Alright, let’s give this a shot.
I wasn’t happy with how the pics turned out. I’ll upload them at a later time.
Sorry about the quality of this update. I’ll set that out in advance.
Chapter Five: Knuckles the Echidna
<i>Last time, on As Mobius Turns…</i>
While Sonic and the Freedom Fighters were battling the agents of Doctor Robotnik, another, far different conflict was brewing in the skies above. On the mysterious Floating Island, forever traversing the clouds above Mobius, sits Knuckles the Echidna. For years, he has lived in isolation, accompanied only by the landmass’ handful of animal occupants. As far as he knows, he is the last of his kind, the sole remainder of a once-great dynasty. However, thanks to events on the land below, he will soon find himself double-thinking his own past, his destiny, and the very fate of Mobius…
<i>And now, our feature presentation…</i>
Ever since his introduction in Sonic 3, Knuckles the Echidna has been one of the Sonic franchises’ most popular characters. So, it’s obvious that Archie would decide to turn to him to form their first, and only, full spin-off of the Sonic franchise. After all, it was far removed from the events in Knothole and Mobotropolis, allowing them to utilize an original cast with only occasional crossovers. Furthermore, Ken Penders remained the series’ main writer through all thirty-two issues; as a result, the numerous stories maintained a close sense of continuity, with more time given to flesh out the various characters.
And enjoy that comment, Ken, because by the time this retrospective is done, I will have dragged your name so hard through the mud your great-grandkids will be ashamed enough to kill themselves. At three years old.
The series’ foundation was laid in a Sonic Special, a special issue designed to promote Knuckles Chaotix for the Sega 32X. The comic had the Freedom Fighters taking a break from Robotnik to investigate a Carnival on the Floating Island. While there, however, they are quickly captured, while Knuckles manages to escape thanks to sheer lonerness. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to go alone: he also manages to hook up with his best friends, the Chaotix. For those that haven’t played the games, the Chaotix members are:
*Vector the Crocodile, an attitude-laden crocodile, complete with Walkman. That can blow entire forests down with sonic waves. The stereotypical strong dumb guy.
*Espio the Chameleon, a purple chameleon capable of turning completely invisible. He can also climb walls, but thankfully is NOT a ninja in this continuity.
*Charmy Bee, an annoying flying bee that can go from normal bee size to about the size of a small child. The youngest Chaotix member, and also the crown prince of his hive; he joined the others in order to escape his title. Needless to say, this bites them ALL in the ass later on…
*Mighty the Armadillo, the black sheep of the Chaotix, judging by how he’s never appeared in any games past Knuckles Chaotix. An armadillo with super strength, and nothing more. He was also best friends with Sonic in the past, and helped him escape from a prison camp when the former was still getting into the swing of things.
*Heavy and Bomb, a pair of Badniks that managed to escape Robotnik’s programming. They immediately escape and join the Chaotix, in hopes of shaking off their former master and making the best of their lives. Heavy is a cylinder-shaped robot, and bomb is a cartoonish bomb that can rebuild himself after exploding. They leave the Chaotix at the end and join King Acorn’s Secret Service.
In the end, they manage to rescue the Freedom Fighters and destroy the carnival, which was a front for Robotnik the whole time. Knuckles then briefly returns to being a loner…only to be called back into service when a being called Archimedes kidnaps the Chaotix. Our favorite Echidna is forced to travel into an abandoned supply depot to rescue them.
While he’s on the way, he remembers the history lessons his father gave him…before running into a wall of fire and abandoning him.
THE HISTORY OF THE ECHIDNAS
The Echidnas were the very first species to evolve on Mobius. While everyone else was banding around King Acorn, and the Overlanders were being racist pollutants, the Echidnas were already a scientifically-advanced culture in Downunda. Eventually, however, they discovered that a meteor was heading straight for their city of Echidnaopolis. Rather than simply pack up everything, go somewhere else, and rebuild, they decide to pack a bunch of Chaos Emeralds in a cavern beneath the city and use their power to lift up THE ENTIRE CITY, thereby creating the Floating Island and barely avoiding the meteor. (Even though the blast should have still killed them via debris projection, environmental change, and the like.)
Then things get worse. Two Echidna scientists and brothers, Edmund and Dmitri, discover the chamber with the Chaos Emeralds generations later, and decide to try and rejoin the island with the mainland. However, the ruling body sees this as the INSANELY dangerous gambit that it is, and wisely decide to not allow them to suck away the one power keeping them afloat. Unfortunately, Dmitri is a fucking moron, and he angrily takes their Chaos Siphon and tries to suck up the emeralds anyway. The machine inevitably explodes, taking out all but one of the Emeralds (enough to keep the Island floating), and infuses Dmitri with pure Chaos energy. His first act of neat-godhood is to erect himself a tower (with his MIND!) and imprison all the Echidnas (including Edmund) he holds responsible for stopping his plans.
Then his tower is toppled by a colony of fire ants. I am not making this up, folks. FIRE ANTS take out a guy infused with Chaos energy. And just so you know, if you get even a small amount of Chaos Emerald juice running through your veins, you’re pretty much indestructible. Just check out Super Sonic if you don’t believe me.
