Sonic The Hedgehog #122 Review by True Red
'Zine-style cover #5: My favorite one so far. I still don't like them on a whole, but I find Sonic doing the old school prank of holding fingers behind someone's head (in this case, Nack's) to be funny. Knuckles is deceptively red on the cover, and much like with #120, I feel Julie-Su shouldn't have been on the cover. Vector should've been in her place. However, something else helps this 'Zine-cover. The wording for once really isn't outright corny. The frontpiece by Axer is pretty good. Nack is standing front and center with his posse of weasels. The weasels aren't given names in the story, but based on conversation on Ken Penders' message board, the names of the weasels are from left to right: Jeff, Conor, and Karl. The weasels were named after Jeff Powell (letterer), Conor Tomas (inker), & Karl Bollers (writer) by Axer. Trivia session over though I will refer to the weasels by those names throughout this review.

"Heart Held Hostage, Part One"
Writer: Karl Bollers
Penciler: J. Axer
Inker: Conor Tomas
By Sonic's hut, Jules is instructing Sonic in playing the guitar. Tails asks Jules why doesn't he play anymore, but Jules can't due to his roboticized hands. However, he continues instructing Sonic, whose playing begins to draw a massive crowd, which of course includes Mina. Mina is becoming even more in love with Sonic (if that's actually possible) as she comments on his natural playing ability and preps herself to make her move.

Meanwhile, Sally is leaving the castle while being reminded to be home in time for dinner by King Max and that she should take an escort by Queen Alicia. Sally says she won't need an escort. Funny comment by the guard here commenting on Sally possibly not wanting him around because of his cologne. Sally gets into the heart of Knothole and hears the music, which similarly to Mina, she associates with Sonic. Sally also hears an angelic voice singing and as she gets closer to the crowd finds the voice belongs to Mina, who's singing while Sonic continues to play. The sight causes Sally to want to leave so that's exactly what she does. However, Tails spots her along with Antoine, Bunnie, and Rotor. They're wondering what's wrong with Sally. Bunnie tells the guys to stay were they are as she goes to catch up with Sally.

A bit away from where everyone is, Bunnie does catch up and asks Sally what's wrong. When Sally says that it's silly, Bunnie tells Sal to tell her anyway. So Sally tells Bunnie how she's felt that she and Sonic were meant to be, but lately she's not sure because Mina has speed, roboticized parents, and musical talent just like Sonic does. Bunnie basically tells Sally that Sal must know that Sonic cares about Sally more than anything. However, Bunnie brings up the point of does Sonic know Sally feels the same. Sally isn't sure to which Bunnie points out that maybe he should.

It's at this point that the conversation is interrupted at the sound of loud engines. Cut to Sonic and Mina getting applause for their performance in Knothole. Cut back to Sally and Bunnie being ambushed by Nack (who hits Sal in the head with gun) and his group on hoverbikes (Karl slams his into Bunnie). Cut back to Sonic putting away his guitar while Mina compliments his playing skills. Mina is about to ask Sonic something (my guess would be "will you go out with me"), when Nack and his gang start driving through Knothole. What Sonic notices after realizing it's Nack is that Nack has Sally. Sonic takes out Jeff (loved the "turkey" comment by Sonic). Mina tells Karl to stop, who responds by shooting at her. Sonic manages to save her, but the weasels get away, except for Jeff, who's still dazed from Sonic's attack.

Soon, the Freedom Fighters are in the castle and Sonic is interrogating Jeff, who reveals that they kidnapped Sally for money. Bunnie corrects Jeff's horrible grammar and then sort of threatens to drop him out a window. Jeff didn't even break a sweat though Bunnie did toss him to the ground. At this moment a squeaking noise is heard as King Max and Queen Alicia enter the room. Both of them seem a bit upset, especially King Max who stares at the weasel. Jeff responds by laughing at King Max because he's in a wheelchair. King Max then orders the Freedom Fighters out to Jeff's surprise. He follows it up with an order for the guards to enter and the door slams.

Tails and the rest of the Freedom Fighters are wondering why King Max made them leave. They don't have to wonder long as suddenly King Max reveals where the weasels hide-out is since Jeff decided to talk thanks to an offer King Max made. King Max is about to tell Sonic what he wants Sonic to do, but Sonic has already left since he knows where to go. To be continued next issue.

Rating: Rings

If there is such a thing called perfection, this story has it in spades! I cannot recall the last time a Sonic story was this AWESOME. The characters were totally in character (the dialogue was spot on) and little development things came out such as Jules being able to play guitar (no wonder Sonic is good at it) to Bunnie's knowledge of grammar to King Max and Queen Alicia's love toward Sally as well as each other. That knowing little smile/smirk of Alicia's was wonderful in the end of the comic. Of course, the biggest development was finally getting the viewpoint of the only person in this current love triangle who hadn't said her piece. Mina's view had been given coverage in #109 and #120. Sonic's view had been covered in #111, but an indepth view on Sally's perspective had been missing until now. The conversation between Bunnie and Sally is definitely a highlight. Of course, besides the story, Axer's art brought the story to life. Details everywhere too numerous to mention and getting cameos for Amy, Rosie and others. This story alone was worth the cover price. I await the conclusion and if by chance it is better than this story, Archie should probably have the tandem of Karl Bollers and J. Axer do the Sonic main story as much as possible.

