Review by Dan Drazen
Story: Ken Penders; Pencil:
Manny Galan; Ink: Andrew Pepoy; Color: Barry Grossman; Lettering: Vickie
Williams; Editorial: the G-Force
Spaz/Galan/Penders cover: Knuckles, Julie-Su, Archimedes, and
the long arm of...
Credits page: cameos are out, some weird stretch image of Enerjak's
mask is in. Very effective imagery.
Intro splash page: OK, I see Enerjak, Kragok, Knuckles and Julie-Su.
I think. Now that I'm set up to start reviewing issues of the comic, Archie
sent me photocopies of the art and text SEPARATE. I guess if I wanted
to give myself that authentic headache effect I'd hold the pages next to
each other and cross my eyes....
Someone mysterious gazes into a Chaos Emerald and locates Enerjak,
still imprisoned after the "Rites of Passage" miniseries. Enerjak connects
with the strange summons. He looks angered, infuriated...much like I felt
when I realized who was doing the calling. But we'll get to that later.
The Dark Legionnaires are apparently out on maneuvers or having
a camporee or something. As they pause to dedicate a status of Dimitri,
their Luddite role model, the thing flies apart as the real McCoy materializes
in the same spot. "By Amil's force!" Kragok says. Enerjak/Dimitri, after
contemplating the bust of himself, lets Kragok and the gang know that he's
back and Uncle Enerjak Wants YOU!
Knuckles, meanwhile, is on edge...literally, dangling his feet
off the edge of the Floating Island when Julie-Su comes by to rap. In
the aftermath of the dinner party in "Unfinished Business" (Sonic
#53), Knuckles observed that both he and Sonic seem to be getting jerked
around by their families. What he leaves unsaid is his belief that his
father, Locke, left him during "Fathers and Sons" (Super Sonic v. Hyper
Knuckles Special) without anything to work with when dealing with the Guardians.
Remember, Locke has been keeping himself hidden away from Knuckles the
whole time and hasn't let on that he's still alive. If you think Knuckles
is carrying a boatload of resentment NOW, watch what happens if he should
ever run into his old man.
As for Julie-Su, it's been a tough time for her, too. Letting
her "tough girl" mask slip momentarily, she lets slip the fact that a renegade
Dark Legionnaire is regarded with suspicion and hatred by the rest of echidna
society, the "straights" as she calls them. Either that or the echidnas
are all Trek fans and they're avoiding the Borg-like Julie-Su because they
don't want to be assimilated. Realizing that life for Julie-Su has been
no picnic, Knuckles goes off to try and find some ants.
Archimedes, meanwhile, is in the process of being warned about
something by Deo Volente when Enerjak makes hispresence felt. Before you
can say "Orkin Man", he's got the two bugs paralyzed and encapsulated.
Now on to new business. General Buzzcut (I KNOW that's not his
name, but I think it's funnier!) is appearing before the Echidna High Council...or
some deliberative body or other. The
situation with the dingoes is intense; actually the situation is "in
tents," which is where the dingo populace has to live. Seems their reality
came off the worse when the dingo and echidna worlds collided in the last
miniseries. Buzzcut's suggestion that things would be different if the
bionic boot were on the other foot and it was the echidnas out in the cold
is met with the kind of embarrassed silence that must have been heard around
Archie Comics when Sonic #50 was released.
Councilor Darwin, who apparently learned his negotiating skills from Benjamin
Netanyahu, suggests that unilateral disarmament by the dingoes would go
a long way toward normalizing relations. Buzzcut pledges his insincerity.
It appears that the best place to look for fire ants on the Floating
Island is to go someplace hot, which is why Knuckles and Julie-Su arrive
at the Lava Reef Zone. One of the residents informs Knuckles that Archimedes
and Deo Volente are M.I.A., and that the consensus is that something bigger
than the Dark Legion is behind it. Actually it's someONE bigger than the
Dark Legion, but Knuckles moves on.