In any case, Dmitri is buried in the remains of his earthen tower, while Edmund and the other echidnas barely manage to escape. The whole mess of Chaos Siphons and omnicidal maniacs and fire ants have all taught them a valuable lesson: all technology is the work of the Devil and must be purged from the world. I’m going to let that sink in. In the meanwhile, Persona 4 beckons…
Okay, I’m back. So the Echidnas destroy their city, killing off anyone that needed hospitalization or other pieces of technology to live, and end up wandering around somewhere…except for Edmund, who became the first Guardian. And so on down the line until we hit Knuckles. So now we know the rest of the backstory.
OR DO WE?
The first actual Knuckles storyline begins with the kidnapping of the Chaotix. Knuckles manages to track down Archimedes…only to find he’s actually a fire ant. He only kidnapped the Chaotix so Knuckles would track him down. Ever since the beginning, the Fire Ants have been helping the Echidnas in secret, first by breaking up the earth holding what would be the Floating Island down, then by toppling Dmitri’s tower. So, now Archimedes is supposed to teach Knuckles the ins and outs of being a Guardian, not that he really needed that much training by this point, considering there’s no way the all-powerful Dmitri can come back from the dead.
Oh, wait, he does. Ah crud. Only this time, he’s taken the time to fashion himself an Aztec-looking outfit, change his name to Enerjak, and formulate a very elaborate revenge scheme. Okay, I’m lying about the last part. He just charges in, beats the shit out of EVERYONE in a matter of seconds, and rather than Force Choke or simply crush Knuckles right away, he teleports him and Archimedes to a desert at the far end of the Island. He then mind controls the Chaotix into his slaves, resurrects Echidnaopolis into a twisted version of its former glory, and rebuilds an army of robots.
What follows is a long trek through the desert, followed by a long series of asskickings. Knuckles manages to eventually defeat the Chaotix, and even manages to get in a few blows with Enerjak, before the Fire Ants show up (riding the Deus Ex Machina subway system) to eat through the fiend’s tower’s floor and give everyone time to escape. Then Enerjak blasts into space for some reason. I’m not kidding; his whole citadel suddenly launches itself into deep space for absolutely no reason. Um…hurray?
And at the end of it all, it turns out Knuckles was being watched the entire time…by his father, Locke. Turns out the previous Guardians weren’t dead, after all; they just went into hiding, forming the Brotherhood of Guardians. Once in a while, they even have lunch with Dumbledore. However, the main problem with this explanation is…well…their headquarters, Haven, also happens to be a technological wonderland that would make a Borg Cube look like that chicken coop a few houses down. They have an entire series of security cameras set up across the island, routinely use aircraft to travel across the Island or to Mobius below, and even have an impressive weapons arsenal.
The thing is…wasn’t Echidna society built around Luddism? And considering how the Guardians are supposed to be the paragons of the entire species’ cultural norms and realities, the whole hypocrisy of the situation remains fairly annoying. This is made even worse because NOBODY BOTHERS TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE. Well, there is…one group…
THE DARK LEGION
Once the first miniseries had ended, Archie went to work on a sequel. This time, they decided to expand on the previous backstory, and that’s exactly what they did. Oh, and Knuckles fights someone, but it’s not that important. Basically, a group of technology-loving Echidnas called the Dark Legion emerge from the Eye of Terror- I mean, some sort of dimensional portal to take over the Floating Island. In the process, Knuckles and the Chaotix are captured, but after a few fights, they manage to defeat the cybernetic Echidnas and their leader, the hook-clawed Kragok.
Meanwhile, in the flashbacks mixed between, the previously established backstory is expanded upon. Shortly after the whole Dmitri/Fire Ant incident, Echidna society became divided by the new anti-technology edicts and policies. Very few wanted to give up their standard of living because one guy went nuts and a bunch of insects ate through a stone tower, and as a result, got a bunch of black robes on discount and formed a Slaneesh pleasure cult- I mean, the Dark Legion. Rather than set up peaceful protests, or bring up that much of this decision was made without proper input from everyone, they simply decide to go into full-scale guerilla war.
The fire ants again intervene, this time sending an ant named Christopholes to advise Edmund on how to lead the new enlightened society. Unfortunately, he arrives a little too late; Edmund’s son, Steppenwolf, stumbled across the Legion, and when Edmund arrives to pull his ass out of the fire, he’s shot dead in the back. So, with their chosen one dead, Christopholes decides to go to Plan B, taking Steppenwolf under his wing and turning him into a thinking tank. And to top it off, he then shows the new Guardian how to absorb a portion of the Chaos Emerald’s power, giving him the repository of chaos powers. This all comes to a head when he not only single-handedly convinces the entire population of Echidnaopolis to surrender to the oncoming wave of paranoia and distrust, but also goes out to finish off the Dark Legion, led by Dmitri’s son, Menniker. After an attempt at civil discourse goes wrong, Steppenwolf decides to open up a dimensional portal and suck the entire legion inside, thereby damning them to an eternity of suffering and agony…except for the countless times they manage to escape. So yeah, that’s the story of the Dark Legion. And now we know the rest of the rest of the backstory…
OR DO WE?!
