BoS Review: Knuckles the Echidna Comics
THIS IS MY FIRST "REAL" REVIEW! THE TOP 30 LIST DOESN'T COUNT. HELP FOR THE FUTURE IS APPRECIATED!
Presenting the first of many that I have gotten!
Now, I'm an Escapist who likes comics, and this statement might be true, almost all of the Escapist likes comics. We like them, because they give us a sense of setting and action better than most books can, and in shorter time than a book too. But after looking back, I'm pretty sure the comics that we love, are more visceral and in lighter terms "mature" than your average Sunday funny, (hell my faves are Watchmen, V for Vendetta and Y: The Last Man) but that's because the writers behind them do a good job of pinpointing who their audience is, and crafting a story that keeps their audience entertained and interested, for even after the series is done. (*Ahem* referring to Watchmen, V and Y The Last Man again.) Now if we take a look at most comics for people of all ages (children being the main factor here), very few non-comic strip examples are found that remain interesting, or don't have a storyline so stupid to you when you're 15, that you want to slap you're 7 year old self for liking them? (That's probably just me.)
Now the point of that whole long interlude is that while I was rummaging through my old comics during a spring clean I happened upon what I thought as the greatest comic I read before,(yes, again) Watchmen. Knuckles The Echidna. As soon as I found my old original copies, I remembered all the joy (yes, joy) that it brought me, and piqued my interest as a reader. The setting was a floating island 12 000 years after an alternate future where most of the present day Echidna species live. The Island has it's own diplomatic problems, where The Brotherhood, led by the Guardian (In this case Knuckles), the Dark Legion led by Grandmaster Dimitri and Kommisars Lien-Da and Kragok, and the Dingoes led by Helmut Von Stryker who have major xenophobia to all Echidna's, all the while dealing with the war between Dr. Eggman and Sonic and the Kingdom of Acorn. Now before I get into the review I just want to get out of the way, is the fact that," I FUCKING LOVE THIS SERIES." I loved it since I got my first issue when I was 7, and will still love it probably when I'm in my 70's.
First a short history on this series. The series originally started as a miniseries surprisingly published by Archie Comics (who are responsible for most of the stories that I want to smack my 7 year old self for) between December 1995 and February 1996. It worked so well with the fans, that they created a whole new series apart from the regular seires, which ran from January 1997 until November 1999, where the comic was cancelled (I still have animosity towards them for that until Sonic Universe #9. 10 BLOODY YEARS!) and had it's own story in the regular series until issue #125 in 2003, where Knuckles and all other characters from the series were fully merged with the regular series.
For the Outline, we'll start when the regular series began. As stated before, Knuckles the Echidna takes place over 12000 years in the future , and according to the new world calendar it's the year 3236. The story revolves around a 400 year old conflict between The Brotherhood of Guardians (Which Knuckles is part of) and the Echidna Security Team (Think a SWAT Team but armed with lasers and all Echidna) on one side, and the Dark Legion (A group of fanatics who put all faith in technology) led by Dimitri, Kragok and Lien-Da on the other side, with the Dingoes trying to carve out an image through diplomatic and militaristic means. Knuckles comes in with his group, the "Chaotix", which consists of Mighty the Armadillo, Vector the Alligator (Or Crocodile I keep getting it messed up.) Charmy Bee, Espio the Chameleon and not shown on the cover above, Julie-Su. They help Knuckles try to defend the Island, while Knuckles tries to piece his past together, after losing his mother to a quick divorce, and his father leaving him when he was a child.
Edmund. Before Half-Life, he was the most kick ass physicist.