Back in Echidnaopolis, a stone's throw from the R2-D2 Building,
Lara-Le is afraid that Knuckles must think she didn't want him. Whatever
Wynmacher's drinking it can't be any more potent than the concoction Lara-Le
is having: motherhood on the rocks with a splash of guilt. It's a pretty
popular mixture here on Earth, too. Wyn tries to comfort her by telling
her she didn't know what she was getting into by marrying a Guardian, a
proposition to which the late and EXTREMELY lamented Princess of Wales
could have related. While Lara-Le thinks about contacting her ex about
Knuckles and Julie-Su arrive at the Rainbow Valley, home to Espio
and the other chameleons. As has been suggested elsewhere, a book on Echidna
optics might be an interesting read since their visible light spectrum
goes from purple and blue right to red and through to yellow. Anyway,
Knuckles finds that Espio's not home and his place has been trashed.
Meanwhile, back on Haven, Locke monitors Hawking's condition while
the old guy is apparently hooked up to life support. Locke's father (and
Knuckles' grandfather) looks on. This particular dude hasn't been named
yet but since he sports a monocle I'm going to call him Colonel Klink until
Ken sees fit to drop his name. Anyway, while Klink upbraids Locke for
not getting enough sleep, Hawking goes into cardiac arrest. Interestingly,
the monitor to which he's attached starts going "Breep! Breep! Breep!",
whereas every fan of "E.R." knows that when someone flatlines the monitor
just goes "Breeeeeeeeeeee...." Before Locke can say something doctorish
like "Gimme a heart needle with 50ccs of adrenaline STAT!", he decides
that psychosurgery is indicated and makes telepathic contact with Hawking.
The result is Locke floating around Hawking's brain synapses; sort of like
"Fantastic Voyage" without the wetsuits or submarine. Locke pleads with
Hawking to hang in there, but Hawking suggests that Locke get a second
opinion...from Dr. Jack Kervorkian.
Cut back to Julie-Su scaling the side of a cliff courtesy of a
grappling gun she must have purchased from one of Bruce Wayne's subsidiaries.
She catches up to Knuckles, her "tough girl" act polished and ready. Mighty
Armadillo's home, however, appears to have been trashed as well.
Back at Camp Runamok, Kragok reports to Dimitri, who's got a worse
case of crystallization than King Acorn will EVER have!
Yep, Mighty's place has been trashed, all right. Knuckles takes
a header off the cliff with Julie-Su along for the ride. Which brings
The SINGLE DISAPPOINTMENT of this story. Page 20, Panel 1, if
you want to skip over it. That unmistakable silhouette belongs to none
other than...Mammoth Mogul. Seems HE'S the one who sprung Enerjak at the
beginning of this installment. Man, Ken and Manny couldn't have waited
until later in the story to spoil it? It feels so premature!
But anyway, to finish this installment in high style, Enerjak
appears before the two echidnas threatening something nasty.
Ken continues with the strong narrative style that's been a part
of the Knuckles line from the beginning. He's managed to work in subplots
involving the Guardians, the dingoes, and Lara-Le without losing the audience.
I was also VERY impressed by the introduction of a touch of vulnerability
in Julie-Su, who now finds herself caught between two societies and not
really feeling she belongs to either. And as I said, the one thing that
really galled me here was the presence of Mammoth Mogul as the power behind
Enerjak, even if Enerjak himself is clueless. Knuckles said early on how
much he resented the Guardians stringing him along; let's see if Enerjak
likes being strung along by M.M. Galan and Pepoy continue to supply a
strong visual style to the story. Nice green light effect on page 21.
"Fistful of Letters": that was the winning entry by Nick Accristo
of Helena, Montana. Considering we've had "Knuckles Sandwich" and "Postcards
from the Floating Island" I can see where it's an improvement. Quick mentions
of Sonic #54, Sonic
Firsts, and Knuckles #8, along with NiGHTS
Into Dreams #1. And as if the Find Your Name column wasn't enough, looks
like everyone who sent in an entry got their names printed. I recognize
the name of cyberfan Thad X Boyd. And that's where I stopped.