And here we are at last at the end of the journey! I recently got around to reading Sonic Universe #74, featuring the highly-anticipated finale to "Spark of Life". Let's see what this comic offers!
The issue picks up with Sally and Nicole facing off against the virus Phage in the digital world. Sally tries to buy Nicole some time to flee, but Nicole brings Sally along for the escape. Meanwhile, Tails and Big have their own problems trying to recover a Chaos Emerald from the lake while fending off Badniks and Dark Gaia monsters surrounding them. With a digital sword and shield in hand, Sally devises a plan to lure Phage out of Ellidy's system before Nicole tries to lock Phage away. As the Badniks break into Ellidy's chamber, he connects a red star ring to Nicole handheld, transforming her into Overclocked Nicole. She gains the power to seal Phage away, and everything reverts back to normal. The story concludes the following morning where Nicole explains to Sally that the reason Nikki's digitization failed is because Nicole adapted Nikki's scans for herself, allowing her to grow beyond her programming. They keep one of the red star rings and bid farewell to Ellidy as they fly off together.
So that's the end of "Spark of Life"! While I was excited about the story for the first half of the arc, these last couple of issues have left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. I stated my concerns in previous review
, such as Nikki's death is disappointingly vague and that Phage's allegiance to Eggman fell flat. Does this issue rectify those plot points by providing some new insight?
While we do find out how Nicole managed to evolve, we still don't know any more about the circumstances of Nikki's death than we did before, only that she was wasting away to some mysterious ailment. Since this arc focuses on Nicole's backstory, it's galling that it doesn't provide a complete picture of her origin, and I doubt the opportunity will arise again. An even bigger problem is Phage, who remains an enigma in the story. When I last stated that declaring her allegiance to Eggman robs the character of any mystique, some fans noted that Phage might be a failed copy of Nikki. This would have been a perfect twist! It would make sense, given her psychological attack on Nicole with old photos of Nikki, and it would make her a personal obstacle in the theme of Nicole and Ellidy's relationship. So does this twist come to pass where Phage declares her true nature?
Phage remains as one-dimensional as ever. Apparently Aleah Baker's idea of menace is to turn Phage into an evil thesaurus, hurling countless synonyms at her foes. Whoop-dee-doo. Her allegiance to Eggman is entirely redundant, because she never makes contact with him and it wouldn't affect her virulent programming. Speaking of redundancy, what was the point of Sally giving Ellidy one of her ring blades? Even when Badniks are literally breaking down his door, he never uses it! Another loose end is Sally and Nicole's discussion about the nature of the digital world. Nicole tries to explain that Sally can do anything if she believes it, but I guess that "Free your mind" mantra from The Matrix
doesn't work on Sally. Again, what was the point of even mentioning
this if Sally can't make use of it? It's not as if the Sky Patrol has its own digitizer, so I doubt this plot point will be brought up again. And then there's Overclocked Nicole. You might be thinking "Yay! A new super form!", but don't get too excited. Overclocked Nicole literally doesn't do anything except serve as a glorified door stop, so her powers are never fully expressed.
While the story has a happy end, there's a lingering lack of closure. Since Phage was never a personal enemy of Ellidy, having Nicole defeat her didn't mend their relationship. On the contrary, Nicole explains that her evolution came at the cost of Nikki's life, so she and Ellidy part ways without ever really bonding. The whole arc feels half-baked and inadequate, with several loose ends that leave us with more questions than answers. This story had so much potential, but I feel it suffers from underdeveloped themes and some hokey writing. This isn't the first time that Nicole has starred in a dodgy story (read this rant
), and I really hope to see her feature in an issue that gives her the proper treatment that she deserves.
Also on a side note, the Off Panel showcases Sonic treating Nicole to the art of gorging on chili dogs. This would be funny if the Internet wasn't turned on by this.