Sonic The Hedgehog #91 Review by Rolland Therrien
(Either they're calling Sony's Bandicoot for a challenge, or they just couldn't think of anything else.)
Written by Karl Brollers
Pencilled by Ron Lim
Inked by Jim Amash
We begin this issue by catching up to everyone's favorite missing freedom fighter, Rotor the Walrus (Yay!) who's climbing up a mountain in the Forbidden Zone (Which is apparently an Archie Writer's term for any spot on Mobius you don't want to bother defining), and as soon as he reaches the top, sees two meteor-like objects falling to earth near Robotropolis, covering the nearby area in a cloud of dust. Despite knowning the area is mobian unfriendly, he goes in to investigate anyways, and encounters Mina, who's still looking for Sonic, who disappeared in the crash. But as soon as they start to wonder about the Hedgehog, he pops out from under the earth, having used his Sonic Spin to drill his way underground to escape the crashing meteors.

We cut to inside Robotropolis, where Robotnik, holding the Sword of Acorns, wants to try out its ability to restore a Robian's free will, only to find that Chuck and Muttski aren't responding to it. Of course, in proper scientific method, Doc Robotnik immediately dumps the sword on the floor and storms out of the room sulking when the experiment doesn't work out. (Yes, it's part of the scientific method. Hadn't you learned that part?) We then go to Knothole, where Elias and the Secret Service investigate the Treasury, looking for clues. The best Ol' St-John can figure out is that the thief targeted the Sword of Acorns specifically. No Duh, Geoffery. You should be a detective or something. Finally, back in Medical Center, King Max finally gets the visit of Nate for a while, before Dr Quack orders them all out so Max can rest. So much for the emotional moment...

Back to Sonic, Rotor and whatsername, where Rotor and Sonic muse about this being like old days, only with a different Robotnik then the orignal, this one 10 times worst. Like any of us needed to be reminded of Penders' and Brollers' cheap "Let's get around the "Robotnik is Dead for Good" promise me made" explanation... Either we didn't know by now, or we don't care anymore. Either way, we don't want to hear it said again. Anyways, Sonic soon orders Rotor and Mina to go back to Knothole while he goes get the Sword of Acorns back. Unbeknownst to our heroes, however, Robotnik's HQ has a mysterious intruder: Uma Arachnis, who sneaks into the control room and swipes the Sword of Acorn right from under Uncle Chuck's nose. More specifically, right under Uncle Chuck's now free willed nose. Turns out he did get his free will back, he just did the smart thing and didn't let Robotnik on to it. Which is a small comfort when Robotnik walks back into the room, seeing the comp screens that show Sonic going through troops and troops of Shadowbots. Robotnik sees the sword shining through its abscence, and thinks up a plan to have Sonic leave his city for a while. More on that later...

Back in Knothole, Alicia and Nate greet one another, before Nate tells her to catch up with her daughter, who's troubled by her father's condition and how her brother's handling things. Alicia tries to reassure her, telling her he's born to it. But a mysterious thought from Sally ("Born to it, Yes, but definitely not bred") seems to imply that Sally has serious doubts on Elias' potential as an heir to the Throne. Elsewhere, Rotor and Mina re-enter Knothole, chatting a bit. Rotor learns that Mina is just a baby-sitter, not a freedom fighter, so he wonders what she was doing with Sonic. ...And in so doing, Rotor echoes the thoughts of many Archie Sonic readers. Underneath the streets of Robotropolis, we find Uma Arachnis sneaking back to a base, where she meets with Kodos the former warlord, giving him the Sword of Acorns, launching another sub-plot. (Like we weren't getting enough of them...)

Finally, back in Robotropolis, Sonic finds himself out of Shadowbots to fight, only to turn around and face a marching squad of Robians coming to attack him, including ol' Chuck himself. Gee, I guess this new guy IS smarter than the average Robotnik. Lord knows THAT is the first "Keep the Good Guys out of my place" trick I'd try if I had an army of robotic zombie slaves made up from the friends and family members of my enemies... Sonic, forced back, runs out of the city and sees the fallen meteorites, which are actually space-ships. (Remember, back before the Sonic Adaptation? About time they got to this sub-plot...) We'll find out who's about to step out of those ships next time, kids.

Rating: Rings

Ok, this issue wasn't bad, just mediocre at best. Nice to see Rotor's back in Knothole, even if his return is celebrated with nothing more then a small "Look Geoffery, Rotor's Returned" from Elias. Seems anti-climactic from Brollers, but then what isn't these days? I was honestly rather cold to the art, not loathing it but not loving it either. Ron Lim and Jim Amash aren't my favorite creative team, but I assume it could be worst.

And now, the Knuckles Story. ...If we can call it that.

"Hired Guns"
Written by Ken Penders
Penciled by Steven Butler
Inked by Pam Eklund
Ok, before we start the review, is anyone else put off by the fact that the bloody back-up story had better art then the main story itself? I know I am... But let's continue anyways.

We start this story in a watering house of ill repute (Or, as we more mature folks call it, a sleezy dive), where Nack the Weasel is chatting up a lovely vixen, apparently wanting *ahem* "company" for the evening. He gets rudely interrupted when his sister Nic (from an old Mighty back-up story) shows up, chases off the girl and offers her brother a share off a bounty on Knuckles the Echidna, if he helps her with it. Catch is, they have to go to Albion to get the specifics on the job at Albion. Meanwhile, Knuckles is meditating on his status and his destiny, aware that he's in store for big troubles ahead. No duh...

Back to the weasels, who go to the rendez-vous coordinates and find the secret city of Albion. There, they meet up with the Echidna Council, who tell him of Knuckles' abilties and his recent actions (Displaying more "Big-Brother" skills then the Guardians themselves, up to the point they can see stuff that went on amongst the Dark Legion.) Then, the Echidnas ask the Weasels to bring back Knuckles, alive if possible, so they can handle him themselves. End chapter.

Rating: Rings

Ok, not a bad story, really. Nic and Nack are used pretty well, and I can see a lot of good character dynamics looming there. And I dunno if it's intentional on Penders' part, but the Echidnas seem less and less sympathetic as time goes on. Kinda makes all their trials and tribulations look more like negative karma biting them in the butt than unfortunate bad luck.

On a more generic note, Ken Penders' writing seems a bit erratic these days. Sometimes his stories are good, sometimes they're bad, and it's all heck trying to guess when the stories will be good or bad on any given month. Maybe Ken needs to get his creative juices mixed a little better...

Overall Rating: Rings