Monday, 6 May 2013
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! #30
Doctor Ivo Robotnik/Dr Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik/Julian Robotnik/Dr Eggman: Since the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has more canons than a dyslexic pirate, his appearances in four cartoon series, three comic continuities, two animated movies, and a partridge in a pear tree means that he has any of a host of origins, including but not limited to;
Julian Kintobor: warped and twisted by experiments and his ego;
Ovi Kintobor: warped and twisted by experiments and an egg; or:
(Deep breath) The humanised version of the umpteenth android shell inhabited by the consciousness of a robot version of himself returned from another dimension in the future who took over from the original dead Robotnik in the Sonic “prime” universe.
As Robotnik is a continuity meltdown so ridiculous that even a crack team composed of three Steve Moffats and a Kim Newman couldn’t unravel it, we’re going to go with the basics: Some bald overweight ginger lunatic obsessed with eggs and enslaving woodland creatures for very poorly-explained reasons.
Inspector Gadget: Once more man than machine, detective Alex Murphy was brutally murdered by gangland thugs on the mean streets of Metro City, but was rebuilt by evil omni-corp OCP to bring down crime levels like a slightly more human Judge Dredd while starring in a violent action romp that satirically skewered corporate and media irresponsibility.
Well, probably. The cartoon never actually explains it, and if we don’t count the movie origin in which a dim-witted robotics lab security guard is mangled in a car crash and rebuilt, then Inspector Gadget is most likely the result of a night of wild passion between Machine Man and Inspector Clouseau.
Long story short, he’s a bad detective with Maxwell Smart’s voice, rocket-rollerskates in his feet, a helicopter in his hat, and an OCP Auto-9 handgun in his thigh compartment.
What? Prove me wrong.
In his 20-year career in professional villainy and mad science, Dr Robotnik has attached almost every conceivable death-dealing device to his trusty Egg-o-matic floating hovercraft thing, from giant chequered wrecking balls to drills to spiked fists to giant robot flowers.
Of course, those only become a threat if you can even get near him, as his real weapons are arguably the death-trap filled caves, underwater mazes, factories, and cities-at-the-end-of-which-he-can-be-found-lurking-until-the-intruder-reaches-him. He also has more giant airborne fighter-jet carriers than Nick Fury’s wettest, moistiest dreams. The fact that none of these have successfully killed a blue rodent of any description takes nothing away from the scale or inventiveness of his arsenal.
Inspector Gadget’s status as a human Swiss-Army-Knife means that he has every possible item he could ever need, including rocket rollerskates, pogo-legs, foot-mounted skis, extendable arms, inflatable coat, magnifying glass, and a helicopter hat to name but a few. Unfortunately he can never actually access the one he wants when he needs it. According to the now-pulped Alanis Morrisette's Canadian English Dictionary, this sort of occurrence is the epitome of the word “irony”, exemplified by one classic episode in which Gadget gets ten-thousand spoons when all he needs is a knife, and then it rains on his wedding day.
Dr Robotnik is the victor here.
A big believer in renewable energy sources, Robotnik powers his army of robot creations with cutesy enslaved animals, a bit like an adorable, theoretically hassle-free version of The Matrix (Curse the gift of anthropomorphism, curse it). Granted they might be made of a metal so weak that contact with the spines of a hedgehog makes them explode (not so much Adamantium as it is Dandyhighwaymanium), but still, it’s an army of robots that can fly, shoot lasers, protrude spikes, grab victims and self-destruct, or just roll around a lot.
But what of more the more sentient beings that he’s teamed up with over the years, you ask? Well, aside from the incredibly gullible franchise mainstay Knuckles the Echidna, they’re pretty much all awful and don’t merit thinking about. Especially not Shadow the Hedgehog, an utterly hateful amnesiac goth Sonic clone. That said, Robotnik has teamed up with his future self once, so at least there’s that.
Much like Robotnik, Inspector Gadget is backed up by animal assistance in the form of Brain the dog. Compared to other fictitious dogs of note, Brain is roughly on par with Scooby Doo for cowardice, mystery-solving and communication skills; smarter than Odie; not as groovy as Hong Kong Phooey; and less camp than K-9.
Gadget would also be nothing without his niece Penny, a technological whiz-kid and significantly better detective than her uncle. Through her own intervention or her control of Brain, she solves most of the machinations of evil organisation MAD. Penny used to look a bit anime, but apparently grew out of it.
In more recent series, Gadget became extremely pro-hegemony and joined the World Organisation of Major Powers, or WOMP - think UNIT with fewer hilarious deaths per mission. He is now accompanied by the Gadgetinis; two mini-Gadgets who presumably came about from the inexplicable notion held firmly by cartoon producers that miniaturisation makes already-popular children’s cartoon characters more appealing to children or makes already enjoyable chocolate bars “fun”. Anyone who’s seen an episode of The Flintstones Kids will know the terrible fallacy of this logic.
This facet finds our combatants in a dead heat.
More inattentive sloth than intuitive sleuth, Inspector Gadget spends most of his adventures unable to see when danger is right in front of him. He makes up for his total lack of deductive skills with remarkable luck or assistance from Penny.
