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Gallagher has a lot of misses in his stories, and this and Dulcy's abusive boyfriend were always the two biggest problems in my eyes. I'm glad Ian never followed up on the Barby Tails thing, honestly.

Espio with a hat will always be a weird character, I'm not sure why he was introduced, actually.

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3 hours ago, SBR2 said:

Kinda surprised you missed Barby hitting on Tails. She's uncomfortably flirty with him for the whole issue and I have no idea what Gallagher was thinking.

You almost gave me some sort of crisis of faith in my ability to read. I had no idea what on Earth you were talking about so I looked over it again and re-reading it I happened upon one thing I missed last time, which is when Barby said Tails did a good job at fighting and he goes "Aww shucks, just doing my job" then there's a small image of Barby hugging Tails with little hearts in the air around her. It's off in the corner of a single panel and that's literally all I could find that would suggest anything  and even then, I probably dismissed it because I figured she was hugging him because he was cute. And congratulating him on a job well done because she was being motherly to a child. 

Other than that, the two share one other line of dialogue with each other from what I've read and it's her telling him to be wary of the hanging moss when they're on the raft. That's it. 

If Gallagher was going for her flirting with him, he should have made it more apparent so that the ending panel wouldn't come off as completely random to someone like me who read the dialogue and got literally no sense of that. He shouldn't have done it at all but still.

Like I don't know how I was supposed to interpret that as flirting. It's not.  Unless we're reading some sort of different version of the book where she lays it on in a way that could be made apparent. 

So I beg to differ on this one. I'm not surprised I missed it at all, or even that there was something to miss. 

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2 minutes ago, Dr. Detective Mike said:

You almost gave me some sort of crisis of faith in my ability to read. I had no idea what on Earth you were talking about so I looked over it again and re-reading it I happened upon one thing I missed last time, which is when Barby said Tails did a good job at fighting and he goes "Aww shucks, just doing my job" then there's a small image of Barby hugging Tails with little hearts in the air around her. It's off in the corner of a single panel and that's literally all I could find that would suggest anything  and even then, I probably dismissed it because I figured she was hugging him because he was cute. And congratulating him on a job well done because she was being motherly to a child. 

Other than that, the two share one other line of dialogue with each other from what I've read and it's her telling him to be wary of the hanging moss when they're on the raft. That's it. 

If Gallagher was going for her flirting with him, he should have made it more apparent so that the ending panel wouldn't come off as completely random to someone like me who read the dialogue and got literally no sense of that. He shouldn't have done it at all but still.

Like I don't know how I was supposed to interpret that as flirting. It's not.  Unless we're reading some sort of different version of the book where she lays it on in a way that could be made apparent. 

So I beg to differ. I'm not surprised I missed it at all, or even that there was something to miss. 

I don't know man it'd like one of the most infamous moments in Archie Sonic. Everyone talks about how cringey and gross it was. 

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1 hour ago, SBR2 said:

I don't know man it'd like one of the most infamous moments in Archie Sonic. Everyone talks about how cringey and gross it was. 

... THAT? 

I've heard people talk plenty about a lot of the infamous moments from Archie Sonic and never once heard this get mentioned. Ever. 

I can see why too, it's not really much of a thing. The idea of it is gross but it's so barely there that I completely missed it and was blindsided by Sonic and Tails talking about it at the end of the first story as though it was a thing. Even knowing what you're talking about, I'm confused as to how I was supposed to look at that and get "Oh, she totally wants the D!" from it.

If that's what he wanted me to think, he was really bad at conveying it. 

 

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5 hours ago, Big Panda said:

That final page also has her saying “I’ll miss you, Tails!” followed by a *mmmwah* sound suggesting she’s blowing a kiss to him.

The fact that I've had to go back and look this comic over 6 times now to verify this stuff is weird. Its not overt enough to be noticeable or controversal. Its just weird.

I'm gonna move on from this because apparently it goes nowhere anyway but I'm more surprised you guys were able to catch it. Its all lost in a sea of generic lines from generic characters. Even that line is among a bunch of different characters just saying goodbye. 

Sorry I didn't mention it I guess but it did a shit job at standing out.

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I don’t recall Barby-Tails being infamous either, so if it was, time definitely swept it under the radar over the years.

Also that Penders wasn’t writing it probably made it seem less of a thing over time given that he’s been hogging the attention.

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Aside from the slap, most non Penders moments kinda dont get talked about. He takes up a lot of the atrention, so I'm not surprised if people dont really talk about one weird romance. I just know I personally found it really weird.

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1 hour ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

I don’t recall Barby-Tails being infamous either, so if it was, time definitely swept it under the radar over the years.

Maybe it was just a Bumbleking thing because I remember it being brought up a bit. I know Ian addressed it around the time Echoes from the Past was coming out saying it'd just be ignored. 

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Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #62: Icon

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Refreshingly simple title. It makes me far more interested in seeing what the story is than the usual bombastic and weird stuff that’s put forth. The cover is cute too. Been getting a lot of Sonic and Tails only covers lately and I couldn’t be happier.

Spoiler

 

This first story is another Karl Bollers one with Steven Butler on pencils. Good. I may or may not have a headache today. 

We begin with-!

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The bi-plane crashing. That’s one way to catch my attention.

Apparently she was given it all she’s got but she couldn’t take being in the desert no more… I assume. We never do find out WHY it crashed. It could have been the heat. It could have been the sand. It could have used maintenance. Who knows?

The issue is kicking off with some really good, impressive and impactful art. I also really like how Sonic is drawn from the front.

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Not too keen on how he’s drawn from behind though.

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I’ve seen this plenty of times before so I’m sure this is just the way he was drawn from behind back then but, meh. I’ll be happy to see it go.

Anyway, the two of them see a gang of desert… dudes, ride up to them and out comes a familiar Jack Rabbit. This is a character I’ve always been a little confused by whenever he would show up in the Archie Books I’ve read. Apparently he’s a part of his own section of the Freedom Fighters but he’s also an asshole, border-line villain? Or is he just a straight-up villain? I do not know and I guess I didn’t care enough at the time to look into it. Hopefully, I’ll be making up for that now.

Maybe if he starts hitting on Tails, I’ll actually notice it this time.

We cut over to the Devil’s Gulag where Snively is galavanting about how awful it is that he’s stuck in prison while Drago’s laughing at him in another cell. He apparently thinks Snively is really funny, even though he’s not really being all that amusing. I guess Drago’s just going crazy from being locked up. He’s got tears in his eyes. The poor physical and mental abuser has lost it.

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Snively is a little out of his gourd too though. Apparently he thinks he can take Drago should they share a cell which is… adorable for lack of a better word. I enjoy how confident he is showing off the pebble in his arm that’s supposed to be a muscle.

Also, we get an explanation for why it’s called the Devil’s Gulag, something that I can’t recall if we got before. It’s called that because the spire of rock it's on is suspended over boiling ocean water heated by the underwater volcanoes around it. That’s pretty cool. I wonder if this is a Bollers explanation or if it's one of the few clever ideas Penders had. I’m sure you’ll let me know.

Honestly, it’s a little weird seeing Snively still in prison. I was thinking he’d have broken out sooner than this but the Egg Robo plan went south so fast, it was almost comical. Or it would have been had it not been so disappointing.


Anyway, our friend Jack is talking with Sonic about how Robotnik’s sub bosses used to rule this place but when the big man was beaten he and the Sand-Blasters were inspired to fight back and they managed to win. Well, hooray. I’m glad the Sub-bosses didn’t just concede defeat because the big boss died. They had to actually be kicked out of there. Nice.

As Jack is explaining all this to Sonic, one of his guys clues him into a bunch of Robians up ahead and when Sonic remarks that they don’t look friendly, Jack replies a bit strangely.

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I say it’s strange, not because it’s alluding to more of the "Mobian V. Robian" stuff but because I was under the impression that Robian was a term created by the residents of Mobotropolis once they moved back in. You know, as a derogatory term? It’s a bit odd that he would say “Didja ever meet a Robian who was?” as though he’s already familiar with the term, when he's way out here.