THE RETURN OF THE ECHIDNAS
The second miniseries wrapped up just as the Sonic series was entering the Endgame arc. Obviously, the death of Robotnik and the Ultimate Annihilator’s time-distorting wave were all planned from the beginning. However, the Knuckles series was a big enough hit that it became a monthly feature, and with that came a required grasp on maintaining continuity with its older sibling. And considering how the comic’s been 90% flashbacks, why not add another?
The next three-issue storyline, “Lost Paradise,” opened with a stranded Legionnaire beating the crap out of Vector before hunting down Knuckles. Fortunately, he possesses comic book mook invulnerability powers, and quickly takes down his attacker…only to find out it’s a girl. Yes, it’s a pink-furred female Echidna, with only cybernetic enhancements on one arm and her dreadlocks. It has begun, folks. Our journey into the very depths of Willy Wonka-like horror have begun.
It’s…a ROMANTIC SUBPLOT! GAAAAAAAAH!
Okay, so I’ll come clean now. Unlike its older bro, the Knuckles series does not dabble in elaborate love triangles, year-long secret trysts, adulterous affairs, and all that other bullcrap that makes me so sick of soap operas. This is the only love story, it develops gradually and fairly realistically for a comic book, it has a great payoff, and it remains constant even when the Knuckles stories remerge with Sonic. So, with all the header out of the way, let’s resume.
Our new character is Julie-Su, a simple former Legionnaire and all-around badass action girl. Because, you know, god forbid we have a non-action girl protagonist. Oh, and since the Echidnas aren’t a bunch of pansy, environment-protecting hippies, she gets to use guns. And in a special I won’t be covering because 90% of it is inconsequential bullshit, we find out she’s actually the half-sister of Kragok and Lien-Da (another character we THANKFULLY haven’t had to suffer yet), and had her memories erased after their parents’ “accident.” Note that NONE OF THIS is important yet, but I’ll bring it up anyway. Why? Because they will not drop it no matter what. When we roll into the worst Sonic the Hedgehog storyline ever in issue 131, guess what’ll be brought up every fifteen seconds?
Anyway, nobody likes Julie-Su at first, because she did try to kill them, and her whole cover story is basically, “I felt like leaving.” Fortunately for her, they soon get sidetracked by a series of tremors across the island, and Knuckles, Archimedes and Julie-Su head off to investigate. Once they get to ground zero, however, they find…
Echidnaopolis. Standing in all its futuristic beauty, appearing virtually out of nowhere, and surrounded by some kind of distortion bubble. Except…wasn’t the city a pile of ruins two miniseries ago? I mean, Enerjak DID bring it back as some sort of zombie acropolis, remember? Apparently, Ken Penders didn’t, because this is NEVER ADDRESSED. And what do they find inside the city? Why, it’s none other than Knuckles’ dear mother, Lara-Le!
Of course, their reunion is short lived, as the city vanishes again. A few minutes later, it reappears…only the entire city is crumbling around them. Before long, the trio get recruited by the local police chief, Constable Remington (ha, very clever)…except for Knuckles, who gets dropped down a trap door to meet with his ancestor, Hawking. And yes, he is wheelchair bound. Seems anyone with a trace of creativity and cleverness was fired from this company long ago.
And guess what? We have another flashback. During Hawking’s tenure as Guardian, the Echidnas were at war with the Dingoes, a fascist society bent on claiming the abandoned Echidna weaponry and eating their babies. Unfortunately, some of those weapons happened to be nukes, which they STUPIDLY fired at Echidnaopolis. Hawking then used a hyperspace projector thingy to put up a radiation shield while also teleporting the city into another universe. And as a professional courtesy, he also transported the Dingoes to their own dimension.
The problem is, Robotnik’s Ultimate Annihilator’s attack and accompanying destruction has destroyed the projector’s stability, causing the two cities to overlap and smash into each other for some reason. The Dingoes rightfully blame the Echidnas for this, and when the two universes have merged just enough, the Dingo leader, General Stryker, launches a preemptive strike on Echidnaopolis. Fortunately, Knuckles and Julie-Su manage to fight them off, while also persuading everyone in both cities to get their butts into a bomb shelter while Hawking stops the projector. This causes Echidnaopolis to stop collapsing (although the Dingo city is destroyed) and returns the city to the Floating Island, but also leaves the Dingoes homeless, Knuckles is now more confuse than ever, and Hawking is fatally wounded due to the sheer stress of the three universes remerging.
THE DOWNFALL OF ENERJAK
With this latest mess over with, the writers decided it was time to bring Enerjak back. And how does he do this? Why, he simply teleports out of his space pod, smashes through a statue of himself, and takes back control of the Dark Legion. With his godlike powers, he easily defeats the Chaotix and captures Knuckles, while Julie-Su rejoins the Dark Legion in order to save her own skin. With his mortal enemy in hand, Enerjak does what every godlike dictator would do: he torments the sap, sending him from the moon to the bottom of the ocean, blasting him apart, pulling him together, etc. Finally, he gets bored and simply disintegrates Knuckles. Meanwhile, the Dark Legion captures two of the fire ant mentors and marches on Echidnaopolis, while the Chaotix are left to die in the middle of a desert.
