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What are some fair criticisms of the Sonic comic writers?


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Whether it is Archie, Fleetway, IDW or even manga, Sonic had a lot of comic book writers over the years with very critically acclaimed stories. With all that said, what are some very fair criticisms of those writers? What critique do you have of their work? 

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Well, if I were to bring up some constructive criticism from a past story arc from Archie Sonic, I am going to go with House of Cards. I understand it was acknowledged in the past IIRC as it was meant to be longer, but was cut down for reasons. On that note, I felt the thing between Sonic and Tails was resolved a bit too quickly and I felt it could have been pushed out more naturally (both coming to an understanding, but maybe something more than just returning to the normal status quo as if nothing happened on the next issue.

But again, kind of understandable to a degree as I think this was one of the story arcs under Ian that was forced to be shorter.

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I'll start with my favorite, Ian Flynn.

I like Flynn for generally caring about all aspects of the series and its many weird world and plot elements, but I think sometimes his writing comes off as...smug? Like, I know people are complaining about references in Frontiers's writing, but in the comics it's sometimes a really obvious thing while one character mugs the camera and it's kinda like "yeah, I get it". It's the same as his "#knowingsmile" thing on twitter. Like, if you want to tell us something, either tell us or don't.

I also think he tends to...I'm thinking of a better word than "fetishize" for how he portrays Eggman's evilness, but he consistently makes the guy a big enough bastard that it starts to feel weird compared to the games, especially when the games bend over backwards to essentially imply that Eggman has never killed anyone, which definitely isn't true for the comics. There's also obviously stuff like house of cards and that bad thing with Charmy, but I don't think it really applies in a modern idiom.

I love Evan Stanley's work, but it's honestly been a hot minute since I read much of her work, so I'm sure I could criticize something, but I don't have any right now.

Karl Bollers was definitely better than Penders, but he had some issues. A lot of his issues just fall flat conceptually, and feel kind of incomplete. #51 is a good example, having this half-baked cyberspace thing that I don't think is ever fully explained. He also loves his big narration boxes and weird catchphrases for Sonic, and it feels like he didn't quite "get" Sonic until sometime in the early 2000s. That said, I've recently learned to appreciate Nate's character arc a bit better, and I like Mina and Finitevus. And really, Return to Angel Island is such a good arc he obviously had talent, it just felt like he was way more hamstrung by the editorial staff than someone like Penders.

Penders...ugh. His main strategy is to lead you on promising that something interesting will eventually happen, but never following through on it. His dialogue is bad, his characters range from bland to infuriating, and the message of his comics tend to be indefensible, outright bad ideals. The fact that he continues to be a dick years after the fact and demands you hold things he wrote 25 years ago as incredible progressive fiction doesn't help this, but I suppose he hasn't got anything from the last fifteen to hold up as a better example.

Michael Gallagher, despite not being as immediately offensive to my sensibilities, is genuinely less-enjoyable to me than a lot of Penders writing. He has a better hold over pacing action and exposition, but it never feels like there's any point to his stories. They feel like filler even when they aren't, and not a single character he created ever stood out, except perhaps for the adult woman he frequently shipped with an 10 year-old boy. Penders was telling a stupid, pretentious, boring story. Gallagher rarely told much of anything, other than the occasional good joke. It didn't help that he was very frequently paired with the extremely messy art of Dave Manak.

As for other writers, I haven't read StC yet (okay I read about 50 issues years ago, but I don't remember much), so the full extent of Sonic's dickishness is lost on me. Angelo DeCesare was sort of like a mini-Gallagher, not being as funny but being more willing to actually make a story (plus, he started the Antoine/Bunnie ship and I cannot thank him enough for that). Mike Kanterovich only ever wrote with Penders, who basically only ever collaborated with him. In general, stories that Kanterovich and Penders made together tend to be better-paced than Pendejo alone, so I guess he must have been somehow helpful. Scott Fulop seemingly just kinda...copied Enerjak when making Mammoth Mogul, and Frank Strom basically just lifted shit from Journey to the West and said it was part of the Sonic world.