"Afterlife, Part Two"
Writer & Inker: Ken Penders
Penciler: Art Mawhinney
Knuckles is being guided through the light by the heralds, who are no longer talking or answering anything he asks. However, suddenly they disappear and a blinding light appears, which causes Knuckles to close his eyes. Eventually the light dims so that Knuckles can see and he sees an echidna female who he assumes is another relative. She basically says sort of and introduces herself as Aurora. That surprises Knuckles since Aurora is the goddess and didn't expect an echidna. Aurora says that he sees her as an echidna because that is what he understands. She claims to be the force and the force is all. All species, chameleon, fox, overlander, etc. see her as they imagine her to look like--which would be after their own species. She then goes on to begin explaining how she knows of Knuckles. The rest of this story is mostly a re-cap of the history revealed Knuckles #16-25 and the SA adaptation. She says that she is responsible for the dream Locke had in which the future was doomed and Knuckles was seemingly alone in preserving it. She shows how Locke and Lara-Le were in love as Locke cared for Lara-Le while she was pregnant. Aurora also reveals that Locke had experimented on himself so that maybe he would be able to save the future, but when those experiments failed, he turned to using it on the egg that Knuckles would be hatched from. Lara-Le was totally unaware of the experiment and Knuckles was hatched a day later (2 days earlier than normal) and named after the Knuckles Warrior Clan. Knuckles developed faster than the normal echidna, which surprised Lara-Le and when Knuckles was turning 3, Locke decided to start training Knuckles. Lara-Le felt that Knuckles should have at least another year to be a kid starting the fighting between Locke and Lara-Le over how Knuckles should be raised. Lara-Le divorced Locke and Locke took Knuckles to the Floating Island for his training. History lesson to continue next issue.

Rating: 1/2 Rings

A decent story. The most interesting part being the fact that Aurora takes on the shape of whatever the person decides to see as well as the fact that Aurora is tied to the source. The Source is also responsible for the Kingdom of Acorn with King Max' crown and the Sword of Acorns being the current forms of the soruce. It makes things even more interesting considering if Aurora truly is part of the Source of All, all visions of the future would be connected. However, the main purpose of this story was to bring recent readers up to speed with some of the complex issues in the Knuckles storyline. Mawhinney's art is pretty good here. I loved Aurora's look and Knuckles was cute as a little kid.

"When There Was Only One Guardian"
Writer & Inker: Ken Penders
Penciler: Dawn Best
Julie-Su is in Knuckles' home flippling through one of many books she's found. She's surprised that he seemingly liked to read, and commenting to herself about how there's a lot she never did get to know about him. However, she's mostly bothered by seeing how much he liked her as she holds up a picture of herself that Knuckles had framed, but not realizing how much he liked her until now. That's when Vector arrives wanting to know why she feels she has the right to be in Knuckles' place. Julie-Su gets ticked off at that and goes into attack mode. Vector is ready this time though and blasts her away with his headphones (one of the tricks he can do with his headset--this particular one we haven't seen Vec do since Knuckles #3). After seeing Julie-Su hit the ground, Vector asks her if she's okay while reaching out a hand, but Julie gives Vector a kick to his head that knocks Vector to the ground. Now she feels better as she fixes her hair, while Vector says he'll let her have that one because Knuckles was a friend. As Vec gets up, he mentions that he doesn't know what Knux saw in her and Julie replies that she could say the same about him. This causes Vector to begin to relay how he and Knuckles first met. Vector was laying on the grass, when Knuckles tripped over him. Vector got upset at having his music listening interrupted and became so hostile that he punched Knuckles. Vector then began taunting Knuckles, who just calmly returned the punch, much to Vector's dismay who complained about his hurting snout. Knuckles let bygones be bygones, especially since Vector was the first person he'd met on the Floating Island. Vector then tells Knux how there are a lot of them as they were air-lifted from the Mobian mainland, including a bird who happens to be flying nearby. The bird says his name is "Mr. Catweazle" to Vector and to make sure Vec remembers, he poops on Vec's head. Catweazle then says hi to Knuckles while the two of them laugh at Vector's expense. As Vector finishes his story, Julie-Su basically tells him that he's mostly all talk. Vector actually agrees, but it would hurt his reputation if that got out so Julie says it'll be their secret, especially since Knuckles would prefer it that way. Vector admits that he's still upset over Knuckles' death, which Julie-Su understands since she still is too and figures that is the only thing the two have in common--their love of Knuckles as they both struggle to keep their composure.

Rating: 1/2 Rings

I thought this story was pretty good. The beginning and ending were great. I felt the interaction between Julie-Su and Vector was on target. The flashback story on its own was pretty good. However, what nearly killed this story was the dialogue from Vector. Yes, it's well established that he uses slang and is also a rapper. However, this story was overkill in the slang department. It came across as being pathetic and did a number on an otherwise fine story.



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