Blah blah spoilers blah blah blah
#35 [June 1996]
"Ring of Truth," (in 3 parts)
Story: Mike Gallagher; Art: Dave Manak
The story starts out in total game mode, with Sonic being
chased by Robotnik and losing his accumulated power rings along
the way (a situation to which I can, unfortunately, relate).
While dodging Robotnik's maceball he grabs at a ring that causes
him to disappear. Robotnik's onboard computer has been keeping
count of the number of rings Sonic has grabbed in the course of a
lifetime [how convenient! Maybe Robotnik can find honest work as
a baseball statistician!] and it turns out that was the
1,000,000,000th power ring. Never mind that, in the animated
series, Sonic can only access one ring a day. We're dealing with
some different realities here.
Sonic finds himself transported into another dimension,
where dwell the Ancient Walkers. He is told that it is his
billionth ring and that his reward will be...knowledge. Or a
copy of the home game, it depends. Our hero finds himself
falling toward a green sea. Turns out it's green because it's
made up, not of water, but of chaos emeralds. The billionth
ring, following him around like a spaniel, breaks his fall. A
second Walker, wearing a Mercedes-Benz hood ornament for no
particular reason, challenges Sonic to solve the Riddle of the
Rings. Sonic guesses the answer and is buried by coiled chains
of power rings for his trouble. Their accumulated weight drag
him down under the sea of emeralds where, rat-like, he is forced
to run on the inside of the aforementioned power ring. He
confronts the third Walker who subjects him to one of the oldest
gags in the business. There follows an entirely useless page of
Sonic trying unsuccessfully to make sense out of the preceding
eleven pages until, finally, he emerges back in his own
dimension, ring in hand, disabling Robotnik's hover unit in the
Gallagher gets major points for stretching, for writing a
story beyond the Sonic Vs. Robotnik And If You Have To Wonder Who
Will Win Then You Must Be New In Town genre. Aside from the
small problems with this story (the billion ring business, the
"Playboy" pun that misfires), there's a more fundamental flaw.
And since "Prof. Fulop" invited "scholarly" evaluations (in a box
on page 14) I humbly submit:
A COMPARISON OF THE STRUCTURE OF "RING OF TRUTH"
WITH THE MESOPOTAMIAN "EPIC OF GILGAMESH"
The Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back to the first
millennium BCE, is a prototypical tale of a hero's quest. "Ring
of Truth," on the other hand, deviates from the Gilgamesh model
in several important ways:
In Gilgamesh, the hero at one point undertakes a quest.
This quest has a purpose: to obtain a magic flower that will undo
the death of Gilgamesh's best friend, Enkidu, who died as a
result of their fighting against the Bull of Heaven. Sonic,
however, stumbles upon the zone of the Ancient Walkers strictly
by accident. He just happened to grab the requisite number of
rings. It really doesn't count as a "quest" if it's accidental.
The same weakness showed up in "Southern Crossover, Part 3,"
where Tails just has the events of Mobian prehistory channelled
through him to no obvious purpose or benefit.
The second flaw in the story "Ring of Truth" involves
Sonic's inability to learn from what has happened (and to impart
said knowledge to the reader). For Gilgamesh, his quest ends
when, having obtained the flower, it is taken from him by a
serpent and the god Utnapishtim delivers the punch line: that in
life there are no second chances. By page 14 of "Ring of Truth,"
on the other hand, all we are left with is a metaphysical
mishmosh that gives Sonic a headache and which offers the reader
a number of meanings to choose from:
B. This Isn't Fair!
D. Some Of The Above!
It doesn't help matters that his "guides" on the path of
enlightenment are less than convincing. Since their debut in
"Tttriple Tttrouble" [Game Gear Adaptation #1], the Ancient
Walkers have been saddled with the burden of Dave Manak's
artwork. Our hedgehog hero is up against some heavy cosmic
stuff; Manak, however, manages to transform "cosmic" into
"comic." His Walkers look like people wearing rather
unconvincing rubber dinosaur suits and masks that look like they
belong on the walls of Trader Vic's or some other tiki and
tropical drink bar. Even Spaziante's sparse cover rendering of
the same masks cannot save them from looking, quite frankly,
ridiculous. A little more thought in this story could have
prevented it from ending up as a lot of mystical sound and fury,
"A Sense of History, Part 2"
Story and Art: Ken Penders
As Knuckles continues to flash back, it is now about four
generations after Echidnapolis went airborne thanks to the
installation of a dozen chaos emeralds. Two echidna brothers,
Edmund and Dmitri, survey the chaos chamber where the emeralds
continue to radiate. Their proposal to return the floating
island to the ground by means of a "chaos syphon" that would
gradually leach power from the stones, is sharply denied by the
scientific establishment who aren't in a mood to tamper with the
forces of nature. Enraged by such narrowmindedness, Dmitri uses
the prototype of the syphon on the emeralds. It succeeds in
reducing eleven of the twelve stones to charred shards and
transforms Dmitri into a being with "the energies of eleven
shattered chaos emeralds howling within him." [Note to Ken
Penders: Great line!] Dmitri then either calls forth, or else
morphs into, Mount Fate. To be continued.
Now THIS is more like it! If you're going to be mystical,
you can be linear about it as well. So how exactly does echidna
civilization come to an end? THAT'S what I call a tease. This
just about makes me forget about all those 2-month vamps.
Sonic-Grams, etc.: The cover of #36 is interesting, not
just because Spaz has given us yet another tail shot of Sally,
but because she and Sonic apparently come face to helmet with one
of Sauron's Black Riders. That's a High Concept plot for you:
Mobius meets Middle Earth! I can only hope that this "quest"
isn't an ongoing excuse to put Sonic et al. in different settings
outside Mobius. By me, it would be a tacit admission that the
writers had run dry and they couldn't come up with any more story
ideas involving the basic concept. We'll know better next month.
Great, Scott! You're outta here! Then again, Ken Penders
has spoken of you in the past tense for some time now, so the
move must've been a done deal by the time this went to press.
Ken also said Scott quit to pursue some writing. Let's see: he
contributed six editorial boxes to "Ring of Truth" and ten to
"Crash of the Titans." So why am I not surprised that he wanted
to write? Let's hope Fred Mendez does a better job of keeping
his ego in check. Letters: a Canadian reader contributes a Sonic
rap and manages to finish each line without including the word
"Eh?". The other letter (there are only two) asks if Knuckles
has hands inside his gloves [no, they're hooks, you little...let
us pause a moment to weep for this younger generation], and asks
whatever happened to the ABC series. Scott shines him off by
blaming Robotnik's stranglehold on the mainstream media and by
saying that Sonic was too fast for the time slot. OK, I'm also
disappointed that he didn't advise the kid to read my FAQ File.
Maybe Fred knows enough to credit the computer-literate among the
readership. Heck, you ever count how many commercials are now
featuring the addresses of Web pages? Our day will come, Cyber-
Received on Mon Apr 01 1996 - 15:48:49 PST
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