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Sonic the Comic-Online! is a fan continuation of the long running Sonic the Comic, resurrected in webcomic form; with the consent of several of the original writers and artists. It began in 2003 and releases on a slow update schedule, releasing on average two issues per year. It bears many of the hallmarks of the original series upon which it is based, making use of it's own distinct Sonic continuity, as well as continuing and beginning strips based on other Sega games. It has a rather broad selection of readers, primarily from Europe, but appears to be slowly accumulating a larger readerbase.
The actual online community surrounding STCO is notable for simultaneously being branded fanatical and disinterested, which whilst being present in the majority of all the Sonic fandoms has been taken to new heights, as forum regulars have remarked on occasion of the perculiarity of actually discussing their own continuity.
There is also a series of retrospectives covering classic STC, which are posted on youtube, as well as short reviews of new STCO issues as they are released.
The article on the original run of Sonic the Comic can be found here.
The Sonic based continuity of STCO is generally considered the dominant series, with the strips based on other Sega games taking a slight backseat.
STCO abruptly begins at an undefined, but short, ammount of time following the final story arc of STC; Sonic and friends are attempting to recover the sunken Floating Island, the fate of Dr Zachary is revealed and a series of antagonists are set up as the upcoming threat; primarily The Syndicate, The Family, and Kane Broadcasting Company. This eventually leads into a virtually unrecognisable adaptation of Sonic Adventure 2, which culminated in the total destruction of the Special Zone (a bizare Not-Quite-Alternate Dimension). These events began the lead up to Kane convincing the population of Mobius that Sonic has been the real threat all along, whilst Grimer executes a final manouver in honour of the mentally handicapped (and presumed dead) Doctor Robotnik to turn Sonic's closest friends against him, and soon enough the world, in an unrecognizable adaptation of Sonic Heroes.
Then Robotnik returns to power, built into a giant supercomputer to regulate his insanity, under the guidance of the Drakon Empire who are using him as a cover for their invasion force; another attempt at capturing the Emerald Mines on the Floating Island, and, thanks to a deal Sonic made to prevent the destruction of the Special Zone destroying Mobius, the Drakon Empire and Robotnik have the ability to destroy Mobius on a whim.
The Chaotix run afoul of a program based on Shadow, and cue a vague Shadow the Hedgehog adaptation, which collides with Tails getting new friends in the form of the Ultimax when Super Sonic goes out of control. This is also the 06 adaptation. The next issue is scheduled to be released soon, but a concrete date is almost never put in place to avoid people moaning about Schedule Slip, but on average puts out an issue once every three months, with current attitudes being that once every two months is a possibility.
- Aborted Arc: The return of the Special Zone, apparently.
- Acid Trip Dimension: The Special Zone.
- Action Girl: Amy Rose and Tekno the Canary.
- Adaptation Distillation: You would never have guessed that the Syndicate arc was an adaptation of Sonic Adventure 2 until Shadow arrived on the scene. Or that the Kane arc was essentially a very, very loose Sonic Heroes adaptation.
- Adaptational Villainy: Many of the newly-introduced SEGA-based characters, most notably Rouge, are given this.
- A Day in the Limelight
- Ambiguous Gender: In "The Universe Game" the Void seems to be female in this continuity, although it was seemingly male in the game. The writer of that story explained that, having not played Sonic Shuffle (which the story is very loosely based on), he assumed the Void was female based on its somewhat feminine appearance.
- Anticlimax: Occasional, but YMMV.
- Art Evolution: Due to having many artists it can be bumpy though. Also, when compared to Sonic the Comic it is easy to see that the characters are no longer simply their classic designs with an eye color change.
- Art Shift: Sally became even more anthro. Now she looks like a Sega-Sonic character rather than a giant, anthro squirrel in a suit.
- Big Bad Ensemble: With Robotnik driven insane several characters have the place as the Big Bad, Dr Zachary, The Family, Grimer, Robotnik and The Drakon Empire
- Break the Cutie: For Sonic, the culmination of the Kane arc was initially expected to be a Heroic BSOD, but then followed up with Despair Event Horizon and then Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds combined with What the Hell, Hero?.
- Broken Pedestal: Following the media smear campaign and everything else, Sonic became this to the remaining Freedom Fighters. Let's just say that, when you know the Sonicverse as a whole, it's pretty jarring to see Amy hating Sonic.
- Canon Foreigner: As will the original run, practically the entire cast, Johnny Lightfoot and Porker Lewis were in the first Sonic game).
- Notable characters exclusive to this run include Vichama, The Ultimax (Holly, Dexter, and Theodore), Kane, and Niya the Gorilla.
- Cave Full Of Crazy: Tekno trying to locate the Eternity Ring in Sunrise. Rather hilariously lampshaded as well; the largest text on the wall is "I'M NOT CRAZY," which backdrops a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming a bit later.
- Cloudcuckooland: The Special Zone again.
- Cloudcuckoolander: An entire universe full. And then there's Charmy Bee. And Lord Dave.
- Continuity Nod: In issue 250 various characters from older issues popped up. In 255, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise (in a way that could also be taken as a Sonic Generations adaptation), various Sonic and Robotnik incarnations from the comics history appeared in Sonic's story.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Percival Kane.
