Sonic The Hedgehog #61 Review by Jonathan Gray
"Outback Gut Check"
"Total Turbulence"
"On His Majesty's Secret Service - Part One"

Micheal Gallagher, Karl Bollers, And Ken Penders(W)
Harvey Mercadoocasio, Steven Butler, And Art Mawhinney(A)
This issue marks the return of Micheal Gallagher and Harvey Mercadoocasio and the end of the round robin writers and artists of the Sonic books. Whoever said that "Too many Cooks spoil the soup" couldn't have said better words. Lately the focus between this issue and Sonic 57 has become WAY too muddled. The search is supposed to be concerned with Ixis Naugus but the "On The Road" Saga as I call it has been anything but consistent. We've seen surreal zones, lunatic Mr. Mxyptlck Superman villian wannabees, Foriegn legends that have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, and have had to wade through the muddled Freedom Fighter Breakup. With Karl Bollers And Steven Butler now taking permanent status on the book lets hope that this issue will mark a rise in the stories to come...

Many people have had mixed feelings about the Downunda Freedom Fighters but personally I've always liked them. And this issue marks thier return! We open with Guru Emu and Wombat Stu in hanging cages as Sonic, Tails and the Downunda Freedom Fighters face off against the horde of Platypi complete with flames and bulging fists. Que now the fight scene which has seemed to become the norm in the Sonic books. After the fight Sonic goes into a spin releasing Stu and Guru as Walt as we cut to the flashback to keep the readers on pace. It seems that after the full defeat of Crocbot, Duck Bill went renegade as well as half the other multicolored platypi on the planet!

Sonic and Tails just happened to land in Downunda and agreed to help stop Duck bill once and for all. Venturing into the swamps they battle the Platypus horde now with Crocodile action figures in an oddly layed out two page spread. Busting into the nearby hut they discover Bill who has decided to faint from thier presence after having a powwow with the floor. Checking it out for themselves they discover Crocbot, or his last remains anyway (This guy has been blown up so much that he might as well rent himself out as a professional bad luck charm) as Crocky goes into the usual "I-am-the-villian-hear-my-master-plan" Speech, Sonic cuts it short at the interesting part by pulling the plug just as Croc is about to tell about the mysterious "Bunyip". Releasing Bill from his mental prison the DFF wave goodbye as Sonic And Tails fly off with Tails thinking about how much he'd love to jump Barby's bones.

This story was pretty good BUT it felt VERY FORCED. I've never liked flashbacks but I feel that the flash was the only way to have the story make sense. Even though Gallagher only had 12 pages to work with, I think the story would have been better had it started when Sonic and Tails actually landing and greeting Walt and Barby rather than starting halfway into a forced fight scene. It would have had a more linear feel to it.

Now check out page two and you'll notice however that Harvo has gotten a little off in his drawing. I've often found his work to be particularly stiff myself and I think he really should work on his perspectives. His layout is fine but in the bottom panel where Sonic is held up by Walt something there just looks kinda off. The thing that makes art good is not where super details are concerned but also how you can handle body structure. Look at the second panel on page three and at Stu's position. He looks like a Daddy longlegs! And if Guru is landing behind Stu (since his leg is behind his head then shouldn't Stu be bigger in body? Yet again Harvo's perspectives are off whack. Harvo does a pretty good page on 6 but Why is Sonic fat???? He has a big bulging gut on the 3rd panel and looks like he's been eating waaaay too much chili dogs as well as the fact that Sonic's quills seem to have considerably shrunk in the wash in some positions. Now here is where things get ugly! On page 8 and 9, Harvo does a few impressive things here but making everything one panel with the water as the dividers was a little too much. Can you say "Overkill"? And lastly is the design of Crocbot. FOLLOW SPAZ'S DESIGN OR NOTHING AT ALL!!!! The only persons who even tried to follow the designs of Crocbot were Maxwell and Ortega. Manak did some weird Crocodile Dundee thing and Harvo makes him look like a toy Transformer after making contact with a rottweiler. Next is the pinup. Please stop the pinups Archie ! That could have been space devoted to fleshing out more of the story. It took me forever to realize that thing with hair was Sally.

"Total Turbulence" however was the was the bomb. Whereas "Outback Gut Check" had its limits Karl Bollers made good use of the _4 pages_ (???) alloted to him. And the newcomer - Steven Butler - Whoa. The drawings are simply put - PHAT !!!! Different facial expressions than most Sonic artists, giving us the feel that Sonic and Tails are actually in a plane other than floating lonely in the sky, and his Ixis Naugus is even better than Maxwell - Ortega made him look like a Gremlin in all honesty. I only hate he had to use 4 pages, but if this is what Bollers plans on giving us readers then I say keep on truckin' brother!

Now for Part One of On His Majesty's Secret Service". This was OK but Penders can do better than this. Maybe its the fact that NO ONE LIKES GEOFFREY ST. JOHN and the thought of him with a group that isn't exactly Freedom Fighters but instead spies for the purpose of infiltrating Foriegn countries just doesn't pique my curiosity. Too "James-Bond-ish" but this story was, like I said OK. Anyway the recruits are a no-name blue chameleon clone with some weird red beret, Wombat Stu of the DFF, Hershey The Cat - fan favorite from End Game, and what just may be Heavy and Bomb FINALLY returning to the comic after a MUCH LONG hiatus. Art Mawhinney has slacked on his art. Maybe its the inks do it but compare his art in Sonic 58 to his art in this story. 58 had WAAY more detail than this as the drawings on these pages looked really plain and at times flat. We know he can draw better than this so why doesn't he? This doesn't mean I don't like it. I just think that it could be better.

Rating: Rings

This issue had its ups and downs - more downs than ups due to the art in which Harvey Mercadoocasio later said in an email that his inks were messed up in the printing, but Mike could have done a LOT better than this. This story left me feeling like "so what" when I finished reading it. The plot was about as FORCED as FORCED can GET. The only saving grace could have been Crocbot, but a once good villian has been reduced to a pile of slag. NO COMMENT. As for the second story - I may have had my beef with some of Karl's stuff but that 4 page inset was the ONLY thing that got this issue 3 rings. As for the last story...Well...Read what I said above.

Overall this issue was OK but it had me wanting much more. Hopefully we'll get with it next issue: Sonic 62 and The Sand Blast Freedom Fighters - A Strange Case of Obsession !!!! Plus the long awaited return of Snively!!