It’s not odd that he knows who Sonic is but this one term seems a little too recent and a little too close to home. I guess word travels fast and they all just agreed it was a really good name.

Sonic says that he HAS in fact met friendly Robians. We know who he’s talking about but in case you don’t, they add in a friendly little pink dialogue box to let you know that he’s talking about his parents and uncle.

Thanks.

Sonic also asks about the creepy glowing yellow eyes they have until they get shot at by lasers. I’m still really digging the art. It’s very detailed, graining, and dirty in a way that fits the rough looking style of the comics at this time.

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Pretty good work. 

As Sonic fights to take care of them, Tails asks Jack some very interesting questions about the state of these mobians and their minds.

When Robotnik was defeated all the Robians got their free will back but these guys don’t seem to have it. They just seem mindless. 

This good point goes completely ignored by Jack who's just delighted that Sonic spun them all up in a massive wind tornado, I guess sending them back to Oz or something.

Sonic lands back on their tank and is about to do some more quipping but sees something so neat looking that it shuts him up and makes his eyes gleam with cute, childish wonder. 

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Why yes, it’s perfectly fine for Sonic to be cute sometimes Mr. Yuji Naka.

So we cut away from them yet again and this time go into space. I’ve got to say as an aside that the backgrounds are really well done in this issue. There’s a lot of nice looking violets and purples mixed with some good looking whites, yellows, and light blues. It makes the night feel as though it has a mystical aspect to it, even if they are just riding through the desert. Cutting directly to space where more of the colors get to show off only helps to push that feeling for me.

Now, that said, there’s a very concerning thing happening in space right involving a giant satellite and a hand that looks suspiciously familiar… oh dear. 

Sonic is being lifted and celebrated by everyone. He asks Tails what he did to deserve such good treatment, aside from the obvious. I think it might just BE the obvious though Sonic. These guys may just REALLY appreciate you. Like, a lot. In fact-!

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It’s hero worship! 

Or maybe they’re just really, REALLY grateful. It might be that second one since they seem to just be really happy rather than bowing before him. I am getting a massive Bartolomeo and the Barto Club vibes from this though. 

Jack even mentions that with the real Sonic and Tails here they may even be able to fend off the Robians attacking their shielded city everyday. Sounds like an awful existence. 

Back in the Devil’s Gulag, Snively is doing his nails while talking about how he’s going to tar and feather Sonic once he gets out. I guess by now Drago no longer finds Snively funny because he’s resorted to daring Snively to prove it with an annoyed look on his face. He and the imprisoned Destructix, whom I don’t remember being thrown in prison, start doing a prison chant daring Snively to do it.

Then Snively drops his nail file the instant the cell doors all open.

Drago and the others instantly believe Snively is the one who did it and they escape. I guess that’s what happens when a cosmic stroke of luck hits. 

Or perhaps it has something to do with that hand we saw in the satellite in space? Hmm...

As for the Destructix, I remember them being beaten during the clash with the Chaotix but I seriously don’t remember them getting arrested. Perhaps I was focused too much on Mogul in that story that my mind blocked that part out. 

Back in Sand Blast City, Tails wakes up with a normal blanket over him while Sonic’s got the more eccentric and kiddy red blanket with stars all over it. No reason I should have to point this out. I just really wanted to.

Tails finds it odd the door is locked on the outside and flies out through the open roof to see Jack and the others suspiciously putting a tarp over their bi-plane. Tails asks him what the hell he’s doing and Jack says he’s figured out why the plane crashed… SAND! Yeah, it’s apparently just a bunch of sand clogging things up and he’s figuring they’ll mothball it for a few weeks. Again, not sure if this is the actual explanation considering what happens later...

Tails, being responsible, says they can’t do that because an evil wizard is on the loose… but then Sonic shows up and says “Fuck that, we can stay a few more weeks!” 

His reasoning doesn’t really make any sense. He says that Naugus is STILL going to be on the loose when they leave so there's no problem and it’s like… he could be on the loose for a less amount of time if you left earlier and stopped him. You know?

The comic ends with Sonic’s words echoing ironically over a shot of the prison break.

So this is also a problem now too.

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I don’t exactly know what direct connection this is going to have with Sonic and Tails’ story yet. It’s not like these two are the only ones around who can handle this.

Also, this may surprise you but… I'm not sure if I trust Jack.

 Yeah, I said it. The guy is a tad bit shifty.

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #62: Tales of the Freedom Fighters - On His Majesty’s Secret Service, Part 2

So last time we were left on the gripping cliffhanger of Geoffrey about to enter his fucking broom closet and we return to see that what awaits him is a BOMB.

Not just any bomb but THE Bomb and a certain Heavy… who's looking absolutely nothing like he does from the games. Er, game.

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So, here they are. It’s Heavy and Bomb. Two characters that exist.

Despite Bomb having bombed, he’s fine because he can transfer his consciousness into another bomb body. Where these bomb bodies come from? I've no idea.

We cut to later where Geoffrey has assembled his new team, having taken Heavy and Bomb with them after they told him about how Robotnik used to keep tabs on him with his devices. Sheesh. There was a Robotnik secret service spying on the king’s secret service.

So anyway, here’s our team.

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Hershey, Wombat Stu who joined out of boredom, Unnamed Blueberry chameleon, and two robots that worked for Eggman that Geoffrey found in the broom closet. I sense a gripping tale of excellency and excitement ahead…

Geoffrey shows off an extremely dangerous weapon to everyone because… I don’t know. He fires it and it destroys something in their base which seems a bit weird. Not sure why he couldn’t have just left the explanation of what it did at that. Also not sure why he randomly explained just this one item and nothing else if what they were moving onto next had nothing to do with it.

Yes, they go to the next room where there’s a bunch of people training and jumping through rings of fire. There’s no reason for the rings to be on fire. I’m sure the results you’d get from jumping through a hoop would be the same, if not better, if the ring weren’t on fire. Why is the ring on fire?

Also, all these people that are training seem to be rather familiar with this facility and it’s odd practices by the look of it. I wonder why Geoffrey couldn’t just pluck a team from them? Maybe they all just suck that much. No, he’d rather recruit two random Eggman robots he knows nothing about, on the spot, with one of them introducing themselves to him by almost blowing him up, then to choose any of these guys. I have no choice but to assume it’s because they’re all just terrible at their jobs.

They start the training with Hershey and Geoffrey just pushes her into a giant fish tank with a metal shark in it. Before she’s torn to shreds, the blue chameleon-!

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Valdez, I mean. They finally gave him a name and it was from an internal monologue of a character describing what was happening in the panel. I’m sensing bright, important things for this character’s future…

He throws Bomb into the shark and it blows up. 

The characters get out of the water and complain about hating water only for Geoffrey to step in and shout at them a lot. He’s basically just screaming, “TOUGH SHIT! You’re a team now and I’m gonna work you to the bone till you’re not weak no more, you fucks!” or whatever. I’m sure that was the line he said.

We finish off with him saying they can take a break for five minutes, which isn’t much of anything, and then they’re going back to work. 

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I certainly hope no contracts were signed because this sounds like the most unfun thing ever. Doing this alone would be awful but while under the tutelage of Geoffrey? For the sake of a kingdom run by a lunatic? No thanks.

 

You know, I wanna say this issue was just fine and it is. Despite how much praise I had for the artwork and the colors of the first story, there really wasn’t much to it. Just Sonic and Tails messing around in the desert with a bunch of… freedom fighters? Fans? Raiders? Assholes? What they are isn’t too clear just yet. The giant statue of Sonic coupled with the suspicious nature of their behavior isn’t painting a clear picture yet, which is good. I assume they don’t want us to know what their deal is fully. That story coupled with the bits of Snively in prison kind of make it a tad unfocused. It’s also not clear what overlap those two stories are going to have so right now it just feels like a bunch of set-up that was spread out a lot.

The second story was exactly what I expected it to be. Just a small event taking place in a facility I don’t care about, driven by a character I also don’t yet care about, with a group of characters I could grow to have sympathy for but mostly wouldn’t miss if the focus were off them either way.

