Sonic The Hedgehog #86 Review by Rolland Therrien
"Evil's Return"

Written by Danny Figeroth
Pencilled by Sam Maxwell
Inked by Saleem Crawford

This story picks up where last issue left off, with Sonic and Tails doing some scouting around the area where the Freedom Special crashed, and having a little fun race as they're doing it. Meanwhile, we get a little narration from someone who says he's about to destroy their happiness...

Tails, while flying, has a little trouble with an updraft, and falls down. After Sonic helps him recover, they stop to talk a while, with Sonic giving Tails a short pep-talk, saying he'll learn to master those moves soon enough. Then he sends Tails to gather firewood while he starts the kindling.

After an hour of waiting for Tails, Sonic knows something's wrong, and goes looking for him, just about everywhere... Until he meets up with Metal Sonic, who seems better than ever. Seems that after the more recent beating he received from Knuckles back in the Chaotix special, Metal Sonic actually rebuilt himself from scratch, actually improving himself. In fact, when Sonic attacks him, he finds out that Metal Sonic is actually FASTER then he is! That, and the fact MS has more gadgets, makes the first round an easy victory for MS. Sonic realizes, a bit too late, that Metal Sonic has a Power Gem on his chest, the same one that once turned him into a Giant back in the Chaotix special. That's what's giving Metal Sonic his supercharge of power.

Unfortunately, by the time Sonic realizes this, Metal Sonic has already beaten him up and pinned him to a mountain wall. MS then gives him a challenge: Tails is currently held atop Mt Mobius, which is a volcano rigged to blow soon. The contest is a race. If Sonic can race atop the volcano before it blows, Tails is saved. If not...

Anyways, off Sonic goes, zooming his way to the Mountain as fast as he can, but, half-way there, Metal Sonic shows up to knock out Sonic again.

The story ends on a cliff-hanger note, with Metal Sonic gloating to Tails that Sonic has lost once and for all, and Tails defying him, saying Sonic will save him soon enough. To Be Continued.

Rating: Rings

Well, this was a very good story, compared to the previous issues. We get the return of a classic villain, and Metal Sonic seems better (and badder) then ever! Of course, we all know Sonic will get his second wind next issue, and will kick MS's can six ways form sunday, but this is still a gripping story.

And now, for a less interesting story; the origins of Monkey Khan.

Monkey Khan in: "Against the Haunted Past"

Writer/Penciller: Frank Strom
Inker: Vickie Williams

We start Ten years ago, back when Julian Kintobor was still the Warlord of Mobotropolis; he makes a nice facade of being a humanitarian, devising medical break-throughs, but is in fact planning to build a Cyborg army in his service. But first he needs guinea pigs to work on.

And he conveniently finds them in the outer reaches of the Kingdom, in an immigrant settlement of Leung West, where a group of pacifist, artisans and intellectuals have build a new home. There, young Ken Khan, son of the community leader, happens to be a trouble-maker, as he's the only aggressive youth in the village. He asks his father what if they were attacked, how would they defend themselves, and his father says there is no conflict that cannot be resolved through communication and reason, which is why their community is neutral in the war with the Overlanders.

Of course, after making such a bold and noble sentiment, a tragically ironic turn of events is bound to happen. And it does: Dr Robotnik chooses that moment to attack the village and capture its people to use as guinea pigs.

We cut to some time later, after Kintobor has finished with his experiments, he says none of them were strong enough to accept the alterations, and all rejected them: All but Ken Khan, who just happened to be the only one of them who was aggressive. In other words, pacifism makes you weak and die... Nice moral, Strom.

Kintobor decides to give Monkey Khan a final test run, and sics him on an Overlander patrol, trashing it entirely. But just as Kintobor starts gloating, Khan starts rebelling and regains his free will, attacking him, with Julian barely able to use a weapon to knock the cyborg in time. Then he wisely decides to permanently confine the monkey, let he comes back to haunt him later. (I'd have had the ape dissected, but that's just me)

We skip ahead ten years into the future, after a brief one paragraph recap of what happened to Khan (He got freed, then went back to Kar Leung, his ancestral home). We find Khan waking up inside a mysterious base, where he's confronted by the electronic image of Dr Robotnik, back from the dead! Well, actually, this isn't the original version: it's not even the version who originally turned Khan into a cyborg, but what's a little continuity between friends? The story ends there, with a "To Be Continued" note. Seems like the month for those, huh?

Rating: Rings

I'll admit, this story was actually diverting. Pointless, and focused on a character I could care less if they'd dismantle him and used him as VCR parts, but diverting anyway. We finally get Monkey Khan's origin story, and it's actually not half-bad as far as origins go. The "I lost my family due to Robotnik's experiments that turned me into a being with incredible powers" is one that you can find in a hundred Sonic fanfics on the net, but it's not badly executed this time.

The fact that Strom only seems to work on Sonic stories involving the Khan leads me to believe he made this deal with Ken: "Ok, I'll do some Sonic stories; but I get to try out this character idea I've been having to do so." Now, I don't mind Monkey Khan, except he has "Self- Inclusion Fanfic Character" written all over him. I think everyone who's checked out Sonic Fics on the net would agree with me. Same problem with Nate Morgan, actually, but that's another rant.

Strom could write and draw some wonderful Sonic stories, if only he'd quit his fixation on his pet creation Monkey Khan.

Overall Rating: Rings