Now after reading Issue #8, I got the back issues and started reading them. It starts out with two stories about the Dark Legion returning from their land of imprisonment, after Dimitri's followers killed his brother Edmund, 400 years before the story and are ready to make the Floating Island their own. The Dingoes return after their own 200 year absence, after failing to properly launch a nuclear missile, and are returning now that the Fallout has cleared up. Knuckles and the Chaotix immediately go to fight the Dark Legion, and quickly run into a Dark Legionnaire called Julie-Su (Direct descendent of Dimitri, and Knuckles's love interest) Knuckles's mother Lara-Le who was presumed dead after she left Knuckles's father, and Constable Remington, leader of the EST, (The main army, because the Brotherhood is like the NSA. It's pretty much the "No Such Agency".) After helping the EST deal with the Legion, the Comic shows how it has to meld with the main story, where a character from the main series (Mammoth Mogul) revives the old Dimitri who has the pwer of the gods at his hands. He defeats the Chaotix, totures Knuckles's for an ENTIRE issue and splits him into billions of particles, and sends the Dark Legion to attack Echidnaopolis, where the Dingoes and the EST try to fight them off. The battle ends with Knuckles re-materializing (It sounds like bullshit, but it works) Mogul, defeating Dimitri, who retreats with the legion, and Sonic, Tails and Knuckles taking down Mogul. At this point as an 8 year old who actually had a copy of Fallout for his old PC, I wen't THIS IS FUCKING CRAZY. It was like Batman the Animated Series, where it was a children's thing, yet it treated it's viewers like adults, which is what this comic had done. But then, when I thought that's where it hit it's peak for a visceral nature, until I read the storyline:The Chaotix Caper. The story, which revolves around the Chaotix, Echidnaopolis and two warring Gangsters Renfield Rodent, and Downtown Ebony Hare. The Chaotix, deciding to take a break from fighting and trying to show Charmy's old friend Mello a good time, decide to go to an amusement park to celebrate, which is owned by Renfield. They decide to try out the Park's speciality, the food, which Renfield injected with an addicting drug to bring customers back, called Lemon Sundrop Dandelion (LSD anyone?) The drug causes the Chaotix to go into a drugged stupor, due to it's power, but proves more potent to Charmy and Mello, killing Mello through a FREAKING drug overdose, and causing Charmy to into surgery to save his life.
Follow her down to a turnstile... Where rocking horse people, eat marshmellow pies....
Julie-Su, the only one not caught with the addicting drug, tries to investigate the new owner Downtown Ebony Hare, who quickly took over after Renfield was arrested, by infiltrating Hare's gang. However she is found out, and thrown off a roof, almost causing her to die. After a while the Chaotix's drug overdose is cured, they go for one last attack on Ebony who moved to a new position which is being tracked by Remington. After a gunfight between EST and Ebony's gang, Ebony starting to see that he's about to lose, tries to shoot Julie-Su with his revolver, only to get subdued by Espio. Charmy feeling sorry for Mello, decides to leave the Chaotix, to return to his homeland. This visceral tone just continues on for the rest of the series. I read this shit when I was 8, and even now, almost 10 years later, I keep getting amazed at this as a children's comic. Now as much as I've read even more visceral and brutal stories, (I had Fallout at the same time, and all my reactions where just, "This is awesome!") the fact that it was for children makes it stand out more, as if it doesn't just want to be for children, and say "I'm for everyone. Who can understand it." Sure it's a story where you need all of the back issues to understand it, but the effort for it makes it all worth it.
The Dialogue has got to be one of the best in comics. As much as I shall never meet Ken Penders (The writer) I have to say, he did a damn fine job. It was pretty much an encyclopaedia for me, I had no idea what the words hypocrite, vehemently, sanctimonious, anarchy and heresy were, (That's maybe 1/1000 of the words that I didn't know.) and that all of the citizens of this Island are all under pressure from all sides of war and xenophobia and as if speeches in the comic we're written for a speech in real life. Dimitri fully fits a role as a charismatic techno messiah, gaining support through fanaticism, and shouts of "HAIL DIMITRI!", Lien-Da as a brutal soldier who will beat and destroy to help the Dark Legion, telling hostages, "Quiet, you pathetic worm!", and referring to beating civilians not supportive to their cause, by "beating them meriscally and senselessly." Most dialogue is serious and humour has a backseat in the whole story, but sometimes some funny stuff happens like the scene where Knuckles asks his father what sex is.
Just your average day in Echidnaopolis...
Well, the art isn't stellar, but it's better than anything that I can do. The comic had more than one artist working during the run of the series, and the art style would change from time to time. The cover art is done well, even though come covers have ads for Sonic Comics just right in the open, either on a billboard or a paper ad in the city scape. The city itself, is definitely not as stylized as New York's Watchmen (Well pretty much nothing is), but it's still very well done, of creating an Island where alliances and borders are almost non-existent.
I must say, that I love KtE. It has given me many nostalgic moments, and got me into reading more comics, and well more of anything in print text. It had a brilliant writer, that was willing to push the bounds of what he could do, with his rated "PG" ball and chain, had characters that didn't shout pointless bravado (I'M LOOKING AT YOU SEGA) and had a plot that had flow and structure to it. (Still looking at SEGA here) The art style was, varied and sometimes in less quality than other artists at somepoints, but it still paints a vivid image. I can't give it a score, but I can only say, it's no Watchmen, but to anyone who reads this before then, you'll say that it's deserves a place a spot in anyone's top 5.
Also, I'd like to say a small thanks to Suiseiskei, who had no direct help in this, but just making a review that I could quote so I could see how to embed websites, and align images.
Anyways, any help for the future would be appreciated.