- Cursed with Awesome: Blaze's ability to control fire is treated as this.
- Darker and Edgier: Probably darker than the main storyline of the original comic. Fan reactions have been mixed.
- Deal with the Devil: Sonic goes to the Drakon Empire to try and save Mobius from Dr. Zachary and Shadow.
- Depending on the Artist: The eye colors of the characters. It can switch between the Fleetway-canon colors (Brown Eyes for Amy, Brown Eyes for Tails, Blue Eyes for Knuckles, etc) and SegaSonic colors depending on who's drawing it. More minor, but what designs are used; most fans use the modern designs but some fans stay true to the original comic and use the "classic" Sonic designs with eye colors.
- Disney Death: Set. It's possible he was brought back due to the Internet Backdraft that occurred.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: In the print series, this was Tails main trait in the Nameless Zone, as his letters home had claimed that Sonic was his sidekick. Deconstructed for a little while as Tails became more confident, and finally inverted when Tails really did become the Hero of Mobius.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Set, Tekno. Tekno, Set.
- Five-Man Band: Chaotix Crew when they team up with Knuckles. Formerly Sonic and the Freedom Fighters.
- Fan Web Comic: One that has the recognition of some of the original series' creators.
- Footnote Fever: Done by Megadroid; referencing a previous issue when something important to the plot was carried over.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When Tekno apparently kills Set.
- Hannibal Lecture: Grimer; single handedly pulling off something that Robotnik could never do. He made the whole of Mobius hate and fear Sonic, and served the planet on a plate to the mob. Just because Robotnik's villainous breakdown gave him nothing to do anymore. Oh, and he's going to get away with it, since he's already jumped to a parallel dimension.
- Heroic Resolve: So long as something exists to menace Mobius, Sonic will never give up.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Amy and Tekno, but not so much as the series has progressed. More of a running joke that's been carried over from the original series.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Tekno killing Set.
- Hive Mind: The Plax, bar one member.
- Hot Scoop: Sally's redesign puts her at this in her cameo.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Special Zone. Again.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Again, Knuckles; and again, Sonic can be better described as a "heroic Jerkass."
- Killed Off for Real Johnny Lightfoot probably won't return, although did make an "appearance" in a Halloween episode as a nightmare monster.
- Kill It with Fire: A joke placeholder line in Issue #250 that the staff forgot about until after release.
- Malevolent Mugshot: New Citadel Robotnik.
- Mood Whiplash: STC #250 ends with Sonic ostracized from Mobius but still determined to protect it from Robotnik's invasion while STC #251 starts with Sonic complaining about being bored and having nothing to do.
- To be fair, the writer of the #251 lead story explained in the Message Zone that he wasn't aware of precisely how #250 would end and would have changed the beginning of #251 if he'd known.
- Mythology Gag: One story has Amy fighting a group of Badniks undercover as Tails Dolls. Yep, like that one from Sonic R. That one that players say is cursed.
- Only Sane Man: Sonic more often than not these days. I blame the immigrants from Shanazar.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Dr. Zachary and Dr. Robotnik fall under this, but pale in comparison to Super Sonic.
- Zachary manipulated Shadow the Hedgehog into destroying the Special Zone, and almost did the same to Mobius if it weren't for Sonic asking for help from the Drakon Empire.
- Schedule Slip: Apparently they have enough scripts to last a few billion years; it's just that the artwork takes a long time to get finished, resulting the almost annual issue releases, and sometimes seemingly (or genuinely) aborted story arcs.
- Schizo-Tech: Echidnas, their empire appeared rather tribal, savage, and mystic, but at the same time developed technologies that sometimes surpassed Robotnik's creations. For instance the Guardians, combat robots-cum-mecha battlesuits designed to protect their facilities ( such as the Floating Island ). Oh and the Floating Island itself.
- Shout-Out: Many, for example, Amy is seen wearing a Green Lantern shirt in one of her solo stories.
- Sky Pirate: Captain Plunder.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: Super Sonic. Duh.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Chaotix Crew. Mighty and Espio can barely stand each other and everyone in the team outright despises Charmy Bee.
- The Empire: The Drakon Empire, also creators of Chaos Energy.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Zachary delivers one of these to Knuckles in a story in the online comic, which provokes Knuckles into losing his temper and allowing him to escape.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Hobson & Choy.
- Toilet Humour: One had to feel sorry for the Omniviewer at the end of "Rage Inside the Machine".
- Villainous Breakdown: Dr. Robotnik.
- Wham! Episode Sonic's fall from grace and "exile" from Mobius. and then Robotnik returns... and Super Sonic goes wild.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: Averted: Sonic's natural tendency is to just plow through his enemies with sheer force and speed, but when faced with an enemy who this doesn't work against he tends to get more tactical and use his powers more creatively (grabbing hold of them and super-vibrating himself, creating cyclones with his speed, angling his attacks so that his momentum is transferred to the enemy, or timing the attack to strike at the point where the enemy is most vulnerable).
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity / Super-Powered Evil Side: Super Sonic. So very much.
- Xanatos Gambit: Dr. Zachary's escape in 'Prisoner' was planned by Knuckles in an attempt to find out the location of his lost race. If the Omnicidal Maniac didn't escape no one would complain.