Well, that was a short comic. Okay, on to-
Oh wait, he survives. Duh.
Knuckles is rebuilt by the Ancient Walkers and Athair, and is given the customary pep talk lecture before being sent to rescue his friends and people. The Echidnas and Dingoes are managing to hold off the invasion until Enerjak finally shows his face…only to be suddenly confronted by Mammoth Mogul. Wait, who?
Mogul was introduced in the shittacular Sonic vs. Knuckles special, but even then he didn’t have any real development other than “I am here, I am powerful, I am Ras-Al-Ghul’s retarded elephant stepbrother.” Basically, he’s the oldest living thing on Mobius, having had a Chaos Emerald shoved into his bellybutton during the stone age. Using a stolen Sword of Acorns, he manages to completely drain Enerjak of his chaos powers, turning him into an extremely ancient regular Echidna. A shot then hits Kragok and Julie-Su’s hoverpod, sending them to earth and leading to their capture. Oh, and then Mogul destroys the universe.
Okay, comic’s over. Let’s…
OH COME ON!
Alright, so NOW Sonic, Tails and Knuckles band together fight the all-powerful woolly beast…and they win. Because of Tails. Who can now become TURBO TAILS! This was based on the Sonic 3 and Knuckles game, where Tails could become super by collecting all fourteen emeralds across both halves. Unfortunately, not only did this form never show up again in any official Sega product, not only was it never named in the games, not only does his super form basically consist of some floating birds and a red blanket tied around his neck, but HE MANAGED TO TAKE DOWN AN ALL-POWERFUL DEITY! And to top it off, they then seal him inside the newly-minted Master Emerald, just so they can bring the series a little closer to the games.
To reiterate, they introduce a wholly new, all-powerful villain to the series, just so they can turn him into a big green rock. And in the process, they kill off an already established villain just to make this guy look bigger…before they throw him aside. Obviously, Dmitri survives, but he never becomes Enerjak again. Mogul returns, but with the brief exception of one story, he never really achieves the same menacing quality he had. Or would have had, if he WASN’T A WOOLLY MAMMOTH!
Obviously, this was an important story. Knuckles’ primary antagonist up to that point, Enerjak, was finished, and would not appear again until Issue 179. (And even then, it was a different Echidna.) Kragok would only make two more appearances before leaving the scene (one of which was back in the main series). And most importantly of all, Knuckles and Tails joined the ranks of “chosen ones” that litter this entire series. Seriously, you can’t walk five steps without tripping on someone’s destiny to rule or to save the multiverse or to simply get a nice tan and move to Malibu.
THE LOST TRIBE
Next comes the classic post-crisis breather episode. You know, just like all eight issues when Spider-Man or Batman aren’t dealing with the latest desperate grab for purchases. Knuckles and Lara-Le talk about something called “the Tomes,” a quasi-religious text that is NEVER explained or expanded upon anywhere else. Julie-Su is briefly held in custody, but ends up being forced into the Chaotix. I…guess hiring known traitors as detectives is standard practice in Echidnaopolis. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood is debating about whether or not they should take more of an interest in the post-but-pre-Robotnik Mobius. (Three guesses where this goes.)
Finally, in the last few pages, the plot restarts when Athair shows up in Lara-Le’s apartment, grabs Knuckles, and teleports back to Mobius, where they join up with a small tribe of Echidnas. In yet ANOTHER flashback, we find out that, when the meteor was still heading for Echidnaopolis, a number of Echidnas decided to stay on the mainland, and drive out of the city before it floats off. Unfortunately, their vehicles soon break down, and they are chased off of every place they try to settle. Meanwhile, Athair was training to be a guardian when the Ancient Walkers teleport him to the so-called Lost Tribe to lead them into “Albion.” Meanwhile, his son, Saber, later abandons the tribe to become a Guardian, which is why Athair is disregarded by the Brotherhood.
And now you know the rest of the backstory…
Okay, we don’t. But that comes later.
Oh, and just after they show up, the story stops again for the “Days of Fury.” What are they? Well, they’re a bunch of natural disasters that are supposed to signal the end of the world. Mobotropolis is flooded, the Floating Island is covered in snow, and the Lost Tribe is nearly destroyed in a volcanic earthquake. Except…NOT ONLY DOES NOBODY DIE (at least onscreen), BUT THE REST OF THE EFFECTS ARE NEVER MENTIONED IN THE SONIC SERIES. The snowing Floating Island factors into another story…which follows the story following…and a one-shot issue…and both stories are three issues long. Um…timing, anyone?
