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6/15/2013

Comic Review: NiGHTS (Issues 4-6)

If you haven't read part 1 yet, click here!

The story of NiGHTS was pretty well concluded in the previous miniseries.  It followed the events of the game relatively well, the heroes came out victorious and the big bad was forever vanquished.  Not much wiggle room for a sequel there.  But that's never stopped comic companies or giant gaming conglomerates in the past, has it?  Cue the continuation series!



..And already this isn't boding well for us.  The art takes on a whole new level of hideous under the watch of new penciler Sam Maxwell, replacing Manny Galan from the previous three issues.  Also, keep in mind that the main characters of this comic are in their early teens...

Cue early expository pages where Elliot and Claris explain their roles as the Dream Guardians and... um, what the fuck?

Hammerfeet meets Mimi Bobeck

Elsehwere in the dream world Reala has assumed Wizeman's throne, using one of his remaining eye-hands as one of those omnipresent villainous super-cameras that lets him view any place in the dream world.  He's apparently still searching for NiGHTS, but hasn't had any luck finding the guy since he can only utilize a small portion of Wizeman's power through the hand.

The next page tells us that thanks to NiGHTS becoming real, he's now the self-appointed guardian of Twin Seeds in our reality.  He spots another person in the sky and, thinking he's finally found someone else who can fly like him, decides to check it out.  It turns out he's just a skydiver and the sight of NiGHTS causes him to panic and forget to deploy his chute.  NiGHTS, thinking they're in some kind of race and that he's cheating instead of in mortal peril, flies down after him and deploys his chute.  So yeah, that was pointless.

Cut to Twin Seeds High School, where both Claris and Elliot have become narcoleptic or something since both of them have trouble staying awake during their classes.  Does this have any purpose other than wasting another page?  ...No, not really.

Cut yet again to the Twin Seeds Tower, where we've now gone from video game adaptation to GI Joe episode as a group calling themselves "R.E.M." (get it?) have seized the tower.  But of course, NiGHTS bursts in just in time to see...

...Wow, these are the prettiest terrorists ever.   I haven't seen such examples of masculinity since JESUS WHAT IS THAT OH MY GOD

We get ripoff whiplash yet again as NiGHTS swallows a laser blasts the terrorists fire at him, then dispatches both the prettyboy terrorists with a belch in a scene that looks like it came straight from an episode of Ren and Stimpy.  I'm dead serious.  Here, I'll prove it.



..I'm sure you can already see why this comic was cancelled.  But alas, we still have two and a half issues left, so let's just get through this.

The narrative then takes a turn for the confusing as a news crew asks what the terrorists are fighting, implying that NiGHTS is invisible to cameras I guess?  This doesn't have any real payoff later either, by the way.  Then the Twin Seeds police burst in demanding that NiGHTS surrender, to which he replies by simply flying off again.  Of course, the police don't take kindly to that sort of thing and chase him, thinking him a terrorist even though he just took out two of them in full view of some cops.  Um... alright.

NiGHTS then soliloquys about he wants to return home (Um... why?  All your enemies are back home, dude) and he has to seek out Elliot and Claris to help him do so.  Elliot and Claris both have a vision of NiGHTS fleeing the cops and leave school mid-lecture to go and find him.  I'm sure that will go over well!


You also have to love how they actually put "blah blah blah" in the text boxes to fill in anything that's not strictly important to the story.  It's like even the writers didn't want to work on this comic so they put in as little effort as possible.

Elswhere, NiGHTS has lost his power of flight and is fleeing on foot because, apparently, his bravery has been taken away from him.  Joining the chase is a lieutenant named "Lucy O'Lawful", which is either an awful pun on "Lucy Lawless" or just an awful pun on her profession.  Either way, it makes me die a little inside.  Besides, she's nowhere near as cool as Agent Krantz from the Mega Man comic.

At this point we finally slow down a bit and get a page of exposition that... doesn't really tell us much.  The owner of the Twin Seeds Tower has no clue why terrorists would attack it, Elliot and Claris meet up and continue their search for NiGHTS, and Snuze and Napp appear from the portal atop the tower to find NiGHTS before "it's too late".

Elsewhere, NiGHTS finally manages to evade the police by taking refuge among a group of mimes.  Judging from their dialog and appearance, I'm not convinced the writers even know what a mime is.