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #63: Icon 2 - Cult of Personality

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The title comes off like an off-sounding sequel to a movie that may or may not have come out in the 80s. Icon 2 - Electric Boogaloo. It’s a nice cover though. It’s drawn really, really well and I have a feeling that Sonic’s not just making this joke for show. That statue still gives me an ominous feeling.

Spoiler

 

Snively’s overlooking the prisoners rioting and trying to escape the Devil’s Gulag with a look of utter shock and horror. He really didn’t expect the break out to happen five minutes after he kept boasting about it. It’s like he was pushed out on stage before his costume was on all the way. Oh well. I hope it works out for him. He’s a nice dude. He killed Dr. Robotnik don’t ya know?

Anyway, we cut back to the force-field protected city of Sand Blast City where Sonic is being pampered by some chicks. Well, one of them is a chick. The other is a wolf lady. Sonic’s loving his time here, showcasing how blissfully unaware of how obviously suspicious this situation is. They were fucking with their plane. They insisted that they stay here for WEEKS. They locked the door on the outside. They have a giant statue of you. This is creepy and strange and you should be more concerned. Luckily, Tails is way smarter than him so he’s floating about like a worried housewife.

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OH SNAP! Sound the ALARM! Tails just said Sonic’s not cool! Now beat him up and drag him out of there. I know you can do it. This comic has shown that without a doubt Sonic is one of the easiest people to knock out ever.

Tails’ intelligence and reasoning ability is to be envied though. He lays out what happened in a page long recap of the events that led us to this point but in a way that’s more questioning Sonic’s decision making, which makes reading it way easier. He talks about how fine Sonic was when they first got here but now he’s gone and delayed the mission for weeks without a second thought. It’s interesting because Sonic’s reaction to seeing his statue wasn’t to immediately let it go to his head. He was just shocked. It feels like whatever this place is doing to Sonic’s ego has crept in at a slower, more gradual pace between these two issues somehow and I gotta admit, that’s kind of impressive writing. 

Tails has had enough of this and declares that he and Sonic need to talk. Sonic shoos the two girls away with Tails looking them over, thinking the same thing I am.



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Sonic and Tails are left alone so that they can chat which amounts to them shouting “STAY!” and “GO!” at each other.

The two girls are watching this argument through a crack in the door while Jack Rabbit appears behind them, sporting an evil grin and laying out the facts of what he’s gonna have Sonic do.

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Oh no, he’s an asshole. I feel so betrayed.

Then again, I do still remain confused as to what their alignment is. I checked one of the wikis and they are Freedom Fighters but they’re just more ruthless in their methods which is, admittedly, a very interesting concept. I dare say I may even really like and appreciate that. I just need a bit more time with them to fully grasp how that idea is being utilized because all I recall of their appearances in later stories are just them being assholes but them having the Freedom Fighters title under them in tales that I mostly didn’t care about. 

I don’t know if I’m making sense to you all here. My thoughts on this character and the Sand Blasters are incomplete is basically what I’m trying to say. My prior knowledge of them is coloring my perception of Jack here.

I will say that if his plan is to just pamper Sonic so that he stays forever, that doesn’t seem like a very smart, everlasting idea. 

Back at the prison, Snively is terrified. He’s backed into a corner with all the released prisoners crowding around him and Drago demanding to know where he’s running off to. 

I knew where this was going before I even read the next panel.

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It’s a pretty classic troupe. He thinks he’s gonna be beaten up when he’s actually being praised. Thankfully it isn’t overdone by them going HIP HIP HOORAY and tossing him up and down or anything like that. 

The next page, however, did surprise me.

Quite a whole lot.

-cSw73i61PbjFTzxmomcReEG3V7_8H_R3IScx5fppShcZdc2pKQFqRISidMAK7W_Hy3i8xSfybe_08D-932lUgzJnlHAtMN3fKxphvmLkc4I_0cUGMohwv12D3gi4J9HKLUmFrRY

Sonic’s been pretending to be an idiot the whole time. 

Now I definitely didn’t see that coming and to be fair to me, I had no reason to believe he wouldn’t actually be falling for this obvious trap since the way Sonic’s been written before would absolutely suggest he’d be dumb enough to fall for it. I don’t know if it’s because Bollers is behind this story or what but I can’t help but feel as though if Penders were in charge, he wouldn’t have bothered with this plot point.

My boy Sonic is out here proving why he’s worthy of being looked up to. 

He even comments about how he was getting sick of being fed so many chili-dogs. It’s great.

Of course, the instant they leave, Jack Rabbit ambushes them. Apparently he was onto Sonic about the fact that Sonic was onto them.

He charges in, with the page making it apparent that for the last 3 panels, Sonic’s arms have turned blue, simulating Sonic Boom years and years before it was a thing.

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This happens a bit more in the upcoming pages. It even happens in a panel where there are three Sonic’s to simulate him doing different things at super speed. Two of the images of Sonic have blue arms and the third one has his regular flesh color arms. 

Anyway, Sonic is super serious now. He tells Tails to go start up the bi-plane while Sonic looks for a way to deactivate the force-field. Admittedly, I feel like those jobs should be reversed but I’m too proud of Sonic right now to be that nitpicky.

Tails finds the plane and drops the tarp over his pursuers, making a bunch of jokes, as you do. However, Sonic is racing all over the place, looking for the thing that controls the force-field. He then stops and realizes that Jack said it was the most important thing they had and realizes what that meant.

Twist number 2 here ALSO got me. 

It was right in front of us the whole time.

The giant statue of Sonic! Literally the thing on the front cover! That’s brilliant!

Sonic races over to it and demolishes it with a powerful spin-dash uppercut to himself.

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It’s an awesome and dynamic full-page spread of him doing this too. It really kick ass.

The force-field goes down and Tails flies the bi-plane, which the comic for some reason keeps referring to as “Winged Victory”, towards where Sonic is so they can get the lead out.

Jacky is not happy though and proceeds to threaten Sonic’s life this time only for them to be interrupted, immediately, by the attacking Robians. Sonic uses that distraction to say so long to his would be captors. 

It’s very interesting. Jack made a point of telling his men not to harm Sonic even when they were trying to sneak away, meaning he was thoroughly committed to the idea of just keeping Sonic here. Also, I still feel as though the statue was made to be that way as an actual tribute to Sonic and not just a means of utilizing his ego to keep it from being destroyed. This feels more like an intensely dark story of a bunch of ruthless stalkers. 

The story ends on a bit of a bleak note. Just Sonic and Tails trying their damndest to get the fuck away as the city is on fire while Snively and his gang of escapees head to Robotropolis.

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Welp, that city's fucked.

 

Archie Sonic the Hedgehog - Issue #63: Tales of the Freedom Fighters - On his Majesty’s Secret Service, Part 3

The story begins with Sally being treated like garbage, yet again, because of course it does. We’re back to Penders at the wheel so why wouldn’t it? 

Sally demands to be let into a room that’s guarded by a dude named Smiley (he never loses his smile, that’s for sure) so that she can see Geoffrey St. John. However, she’s denied because unauthorized personnel aren’t allowed inside. The fact that Princess Sally is considered unauthorized personnel shocks and offends her. I’m mostly indifferent to it but I do recognize it for the ridiculousness that it is. She wants to know where St.John is and we cut to another one of his training sessions.

Or at least I think it’s supposed to be one. It’s weird. Wombat Stu comments on how real it feels and by the end it definitely looks like they actually did a totally real covert operation. I guess it’s understandable that he’d want to make use of Mobotropolis the way it was when it was fully Robotropolis by doing dangerous training sessions there but it plays out like an actual mission they were trying to accomplish. There was even a Swat Bot roaming the halls that they had to watch out for.

This Swat Bot, by the way, is taken care of by them knocking it out like it’s a person with an actual consciousness that can get knocked out.

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Yeah, I know how to knock out a robot. Let’s sneak up on it and hit it with a metal pipe and it’ll flop to the fucking ground like it just got thwacked with Thor’s hammer. This wouldn’t even work on Orbot and Cubot. Seriously, what the hell?