After Knuckles saves tribe members, Athair suddenly ascends to Heaven overnight. And offscreen. Seriously, Penders, would it KILL YOU TO SHOW US ANY OF THIS FOR ONCE? Shortly afterward, Knuckles continues their journey by leading the tribe to Mercia, the Robin Hood-themed land mentioned in the previous chapter. And as already mentioned, the evil Sheriff captures the tribe, only for Sonic and Tails to help him bust them all out. Fortunately, they also happened to be at the doorstep of Albion, an Avalon-esque techno-city led by the purple Echidna, Gara-Le. She gives us our latest flashback, because we’ve CERTAINLY haven’t had enough of those by now! Yes, Albion is the true home of the Echidna race, where they are vastly superior to everyone and everything that has ever lived on Mobius before and since. And since they were so wonderful, a few decided to head out and spread the greatness of their civilization to all corners of the planet. The parallels between ethnocentric colonization and isolationism are never brought up, but the underlying subtext makes the city’s total destruction over a hundred issues down the line all the fucking sweeter.
The Lost Tribe gleefully join the city, while Knuckles is given a magic stone to help navigate his way home. Sonic and Tails head off on their search for Nagus. Rob O’ the Hedge continues to fight against the machinations of the Sheriff. And finally, this storyline is over.
And for the next three issues, so is Knuckles’ role in his own comic.
THE ONLY SOLO CHAOTIX STORY
With Knuckles now wandering the wastelands of Mobius (chronicled with occasional cameos), the time came for an unfortunately time-honored tradition in comics: shining the spotlight on side characters. And what better way to handle this than to throw in a food poisoning storyline, mixed with a cautionary drug tale, a “growing up sucks” framework, and a noir style that feels out of place with everything that has come before and since?
Well, anything. But I digress. The story begins by introducing yet another new character: Harry, a taxi-driving Dingo that narrates most of the opening. Not to say he does much of anything important; his whole device is to bitch about being involved in the madness surrounding Echidnaopolis. Unfortunately for him, and us to a degree, he ends up finding Charmy Bee, standing over the dead body of another bee. As it turns out, he was attending the reopened carnival from the Knuckles Chaotix adaptation, and his friend suddenly went on an acid trip and fell dead.
Despite being a ball of tears and over-emoting for the entire first half of the issue, Charmy gets over the whole thing surprisingly quickly…just in time for the Chaotix to commit one of the dumbest, most ill-conceived motions in the entire Sonic the Hedgehog canon. There’s a mountain of evidence (provided by the insufferably annoying Remington) that other victims have all been to the same carnival, and that the poison had to have been consumed, they decide to head down to the carnival and scarf down whatever food they find. Yeah, great thinking, dumbshits. And in no time at all, the entire Chaotix (save for Julie-Su) is drugged into a coma.
What follows are a few weak attempts at achieving a noir-style storyline, with all the interesting twists and turns associated with the genre. It’s somewhat bearable to read, but the problem is the plot relies too much on concentrated stupidity from our leads, performing actions that violate any semblance of common sense. Furthermore, despite being a Chaotix story, they spend the first issue angsting and being idiots, the second issue hospitalized and being idiots, and only show up again just in time for the story’s climax. The last strike against the story is, it’s trying to make us sympathize with Charmy, a character that has had virtually no screen time up to this point. His whole backstory (he’s the bee prince and didn’t want the responsibilities with the position), is so cliché that it failed to pull on even the younger me’s heartstrings, instead snapping them like an elastic band. Oh, and Charmy leaves the Chaotix at the end; in fact, not only does he not appear again for the rest of the Knuckles comic, he doesn’t even make an appearance in the Sonic comics until, I think, around Issue 140. Way to waste our time, Penders.
The next issue was, technically, a stand alone. However, it set up the pieces of the next few arcs, so I decided to include it here. That, and this thing is getting too long as it is.
Knuckles manages to return to Echidnaopolis thanks to the guiding stone. (Why it took this many issues is anyone’s guess.) Meanwhile, the Brotherhood is recalling one of its members, Tobor, after he had been busy cleaning up the whole Monkey Khan mess. Unfortunately, this did not include driving a knife into the monkey’s brain, but I digress. Once again, the Brotherhood is weighing in on whether or not to start involving themselves with worldwide affairs. Once again, they act like idiots and choose to ignore things…except for a body they have stuffed in a freezer in the back. We’ll get to that later.
Meanwhile, back in Flashback Land ™, we finally get the whole lowdown on Knuckles’ parent’s marriage, divorce, etc. Obviously, it’s incredibly dull, mostly because by this point my patience with the narrative structure is running dangerously thin. The whole subplot goes on for about eight pages (a third of the issue’s length), and all it says is that Locke DARED to try and teach Knuckles (who, by the way, was also a young genius according to his ditzy mother) how to actually perform his job. Oh, and right after spilling this deluge, Lara-Le decides to tell Knuckles she’s remarrying. To Wynmacher, a guy who’s very first line of dialogue was shouting about playing Varsity. Man, can she pick a winner or what?
Fortunately, the issue ends on a high note. After pulling a tantrum and running off, Knuckles ends up at the harbor. (Exactly what it connects to is anyone’s guess.) Julie-Su follows him, gives him a quick peck on the cheek, and…they stare into the moon together.
(A pic will come, I swear!)
