Knuckles The Echidna #25 Review by Rolland Therrien
"Childhood's End"

Welcome to the grand #25 gala issue of Knuckles the Echidna! We start the issue with Knux and Julie-Su looking around the "Technology Now campaign HQ", also known as "Dark Legion Central". Knux suddenly sees a familiar figure and chases after it, leaving Julie-su behind. As usual. He catches up with the figure outside, and it turns out to be his father. What do you think Knuckle's reaction to seeing the father he thought was dead, but was just in hiding, is? That last thing you'd expect from him: He runs to hug, with tears in his eyes! (minor note: this one silhouette over Knux's head in that splash page looks like Darth Vader's head. Coincidence, or a bad omen?) After a touching moment with more heart then an entire season of "Full House", Knuckles breaks the hug, saying he has about a zillion questions. Locke says the have a lot to talk about, but somewhere else. After they leave, we see Julie-Su come out of the building, looking for Knux. Not finding him, she takes off, apparently pissed.

We catch up with Locke and son in his jet, as they fly to Haven. Knux asks for an explanation on Haven, and it's purpose. Locke starts to tell the story of Haven, which begins with the Fire-Ants building it as a base of operations for Steppenwolf, the 2nd guardian. SW starts to train his own son Moonwatcher (why do so many Echidnas have weird names?) , all the while doing his duties on the Island. But when the Floating Island gets it's first visitors ever, a groups of Overlanders led by a guy called Brutus Kintobor (an ancestor of Dr Robotik. You now this guy's trouble because of his red and black eyes) They give SW the old "look friendly but be prepared to kill everyone" routine, but some thing goes wrong for them, and they all fall to the ground, writhing in agony and holding their heads, screaming in pain. It appears as if SW has read their thoughts and is now giving them a mental whammy! SW makes the pain stop, as long as their kind leaves the Island and never comes back. After they leave, we find out the psychic tricks were the work of SW's allies, the Fire-Ants. Concerned about the next potential batch of visitors, Christopheles, the ant's liasion with SW, suggests away of dealing with them.

We take a small break in the flashback here, as Locke lands his plane and steps out, With Knux following. Our hero admits, for once, that Haven impresses him, and makes him wonder what other secrets he still has to learn, about the Floating Island, and about himself. Locke just gives him a sly smile and the old: "All in due time" line, and continues with the narrative. Christopheles and Steppenwolf decided that more then one guardian was needed to protect the Floating Island, so SW brought his now adult son Moonwatcher (who now looks like Star trek: TNG's Jordi LaForge) to Haven, gave him the guardian badge of honor and told him to watch over the Island while he checked the land the island would fly over for signs of danger. And so it went on, with one guardian on the Island and the other on Mobius Prime (the guardian's term for the rest of Mobius), wiht each one trading off duties every once in a while, so Moonwatcher could interact with the people on Mobius Prime.

This pattern continued like so, while more guardians joined the rank, as Moonwatcher's son Harlan came of age, followed by his own son, Rembrandt, who was the first to christen the group "The Brotherhood", (dispite the fact that nobody was anyone's brother...) until Aaron, Rembrandt's son, made his third visit on Mobius Prime. He stumbled upon a group of Overlanders teamed with Dark Legioneers, who began attacking him. Aaron performs a tactical retreat (RUUNN AWAAAYYYY!!!), but runs into the Overlander leader and Mennicker (who had apparantly gotten out of the zone Steppenwolf trapped him), who are working on a large rocket aimed at the Floating Island. Seeing the enemy, the Overlander leader decides to launch the rocket early. Seeing this, Aaron leaps on the rocket and starts pulling wires. Mennicker leaps on the rocket as it launch and tries to push Aaron off. Aaron responds by detonating the rocket early, blowing them both up!

Locke then tells his son that wasn't the first time a guardian died on duty, but that Edmund, the first, died because he was a scientist, not a soldier (I can see now:"Dammit Christopheles! I'm a doctor, not a fighter!), and was unexperienced in combat. Aaron died because he was reckless. The lost shook not just his father, Rembrandt, but the whole brotherhood as well... things got more complicated when Aaron's brother, Jordan, said he wanted to become a guardian in his late brother's place. (first Aaron, then Jordan as in river Jordan. Do all of Rembrandt's kids have biblical names?) Rem starts training Jordan much like Locke trained Knux, while the rest of the Brotherhood looks on from a distance, making the decision that Jordan receive limits, while having his responsibilities gradually. So Locke didn't abandon his son. He stayed out of sight, allowing Knux to learn self reliance (a little too much for the chaotix's liking...)