They load it on a gurry and wheel it away as Sally just approaches Geoffrey on his way out, demanding to know why she’s being treated like shit and tries to assert her authority over him but Geoffrey makes it clear he’s under orders from HER superior so she has to take it up with her daddy. The issue ends with Sally vowing that she will.

This issue was really fucking good. It might be the best of the main issues we’ve gotten in quite a while. To be pleasantly surprised by not one but two twists within the story, both legitimately positive and well told for the narrative it was going for, is the kind of thing I really wanted more out of this. I wish the majority of the Sonic and Tails stories were more like this. They usually get the basic structure right but then falter when it comes time to actually tell a story and this didn’t do that. The villains weren’t even that base, black and white blandness that we got a while back either. I’m still looking over their actions and motivations as something to kind of marvel at. I’m left interested in what their deal is, which is more than I probably would have been able to say for Regina and the Iron King had that been my initial introduction to them. Hell, it just hit me that the title of the issue has the word "Cult" in it. Sweet baby Jesus, if that isn't a clue. In the end the prison break subplot didn't have any connection to the main story but that's fine. It didn't take up too much space and it wasn't boring so it's cool.

The second story was also mercifully short and simple. Though, despite being simple I still found myself confused by what exactly was being accomplished. It just serves to reinforce how battered and humiliated Sally is continuing to be which, if you’re a fan of her, I can understand being extremely bothered by. Despite not really liking her, it’s a little uncomfortable how brazzen Penders is being with how shittily she’s being treated. I know Penders wanted to kill her off and I guess this is how he compensates for that; by being petty and embarrassing her at every turn he can.

Fun issue regardless. Really enjoyed this one.


 

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I think Sand Blast City had an EMP which is why the Tornado (I refuse to call it Winged Victory) crashed. That might be a retcon later but I believe that's the reason given. 

I'm just going to say it I genuinely think Karl Bollers is underrated. His stories are usually pretty well put together. Yeah later on there's the love triangle stuff with Mina but really he never played it as anything but Mina having a crush on him but Sonic never really reciprocates (with the exception of a single panel of him making goo goo eyes) outside of backups written by Romy Chacon who may or may not have been the editor at the time.

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2 hours ago, SBR2 said:

outside of backups written by Romy Chacon who may or may not have been the editor at the time.

This is something I've heard on and off a few times, but I honestly can't even remember where. Was there something that strongly suggested the editor (Gabrie) was the one working under a pseudonym?

 

EDIT: Now that I'm looking them up and seeing that their credits pretty much seem to start and end with the Archie book for a handful of issues that does make more sense lol

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7 hours ago, Zaysho said:

This is something I've heard on and off a few times, but I honestly can't even remember where. Was there something that strongly suggested the editor (Gabrie) was the one working under a pseudonym?

 

EDIT: Now that I'm looking them up and seeing that their credits pretty much seem to start and end with the Archie book for a handful of issues that does make more sense lol

I mean it's not like Benny Lee being Karl Bollers where it was straight up said by Ken Penders that that was the case it's just one of those things people came to the conclusion on based on a few things matching up to him. Romy's short story in Tossed in Space being an extended Pod Racing reference after Justin abused the editorial column to talk about Star Wars, the story She wrote about Mina's first live performance having stronger hints at the Sonic/Mina/Sally love triangle* since he apparently was the one pushing for that. So there's some clues but nothing official.

* https://thankskenpenders.tumblr.com/post/186708859581/conveniently-everyone-at-this-concert-has-decided

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The Sand Blast Freedom Fighters were always an interesting group before and after the first Genesis Wave.

Spoiler

I don't remember which issue but I remember a side story where Sonic regrets his actions dooming the people of the city.

 

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From one thing to a flower pot, I just remembered this one Pre-SGW thing again; whatever happened to that language implant Sonic got while in space?

I can't remember if I've already wondered about this in here at some point, but you know, that thing was kinda interesting, but if my memory serves me right it never went anywhere far... Sonic just had a talk with his dog and that's all I can recall, kinda felt like they forgot about it at some point.

Though I suppose there aren't many that are too interested about this kind of details to begin with, but well...

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21 minutes ago, BlueSky said:

From one thing to a flower pot, I just remembered this one Pre-SGW thing again; whatever happened to that language implant Sonic got while in space?

I can't remember if I've already wondered about this in here at some point, but you know, that thing was kinda interesting, but if my memory serves me right it never went anywhere far... Sonic just had a talk with his dog and that's all I can recall, kinda felt like they forgot about it at some point.

Though I suppose there aren't many that are too interested about this kind of details to begin with, but well...

Something about him taking some kind of head trauma that basically made it useless.

I actually haven’t read the issue where he loses it, but it was something along those lines if I recall.

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On 4/7/2020 at 1:50 PM, Big Panda said:

It only got addressed one other time after it was revealed to be a thing, in the #147 backup.

Is that the one where Sonic is telling Tails about his recurring nightmares in their bedroom, about not living up to being a hero and Tails is like "yeah but you do a lot so you're ok"? Did Sonic have a racecar bed in SatAM? That sounds right but I can't remember anything specific before the mid100s period of the comics.

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10 hours ago, Moose the Cat said:

Is that the one where Sonic is telling Tails about his recurring nightmares in their bedroom, about not living up to being a hero and Tails is like "yeah but you do a lot so you're ok"? Did Sonic have a racecar bed in SatAM? That sounds right but I can't remember anything specific before the mid100s period of the comics.

I don’t recall that story?

It’s the one where Sonic and Tails play with Muttski (“The Fox and the Hound”)

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11 hours ago, Moose the Cat said:

Is that the one where Sonic is telling Tails about his recurring nightmares in their bedroom, about not living up to being a hero and Tails is like "yeah but you do a lot so you're ok"? Did Sonic have a racecar bed in SatAM? That sounds right but I can't remember anything specific before the mid100s period of the comics.

I found the issue. 

It's a side story in #71 called "Statue of Limitations".

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5 hours ago, Big Panda said:

I don’t recall that story?

It’s the one where Sonic and Tails play with Muttski (“The Fox and the Hound”)

Ah I was thinking of the back-up story in this one https://sonic.fandom.com/wiki/Archie_Sonic_the_Hedgehog_Issue_70

4 hours ago, Sonictrainer said:

I found the issue. 

It's a side story in #71 called "Statue of Limitations".

I think it's #70 actually but yes that's the one, thank you!

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Knuckles the Echidna - Issue #16: Reunions

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I always tend to wince whenever Penders gives something a title and feels the need to put an “S” at the end of it. It’s not just a reunion. It’s a reunions. Lara-Su doesn’t have a Shattered Tommorrow, she has a Shattered Tommorrows. I know it’s meant to assure us that there’s more than one but it doesn’t ever roll off the tongue. If there’s more than one reunion in this book, I guess it won’t be false advertising at least.

I guess there must be since Knuckles seems to be falling through the chasm of disembodied Echidna heads… and two ants… and a chameleon. 

Spoiler

 

The pretentious title crawl didn’t have anything juicy for me to point out this time. It had the same cadence of overly self-important fake dignification that these comics like to taut at me but nothing really all that special.

We begin with a full page of silence, which is rare for Penders. It’s just Lara-Le, sitting alone, looking saddened and getting up to head towards the Echidna Towers.

Then she gets excited when she opens the door and just happens upon Knuckles, who turns to her in shock, exclaiming “MOM!” like a child that just got interrupted when walking around their room in their underwear or something.

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It’s cute how flustered Knuckles gets around his mommy.

The two share a hug and Wyn walks in soon after, holding a glass of milk. He’s delighted to see Lara but offers her the glass with the weirdest written sentence imaginable. “Here! This drink of milk will relax you!”. Sounds off doesn’t it?

Lara-Le asks how Wyn knew Knuckles was back and when he found out, however, because Wyn is an echidna, he says “All in good time, Darling Lara” and leaves to finish cooking without telling her. 

