Critique: "Southern Crossover"

From: Dan Drazen <>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 1996 16:44:33 -0500 (EST)

This isn't going to be a recap of CS#3; I'll let John Johnston's review
stand for submission to the FAQ File. Instead, there are a couple of
loose ends I want to address.

"Southern Crossover" represents a vast improvement over "Growing Pains"
which started out strong in Part 1 and went into a nosedive in Part 2.
Still, Gallagher has demonstrated he has something to learn about story

Of the two major trouble spots, the more minor of the two has to do with
the subplot of Tails as The Chosen One (as prelude to the upcoming
series "A Sense of History"). Tails certainly meets one of the major
requirements of a mythological hero: he is the runt of the litter, the
small one, the youth. He has set out to prove himself to his elders and
discovers that he is in for more than he bargained for. By the same
token, Athair as shaman takes the role of the Helper in Tails' adventure
(I'll admit it: when I got hold of SC#3 I also got out my copy of Joseph
Campbell's "Hero With A Thousand Faces").

All this would be well and good, except that there was no foreshadowing
of Tails' adventure until he was let off in the crater. Tails (and the
reader) then get a crash course in Mobian cosmology -- or at least the
highlights thereof -- before an abrupt turn back to the plot. Tails
neither mentions nor reflects upon what has happened to him once outside
the crater. Perhaps this is all prelude to Tails' larger adventure
still to come, but it's also clumsy storytelling -- rather like a
3-course meal consisting of soup, salad, and a roast turkey swallowed

Yet the more grievous error is to be found on SC#3, page 21. Tails
finally admits that he misses the group from Knothole, that he had been
resentful of them, and that he now realizes that they really did care
about him.

The problem with this declaration is that there is no evidence to back
it up. Aside from dropping Sonic's name a couple of times, you would
think that Tails hadn't bestowed a moment's thought upon any of them.
He was eloquent enough in resenting their "infantile treatment" of him
(SC#1, p. 5), but does he miss them? Is he shown remembering better
times with any of them? Does he ever wish they were with him when he
was being subjected to attacks by Octobot or the Wing Dingoes? No. His
primary concern is himself--in the pages of "Tails To Astonish." Yet
we're asked to believe that he got over his resentment of Sonic et al.
somewhere along the way. It is not the job of the writer to ask us to
believe that something has happened -- it is to SHOW it happening, as
plausibly as possible. This Gallagher failed to do.

One of the limitations of comics is their limited ability to show a
character's "inner life" -- their thoughts, aspirations, emotions.
Everything has to be out front as quickly as possible because deadlines
are approaching and space is limited. In this respect, Japanese _manga_
have the advantage. With stories in Japanese comics running to hundreds
of pages (and sometimes being serialized for years if they are
successful), there is space for a character to be introspective, to have
an emotional life. It is this -- and not just the novelty of being a
two-tailed fox -- that has spawned a following for Tails. His fans
sense a character with a personality, with feelings. But the Tails of
"Growing Pains" and (to a lesser extent) "Southern Crossover" gets
seriously shortchanged in this regard. He becomes a character reading
lines. And when the reader is simply told "He feels this-and-that"
without being made to understand WHY, the reader is shortchanged as

My $.02.

|| ___------__ ||
|| |\__-- /\ _- || Daniel J. Drazen
|| | / __ _ ||
|| //\ / \ /__ ||
|| | o| 0|__ --_ || Custodian of one of the Sonic
|| \\____-- __ \ ___ - || the Hedgehog FAQ Files
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|| -_____--- --_ || ASCII Sonic by Han J. Lee

Received on Mon Jan 01 1996 - 16:56:06 PST

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