Inspector Gadget has spent the better part of his career battling the leader of terrorist organisation MAD; Dr Claw. Claw is a man (probably) with a permanently obscured face who fights his battles remotely through the medium of agents in unconvincing disguises. Essentially he’s an evil yet less lecherous version of Charlie’s Angels’ eponymous boss.
Dr Robotnik is mental and blew up the moon once. His life goal of world domination may stem from the difficulty of finding gainful post-doctoral employment.
Dr Robotnik wins.
The results of this fight have been simulated using the official FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! bolodeck. It is to the holodeck what Bollywood is to Hollywood, so get your bhangra trousers on and get ready to rumble:
Just as every mission began, Gadget read his instructions verbatim, eyes scanning side-to-side (which is much easier on the animators than lip-syncing the episode’s expository monologue) before tossing the letter away as it announced its imminent self-destruction.
With no time to escape the blast, Chief Quimby accepted the explosion as a painful inevitability. As the smoke cleared from the room and his lungs, he observed that every time Gadget’s instructions had been delivered in incendiary fashion coincided with a time that he’d survived a close-range explosion. Much as he liked the showmanship of the thing, maybe it was time to just start using e-mail.
One screen-wipe later, Gadget, Penny, and Brain arrived at a city-sized metal fortress.
“Uncle Gadget”, complained Penny; “This doesn’t seem like the right place. I think our guy lives in a castle”.
“Penny, my expert detective skills have determined that this must be the right guy! I’ve looked up his file, and it confirms that he has a dubiously-earned Doctorate, a questionable identity, and a penchant for maniacal laughter and yelling. This has to be Doctor Claw!”
High above, a sign adorned the metallic compound door. “Scrap Brain Zone”, Gadget read aloud. Turning to his dog, “Scrap him? Wowsers! Sorry, my canine chum, but it looks like you aren’t welcome. I’ll handle it from here. Penny, you stay with Brain and try not to get kidnapped today.”
Once more leaving his disgruntled niece unsupervised in the immediate vicinity of the investigation he’d just told her to stay out of, Gadget called to activate his handy Gadget-lockpick and attempted to pry open the metal door with the tool he’d been given; his Gadget-snorkel.
In an office atop the mechanical citadel, a chair rotated to face a screen. “Who is this interloper?”, asked the disembodied voice within; “And why is he trying to break into my lair using swimwear? Very well: enter, but watch your step,” he chuckled, opening the gate.
The doors gave way, and Gadget charged through, nearly failing to notice the steep drop immediately before him. Stopping just at the ledge, Gadget noticed that the rusting factory was composed mostly of assorted chainsaws, conveyor belts, crushers and flamethrowers, as well as convenient ramps, grind-rails and half-pipes. It appeared to be half slaughterhouse and half skatepark, as if Tony Hawk had decided to start supplying a burger chain.
“Here’s another one for his file. Dr Claw has no regard for the laws on health and safety in the workplace!” Gadget noted.
Forward wasn’t an option, so up and over definitely seemed the way to go. “Go go Gadget-copter!” exclaimed the Inspector, forgetting that his voice-activated gadgets took commands about as well as Siri trying to understand a drunken Glaswegian. Instantly his feet turned into roller-skates, dropping him over the ledge and down the steep slope towards impending impalement.
Flailing wildly and unable to stop, Gadget clumsily but miraculously skated, leapt, dodged, weaved and ducked through the arrangement of conveyor belts, heavy machinery and lethal blades like a “Frank Spencer starts as a pall bearer but ends in an abbatoir – on rollerskates” routine. On occasion he collided with an easily breakable robot, freeing a small animal that had been used a power source.
Skidding to a halt in a spacious locked chamber, Gadget saw a chair facing away from him. It turned to reveal its occupant;
Gadget pondered this for a second and ducked to the ground to look for clues or footprints, his remarkable luck in full effect as he unwittingly avoided the giant chequered wrecking ball that demolished the door behind him.
Robotnik looked down from his hovering vehicle at his unexpected intruder.
“I have absolutely no idea who you are, but you’ve sprung or ruined every one of my cunning traps and wrecked all of my robots! Do you have any idea how long it took me to design and build a city-sized obstacle course to kill the hedgehog? Months of work and billions worth of resources wasted!”
“You’re only making this worse for yourself, Claw! I’m adding cruelty to animals and building an entire city without the necessary planning permit to your criminal record!” responded Gadget.
“I don’t know who this Claw is, but I’m about to do him a favour,” snarled Robotnik, drawing back his massive dangling ball for another swing.
“Go go Gadget-skates!” exclaimed the Inspector, hoping to dodge the incoming ball. His systems once again comprehending his commands like a live subtitle translator trying to parse death metal lyrics, his inflatable jacket puffed out just in time to absorb the impact, sending him ricocheting off the walls and ceiling into the hovercraft, making it flicker as he smashed off it repeatedly.
Bouncing around wildly like Tigger on amphetamines, Gadget inadvertently exploited the one weakness of almost every vehicle Robotnik had ever created; a spherical object bouncing off almost any part of its surface 6 to 8 times.
Having failed once more to account for this incredibly frequent occurrence, Robotnik watched his craft burst into explosions, and activated his backup plan: run away and hide at the end of another series of deathtraps.
As the smoking vehicle sputtered out of sight, an enraged yell could be heard accompanying the sight of Robotnik’s shaking fist.
“I’ll get you next time, Gadget! NEXT TIME!”