Sonic The Hedgehog #79 Review by Rolland Therrien
The Discovery
Well we start a new issue of Sonic the Hedgehog on an active note, one late night in Knothole (which, you'll remember, is now a kingdom); Sonic checks up on Nate, who's been hacking into Robotnik's mainframe, discovers a startling bit of information that he and Sonic immediately share with the King: Dr Robotnik's found the Hidden City of the Ancients, one of those lost civilisations of Mobius that no-one talks about until they become a plot point. The king, apparently worried about something he's not sharing with anyone (Obviously something that will come along at later time), orders Sonic and Nate to investigate the matter as soon as possible.

The next morning, Sonic awakens to find all the FFs at his home, meeting for breakfast. Seems the king ordered them to accompany Sonic and Nate to the Hidden City, and they wanted to get an early breakfast. They're ready to go as soon as possible. Even Amy... Except she's not a Freedom Fighter. Sonic, Sally and Bunnie try the "You're too young and unexperienced" line on her, and she gets mad, pointing out Tails is her age, yet he's allowed to go anyway. She storms off after Nate tries to defend Tails' place in the FFs.

Later on, when the FFs are getting equipment ready for their mission, King Acorn and Prince Elias are overhead, looking at Sally, who seems to be in her best mood since quite some time. Is this why, Elias asks his father, that she hasn't been told her mother's health was deteriorating? King Acorn says she has enough worries for now, and doesn't want this added problem hanging over her head, since Queen Alicia will be in the same situation when she comes back. Just then, Prince Elias has an idea and runs to the royal reliquary, where he hopes to use the previously unmentioned magical Ring of Acorns (rumored to realise the wish of the pure of hearted) to restore his mother's health. But once he arrives there, he finds Amy right in the middle of using it! This story ends in a flash of light, and we are left guessing what wish Amy made (though it doesn't take a genius to realise it involves Amy getting an "early puberty" and becoming her Sonic Adventure version.

To be continued next issue.

Rating: Rings

Well, this story wasn't bad, except it was a bit short. First off, nothing wrong with the art. Fry's still one of the better artists I've seen; Although he seems a tad obsessed with those "furry Tenchi girls" of his. You know, the odd furries hovering around Elias? I'm half expecting Elias to get himself a light saber, calling it "Elias-sword". (obscure anime fan joke. Look it up). The storyline includes a few cliches (ten gets you five King Acorn knows what they will find there and will keep quiet until it's too late), and even one Deus Ex Machina (the Ring of Acorns) How about something original next time, Karl?

Finally, the aftermath of the Knuckles cancellation is now being felt, as Amy's transformation, which obviously was going to fill a 2 thirds of the book, has been cut in half to fit in Knuckles' own, longer story. It looks like Archie is going to be juggling the story formats for a while, until they balance out the various stories in the Sonic comic. Perhaps now would be a good time to go to 48 pages, hmm? Since this story was half the one schedualed for this issue, you just know the next issue's Sonic story will be as short. Well, I guess it's a formating problem Archie will have to face eventually.

The Chaos Factor

Well, Knuckles inaugurates his "forced" return to the Sonic titles with a pretty good story, actually. It starts with Knuckles having a nightmare that reenacts the events of Knuckles' pre-game cinematic scene from Sonic Adventure, with the added elements of Echidnapolis and the Brotherhood, both hopeless to prevent Chaos from tampering with the Master Emerald, thereby sinking the Floating Island. When he awakens, he finds that his dream was real, and his homeland has now become the Motionless Peninsula.

As he rushes to find his Father, wanting answers, we'll get them before hand, as Dr Robotnik rejoices at his base before a plate containing seven shards of the Master Emerald, and musing about the events leading to this instant. We get treated to a long flashback where Robotnik remembers finding an overlooked file concerning a mythical being called "Perfect Chaos", and its whereabouts (It's actually the story behind last issue's cliffhanger ending.)

Next thing you know, Robotnik's having his Robian slaves digging up in Mysterious Cat Country (where Big the Cat is from, no doubt), where he finds the Black Emerald. He cracks it open, and out pours Chaos (and out flies little spirit Tikal, unnoticed by Robo), who leads him to a wall where a diagram reveals (with help from a "techno-babble plot device") that Chaos needs seven Chaos Emeralds to reach it's full potential.

Next stop, the Floating Island, which Dr Robotnik attacks full front (making this reviewer wonder why he even bothered with sending Valdez in to find a way to steal it in the Knuckles title). Despite being surprised by the citizens of Echidnapolis (his files predate its return to normal space), he still breezes through the Island's defenses (one wonders what the Guardians are doing), to the Chaos Chamber where he simply blows up the Master Emerald to get seven shards before leaving. Of course, this simple feat endangers the lives of countless Echidnas and devastates their homeland, but why should he care? Finally, as he flies off into the distance, an energy pattern escapes from the remains of the Master Emerald, Mammoth Mogul is now free...

Rating: Rings

This story was actually very good. Dispite some fudging due to different continuities, Archie has done relatively well in adapting the storyline of Knuckles' game to the comics. Butler and Eklund have done some great art. Better than Knux' last issues. The quality (albeit a bit rushed) of this story almost makes the downsizing of Sonic's story worth it (Almost. This is still Sonic's title.) Let's hope they keep up the good work.

Tales of the Great War, Conclusion: The Underground

Well, here we are at the end of the Great War saga. After Prince Elias recaps everything that's happened last time, Bernie tells the crowd that Uncle Chuck was practically a broken man after Jules' "incident". Later on, she decides to investigate things at Chuck's old lab, and finds Julian treating her Roboticized husband as a labor tool. She confronts him, making the same mistake as Amadeus did in Sonic Kids 2, and ends up getting roboticised as well when her own Jules tosses her into the machine.

Jules then tells that years later (after the takeover), Chuck used a power ring to free Jules' mind (using the technique from SatAM, no doubt), tells him that Bernie got roboticized too and that Sonic's joined the Freedom Fighters, and then asks him to join his own little group of free-willed roboticized rebels. Some time later, Bernie gets freed too and joins them. They are then told that Sonic's been raised by Rosie ever since the takeover, and knows nothing of what's become of his parents. They then asked that he not be told of their fate until after Robotnik is defeated.

This tale concludes with Jules showing everyone the Zip Disk containing Uncle Chuck's journals, which may hold the information needed to free the minds of all the Mobians. Unfortunately, with Chuck now on Robotnik's side, any chance of decoding it are lost. For now.

Rating: Rings

Well, this story actually gave some new and interesting information that may be used later on. Decoding Chuck's journals may be the focus of some future story, and if they learn how to free the minds of the Robian slaves, then those who've been lost, like Valdez, Lupe and Chuck may be returned to the side of the FFs again. Very good. The art was very well done as well.