This is quite possibly the only time anything remotely romantic works in any of these comics. It’s a simple splash page, isn’t over-the-top melodramatic, the art’s all right, and it gives a bit of the warm, fuzzy feeling these scenes are supposed to bring out. Granted, it’s WAY too wordy, but if they cut down the number of balloons, maybe taking out the thought ones, this would have been perfect.
And now we go back into crap.
The story continues with Julie-Su running into a lost, bionic-eyed Echidna and carting his butt back to the city. Meanwhile, a circuit suddenly blows in Haven, taking out all power and preventing the Brotherhood from spying on the new arrival. Unfortunately, all mystery is wiped away like a rusty windshield wiper in the next page, when the stranger reveals himself to be…Tobor.
Yes, the same one that was introduced last issue, and is still in Haven. IN YET ANOTHER FUCKING FLASHBACK, Echidnaopolis was invaded by the Dark Legion mere days after Tobor’s ascension to Guardianhood. In the ensuing fight, both Tobor and the Dark Legion’s leader, Moritori Rex, are accidentally teleported into some collapsing ruins. Unfortunately, when Hawking came down to investigate, they were both so injured that he accidentally saved the wrong Echidna. Tobor, meanwhile, went blind from his wounds and had his eyes cybernetically replaced. Unfortunately, the Luddism inherent in these series came back with a vengeance, and he went into self-imposed exile for failing to uphold his end of the Guardianhood. Despite the Brotherhood gleefully using technology to their own ends.
Oh, and there’s some stuff with Knuckles and Kragok getting sucked into a dark dimension. It really makes no sense, and just drowns out the storyline with massive amounts of dialogue. When the two suddenly pop back through another portal above Echidnaopolis, Tobor decides he has no choice but to TACKLE KRAGOK INTO THE PORTAL BEFORE IT CLOSES. And we thought the pointless sacrifice at the end of Fallout 3 was painfully shit.
The next issue brings us back into the Sonic series, with the Secret Service heading to the Floating Island to locate Queen Alicia. Meanwhile, the Days of Fury, which VANISHED ALTOGETHER IN THE LAST FEW ISSUES, suddenly come back, covering THE ENTIRE ISLAND in snow. I repeat, a floating land about half the size of a small continent is COVERED IN SNOW. Furthermore, Knuckles is once again relegated to cameo appearances, busying himself in saving a baby trapped in an apartment. It’s just as unfunny and stupid as it sounds.
Meanwhile, the Secret Service run into Colonel Sommersby, an old Bulldog now living in a strangely suburban house for a hovering island populated by an isolationist society of waist-high furries. However, the real surprise is the sudden introduction of Prince Elias, who not only survived the hovercraft crash, but was also rescued by the Brotherhood and spent ten years with them before wandering the Floating Island. And of course, their first reaction is to ask him to show them Haven. You know, making him break the Brotherhood’s secrecy so St. John can stop whining like a broken record. God, I am so looking forward to ripping him a new one in 76-100.
Meanwhile, Lara-Le decides she’s tired of bitching behind Locke’s back, and decides to fly out and find him in person. In the middle of a snowstorm. I can see where Knuckles gets his brains from. Of course, when Locke rushes in to save her sorry butt, she immediately berates him on how bad a father he was for making Knuckles follow the lineage he was born into. And that she knew she was marrying into. Yeah, I REALLY don’t like her much. Oh, and halfway on the flight back to Haven, they have to safe the Elias and the Secret Service from a flood. Wow, this Days of Fury stuff is really heating up! Too bad it will never be mentioned again!
Meanwhile, Knuckles decides to go looking for his mom, hooks up with Remington and Julie-Su, and ends up stumbling upon Haven’s entrance. Unfortunately, this is a problem for the Brotherhood: Knuckles wasn’t even supposed to know the place <i>existed</i> until he had finished training his son or daughter, and he’s single-handedly brought down the entire masquerade. Oh, and he very quickly exposes the fake Tobor, causing Moritori to bolt out of the place. Gee, that can’t bite them in the ass in, say, the next storyline?
Oh, and Lara-Le gets to bitch some more, and then rub her new marriage into Locke’s face. Just as the guy is explaining his PERFECTLY valid reasons for training his son the way he did. Bitch.
The next storyline (I promise, we’re almost over) is about…an election. Oh, the action!
Anyway, with Kragok missing, the long-missing Dark Legion returns, now led by Kragok’s sister, Lien-Da. Their first job is kidnapping the Anti-Technology member of the Echidnaopolis Council. Yes, that is a real government position. Subtlety isn’t a grace of these comics. Anyway, their unfortunate captive is dragged to the Dark Legion’s headquarters (after being exposed as a hypocrite for owning a trove of technology himself), where Dmitri (now fitted as an almost completely mechanical cyborg) has his brain scooped out and turns him into a puppet.
And in yet ANOTHER flashback, it turns out this schmuck’s ancestor rigged the votes against Edmund and Dmitri, leading to the events that created Enerjak and led to the Echidnas renouncing technology. So, in addition to promoting his own upcoming scheme, he’s basically doing all this as some sort of twisted revenge. And surprisingly, this is the only time so far that the constant flashbacks haven’t pissed me off. I don’t know why, but it might be because this story arc is probably one of the best ones in the whole Sonic series.