I swear to God, “All in good time” or “All will be revealed soon” is like the catchphrase of this entire fucking race. This isn’t even something that deserves that much secrecy. 

So Knuckles and his mom sit down to have a chat, making it clear she REALLY wants to know how he made it back.

We then cut to a scene that I almost mistook for a flashback showing how Knuckles arrived due to the strange yellow tint that would often be used to simulate flashbacks in this book… but no, this is happening in the present. A ship flies into the Haven of Angel Island driven by some old ass echidna whose very open to narrating what he’s doing and where he is, out loud, to himself, for no reason. 

He tells us about the holographic entrance and the fact that he’s switching to stealth mode and the fact that the corridor leads to the Haven but all in a way that sounds like he’s describing it to someone despite the fact that he’s alone. I guess there really was no other way to explain this no doubt VITAL information to the audience… well, except through those info boxes.

Anyway, a bunch of echidnas are gathering for the Brotherhood because they’ve got MUCH to discuss. Oh boy. Discussions are my favorite part of these books. They’re always so awful and fun to pick apart.

The conversation between Knuckles and his mom that takes place next is one of the most interesting ones from this book to be honest.

I’ve almost a mind to give Penders some credit for creating an interesting emotional conflict between these guardians and their wives concerning the mental scarring and how the weight of being in a situation like this can take a toll on someone who’s considered to be extremely useless after they’ve done the duty of giving birth. It really is like Lara-Le was just tossed away after her “role” was done.

She explains that Knuckles’ birth was normal but what happened in between him being hatched is a mystery to her. She was given a chance to hold Knuckles a day later despite it supposedly taking three days to properly hatch someone and instead of explaining what he did to their baby to his fucking wife, he just engages in that trite banter about how beautiful the baby is that you’re expected to do as if you're someone truly caring.

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What’s hilarious about this is that the next shot is of Knuckles being taught by his father with the E=MC2 on the chalkboard. Yes, the direction he was going with here is that Knuckles was supposed to be some sort of magical genius or some shit. 

Oh God. It’s something so NOT Knuckles that it’s almost cute.

I know the echidnas were stated to just be born super smart and advanced so I was a bit confused as to why Lara-Le was confused but I guess even for them, it’s not normal for a baby that young to be spelling advanced words. I wonder how much Lara freaked out when Baby Knuckles spelled “Disestablishmentarianism” with his baby blocks.

Yeah, so… things got uncomfortably worse for Lara-Le as time went on. Locke was more concerned with hanging onto Knuckles and tutoring him for whatever his needs are. These needs are things that are still not known to the audience. We’re just left to stew in the muck of wondering what secrets this asshole is keeping while he also keeps these secrets from his wife and son. 

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Ah yes. The ever so popular appeal to tradition. Something that’s never been damaging to anything as history has unfolded. Where would we be now if we didn’t uphold the popular tradition of treating our wives like baby factories and telling them to shut the hell up and stay out of the business of the development of their own son? 

This is just how I was brought up Lara. Our ancestors were assholes so I’ve gotta be one too. Nay, I must be the most rancid of festering butt holes this side of Echidnaopolis.

I must pretend to be a loving husband to trick you into living a life you’re not prepared for until the baby is born, then you’re practically dead to me to the point where you’ve requested an audience with me in this book several issues ago and it STILL hasn’t happened.

Lost and with a desire to be a part of her son’s life (how dare she) Lara-Le runs to a very… interesting character.

It’s Knuckles’ grandma, Jenna-Lu.

Her advice to Lara-Le can be described as… quite a number of things...uhm…

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… So… okay.

The amount of times I’ve written something out then backspaced it at this part in a bid to properly collect my thoughts on this is very telling of how hard it’s going to be for me to navigate what I’m feeling here.

Let’s just start with the obvious. Jenna-Lu’s advice to Lara-Le is to basically give up and accept her lot in life as the discarded wife that served her purpose when she popped out an egg like an Echidna gumball machine. 

Yes, the idea here is that Lara-Le is… mistaken(?) in believing that relationships should be equal. Apparently, they’re not. No, it’s a matter of… give and take? As in… a business relationship? 

Foolish Lara-Le thought she was marrying and giving birth out of love but no. She just entered a contract with the Jedi and their primitive, 1800s mentality of the way women should be treated. It completely goes against the technological advancements they’ve made and how much they like to pose as super smart and above everyone else that they stay trapped in their ivory towers and giant skyscrapers, oblivious to how backwards they are. It’d be the ultimate catharsis to see them all die at the hands of Perfect Chaos Palpatine due to their monstrously large hubris but I have a feeling that’s not quite how this is gonna go down.

The thing that’s got me somewhat conflicted about what to say or think here is mostly what happens next when Lara-Le says she asked Jenna-Lu if she was happy things turned out for her. This scene is very… sad.

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Sheesh.

To me, this comes off as something horrific and depressing but the conflict in my head comes from not being sure whether or not this was intentional. 

I feel sorry for Jenna-Lu here but am I supposed to? Does Penders have enough forethought in what he’s doing and SAYING about this situation to expect me, the reader, to read between the lines and recognize that what we have here is an example of a poor, indoctrinated woman who got into a relationship with some asshole and accepted her fate by conforming to what was expected of her before relaying this information to her daughter with a smile on her face. She proclaims she’d be lost without Sabre, which implies complete emotional and mental dependence on being together with him, which might not be so bad if the situation with Locke and Lara-Le weren’t so obviously UN-emotional.

If Jenna-Lu was treated the same way Lara-Le is being treated now, which she absolutely has to have been considering their position in life, then that means her feeling of being “lost” without Sabre is based on a relationship where the husband ignores the wife, has full say over what their offspring learns and does, and rarely, if ever, is granted an audience with their husband… all for the sake of holding up a tradition their dumbass ancestors started.

The Jedi comparisons are staggering, really. They’re super advanced, supposedly, and yet their values and traditions are so old and self-destructive. It’s no wonder they’ve almost brought themselves to ruin so many times.

What value is there in following the tradition of these ancestors? Locke’s only reasoning for doing this is because his ancestor’s did it. Well, your ancestors did a lot of things. Most of those things saw the entire society of echidnas splitting apart. A lot of people suffered from a bunch of infighting and a dumb civil war over technology. They lived with technology for so long and yet tried to force everyone to stop living with it to return to their roots as beings that were one with nature only for us to later find out that they were NEVER one with nature because since the time of hedgehogs being cavemen, the echidnas were building fucking space shuttles. 

They destroyed the peace of mind of their society for no reason. The only ones who seem to have reached a happy ending were the ones who said “Fuck this, I’m out!” and went off to find Albion. 

The way this is written… it FEELS like the discomfort and sadness of the situation is supposed to be intentional. This isn't being portrayed as a good thing that they’re like this. Lara-Le says that despite her mother’s advice, she couldn’t listen to it and still desires things to be different. 

Yet, despite that, I can’t give him the benefit of the doubt for the very risky move of going for a story that paints these echidnas as terrible people living in a broken, terrible society because I’m not sure Penders believes that it is. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop where it's revealed that actually Locke is in the right and Lara-Le is wrong for thinking she would have an equal say in this relationship. 

I’ve heard it spoken that Penders has issues with his own father and that’s why Locke is written this way. This idea that the parents are always correct and need to be pushed as in the right at the end of the day is what makes this theory seem more complicated, if true.

I can already see it. Locke is going to be vindicated at the end of all this, making this depressing conversation seem as though it were the ramblings of someone who was just confused and didn’t know any better rather than someone pouring their heart out in a bid for a better life. 

Don’t get it twisted. Her problem is NOT that she thought a marriage meant equal say in the relationship. Her problem is that she married THIS asshole and got herself stuck in THIS situation. I’m certain that her one saving grace is the fact that she ended up with a son that she loves unconditionally but even then, he spent such a large chunk of his life believing he was alone. It sucks. 

So yeah, this is bad. All of this is bad and I don’t have any faith in the further handling of it.

It gets even more concerning in the next scene where the brotherhood of colorful echidnas start barking at one another.

