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TILT!

Spinball Wizard is a Sonic the Hedgehog complete story published in Issue 73 of Sonic the Comic. It was later reprinted in Issue 198.

Staff

Story

Being on the front line of the insurrection against Doctor Robotnik naturally endears Sonic to many amongst Mobius, and Bob Beaky's Travelling Circus is inundated with sacks of fan mail celebrating the Cool Blue Dude. Sonic is busy soaking up their adulation, but it inspires some degree of envy in Tails, who is never accorded any distinction himself as a mere peripheral sidekick, adjunct to the hero.

Tails sets off on his own to win some renown for himself. He travels to the Casino Night Zone, hoping that some time smacking around Robotnik's goons in the area will get his face seen. He boldly kicks in the door to a warehouse - to be confronted by a squad of Trooper badniks defending Robotnik's latest creation - the "Spinball Murder Machine", literally a giant vertical pinball table. The device may be ridiculous but the troopers are not, and against such a formidable sight Tails' initial show of bravado immediately evaporates and he is quickly captured.

Sonic is relaxing with a snack back at the circus, when a bystander arrives to inform him that Tails has been captured. Sonic, half-expecting Tails to have done something foolish after noticing his despondent mood earlier, dons a fresh pair of Power Sneakers and dashes off to rescue him. A company of troopers is massed against the rushing hedgehog, but let's be honest - it's pretty much just a token gesture (and the troopers know it themselves). Sonic easily brushes aside the troopers to enter the building where Tails is held, to be confronted by the Spinball Murder Machine - Tails is trussed up at the top of it.

Sonic begins charging up the sheer slope of the table to rescue Tails, but he is caught out by the Murder Machine's switches, panels and flippers - completely surprised and flat-footed, Sonic's agility counts for naught as he is battered about the table and knocked unconscious for the big score multiplier. Stunned and insensible, Sonic is helpless as Robotnik launches a bonus ball - directly at the hedgehog...

Tails knows that this huge spinball will crush Sonic to a pulp, and fortunately has worked his bonds loose at just that moment. Determined to save his friend, he leaps atop the spinball and by running on its surface (the gradient seems to have suddenly flattened out somehow) successfully redirects the spinball to smash into the Spinball Murder Machine's power generator, destroying it and the whole contraption in a tremendous fireball.

Tails has, indeed, saved the day - and a personal letter from the postman duly arrives back at the travelling circus, addressed to none other than the young Master Miles Prower himself. Tails hopes that the rumour mill has been kind to him... only to find out that it's a fine for overdue library books. Sonic is entirely unsympathetic - in classic arrogant mode, he is the hero of Mobius and Tails' humbling experience here shows that there's no room for rivals.

Trivia

  • The first panel has been subjected to several butcheries on the Message Zone, where Sonic discovers something different on the letter he is reading every time.
  • Troopers show emotions, wishing Sonic's attacks didn't "hurt" so much and exclaim in fright.
  • Parts of this story can be seen on the front page. "Bullet holes" appear to have shot straight through the first page, revealing several letters and envelopes from the first panel. However, they do not line up.

Errors

  • Despite the location of the caravan being a secret, Sonic is still able to receive sackfuls of mail.
  • Tails is coloured brown rather than orange.
  • It is suggested that Sonic gets an extra burst of speed from his secret stash of Power Sneakers, even though it has been established that they are merely a way of protecting against friction. Furthermore, it was never established that Sonic had an extra stock of them, as Doctor Kintobor was never seen to give Sonic any more.
  • Many of the angles that Sonic flies around the Spinball Murder Machine at are impossible.
  • Tails seems to head off to pay the fine for his overdue library books, despite not taking any books with him.
  • Tails reckons that the spinball is the only thing big enough to destroy the generator - despite it being roughly the same size as the heroes.

Firsts

  • This is the first Sonic strip to be drawn by Page and his last work for Sonic the Comic. It is also Millar's last script.

Continuity

  • Sonic later answers his fan-mail, albeit out-of-universe, in the later editions of Speedlines.

Similarity to Sonic Spinball

Despite being released two years earlier, Spinball Wizard can be seen as a loose adaptation of the Sonic Spinball video game. The title received a very indirect in The Sonic Terminator, referencing the Veg-o-Fortress. This strip, however, actually features the pinball mechanics that made the game a unique experience.

In Sonic Spinball, Sonic heads to Robotnik's base to destroy his latest plans. In effect, this is also what is happening here, although rescuing Tails is the priority. In both the game and the strip, Sonic is used as the "spinball", with Robotnik taking the place of the player as the one to catapult Sonic through the stage.

In both, Tails is captured and held towards the top of a pinball table. Both of these tables feature a ball. In the finale of both, Tails comes to Sonic's rescue.

Reception

Talk about "Spinball Wizard" has been rare on the Message Zone. During a brief discussion that considered an "Ultimate Sonic the Comic", Charles Ellis joked that that would see the return of Millar and strips like "Spinball Wizard" would last multiple strips.

Gallery

Timeline

The previous Sonic the Hedgehog story was The Return of Chaotix. The following story was Mission to the Metropolis Zone.

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