japanese continuity became commonplace, even before most Americans realized there was another comic book being published in the U.K. that tried to be closer to the games, albeit the Kintobor storyline that no longer is considered canon by anyone who works in the halls of SEGA. It was a just a moment where Ken thought he’d be clever, coming up with an interesting spin on the origins of NICOLE, something the TV show never got the chance to cover.
By the time Sonic the Hedgehog #131 hit newsstands, no longer was the comic book storyline the simple tales of good versus evil. The main story had taken on numerous twists and turns, incorporating elements from other shows, other games, a hodgepodge of Sonic the Hedgehog that didn’t always gel correctly. If Ken were to make a comprehensive future of every single character, of every single possibility, he may have gone mad. Indeed, sometimes it felt like his own mental state was in danger, with all the rumblings of internal strife happening in the halls of Archie Comics. Sometimes, it was a miracle the book was published at all, regardless of the quality.
As stated before, when Ken’s final installment of Mobius: 25 Years Later saw print in Sonic #144, that was never the intended ending. Ken had not gone through all that effort to leave the future as a perpetual cliffhanger. There were plans for more, though they never saw fruition. The happy endings for Sonic, Sally, Knuckles, Lara-Su and the rest instead remained only in Ken’s mind, until Ian ushered his own interpretation of the future.
When Ian Flynn took over Sonic the Hedgehog as main writer back in 2006, his first task was to wrap up everything the comic had been doing for years. Strung out plotlines with little resolution had become the norm, and had definitely run its course. Sonic #160 through Sonic #174‘s primary purpose was to bring everything back together and reign it in so #175 could be an easy jumping off point, not just for the reader but for Ian to write his own stories involving the sprawling cast of the comic. Part of that spring cleaning was the initial resolution to Mobius: 25 Years Later, even if it had been two years since the storyline had been an ongoing feature in the book.
Though it is possible that revisiting the future would have been on Ian’s mind eventually, the two-part conclusion was not something he decided to write, but was instead editorially dictated by Mike Pellerito. Wanting to also wrap things up to make things easier for oncoming readers, he instructed Ian to find a way to end Ken’s futuristic epic in 22 pages, spread out across two issues. Not content with just having Ian come up with his own ideas, he demanded the young professional incorporate an element in the narrative that could be seen as coming from out of left field: the arrival of King Shadow.
Hey look, it’s Sunday. What do you do on a Sunday? You listen to the twelve billionth remix of the Green Hill Zone. But that’s OK, because this one sounds super nice.
Performed by the YouTube band Tetrimino, their story is a familiar one: four people who have never met each other use the power of the Internet to play music together. Video game music, at that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The individual members have been bouncing about on the video site for a while, but only recently have decided to team up, this rendition of the Green Hill Zone being only their second track together. Their previous video was a Chrono Trigger medley, which you can listen to here.
So yeah, give it a listen. You can never get enough live music, and those solos? Just proves you can still listen to this song after Generations and not get sick of it.
Well, unless you are.
Sometimes, long-running serials can become stale. If you’ve been hired to write for a comic book month after month for years, you can reach a point where you just can’t be as good as you used to be. Ideas get regurgitated. Fast paced action is slowed down. All the creativity of those first few years can dwindle, even if the property is yours. There’s a reason creatives are always looking for new valleys to explore – focusing on just one idea, one story, can drive someone mad. It can compromise the overall arc. It can feel like the story should have ended years beforehand, instead of half-heatedly lurching forward into the abyss.
American comic book companies are aware of this to a degree, oftentimes changing the creatives on a book in order not just to improve sales, but to prevent the material from becoming flat. The hope being that if new minds are always bringing in fresh ideas, the 70+ years of Batman adventures won’t continue to repeat themselves. Very rarely in the modern industry do you get someone on a title for more than a handful of years. Extremely rare is the tenure that Ken Penders enjoyed, writing on Sonic the Hedgehog and its related series for nearly 13.
When Ken was unceremoniously dropped from the title back in 2006, he was replaced by newcomer Ian Flynn, his first story seeing print in Sonic the Hedgehog #160. Though relatively unknown, there was a faction who was excited to see what he would bring to the table, him having been a fan himself, writing his own fanfiction about Sonic in the years previous. Even if sales of the title had gotten better when Ken took over from Karl Bollers as head writer, there was a certain stagnant feeling to the stories being provided. If you’d had gone on record saying that, in your mind, the battle between Sonic and Eggman was over and you were solely invested in the future tales of Mobius, what else would one expect?
With Ian at the helm, it didn’t take long for the new writer to revisit one of the longest running, incomplete tales that had taken hold of the comic since its early days. Dictated by management to wrap it up once and for all, Ian set off to finally finish Mobius: 25 Years Later.
While it has been mentioned before in these reviews, one of the biggest problems Ken seems to deal with is pacing his work for a mass audience. Filled to the brim with ideas, it isn’t hard for someone to get buried under them and lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish. Normally, a good editor should be there to hold you under the reigns, but if there’s one thing Ken Penders didn’t get through most of his time at Archie, it was a good editor. Justin Gabrie may have started with good intentions, but it became clear that at some point, he didn’t understand the material he was working with. He let a lot of mind-boggling plot points, awkward writing, and terrible art make it to the printing press without fear. He also seemed perfectly ok with the knowledge that Karl Bollers and Ken Penders were writing stories that sometimes contradicted each other, his desire for consistency being overshadowed by just wanting the comic to be released on schedule, quality be damned.
That doesn’t excuse Ken completely. I’ve also mentioned how most people point to Sonic the Hedgehog #36-#50 as some of Ken’s best writing in the series. Part of why that period may have been so strong is because of the self-imposed deadline. No one knew if the series would survive a few months beyond the cancellation of the Saturday morning cartoon, let alone make it to Issue #50. A lot of ideas and interesting concepts were thrown at the reader all at once, supported by mini-series and specials that built up to Endgame. There was a limit, and Ken was forced to work with it, leaving room for the other freelance authors to do their own thing as well.