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I’ll probably go in on the other writers at another point, but I will focus on Ian for now. Now, to be clear - I like Ian’s work. I’ve followed him through Archie Sonic, Archie Mega Man, IDW Sonic, etc. When I heard he was on Frontiers, I was absolutely glad, and I still think it’s one of the best stories we’ve ever gotten in the series.

But, I also don’t think he’s perfect. The first, and arguably the most minor for me is his use of references. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as people like to say it is, especially in Frontiers (I have now done two complete runs of the game, and both times, I don’t think I heard more than five non-cutscene references between them). But in the comics? Well, as @Shaddy Zaphodsaid, there’s kind a ‘wink, nudge’ approach to it, that not only feels really forced, but the usage of it can be downright awful to the story being told

It was one thing when we had Eggman humming the lyrics of E.G.G.M.A.N to himself as he strutted in Scrambled, that was just cute. It reached the peak of absolute silliness when we’re in a very serious arc about the end of the world, with the last three issues at the time being about how all of the heroes’ attempts to fix things went completely wrong, and how awful the situation is.

When we have a scenario where the basis of the story is Sonic being so worn down, so exhausted, and so utterly desperate to force Eggman to find a cure to the Metal Virus, that Sonic, even for a few brief moments considered infecting Eggman with it, dooming him to becoming a Zombot…

…and then you get nonsense like this:


Like at that point, it stops being a cute little reference, and becomes a absolute tone breaker when you feel the need to shove in the lyrics to Open Your Heart. It’s always kind of been a recurring issue of Ian’s to shove in music references as actual dialogue, and it’s a joke that easily wears out its welcome, on top of the tone breaks.

The bigger problem I’d say is I honestly feel like Ian has a problem of climaxing his storylines. It was always a thing throughout his run on Archie Sonic and Mega Man. Where especially in Mega Man and Universe, it felt like arc conclusions would have to really be rushed through, with it primarily being a big criticism on Mega Man because it meant that game adaptions was being rushed through within four issues, and then the robot masters would only get two page fights, etc.

Worlds Unite is arguably the worst of the worst, a 12 issue story that was already filled with filler and pacing problems, which then felt the need to stack up the stakes so ridiculously higher and higher, that Ian wrote himself into a corner and basically had to pull a Deus-Ex Machina via Xander Payne, having him just erase the whole storyline out of existence, which not only made the whole thing feel pointless, but also meant the last time we saw most of the crossed over franchises was when they were in complete terrified despair, as they realised nothing they did could fix the multiverse, and they were all doomed.

I remember a lot of discussion thinking it was really on Archie, due to them forcing Ian to write for trade paperbacks, which Archie always forced into a four issue format. But I think the problem still occurs in IDW. The Metal Sonic arc doesn’t get a lot of cool-down before they’re right back into things.

The Metal Virus arc was arguably worse, forcing in a really blah two issue finale where they felt the need to have Sonic lose his memories for no reason for all of one issue, and then, after the longest comic arc in the whole franchise, where some cool-down and recovery was really warranted, we had Eggman show up yet again to try and kill everyone, only to be effortlessly beaten by Sonic as soon as his memory comes back.

Even the most recent example, Surge and Kit has the same problem, with the final issue of their story so far just repeating plot threads we had seen already two issues prior, and ending on Sonic being annoyed again that someone didn’t change their ways. It just feels to me that Ian seems to have a lot of anti-climaxes in his stories. Not to say he can’t pull out some good ones. Stuff like Worlds Collide was honestly pretty good, but I feel like the number of good conclusions compared to meh or bad ones are a lot more.

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43 minutes ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

Even the most recent example, Surge and Kit has the same problem, with the final issue of their story so far just repeating plot threads we had seen already two issues prior, and ending on Sonic being annoyed again that someone didn’t change their ways.

That story was Evan Stanley, from 52 to 56.

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