NiGHTS has joined forces with the Cinnamon Toast Crunch chefs

That doesn't last long either as NiGHTS grows weaker, ducking into a back alley as his courage and energy continue to flee him.  Elsewhere, Elliot and Claris get grabbed by the police for their truancy, which only further adds to the trouble they're going to find themselves in by the end of this day.  As the policeman trails off into another stream of repeated "Blah"s, NiGHTS encounters Roger the bully from the last issue, who apparently isn't aware he's under the control of Reala.  I also love how nobody else reacts to the wanted criminal walking through the middle of the street with giant red spotlight beams erupting from his chest...


Moving on to issue 5..

This month on NiGHTS, Fu Manchu joins the fray!

We open to NiGHTS in Roger's basement in a rather disturbing image...

You just know that someone, somewhere was inspired to write a really creepy rape fanfic after they saw this image

As that thought festers in the back of your mind and gives you night terrors for the next week or so, the comic cuts to the police station where Elliot and Claris are getting lectured yet again by a roughneck cop.  They start trying to explain themselves and end up finishing each other's sentences, implying they have some kind of mind-melding psychic powers or something.  If you think this sudden development is going to be a plot point later, then congratulations!  You're wrong.

We see Lucy O'Lawful (ugh) drag in the two prettyboy terrorists from the last issue and give them an interrogation.  She puts them in their place rather well considering she looks to weigh about eighty pounds soaking wet and these guys are big enough to be professional wrestlers.  They explain that the reason behind their attack is because they know of some supernatural activity going on around it and they believe it to be a threat to the entire town.

Before we get too far in, I think I also need to point out that art has once again gotten substantially worse since the previous issue: 

Guys?  Seriously.  You're making Rob Liefeld look talented.  Stop it.

But since the plot's taking a minute to slow down and explain things, it's time for the writers to end that as lazily as possible by taking a page from the book of Final Fantasy.  A tank conveniently bursts in through the wall at just that moment, apparently being driven by the leader of REM.  A two story tall megatank with extending robo-arms, no less... wait, what?



Hey guys, this is a NiGHTS comic.  NiGHTS.  Not Sonic the Hedgehog, not TMNT, NiGHTS!  This is absurdly out of place!

The tank scoops up the two prettyboy terrorists and disappears with no resistance whatsoever, since I guess this town doesn't have patrolling police anymore and the military certainly wouldn't have any interest in stopping a giant armed vehicle rolling through town.  As Lucy (I refuse to use that surname anymore) and the remaining cops survey the damage, they find that Elliot and Claris have quite wisely fled in the confusion.

Back in Nightopia, Reala has grown stronger, turning the whole of the world into a place of nightmares as NiGHTS continues to weaken in our reality.  All of the old boss monsters, none too pleased about Reala's megalomania, show up to challenge him, but they all get thrashed within one panel by his newfound powers.

Back in Twin Seeds once again, Snuze and Napp continue their search for NiGHTS, Napp no longer being half-Nightmaren for reasons unexplained.  They continue their search for NiGHTS, saying that if he doesn't return to the dream world, his energy will eventually dissipate and he'll die.

The ADHD continues as the next page cuts yet again to Claris and Elliot, who have a psychic vision of NiGHTS' location and rush over there.  And yet again as the REM terrorists have an important meeting in the abandoned jungle gym factory.



Actually, that ridiculous device is the invention of the requisite evil genius of the group.  It collapses into something tiny and spherical called a "Dream Bomb".  I'm having flashbacks to a particularly dumb saga of the Spider-Man comics from the 90s.  You know, when comic writers thought "virtual reality" was an actual, physical place people could project their minds into, despite the fact that the word "virtual" implies something that isn't real?  Yeah...

Lucy pays a visit to the owner of the Twin Seeds Tower, who reveals that he's planning to build five more towers just like this one.  He uses Mitt Romney language to weasel his way out of giving any committal reason for why he's doing this, so we're just left to guess.

Elsewhere, Snuze and Napp meet up with Claris and Elliot outside of Roger's house.  They subdue Roger and infiltrate his basement to find NiGHTS in dire straits as the art sinks even deeper into the quagmire of awfulness.


Was the artist just upset about his wages or his hours or something so he let his six-year-old daughter start drawing the comic out of protest?  It would explain a lot...

Anyway, on to our final issue.


...The artwork hasn't gotten any better.  Let's just leave it at that.

