Knuckles The Echidna #31 Review by Rolland Therrien
King of the Hill, Part Two: "The Thrill of the Hunt"

Time for part two of the last storyarc of the Knuckles series.

We start the story at Haven, where the Brotherhood finds that their technological sensors not working correctly. This isn't the first time Guardian tech has failed them at a critical point: maybe it's a bit overrated? Locke points out the obvious by suggesting outside interference is causing the jamming, and the whoever did it is doing something they don't want the Guardians knowing. Nice detective work...

This brings us to the NRA memb... I mean the hunter, who is confronting Knuckles, who's acting cautious, and Monk, who's displaying an incredible amount of stupidity by taunting someone with a gun. Here's a tip for survival. kiddies: Never argue with someone who's holding a gun at you. You'll live longer if you just go along... The hunter makes that point by using what resembles (to mine trekkie eyes) a portable phaser and stuns the idiotic gorilla senseless... Or at least more so then usual. He then covers Knuckles and tells him to follow quietly, while his robot manservant picks up the comatose Monk. Knux, being smarter then his old rival, obeys.

We cut to the conference room of Haven, where Locke and Archimedes meet for various reasons: to recap the fact the guardians have no sensors, to point out Archy can't find Knux, to bring home the fact that who ever's doing this is a badass and to show Locke and Archy getting into what little action they may actually see.

We cut back to Knux and his "host", who has brought him to his ship. There, he gives Knux the grand tour, finishing in his den, where we are given a gratuitous "Shock and gross-factor", "Hunters are bad" defining moment as we see the stuffed and mounted heads of various Mobian furries (including a hedgehog). Knux rightfully accuses the Hunter of being a monster, to which the Hunter replies by demonstrating his "Sportmanship" (by not blowing up Knux's head gratuitously), and then makes a proposition: Either Knux agrees to be the subject of a hunt, or Hunter pays Julie-Su a visit...

Before we see Knuckles' (obvious to anyone who can figure out a plot) answer, we get a short scene where Locke, out on the island, once more reiterates the obvious by noting that the sensor post located there was tampered by an expert. Archy finds a set of footprints that end mysteriously. Locke and Archy decide to try and find the print-maker. We'll get back to them next issue, no doubt.

We get back to the hunter's ship, where Knuckles is given a collar to wear by the hunter, along with the now awakening Monk. Both put on the collars at gun-point, before being released into the wild (sounds like a nature film...) Once outside, Monk and Knux try to go their seperate ways, before finding out (the painful way) that their new neckwear won't let them split up. And thus we now have the classic "Guys-who-hate-each-other's-guts-but-are-forced-to-work-together-to-survive-whether-they-like-it-or-not" routine for Issue #32...

We end with Hunter gathering his gear for the hunt before going out after Knux and Monk, yelling out a cheesy "Let the Hunt Commence!" battle cry. Ho hum...

Well, part two was just as lame as part one apparantly: Mercadoocasio's art looks better made for humans then furries (I still say Monk is the ugliest ape I ever saw), and Ken's story has major flaws: Locke's redundancy, Hunter's clichés, and Knuckles' almost deadpan characterization makes this a storyline that almost makes one beg "Make it stop, please." I know Ken never meant for the Knuckles' book to end at such a low-point, but he and the creative team could have made a bigger effort for the finale! If this is the kind of writing he plans on using in his new self-published comics, he should stick to editing...

Rating: Ring

Espio the Chameleon Chapter Two:
"The Best of Friends"

We meet up with Espio the chameleon where we left off last issue, with Espio confronting the now roboticized Valdez. When Espio asks what happened to him, Valdez gives us a slightly warped recap of how the Shadowbots captured him in issue #75.

In this version, he was shamelessly abandoned by his comrades (rather then him bravely sacrificing himself to save his team), and after being "Saved" (and reprogrammed) by Doctor Robotnik (who thought having a Chameleon as a lieutenant might help things on the Floating Island for him), Valdez was more then happy to fufill the important mission (BS ALERT! BS ALERT!) of getting the Chaos Emerald so Robotnik could "save" Mobius from the "Evil" King Acorn, by taking it from the "Echidnas who want world domination".

After this tale of Robotnik propaganda (All the news HE deems you need to know), Valdez tries to sway Espio to his side, by bringing in Liza, the Chameleon femme from last issue. We get a short emotional scene where Liza says she thought Espio could talk some sense into Valdez, that she's sorry she dragged him into this mess and all that. Valdez, to prove he's now cold and heartless, just orders her roboticization.

As we see her getting slowly turned into a robian, Valdez warns Espio that either he tells him all he knows about Knuckles, or he'll roboticize the rest of the Chameleons. And we leave on that cliff-hanger.

Well, this episode was a bit better then the last, since it not only furthers the plot, but handles the dangling sub-plot of Valdez' condition since Sonic #75. Shame to see him batting for the other side now, but I guess you can't win them all. The art was somewhat questionnable, as all the Chameleons looks like they have frogs' faces or something, and Espio's facial expressions were limited to "dull" and "a bit less dull". Archie's new habit of Roboticizing every low-key character available is shown again as Liza looks like either she'll get fully roboticized, or will end up a Bunnie Rabbot impersonator. Sonic and co better start winning some victories soon, or everyone on Mobius will become a Robian...

Rating: Rings

Overall Rating: Rings