Locke says Knux wouldn't be the individaul he is today if he hadn't been given the chance to fail or succed on his own, and that it was more important for him then for any other of Edmund's descendants. When Knux asks for details about that, Locke finally agrees.

Locke once had a nightmare, that seemed so real that he had difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy for months afterwards; still today, he is unsure wheter or not it was a vision induced by the Ancient Walkers or a precognitive dream about future events. (But we might find out in SSS: Knuckes: Twenty Years later...) He saw his son face a fearful adversary, but before he could learn of the outcome, a blinding flash ended the dream and he would wake up, screaming and sweating. (side note: The adversary Knuckles will face has been seen before: In Sonic Live, the creation of what seems to be a multi-dimensional alliance of Robo-Robotniks. Spooky... I can't wait to see the whole story) Searching for answers, locke turns to the most unlikly source: Athair!

He tells Locke that he did see a vision of the future, a future he may still prepare for. He tells him "To reconcile the past with the present into the next generation"

What Locke did was use himself as a guinea pig, modifying himself with biological enhancements and other processes, so that the child he would have with Lara-Su would be more then just an ordinary Echidna. the last procedure occured before Knux's egg hatched: In the Chaos chamber, his egg was subjected to a radiation bath with full power rays from the Chaos Emerald, though there had been a lot of argument for and against Locke's plan by the Entire Brotherhood. But Locke knew it had been a success when he saw Knux emerge from his egg. Knux asks how he knew, and Locke shows his his ungloved hands, revealing a normal Echidna hand, without any protuberant knuckles, (the knuckles on his glove are all show) and says that even though he's a guardian, he's still a normal echdina. Knux takes off his own gloves, revealing a normal-looking hand, except for the obvious knuckles (now you know how he got his name). Locke then says (a bit bluntly, for my taste) that Knuckles is every bit the "genetically enhanced offspring [he was] intended to be". When Knux asked why him, it's because Athair said the Brotherhood couldn't fight the future, but Locke could make it's savior. Knuckles.

Knuckles, a bit angered asks his father if it occured to him that he might be happier just being his son. Locke argues he went through the same period that Knux went through, just like his own father, and his father before him. Except Kunckles has powers greater then those of any other guardian before him (like his enhaced perception, which allows him to see Espio when he's hiding, his ability to regenerate [K#11], the teleportation gate he made to return to his mother's appartement [K#15], the way he transported the master emerald through time and dimensions back to the Floating Island after it was stolen [SSS#7] and his overload explosion [#24]), powers which he is becoming aware of.

He then tells Kunx of the coice he had to make, betweem sacrificing a world and making a son who could save it. Knuckles gets the point, then asks what they are going to do now. Locke says hat, for now, they should just spend time as father and son. the story ends with Knux telling he father he loves him, and Locke sying likewise. A touching ending.

Rating: Rings

Well, I must say, this was a very good issue. Very touching, very intriguing, and very enlightening. We got answers to a lot of questions, and got a few more questions in return: how far back does Robotnik's ancestry go? Were all of his house evil? What is the link between the Dark Legion and the Overlanders? When Robotnik comes back, will he and the DL join forces? What is the true nature of the foe Knuckles will face in the future? How does his destiny tie in with that of Tails (the Turbo-chosen one) and Sonic (destined, according to SSS#8, to be the greatest warrior of all the realities)? I guess we will have to stay tuned to learn those secrets.

About Knuckles' origin, I must admit to a bit of disappointment. All the mystery surrouding the nature of his powers have been lifted. And the true nature of the Ancient Walker's involvement is still unknown. But one thing I'm curious about: Locke says he used himself as a guinea pig for his mutation experiments. What are the potential consequences of that? Is there a reason, other than a moral choice, for Locke to refuse to use Chaos Emerald power in though situations, relying instead on his fists and some technology? Well, I'm definetly going to stay tuned, and I'm looking forward to the future issues.