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[The Red Stranger: This can include concepts you enjoy that others do not commonly do as well.] Buckle up, I'm about to say somewhat nice things about Ken Penders. Let's talk about one of the comic's best villains, and a rather unsung one at that. This guy: This pirate-looking guy, for those not in-the-know, is Patch D'Coolette, Antoine's counterpart from the Anti-dimension, and his contributions to the series are often ignored, because the Archie fandom has a bad habit of revisionism. Since his plans were put into motion primarily during what is now regarded as the comic's dork age, the whole story tends to be regarded as "rubbish" because it was written by Ken Penders. And while its execution was flawed, it wasn't awful, and the plan itself was gloriously devious. Patch started out as Antoine's exact opposite, a fearless, merciless warrior, always scheming to get himself on top. His rivalry with Scourge was also a mirror of Antoine's rivalry with Sonic. Whereas the latter was generally rather pathetic and Sonic always came out on top, Patch was always one step ahead of Scourge as far as schemes went- In fact, Scourge got so mad that Patch beat him to the idea of "Wear a fake eyepatch to look rugged" that he actually put Patch's eye out, which just highlighted things- Scourge was impulsive, violent, and brutal, while Patch was precise, skilled, and a schemer. But what makes him a good villain was not that, it was his master plan, which ran from somewhere between Issue 125 and issue 130 all the way to issue 156. For a little backstory, at the time, the comic had a bit of a writer edit war going on- Karl Bollers was the head writer on Sonic at the time, while Penders was working on his infamous Knuckles comic. Well, the latter got cancelled, and Penders was brought back to the Sonic title, and, being the senior writer, kinda took the rug out from under Bollers' feet and started imposing his own plans for the Sonic comic, incompatible with Bollers', onto the stories. In particular, they clashed over Antoine. After Sonic's return from space, Antoine had apparently turned into a colossal jerk and broken up with Bunnie for no real reason, something that Penders did not like, and to be fair to him, not a lot of people did. Bollers' plan was for Antoine to keep getting worse and eventually become a villain, while Penders decided to not do that and have Antoine actually be Patch. To his credit, he didn't immediately show Patch gloating about impersonating Antoine in private, and he didn't show off Patch's scheme until after Bollers was gone. If Penders deserves crap from fans for this, then Flynn deserves it for doing the same to Bollers and Penders' plans for characters like Fiona. Either way, we got the story with Patch, which worked a lot better. Here's his plan, and how it worked: He began by switching places with Antoine, and working to ingratiate himself with Max, while breaking things off with Bunnie because being in a relationship with her would hinder his plans. People would be suspicious if he broke up with her just when the issue of Sally's marriage came up, so he had to do that early. See, like Robotnik, Patch intended to take over the kingdom by abusing its own hierarchies. Unlike Robotnik, he was not going to get himself into a position of power and then stage a coup, he would instead get himself married to Sally, and then bump off Max to take the throne legitimately. Whether it was due to an actual law of the kingdom, or one of those unpleasant things about Max's own attitude toward his daughter, it was often made clear that Sally could not be queen unless she had a king, so Patch decided to use that to get himself made an actual king. While his plan was briefly put on hold by Sonic's return, Sally's frayed mental state soon saw to it that her relationship with Sonic ended explosively, putting him back on track. It's also possible that Patch actually "helped" the relationship collapse, abusing Sally's trust and her fear of losing Sonic again to "advise" her to demand his retirement, and insinuating that not doing so would be "selfish", that he would be doing it for his own enjoyment rather than the good of the people, but that's just theory talk. His plan with Max worked pretty well- "Antoine" got promoted to Commander, and was appointed to be Max's bodyguard during the world tour, during which he started poisoning the king, causing a decline in his health. After several failed negotiations, he upped the dosage, forcing Max to abandon the tour and return home. Being the monarch's new right-hand-man, he was now a shoe-in for the soon-to-be-vacant throne, and the marriage was demanded by Max right before he lapsed into a coma. And it worked. Sonic's attempts to talk to Sally are foiled by Patch blocking him from seeing her, and he was able to manipulate her into agreeing to her father's wish, the wedding going off without a hitch, and Sally, for her part in this, appeared broken, allowing Patch to have Sonic carted off by guards when he attempted to put a stop to things at the reception. Patch was seconds away from finally killing Max when things came crashing down. While it seemed that Sonic had just protested about Sally's agreement while at the same time macking on Fiona, he had in fact gone off and found Elias, and tried to convince him to come back and put a stop to proceedings, so that Sally would not be forced to marry Patch. While initially reluctant, he soon changed his mind at the prodding of Megan, his wife. He returned, and announced his intention to take the throne, and, being the legitimate heir, bypassed Patch's claim via Sally, testing the waters to see if Patch would react. Patch faked acceptance, deciding to kill Elias' wife and child as well as him, but was ultimately foiled when Sonic spotted the needle of poison that he intended to use to kill Elias, revealed his true identity, and kicked him back to Moebius, bringing Antoine back at the same time. Oh, and during all of this, he also fatally poisoned Antoine's father, just because he could. With all this in mind, I do think that, honestly, Patch was one of the best villains the comic had. He didn't have fancy powers, he didn't have an army or a superweapon, and he didn't beat the tar out of anyone to show off how dangerous he was. But with a few bottles of poison, knowledge of the Kingdom of Acorn's antiquated succession rules, and Max's prejudices, he was inches away from being the legitimate, crowned ruler of the Kingdom. His machinations, once laid bare, were equal parts monstrous and horrifying, some of the most evil things displayed in the whole run, his manipulation of Max and Sally, his casual disregard for Bunnie and the rest of the people he pretended to be friend of, the murder of Armand, all while posing as a face that all of them loved and trusted, along with his casual use of poison to get his own ends brought a level of evil far more visceral and real than any of Eggman's more fantastical plots, or Scourge's posturing and bluster. And I think i even works on a level that affects the reader too. If nothing else, Sally finally caving and hopelessly going along with "what's expected of her by her father and her husband", just like Max always wanted, opens up a bit of a pit in my stomach, just because of how wrong it feels. Villains these days aren't on the same level as Patch. Flynn spends too much time trying to make them wacky or cool or sympathetic. Patch wasn't that. He was pure, unadulterated evil, and it was awesome.