Anyway, while all this is going on, the Dingoes are getting more than a little upset at their continued second-class status amongst the Echidnas. Stryker plans to use the current election as a means of taking some control of the situation, even planning out an elaborate coupe. However, the real surprise is when the mind controlled councilor decides to step down, instead nominating a new character, Benedict. Furthermore, in his very first speech, Benedict erupts into a tirade about how great Dmitri and the Dark Legion are, and how voting for him will allow the Dark Legion to return to Echidna society. <i>And everyone has no problem with this.</i> Hell, the masses are practically goose stomping at the suggestion!
And of course, a short time later, Knuckles, Julie-Su and Stryker are kidnapped by the Dark Legion as yet another revenge scheme. Unfortuantely, Dmitri spends so much time threatening his captives that he forgets Knuckles <i>has the same powers he did,</i> and in the end all three manage to escape. Meanwhile, Benedict tries to coerce Remington to his side, apparently trying to blackmail him with some dark secret of his past that is never explained for a hundred Sonic issues. Remy, for his part, spits in Benedict’s face and runs off. A short time later, Benedict wanders into the Legion’s command room, just as everything goes to Hell…and melts. Yep, he was a robot.
So, our heroes have won. Only…nobody saw Benedict’s true form. The Legion had some copies on backup, so he’s still available for the election. What’s worse, the HQ’s destruction caused an EMP wave, wiping out the councilor’s mind control device and turning him into a vegetable. With nobody to expose the truth, Benedict easily wins the election, and Dmitri begins to plot his next move. Unfortunately, the series’ cancellation less than ten issues later meant this was never followed up upon.
The next four issues are…very different from the preceding stories. First, Issue 25 is the only one with a flashback (several, in fact.) Second, there is almost no real action; the Dark Legion does nothing, the Dingoes do nothing, and everyone sits back and relaxes. Third, they have the worst art of the entire Knuckles series. And fourth, three issues are dominated by Knuckles getting bitten by the sitcom bug, and is trying to ask Julie-Su on a date. Uh…huh. That being said, it’s a very well-done example of a character-driven storyline, a narrative form that would come to unfortunately dominate the main series and turn Sonic the Hedgehog into a “furry soap opera.” (I’ll get into that later.)
As Knuckles and Julie-Su are leaving the Legion’s abandoned headquarters, Knuckles ends up running into Locke. Obviously, the two being reunited after so long leads to a series of tearful panels, followed by the two rocketing off to Haven to discuss family history. Unfortunately, they forgot Julie-Su, who not only didn’t see Locke, but doesn’t take the abandonment too well.
Back in Haven, Locke relates the entire history of the Guardians, filling in the blanks left over by the previous flashbacks. After the Dark Legion were trapped in the Eye of Terror, Steppenwolf got married, had a kid, and trained him directly in how to be a Guardian. As time goes on, the Guardians keep the legacy going, the previous generations directly training their descendants, until the Dark Legion not only managed to break through, but also hooked up with some Overlanders (who are pure evil, remember) as parts of an arms deal. The whole mess ended with Menikker dead and the weapons destroyed, but the Guardian dead. A few years later, his brother starts to be trained; this time, however, the Brotherhood decides that child abandonment is the way to train a successful warrior. And thus, we get a glimpse into where Locke gets his awesome parenting skills.
Oh, and one of the Guardians scares off one of Robotnik’s ancestors. Yeah, that’ll teach them pesky Overlanders! There’s no way one of your descendents can be raised in such an isolated bubble that they wouldn’t realize obviously evil humans are not the company you want on your floating land mass!
And now, for the real meat of the story. A good while before Knuckles was even conceived, Locke started having dreams about his son fighting some sort of apocalyptic robot. Rather than allow Knuckles to die, he decided to try a little genetic experiment, first manipulating his own body with chaos power, and then by blasting Knuckle’s egg with chaos energy. The result? Knuckles got his trademark natural set of spiked knuckles. Oh, and a few other powers that will bite Locke in the ass over a hundred issues later, but we’ll get into those later. And all this was to set up an aborted special…which latter mutated into the absolute worst storyline in the comic’s long history.
So, after years of abandonment, being lied to, and finding out he was born to serve his father’s twisted schemes, Knuckles…is just happy to be with daddy again. Aww…
The next real storyline starts with news of Charmy getting married to some bee chick named Saffron, who will not be mentioned of again for nearly a hundred issues. This launches a whole set of misadventures involving relationships, dating, puberty, “the talk,” parents remarrying, and some Echidna concept called “The Soultouch.” It turns out Echidnas are SO MUCH BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE ON MOBIUS that they don’t have time for exploring the field, discovering someone they have a good relationship with, fall in love, and then finally get married and become the basis for the worst of fanart (not necessarily in that order). Instead, BIG MOTHER DESTINY sets up spiritual links between Echidnas to tell them they’re compatible. Except…Locke and Lara-Le are divorced, so apparently whoever deals out this Matchmaker.com crap isn’t doing their job very well. In fact, their divorce gets lampshaded ON THE SAME PAGE THE SOULTOUCH IS INTRODUCED.