They start off in a way that surprised me by talking about Sonic and Tails. I’m shocked Penders gives a shit. 

Though, to be fair, it’s mostly so the echidnas can complain about them. They whine about the mess that happened with Regina and Downunda before someone tells them to stop acknowledging Sonic’s existence and to move on.

Basically, the heart of the conversation is that everyone is fighting for a scrap of relevance out there now that Robotnik is dead. The dregs that Robotnik left behind are fighting for control over whatever areas they can get while other people are just trying their best to move on with their lives. They have no real solution for this conundrum so they turn to this equally horrible council of ants for advice. 

Now, these ants have been watching over and dictating things for the echidnas for centuries. You could even say they’re the shadowy evil that hangs over the heads of the echidnas and manipulates them to continue being evil. That’s how I see it. 

Archimedes (or at least I think that’s him. These ants all look the same unless they have a beard) says that the echidna society is in danger of becoming irrelevant and these fools are scrambling for a sense of purpose. This meeting is basically just one big pathetic show to exemplify how much they want to pretend to be important. Important people sit in chairs around a table and bark at one another in secret so as to pretend they’re being covert when in reality, no one gives a fuck.

The fact that the echidnas are being presented with the idea of their irrelevancy is a cathartic thing to hear, certainly, but it also makes me wonder what the fuck the point of keeping all their shit secret STILL is if irrelevance is truly a danger for them.

The shit that they’re hiding and keeping secret from us can’t be that important if this is truly something to worry about right? 

Well, it doesn’t matter because Archimedes has the solution.

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That’s right. In order to avoid the danger of not being paid attention to anymore, the brilliant plan is to forcefully impose themselves onto the world and LEAD it to a new Golden Age!

source.gif
 

BWAHAHAHAHAHA~!

The echidnas are gonna take over the world and lead it to a new GOLDEN AGE?! THEM?!

These idiotic echidnas who just now were concerned about losing relevancy? The ones who fought each other over the use of technology and have spent years and years making their primitive society miserable based on enforced rules that make no goddamn sense? Oh yeah, that’ll go well. 

Do it. I wanna see just how badly this goes down in flames. Please tell me an arc happens where they try to read the new commandments to the people of Mobius and get their shit pushed in. I want that to happen.

Anyway, Wyn is finished cooking and is delighted to show Knuckles and Lara-Le the dish he’s made.

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He’s serving them fresh rocks. Mmmm~! Delicious.

Anyway, Wyn here, who, whenever he’s shown up, has only ever been a nice guy and completely supportive of Lara-Le, something Knuckles’ actual father hasn’t been, just made dinner for them all and is happy to reveal a special surprise.

First of all, I’m surprised men cooking for women isn’t illegal, given what we know about this society. Second of all, I felt like I knew where this was going but when it happened, I still couldn’t believe it.

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Okay. So first of all… good for her. 

Jesus Christ. GOOD for her!

Second… I get it. I’m trying my best not to laugh at the soap opera, “You’re not my real dad” reaction that Knuckles has here. I understand that hearing this news might be hard for someone… but… the imbalance concerning the conflict here is kind of funny.

Both Lara-Le and Knuckles BARELY have any reason to care that the “sanctity” of Locke’s marriage is being tarnished. Lara-Le has been treated as nothing but an object by her husband to the point where she can’t even get a chance to speak with him and was shut away from most of the decision making regarding the upbringing of their son. 

Meanwhile, Knuckles, on top of being kept away from his mother, was then abandoned by his father when he walked through the wall of fire and was made to believe that he was the only remaining living member of his kind all throughout the development of his early childhood to his mid teens. Now, even when he’s been made aware of it again, his father is still keeping secrets and refusing to show himself. It wouldn’t surprise me if Locke didn’t give a shit that this marriage was happening as well.

So, that duty falls onto Knuckles, their son. He HAS to be the one to care despite his relationship with his father being so unhealthy and his relationship with his mother being so restricted. 

I gotta say… even if I were to believe that Knuckles is just finding it hard to accept based just on the principal that he loves the both of his parents still it’s taking a huge leap of faith for me to believe he cares about their marriage. Especially to this extent. He’s not lived a normal life where they were together with him for the majority of it. He’s been apart from them for so long. Hell, he STILL hasn’t seen his father since he was a small child. He’s getting upset at the mere IDEA of her marriage rather than any repercussions he might suffer from it.

What are the repercussions he’d suffer from it? 

Nothing. It changes nothing about his life.

Again, I acknowledge that there’s a chance he could still care but… it’s TOO flimsy. I need to give this comic an intensely large benefit of the doubt to buy it. There’s so few open avenues to see where Knuckles’ discontent comes from outside of “They’re his parents and therefore he’s upset”. 

Lara wants to go after him but Wyn stops her, saying that he needs time. Once he has it, then he’ll talk to her. Sound advice.

Knuckles runs into the street and goes right on by the Chaotix without a thought. Vector wants to go after him but Julie-Su says THEY shouldn’t go…

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HER?!

WHY?!

Julie-Su asks if Vector has a problem with that and both me and him totally do. Espio allows it though because he saw a look in her eyes that made it seem like nothing would stop her. That’s fine and all but that doesn’t explain why it has to be JUST her.

What makes her more qualified to go? The fact that she’s an echidna? The fact that she was created by Ken Penders? Who cares?!

We return to the Council of Assholes, where the echidnas bring up the Knuckles problem. Yes, Knuckles’ powers are maturing at a rate that they didn’t properly prepare for and because of that, Knuckles is a serious issue. Also, Grandfather Spectre says it is. One of the echidnas literally says that if Spectre is concerned than that’s reason enough for them to consider Knuckles a danger. I love echidna logic. Keep it coming.

We end on a gross final two pages where Knuckles is sitting by himself overlooking the water when Julie-Su shows up to ignore his wish to be left alone and then kisses him on the cheek (???). Knuckles asks why the hell she did that and she says it was to return the favor of him trying to cheer her up…? Then Knuckles tells her to never do it again while thinking it was actually kind of nice.

Julie-Su’s thoughts are that she has no clue why she did it. Normally, that would be taken as someone just not knowing they were in love but considering I know the actual reason, that being the dreaded Soul Touch, this scene has no way of not being really horrible and gross.

 

This issue was very interesting and was surprisingly easy to follow. However, the reasons for why it was interesting are things that are very, very troubling. I don’t have faith in Penders’ storytelling ability to see these troublesome ideas being brought up as something that’ll be portrayed properly as the troublesome ideas that they are going forward. As of now, it’s great that Lara-Le’s situation is being portrayed as being incredibly awful and fucked up to the point of her finally getting a chance at happiness by remarrying to one of the few other echidnas that hasn’t been a complete dickhead. The only other ones I can think that fit that bill are Remington, Athair, Yanar, and Mari-an. Every other echidna sucks. 

The sudden development of Knuckles and Julie-Su’s relationship on the back of Knuckles racing off after finding out something that I can only conceive as good news is bad and wrong. I hated that.

Still, if I ignore what my brain tells me is a recipe for disaster and take this issue at face-value as a deconstruction of how awful the echidna society is and how Lara is actively seeking a better life for herself by going against the advice of her poor, indoctrinated mother then I feel I can say I thought it was fine.

 

Knuckles the Echidna - Issue #17: Deep Cover, Part 1 of 2: The Guardian Who Failed!!!

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No, that title is not an embellishment on my part. The title really does have three exclamation points in it. A failed guardian has got to be the most important and shocking thing ever guys. It’s got three exclamation points. THREE OF THEM! SUCH A FAILURE!

Spoiler

 

The book opens and we begin with the creepiest of all ominous creep faces.

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Normally, this would get me excited because when I stare at something and go “What the fuck is that? What’s happening here?” it’s usually a good sign that my interest has been snagged… but you all know how that tends to go here.

I also love that the title crawl feels the need to reiterate several times that there’s tons of people keeping secrets and all of them are being kept specifically from Knuckles. It’s hilarious.

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This issue tries it’s hardest to begin in the most confused way it can.

