Sonic The Hedgehog #123 Review by True Red
'Zine-style cover #6: Decent pic of Sonic and Sally seemingly sharing a joke--Sonic is obviously laughing pretty hard. Standard Knuckles pic and a nice pic of Jules, which gives away the answer to the question of the last story. Phrasing isn't terrible, but it did cause me to realize something about the title of the "Heart Held Hostage" that I'll get to when I review part 2. Love the frontpiece by Axer. It's a collage of Nack, Karl, Jeff, Conor, Mina, Sally, and Sonic. I love the expressions on the faces most.

"Heart Held Hostage, Part Two"
Writer: Karl Bollers
Penciler: J. Axer
Inker: Conor Tomas
Continuing from last issue, it's now night time and Sonic has found the weasels' hideout. It's pretty rundown, but the first person's thoughts we see are Mina's as Sonic realizes she's behind him. Sonic wants to know what she's doing here and she tells him that she came to help and that she left the FFs back at the castle as she used her speed to follow him. After Sonic comments how they both ran off without thinking, Mina tried to point out that they have a lot in common which Sonic changes to their lack of back-up. Since Mina is following his lead, Sonic mentions it's up to them to save Sally.

Meanwhile, Sally is currently sitting in a rather comfortable chair with Karl and Conor watching her with their guns ready and Nack playing piano. Interesting little development of Nack there. Sally isn't waiting to be rescued as she puts her plan in motion and asks Nack to explain why she's been kidnapped again--to be ransomed off is the answer. Sally then comments how she's heard so much about Nack, but must've heard wrong. Nack gets slightly defensive now and asks her what she would do as he walks over to her. Sally suggests letting her join the gang so she could pretend to be a hostage and her parents would keep paying. The next panel with the shocked weasels complete with the anime-style sweatdrop from Nack: priceless. Sally continues on her tale saying that they shouldn't be surprised considering how controlling her parents are over her wealth and this is her chance to get even. Nack, who has been totally suckered into the story now, comments on how he understands and that's when Sally knees him right where it hurts most. Surprising everyone, Sally picks up Nack's gun as he falls down for the count (payback for knocking her out last issue). Sally aims the gun for Nack's head as she tells the other two to put down their guns.

Sonic kicks down the door as he and Mina enter. Sonic suggests they split up since they can cover a lot of ground with their speed and tells Mina to get him if she finds them first. Mina promises as of course she'll do anything to prove she loves him. Sally having initially gotten away is running around wondering what to do next when she semi-ducks at the sound of gunshots over her head. Both Sonic and Mina hear the gunshots and start heading toward the sound. Karl and Conor tell Sally not to make them "do something stupid." Sally (who still has Nack's gun) fires at them as she runs off. However, she runs into a dead end and as she turns around to fire, her gun is out of ammunition. Karl and Conor don't say anything but basically imply that she should give up when suddenly they've lost their guns. Sonic asks them if he's at the HQ for the "Punchable Face Club." Cute. Anyway Karl and Conor get their lights knocked out by Sonic in about two seconds of fighting if that much.

Sally drops the gun (which is important) and calls out Sonic's name. Sonic calls out to Sal and the two run toward each other. As they do, Mina finally arrives on scene and is standing in a nearby doorway watching the two. Sonic and Sally hug as Sally comments on how he's always there for her. Crying out of happiness Sally says "I--I love you." Sonic is also shedding tears and says "I know" and then the two continue their embrace by kissing. Mina sees all of this and shouts to herself "NO!" as she begins to cry. Mina ducks back into the room as she feels sick and really cries as she realizes that Sonic loves Sally and not her. She doesn't care as it won't stop her from doing anything for him.

Sonic and Sally are holding hands (okay, now this was a surprise) as they walk while Sally is wondering where Nack is (oh, right behind the two of them and picking up that gun Sally dropped). Sonic figures he ran off and decides that they should find Mina. Nack is obviously a bit upset over his plans being ruined and is aiming for Sally's head. Mina comes and as she's trying to hide the fact that she's been crying she sees Nack about to fire. Nack shoots and Mina takes off saying that she has to save Sally for Sonic's sake and she manages to get in the way and take the bullet in the back surprising both Sally and Sonic. Now, Nack runs off as Sonic and Sally turn their attention to Mina. As Sonic holds Mina she manages to say "I love you Sonic" just as she passes out.

In the hospital at Knothole, Mina wakes up to Sonic welcoming her back and commenting on what Mina did--as he said it was dumb, brave and "way past cool." Mina adds that it's another thing they have in common though she turns her attention to Sally as she asks Sal if she's okay. Sally replies that she's fine and asks about Mina because she was "hurt pretty bad." In the biggest statement of the story, Mina says "I--I'll get over it..." Good for her and despite what Sonic and Sally are thinking, she's not referring to her gunshot wound, but to having her heart broken.

