StoryIt's evening primetime, and the Kane Broadcasting Company is beaming entertainment to homes across Mobius. Top of the listings tonight is the Harold Hilltop Show, where the eponymous comedian is taking pops at the latest embarrassment of the hour - Sonic the Hedgehog. Despite the shoddy set, cheap shots, canned laughter and a nervous crew not entirely happy with the lampooning of a still-loved hero, the programme goes ahead - Kane himself is personally supervising its direction, eager to turn the screws on Sonic and extract more good ratings from his suffering.
Even though Sonic has been suffering under the heat of Kane's blinding spotlight, his support has not entirely eroded - Norris Wimple, outraged at Harold Hilltop's scornful treatment of his icon, amasses a large group of Sonic fans into M.A.S.H. - "Mobians Against Sonic Hatred" - to protest against KBC outside the Harold Hilltop Show's studio. Emotions are running high, and the crowd becomes rowdier; after an inspired Norris musters up some unexpected vim to rouse the protestors to Sonic's defence, MASH storms the studio and corners a panicked Harold Hilltop, pressing him on him menacingly...
...Harold is rescued when none other than Sonic himself intervenes - he'd been travelling to the studio himself anyway to give Harry a piece of his mind (yes, he does change his socks, thank you very much), but on seeing the aggravated mob he finds himself with the undesirable but necessary task of defending Harold in the interest of peace - doing unpalatable things and helping enemies out of principle is one of the burdens of a true hero, quite unlike the figure that Kane has painted him as, but sadly no-one seems to recognise that.
Unfortunately, Sonic has never been the most personable of people, and this works against him - his appeals that Harold doesn't deserve to be beaten up for the sake of a few lazy jokes and that being aggressive merely plays into Kane's hands instead come across instead as testy browbeating. MASH slinks off, but not because they've been inspired by Sonic's lesson - instead they're disappointed by his harsh mood and him not laying into and biffing his enemy about, as he would have done back when he was fighting Robotnik. Sonic has only succeeded in disaffecting his once-reliable hard core of supporters, and making matters worse!
The situation only declines further when the evening news shows pictures of the attack on the studio, editing the footage to imply that Sonic was leading the group assaulting Harry Hilltop, rather than stopping it, reinforcing the impression that Sonic is becoming more dangerous and uncontrollable. In the KBC offices, Kane gloats, revelling in the sheer mischief of having the power to build and destroy people through the media.
- Chris G wrote this story, his only script for the online comic.
- This is Kane's first appearance in the comic, even though he was created by Edward Reynolds.
- The title of the story is a pun on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
- Harold Hilltop is a parody of the comedian Harry Hill. A rubber chicken can be seen in a box behind Harry Hilltop's desk, referencing the "Chicken Catcher", a recurring sketch on the Harry Hill Show.
- The double-act Hobson and Choy, responsible for producing the initial documentary which first blemished Sonic's reputation, cameo on a poster in the background of a panel.
- One of the MASH members looks almost completely identical to Manic the Hedgehog, Sonic's brother in the DIC produced show Sonic Underground.
The previous Sonic story was The Debt Collectors, but that was a oneshot narratively unconnected with this story. The previous story that dealt with Sonic's collapsing public image was The Inside Story. The next chronological Sonic story was The Night Before Christmas