Hedging Your Bets #12: Pirate Plunder Panic
With almost 300 issues in the core series, Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog stands as the longest-running uninterrupted American monthly comic book that's currently being published. In Hedging Your Bets, I attempt to get up to speed on Sonic the Hedgehog, challenging the odds to hopefully make it all the way to the finish line.
This week, I make an attempt to expand my horizons, and ask the eternal question: Hey professor, what's another word for pirate treasure?
Sonic Universe #55 - 58: "Pirate Plunder Panic"
At this point, I think it's fair to say that I've had a little difficulty coming to terms with Sonic the Hedgehog.
Part of that's not my fault. It's a weird book, and while the reboot that we saw last week seems nominally designed to streamline things and allow the story to refocus on its main characters, it also brings a whole lot of new twists and turns, like Disturbingly Naked Antoine. Which, incidentally, I have been informed is the result of an edict from Sega saying that while the female characters can wear clothes, the male characters must be naked except for shoes and accessories.
I honestly don't know if that's true, but if it is, I think we can all agree that it's a pretty weird distinction to make.
Anyway, back to my point: While the world of Sonic is certainly a complicated one, a few of the gamblers out there reading this column have correctly identified the part of the problem that is my fault. By only reading Sonic the Hedgehog, I'm only getting half the story, which is tantamount to trying to get a handle on Transformers by only reading More Than Meets The Eye, or skipping Action Comics and Superman when I tried to better understand the Electric Blue Era. If I'm going to really come to terms with Sonic, I need the whole thing.
So with the end of Worlds Collide and the debut of an allegedly streamlined Sonic universe, it seemed like a good time to start reading, uh, Sonic Universe, the book that focuses on the adventures of the supporting cast --- and, as an added benefit, doesn't really have Sonic himself involved.
After reading this first arc, though, I'm not really sure it's going to be that helpful.
Here's the problem: The first arc of Sonic Universe after Worlds Collide is focused on Amy Rose, but rather than dropping her back into the regular, uh, Sonic universe, Yardley & Co. instead sends her to another dimension for an adventure with pirates. That's all well and good --- I'm actually a big fan of stories that bring in pirate imagery to built some high adventure, and this one certainly does a good job with that --- but for someone trying to learn more about the, uh, universe, being dropped into the multiverse is a little disconcerting.
Also, it does not address my question of whether Amy Rose is a cat or not, although I am reliably informed that she is in fact a hedgehog. Which, in turn, just makes me wonder why she has a proper last name instead of just "the Hedgehog" (which I also wonder about Tails), something that's underscored by the fact that this arc also focuses on another new-to-me character: Blaze The Cat:
Who I guess is related to Big? I don't even know.
From what I can tell, Blaze is sort of her world's equivalent of Sonic, in that she's the one charged with guarding her dimension's versions of the Chaos Emeralds and protecting them from the bad guys who would use them for evil. The difference is that instead of running fast and occasionally turning into a buzzsaw, Blaze --- as you might expect from the name --- has fire powers.
She's also on the crew of a pirate ship captained by a raccoon named Marine, who has an Australian accent that Chris Claremont thinks is "a bit over the top."
She is delightful.
They're on the search for the final Sol Emerald, but after they track it down to a pirate ship, they find themselves thoroughly outgunned. When Blaze goes aboard to try to recover it, not only do the pirates sink Marine's ship, but Blaze herself is betrayed by this weird little duck from Sonic's world who conjures bombs out of thin air, because it turns out that he's actually working for the true villain of the piece: Captain Metal.
It took me a minute to realize it, but this is a Metal Sonic who went to Blaze's world in a previous arc, but was destroyed and then rebuilt himself as a pirate king. And honestly, that is maybe the best way for a presumed-dead villain to come back to life. If Hush returned as a half-robot pirate king with crab legs and a skull-shaped magic flying death fortress, he'd have a good shot at being my favorite Batman villain.
Well. Maybe not favorite, but it couldn't hurt.
Oh, right: So that's Cap'n Metal's actual plan. Even though the story follows Rose, Cream, Cheese, and the weird explosion duck, they're not the only ones to be thrown into Blaze's world after the Super Genesis Wave hit back in Worlds Collide. So, after some nicely done ship battles, a brief intervention from another pirate who doesn't actually factor into the story that much, and the downright mandatory appearance by a giant robot kraken, we find out what else made it across dimensional barriers: Wily and (sigh) Eggman's Death Egg in there, too, and it has also been rebuilt with a pirate makeover.
They seriously gave a flying fortress an eyepatch and giant wrench crossbones for effect. Sonic Universe might just win me over after all.
The only thing the Egg O' War needs is a power source and, you guessed it, the plan here is to use the Sol Emerald to put that thing back in the sky and rain cannonball-shaped death on the seemingly endless oceans of Blaze's world. The only problem with that idea is that the Sol Emeralds function exactly like the Chaos Emeralds, in that when you get seven of them together, you wind up achieving your unstoppable Super Saiyan Final Form. And since Blaze already has six, well.
And while Sonic might've underlined the reference by going blonde, Blaze leans into a slightly different aspect of DragonBall: Destroying everything in your path with a Kamehameha.
All in all, it's a pretty fun story with some really great ideas and designs, but it's also a pretty weird one --- weirder for me going into it for my particular reasons than for other readers, sure, but still. It's the first Sonic Universe of the new, uh, Sonic universe, and it's not just a story set in another dimension, but one that's filled with multiple references to older stories.
That certainly makes it rewarding for long-term readers, which is something I have difficulty complaining about given how much I love continuity in superhero stories, and it's definitely not loaded down with a dozen footnotes like some of the other stories we've seen. It just seems to exist in the same kind of post-Worlds Collide limbo where no one's quite sure what's going to count that will hopefully be cleared up when we get back to Sonic and its story of how the multiverse is imploding.
On the bright side, though, I think this actually is the story that made me genuinely like Amy Rose.
This Week's Odds:
- Chris finishes the whole project: 75 to 1
- Chris quietly taps out of reading Sonic Universe when he realizes that this will double the amount of Sonic comics he has to read to finish: 10 to 1
- The same, but it happens once Chris realizes that the next arc is all about Shadow the Hedgehog: 2 to 1
- Chris has already mentally written the entire story arc about Hush, Pirate King of Gotham City: 1 to 1 (this has definitely happened)