Rating: Rings

Wow. Amazing story that was beautifully executed. What I loved most about page 8 was the shattered panel (though the kiss will probably be what sticks in most minds). Whoever decided on that shattering effect was spot on since it was so appropriate because Mina seeing that exchange between Sonic & Sally (particularly the kiss) totally shattered her view of events that had gone on recently and made her put things into the perspective she hadn't even considered. What I like most is that Mina isn't going to let it get her down. The title "Heart Held Hostage" actually can be applied to all three main players. In Sal's case, it's in the fact that she'd kept herself from truly saying "I love you" to Sonic to the point that she lost her own perspective on the situation. In Sonic's case, the most obvious one with Sally being kidnapped. In Mina's case, it's in her devotion to Sonic as he holds the key to her heart. An interesting usage and I like that.

Final comment/explanation has nothing to do with the story itself. For those wondering what "In Memory of Minerva Ifill 1912-2002" meant, from Karl Bollers: Minerva Ifill is my grandma. She died last year of leukemia. She was the greatest influence in my life and career. I think it was very sweet of him to dedicate this story to his grandmother.

"Afterlife, Part Three"
Writer & Inker: Ken Penders
Penciler: Art Mawhinney
Strolling through memory lane, we pick up with the approximately 5 year old Knuckles and Sally spending time together on the Floating Island (re: Sonic #44, Super Special #9, and Knuckles #29). Next up is learning about life being trained to be a Guardian and Locke disappearing in the wall of fire in the Forbidden Zone (re: Super Sonic vs Hyper Knuckles). Knuckles didn't take that well and thanks to all the noise Catweazle and Vector were making, Knuckles dealt with them a second time (the first time being told last issue in the Vec/Julie story). Then the following things are re-capped in succession: Knuckles' first meeting with Sonic and Tails (re: Sonic #13), the creation of the Chaotix (re: Knuckles' Chaotix), Sonic and Knuckles fighting all the time (re: practically every comic the two were both in pre-Sonic #53), Archy using the Chaotix to lure in Knuckles for training (re: Knuckles' Chaotix, Knuckles' Original Mini-Series #1), meeting and defeat of Enerjak (re: Knuckles' Original Mini-Series #1-3), meeting of Kragok and the Dark Legion (re: Knuckles #1), meeting of Julie-Su and Lara-Le (re: Knuckles #4), and the last time Knuckles was killed with Enerjak's return (re: Knuckles #8). Knuckles comments that he preferred dealing with Enerjak killing him than his parents most of the time to Aurora and the re-cap ends with Knuckles finding out that he's truly different (re: Knuckles #11) as being the worse thing so far. To be concluded next issue.

Rating: 1/2 Rings

Quick re-cap of events, very much like Sonic #57. Nothing much to say other than the word balloons in the last panel on page 2 seemed a little off. The "Dad!" part should've been said by a young Knuckles, but the rest should've been said by the current Knuckles (who's green in his trip through life after death) so I don't fault Jensen for coloring Knuckles red there. Jensen made a few coloring mistakes though with the pinkish Kragok, the blue-eyed Julie-Su also lacking her lavender bangs and Lara-Le being dressed in black, instead of her yellow dress.

"The Last Robian"
Writer: Karl Bollers
Penciler: Art Mawhinney
Inker: Pam Eklund
In June it says to start. Hmm, with Sonic #125 coming up which is supposed to tell once and for all if Mobius is future Earth or not, that is a bit of a blatant clue as to how that is supposed to end up. Anyway, the story starts out with a saddened Sonic looking at a picture of his family, which had disappeared overnight. We learn that this has happened to everyone all over Mobius. Robotnik was the prime suspect, but no one knew where he was. Sally, Tails, and Amy did their best to comfort Sonic (who's crying--crying in two stories, this is definitely a record). Sonic also did his best to console Mina, while Bunnie tended to Antoine.

Three weeks later, someone found Muttski in Deerwood Forest and gave word to Sonic. When Sonic found Muttski, he was deroboticized. Over the next few weeks, others began to return and just like Muttski, they were deroboticized but no one knew what had happened. Soon everyone returned deroboticized, except for one--Jules. When Jules finally came back, he was still roboticized. Uncle Chuck, Rotor, and Tails did their best, but could not find a way to deroboticize Jules. Jules felt like an outsider in the family as he began to notice the differences between being a robot versus flesh. Sonic became upset at how unfair the whole thing was and sought out Robotnik. Sonic managed to get in contact with Robotnik who denied any involvement with the deroboticization of the robians as Robotnik even said that having Sonic's family roboticized was always one of the things that made him happy in life. Sonic believed Robotnik as he told his family of the exchange. When Uncle Chuck basically vowed to restore Jules, Jules told Chuck to stop because he couldn't stand the way Chuck had been pushing himself. Jules mentioned that they should stop focusing on the fact that he's still a robot and celebrate the fact that the rest aren't. Sonic agrees though he swears to himself that he'll find out who did this. It says "The End?" which means "To be continued."

Rating: Rings

Not a bad five-pager. The pacing was good and I liked the usage of the text boxes versus text in the story. Mawhinney just isn't my favorite artist and that brought the rating down the most. Continuing on the coloring errors, the Wolfpack had to be mentioned because they were the worst served. Bernie not being violet/purple I could understand since Sonic is blue, though keeping her a blond versus white haired--which made her look pretty old--would've been nice. As for the responsible party, try the aliens from #118 as this was a definite lead-in to the upcoming two-parter in Sonic #124 and #125.


Gimel MS03


Space Phantom X