And this wasn’t an asspull; it was set up all the way back in Issue 16! Gah, Penders just makes me so angry at times.
Anyway, Julie-Su is none too happy with Knuckles running out on her, and has taken up some…interesting ways to vent her frustration.
Shortly after the celluloid massacre, she decides to head out…where she runs into some Echidna wearing Worf’s shoulder belt, and despite them absolutely knowing nothing about each other, decide to spend the day together. Obviously, this ends with them at a restaurant, where the Gods of Overused Sitcom Cliches decide they’ve had enough and inerject. Sure enough, Knuckles decides he wants to apologize for basically abandoning one of his best friends without so much as an explanation, and has Archimedes teleport him…right into the restaurant, behind a plant, by the kitchen, with the wrench. Oh, and of course, he runs right into a waiter, which leads into a series of tired jokes before he notices Julie-Su’s left.
Meanwhile, Vector has been trying to prove himself a ladies man to the Chaotix, only to get turned down at every turn. Finally, he gives up and heads into an arcade, where he decides to start badmouthing Julie-Su for no real particular reason. Seriously, man, you attacked her first. She shocked you in self-defense. It’s your fault, deal. Oh, and the Gods, having decided they still needed some fun, have Knuckles walk in at that moment. Now fully under the control of THE SOULTOUCH, he starts beating the everloving shit out of Vector, to the point that he actually has to be dragged outside. Um…ouch?
Julie-Su, meanwhile, returns from her day out…only to settle down and watch some obvious Buffy analogue. And since I hate Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I will not comment on it any more.
Knuckles is STILL searching for some guidance on this whole “SOULTOUCH” thing, so he decides to visit his mom. Unfortunately, right when he gets to the door, he remembers the whole “remarrying” thing and promptly turns around. Lara-Le, meanwhile, sees him walk off, but decides to make out with Wyn rather than try and see what her obviously distressed son is worried about. And Locke’s supposed to be the worse parent? Fortunately, he finally decides to grow some stones and simply ask Julie-Su out. She accepts. Three issues down, one to go.
The next day, Knuckles decides to get some dating ideas from his mom. After a few panels discussing how Locke used to be quite the romantic before becoming the character everyone loves to hate, she finds out the date is on the same day as…Knuckles’ bithday. Wow, what a coincidence! How will they resolve this development? Why, Lara-Le convinces Julie-Su to combine their date with a surprise party! The excitement! So, in the end, Knuckles gets his party, makes it to first base with Julie-Su, and everything ends happily ever after.
With the closing of the previous chapter, Knuckles’ time in Echidnaopolis comes to a close. He finally remembers he’s supposed to be guarding the entire Floating Island and the Master Emerald, and not just a city populated by his species, and returns to his actual post. Meanwhile, following Robotnik’s return and subsequent takeover of Mobotropolis, Sally has had a sudden relapse of terminal angst and decides it’s Knuckles’ fault she didn’t know about her mother and brother. Obviously, her current mental state makes her the perfect choice for requesting help from the Brotherhood. Seriously, was Knuckles the only person on Mobius that DIDN’T know about them at this point?
Shortly after her arrival, Knuckles arrives to greet her. Needless to say, she starts ragging on him almost immediately, accusing him of hiding everything from her for years. Oh, right, the two actually knew each other as kids, as established in a series of side stories that really, really sucked. Knuckles, obviously, has no idea what she’s talking about, seeing as how he just found this out a matter of weeks ago, but our previously level-headed princess is unwilling to listen to reason. Fortunately, the Brotherhood shows up and shows the two to Haven. As for Sally’s presentation, it falls apart after she flat out refuses to utilize better technology, choosing to follow her principles over defeating a vastly more powerful, more advanced foe.
Okay, let’s analyze this argument. As previously mentioned, the Brotherhood has been repeatedly chastised for not taking a more active role in the events of Mobius, and helping to stop Robotnik before he can really get things going again would be the best place to start. However, the Brotherhood is also right; the Mobians’ refusal to use more modern weaponry (like those accursed gasp GUNS!) has made them very easy to steamroll over, super-fast hedgehogs or no. An actual, principled debate (holding onto idealistic beliefs vs. doing whatever it takes to defend oneself) in a kids comic book? I’m interested!
Oh, wait, they go back to angst. Sally’s pissed that the Brotherhood decided not to do anything until the Mobians are willing to stop acting like a bunch of Batmans and pull out a goddamn gun against the endless robotic hordes. Of course, she blames Knuckles for all this, despite his not even being a real member and having no say in the decision. And of course, Knuckles seems to just sit and take it. They talk a lot more about how they used to be friends, and how their parents are douches that hid everything important from them, and how the Robotnik situation is changing things. Of course, the pages start to run out, and so Sally dumps her relationship with the red Echidna and flies back.
And that’s the end. No, really. There is no horrible, horrible, horrible final storyline. Nope. No way, no how…
All right, there is one.