Try and piece together what’s happening here with just this one image.

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Not-Knuckles with the Klingon forehead and the Shan-Yu eyes goes to Angel Island, shocked to see it there, lands and runs into Julie-Su riding the Entei horse from Inuyasha.

This dude looks positively frightened to be in the vicinity of Julie-Su and immediately recognizes her as a Dark Legionnaire. Despite the fact that Julie-Su is, for once, actually trying to be kind and helpful to someone, he attacks her and tries to choke her out. She tells him to hurry and do it which leads to a scene transition when it looks like he may be having second thoughts.

Julie-Su’s position within the book continues to boggle my mind a bit. I’m still reeling from the fact that the consequences to her actions were just glossed over and she was just allowed to join the Chaotix. Then last issue, the lovey dovey shit just popped in out of nowhere. It’s like Penders wants the conclusion to this character’s arc but doesn’t wish to bother with the actual arc.

Later, we cut to Knuckles meditating on top of a skyscraper. Archimedes poofs in to pay Knuckles a visit and starts talking to him about how meditating on skyscrapers is most unorthodox. Knuckles, despite saying that he’s missed him, ignores what he has to say entirely and glides off the building to land on his feet. At first I wondered if this was supposed to be a page long showcase of the fact that Knuckles knows how to glide but then it became clear that the impressive thing was supposed to be that he glided with his eyes closed.

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Everything always feels immediately undermined whenever we cut to the other echidnas watching him. Knuckles in this book just feels like a weird experiment that people are monitoring. He doesn’t have any agency and his sense of duty is brought upon by the pressure of other people just going “Yes, we’ll look into him with great interest”. 

So basically, Knuckles is using the Guiding Star Gem to show him the way to places and figures it must be how he returned to Angel Island. The other echidnas are flabbergasted that he’s coming close to unlocking its secrets.

If I never see the word “secret” again after this, it’ll be too soon.

As soon as the echidnas identify that Julie-Su is approaching Knuckles with a stranger, the power goes out and they can’t see anymore. This causes them to freak the hell out and scramble around like chickens to fix everything. They can’t handle not being able to spy on Knuckles. The invasion of privacy withdrawal will kill them.

It really does continue to sink in more and more how awful the deliberate camera spying on Knuckles is. You'd think I'd get used to it but I’m actually growing more disgusted by it the more it happens.

They check on everything else too, hoping that their backup power has turned on so that Grandfather Hawking doesn’t die and that their special friend in a test tube is safe.

Everything’s fine though.

Also, they have a special friend in a test tube.

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Never believed in aligning themselves with an outsider's cause eh? I guess the Brotherhood truly does know best. They’ve done such a good job not making complete jokes of themselves so far.

We cut back to Julie-Su and she’s having some tea and crumpets with Knuckles and the guy who decided he wasn’t going to choke her, Tobor.

Tobor here claims to be a former guardian. Knuckles SERIOUSLY tries to use the fact that he’s never heard of him as a viable reason not to believe him as if he’s someone the other echidnas would ever bother telling ANYTHING to. 

Tobor has proof though.

bDmzYVwsCfELVjI9L9yR8ZNfj5qz8HPfZj-oCsQxrMmAtQ5QgfjLENBAxtZRBZPnP0E0LtfhF73G_dSKkwbJF66dZ8u57Y0o46ilMb_0PH_mH2sizFFwiJHFENUEo2SCzB0u74mj

I seriously forgot where it was stated before that the ring around his chest was a mark that symbolized him being a guardian. I have no recollection of it and it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the reveal of this fact too. 

Do I feel it’s a good lore tidbit. Not really. I do kind of like the fact that some design decisions are just there because they look weird. Like Espio’s heart chest. 

So Tobor begins his explanation. Goodie. We’ve been missing an echidna blast to the past exposition dump ever since the Charmy story weaned us away from that. 

Basically, Tobor became a guardian when his father peaced out to go restore the Floating Island. However, one day when he was out for a stroll, a portal opened up and they got invaded by the Dark Legion.

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I almost burst out laughing when I read the name. I thought he seriously named this character Moriarte but no, his name is Moritori Rex. He was the leader of the Dark Legion during this undisclosed period of time. All I know is that it was in between the time of the first dude whose name I forgot and the current leader, Kragok.

The echidnas were still trapped in a pocket dimension during this time too.

So anyway, they fight in a battle that this dude swears was an epic one. Neither side chose to give an inch. Just another showcase of how intelligent and advanced these echidnas are. Just a lovely bunch of people whose history is caked in pointless civil war and in-fighting. 

When Moritori realizes he’s about to lose, he uses the device he had that teleported his goons in here to transport him and Tobor to a place that immediately collapses and crushes them with stones.

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Penders was already doing a fairly surprising job of making me feel a bit sorry for this guy but what happened next was kind of cruel in a way that’s both tragic and funny, if it’s to be taken at face value.

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This dude survived the falling rocks and then witnessed his father crying out for and carrying away someone he thought was his son…!

That’s like the kind of tragic that works on a hilarious meta sense too. It’s as if the fact that these echidnas all look the same made it so that this father figure literally couldn’t tell that the person he was crying over wasn’t his son. I laughed at it but I also felt bad. Can you imagine witnessing something like that on top of being so indistinguishable from the rest of your kind that even your own dad can’t tell when you’re you? 

It’s so sad… but it’s also really funny.

By now, Tobor is crying and Knuckles decides to be kind and supportive of his feelings, something I’d also imagine has to be illegal in Echidna society. It does well to make him stand out as likeable though.

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Although, it is worth noting that Tobor also came to the island with the desire for revenge on his mind and then changed his mind when he realized he just wanted to see his family. I wonder if revenge is their default reaction to things or something. 

The other echidnas finally found what they were looking for that disrupted their systems. It was a fried little circuit. Hmm…

The book ends with Knuckles being granted an audience with Kragok. He’s got something he wants to talk with him about.

Honestly, I had forgotten that Kragok had been captured. I blame that on how little I care about his character.

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I kind of wish this was being done with a bunch of foxes that look like Tails. At least then, an Evil Tails look-alike could be here and I could admire how adorable it was.

 

Uh, this issue was fine too. Surprisingly. I did actually end up feeling sorry for Tobor here. A good chunk of his story was basically a rehash of stuff we’ve already seen before but that twisted, meta ending to his story kind of made it worthwhile. A part of me still isn’t convinced that he’s going to commit to that echidna being mistaken for his son as the reason this happened but if it does, I’ll forever mark this as an example of the book recognizing that all these echidnas look alike IN universe and how even they can’t tell each other apart sometimes. 

More than likely, it’s probably a part of some evil plot though.

 

Knuckles the Echidna - Issue #18: Deep Cover, Part 2 of 2: Debt of Honor

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Oh geez. I wonder if it was a good idea for Knuckles to ask Remington to leave the two of them alone in this cell.

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Every bit of info I look at swears that this is a connecting cover and, yeah, I can see it when it comes to stuff like Kragok’s cloak and a bit of the rock formation but that’s it. I don’t know why these Knuckles issues have such a hard time making the connecting covers look like they connect.

Spoiler

 

We begin with Tobor being given some tea by Lara-e. She immediately takes this opportunity to ask him if being with his family or being a guardian mattered more to him. I love how she’s still striving for certainty with regards to her feelings on this. It’s obvious to me which matters more but growing up in a place like THIS I can see why it might be hard to see past all the bullshit and fight for what makes you truly happy.

Tobor’s response is pretty good too. He pretty much admits that he just expected to be the guardian as it was just the way things were supposed to go. It wasn’t really something he questioned much until he recognized just how many sacrifices and demands were being imposed on one another.

It really does seem like Penders is making an attempt to commentate on how fucked this society of echidnas is here. Does it last? Only time will tell.

We then cut to the scene with Knuckles in the jail cell with Kragok and it’s very, very strange.

This scene begins completely different from the way the last issue ended. Not only is the construction of the jail cell entirely different but the dialogue is too. Last issue saw Knuckles telling Remington that he wanted to be alone with Kragok and Kragok saying that he wanted NOTHING to do with Knuckles. 