Snuze and Napp exposit that their only chance to save NiGHTS is to get him back to the portal at Twin Seeds Tower, so they set out to do just that.

The scene then cuts to Roger, still unconscious thanks to Snuze and Napp in the previous issue and now in the world of dreams as a result.  He's being chased by some blue cat monster and get his clown shoe stuck in... a gray pillow or something.  Fortunately for him, Reala still has some use for him and saves the day.  Cue clumsy dialog.


Back at Twin Seeds Tower, the businessman guy states that R.E.M. would be foolish to make another attempt on the tower being that it's now under heavy watch by police.  Cue cartoonish gag as the elevator door opens before him and he gets pulled inside by R.E.M.'s disguised flunkies.  Ba-ba-da-dum-da-da-dum.

Elsewhere, Lucy discovers what we already know, finding a broken window and a discarded uniform from the repair crew.  She calls in her foot soldiers and OH MY GOD

CHRIST!  She's going straight-up Judge Doom!

Seriously, what the hell is with the imagery in this comic?  The villains are somehow the LEAST frightening characters, and they are literally the stuff of nightmares!

Cut back to the heroes as NiGHTS regains a bit of his strength from being in proximity to Claris and Elliot and they witness people fleeing the tower, saying the terrorists have returned and have a bomb.  Nevertheless, they press on as Roger closes in behind them.

They enter the tower and we get a dual-scene as the terrorists exposit their intentions to the tower's owner and a slightly rejuvenated NiGHTS flies to the top in to try and stop them.  Unfortunately, he's too late and the bomb goes off, blowing up the top of the tower in an awfully gruesome image for a kids comic.  Given its "dream" properties and the power of the red Ideya rapidly dissipating from NiGHTS, it also allows a certain someone to cross over into our world as well...

A very, very psychotic Reala!

They begin their fight, with Reala initially getting the upper hand.  However, NiGHTS manages to turn the tables before long...



..Okay, this is actually a pretty clever fight scene.  NiGHTS bats his projectile back at him with his surprise exclamation point but misses, at which point he throws the period and stuns him, causing him to see stars.  In return, Reala throws the spinning stars back at him.  It's a bit of decent self-aware humor and actually puts the "dream powers" idea to a pretty clever use.  Plus the artwork goes from being "ungodly awful" back to "merely bad" again, so yeah, this issue does at least have one genuine highlight to it.

Cut to the bottom of the tower, where the R.E.M. terrorists are brought into custody and the CEO guy is still alive despite all three of them being at ground zero of a bomb that decimated most of a building.  How the hell does that work?  I guess we'll never find out as they quickly cut away to a dialog between Elliot, Claris, Snuze, Napp and Roger, where they convince a character to change sides in the span of a panel for the third time in this comic.

NiGHTS once again begins to fade away, but so does Reala as Roger casts away his bond with him, forcing both of them to flee back into the dream world.  So with the day saved... sort of... Elliot, Claris and Roger flee the truant officer once again.  Oh, those wacky kids.  They're going to be picking up trash on the side of the road for months!

We get our final page of exposition, explaining that the portal to Nightopia is now forever open thanks to the tower being destroyed.  Don't ask me what sense that makes since the tower was built to allow the portal to be opened in the first place.  However, with NiGHTS back in top form and acting as its self-appointed guardian, they'll have to go through him to get to the waking world.  The end.

I'll just let the writers themselves explain why they never made it to issue 7.


...The first three issues didn't sell enough copies, so they banked on a particularly bad continuation to get it going, which unsurprisingly didn't expand its fanbase one iota.  Of course, even if this comic had caught on, I doubt it would have lasted much longer anyway given that by 1998 NiGHTS' popularity was fleeting and Sega was already trying their hardest to distance themselves from the commercial failure that was the Sega Saturn. As a result NiGHTS is now one of their least prominent franchises, only getting a single sequel (a forgettable affair released on the Wii in 2008) and a Japan-only remake on the Playstation 2 (later given an international release on the PS3), as well as the occasional small cameo in other projects.

Thus ends the tale of NiGHTS and its expanded universe.  Will we ever get a followup that allows us to truly explore a fantastic dream world and push the potential of its concept to the very limits of technology and imagination?  ...With the people Sonic Team has working for them now, probably not.  Ah well.  At the very least, the original will remain a curious footnote in the annals of gaming history...