THIS issue begins with Kragok saying that it was about time Knuckles showed up and that he was waiting for him to visit (albeit sarcastically) but it’s the total opposite of what he said before. On top of that, Kragok is the one that demands the two of them be alone this time and Knuckles is made to look like he’s agreeing with him rather than instigating this idea.

I really don’t know why this dialogue change was made. It doesn’t really make either of these characters look any better. 

This lunatic has got a metal arm with sharp metal prongs on it and it’s just been left as it is. Now he’s going to be left alone with Knuckles. It’s so obviously a bad idea. 

Knuckles even pushes it further when Remington suggests that his men will be outside the door in case anything goes wrong. Knuckles screams at them that that’s unacceptable too.

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Sigh.

Okay.

Back with Locke, whose fixing the mechanical stuff that keeps Haven running, Locke’s father wonders why everything went down and Locke says that he doesn’t know because even their enemies would have a hard time finding a more vulnerable place to strike. His father pretty much works the conversation into the suggestion that there’s probably a traitor in their midst, which Locke didn’t say but Locke’s father doubles down on putting the pressure on him to figure shit out.

Whatever.

Back with Knuckles, it turns out the echidna’s plan really is to just beat the information out of Kragok. He asks him about Tobor and Kragok gives him the runaround, as one would expect. Knuckles then just attacks him. He’s not bound by the law so he just decides to beat the shit out of him. He even screams about how he’s tired of all the secrets and lies. 

ME TOO.

Then, suddenly, when they’re in the middle of fighting this weirdness happens.

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“Faaaar out!” 
            ~ Knuckles the Echidna

I’m not even going to try and piece together what happened to transport them to the land of the Ameba Boys. I’ll just wait for the book to bore me with the explanation later.

We switch back to Tobor and Lara-Le where an answer to a question I’ve been asking in my head for a while now finally gets answered. Why does Tobor have Shan-Yu eyes? 

Well, it turns out that they were replaced. When he woke up and saw his father carry off Moritori Rex instead of him, he wandered around and realized his vision was going away. The rocks not only broke tons of his bones but also broke his eyes. 

He also realized that the nature of Rex’s injuries might have granted him the opportunity to fool the family. He could be using the fact that he got crushed by rocks as an excuse to say he’s had memory loss all this time. It's not as if him being distant from his family as a result of that would be all that strange either, because as Tobor puts it--

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God, it’s like the book is looking at all the shit it’s done with these horrible echidnas and actually, finally, using it to its advantage to tell a story. Not even in the obvious ways like how it talks about how war is bad or whatever. This specific problem about how this guardian system exploits their families is being used as something that illustrates a problem and not just being taken at face value as the way things are. 

I’m still not entirely convinced it’s intentional but if it is, I have to give Penders some props for recognizing it and doing something about it, however scarce. I’m also kind of impressed by how quickly I ended up feeling sorry for this character. I really just want to see him back with his family again.

The one thing Tobor can’t figure out is how Rex faking his way into their midst would fool his wife Voni-Ca and I’m thinking the answer to that may end up not being a very happy moment of realization.

We cut back to Knuckles and Kragok fighting in a dimensional space. Knuckles is continuing to beat the shit out of Kragok and demanding he speak. He still hasn’t yet so we cut away to the Echidna brotherhood where they talk about how weird it is that one piece being messed with ruined the entire Haven. Another one says he isn’t surprised and Spectre says to watch out for the Dark Legion. Riveting stuff. Anyway, we cut back to Knuckles and Kragok where Kragok finally, for some reason, decides to talk. I guess because Knuckles constantly punching him was starting to get annoying.

Ready to brush up on your echidna history kids? I’m not but I got to anyway.

Way back when, Dimitri tried to seize power for himself and became Enerjak while his brother Edmund became the very first guardian, creating this whole awful system. Dimitri ended up trapped under some rocks until he decided he didn’t like that anymore and broke free centuries later at random only to be defeated twice, once by Knuckles and then again by Mogul.

However, their two sons also ended up hating each other. Edmund’s son Steppenwolf and Dimitri’s son Menniker fought with Menniker creating the Dark Legion. However, Steppenwolf banished him and the legion to a dimensional space.

Then they ended up trapped in this weird cycle where sometimes the Dark Legion would escape back to Echinaopolis to take on whoever the current guardian was at that time in history. Some weird time gobbledy gook made it so that the Dark Legion lived one generation for every four of the regular echidna's generations.

Eventually, Kragok’s father, Moritori Rex tricked Tobor into getting trapped under some rocks with him so that he could infiltrate and take his place. That’s right. He somehow planned on being mistaken for Tobor and didn’t just seize on a convenient opportunity. Sure…

Wow. Look at that history. Just a bunch of vengeful idiots fighting and crossing dimensions and other stuff. I feel it goes without saying that the continued convoluted nature of these stories is growing ever more ridiculous with each passing issue. I can not fathom how or why this book lasted at all while being constructed like this. I guess because any kid reading it would mistakenly think it being so weirdly overly detailed was the same as being mature and treating them like an adult. I can only guess.

Kragok then tells Knuckles to look behind him. Knuckles does and then gets socked in the face.

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I love that this works.

Kragok escapes through a portal and Knuckles follows soon after collecting himself.

Back with Tobor and Lara-Le, Lara is surprised that she can’t find Voni-Ca in any of the family albums and Tobor says it’s not surprising since the enemy probably thoroughly cleaned them out… which somehow clues him into the fact that Knuckles is in danger.

He jumps out the window to go help him while Lara pleads to be let in on what’s going on but of course it’s too late. Julie-Su, who I forgot was there, asks if its always like this to which Lara replies that they need to talk. 

Tobor, meanwhile, can somehow see Knuckles in his cybernetic eye. Apparently Knuckles’ power has grown so wicked and wild that he’s pulsating like a living Chaos Emerald. Knuckles is just uber powerful guys. I don’t know what to say. He just keeps getting stronger.

A portal in the sky opens and Kragok comes out of it with Knuckles soon after. Knuckles wants to help Tobor fight him but Tobor belays that and grabs Kragok so that the both of them can fly back into the portal together. He wishes to settle the score and somehow plans to do so with Rex’s son and not the guy who infiltrated his family. Okay.

Knuckles returns home where Lara is telling Julie-Su not to get her hopes up when it comes to forming a relationship with Knuckles, interestingly enough, right as Knuckles comes back and gets glomped by the two of them. Julie-Su is really clingy and happy to be with Knuckles now, all of a sudden.

I really wish I could have seen her develop to this point instead of this weird hop and a skip to her acting like this but I guess it was a better use of our time to just throw her into stories where she did nothing.

The Brotherhood of echidnas gets the monitors back online to observe a guardian and a former dark legionnaire embracing. They find it interesting. Meanwhile, the one dude who's obviously the traitor just sulks away and thinks about how much it sucks that Tobor is back. So yeah, all throughout the issue we’ve been given shots of this one echidna being all silent and now he’s just front and center.

So yeah… it’s him. 

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You know, I can’t help but wonder how much more effective this could have been had we’d known who this guy was beforehand. It might have been able to make this twist more intriguing than it is but this story is under the delusion that you give a shit about any of the people in this brotherhood and I don’t understand how it could be so thoroughly wrong.

 

Honestly, there’s not a ton to say about this. There wasn’t really much of a story here. We’ve somehow circled back to what the other Knuckles issues did where they just spent a ton of time expositing things about the past at us for the majority of the issues. This one didn’t even bother to have a fake climax to wrap things up. Tobor just grabs Kragok and leaves and we end on a hug and the brotherhood being a bunch of creepers. 

If the discussions about how awful the echidna society is actually do go somewhere favorable then I can see myself looking back on this set of issues as a necessary round of set-up but as of right now it's just kind of there. Nothing too infuriating happened aside from all the usual stuff that infuriates me so there’s not too much else to cling to here. Guess I’ll just have to wait for the actual conclusion of this story, whatever that may be.

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