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"Comings & Goings": The countdown to the milestone 175th issue kicks off in royal style. In recent battles, Sonic and the Freedom Fighters have suffered some devastating losses. but how can they possibly withstand much more? As the King lies at death's door, Sonic, Knuckles and Tails go to the farthest reaches of the universe on a mission to save the day. Can anyone prepare them for the surprises they find there? Not to mention the new threat of diabolical tyrant Robotnik and the mysterious Shadow joining forces! Will evil rule the day, or will this new alliance simply pit Shadow and Eggman at each other's throats?! PLUS: "Island of Misfit Badniks": In a story inspired as supplemental to the new "Sonic Archives" paperback reprint series, original series writer Mike Gallagher and artist Dave Manak finally explain what happened to all of Robotnik's old robots and Badniks. and inadvertently re-awaken some of the deadliest villains from Sonic's early days, a mistake that may spell out Sonic's doom!
Comings & Goings
Sally is shown sitting on the side of her comatose father's bed, mourning his unconscious state and all that he has suffered through his difficult life. She then considers how Dr. Quack and Sir Charles Hedgehog have built a machine that should revive him, but that requires a Chaos Emerald power source. Sonic and Tails then walk in, Sonic offering Sally the comforting news that Rotor and Tails have figured out a way to get them an Emerald, while Tails promises that they won't let her down. Activating his hologram projector watch-his only gift from his lost parents-he remarks that he knows what it's like to miss loved ones and be unable to act. Later, in the Brain Trust Laboratory, Rotor powers up his new Star Posts in order to transport the two to the Zone of Silence. Entering the strange dimension, the two are surprised to find drastically changed from its previous appearance, and question how they might locate the Chaos Emeralds. Tails suggests that Knuckles might have been able to sense the jewels, when a booming voice addresses them, its source revealed as the massive Feist, who announces that he is to judge them
Tails and Sonic are both startled, Sonic recognizing Feist from a memory of King Max's and warning Tails that they should be ready to flee. Feist assuages their worries by claiming that he has judged positively, having witnessed their battles with his hated master Ixis Naugus and knowing that Tails sent the Chaos Emeralds into the zone, granting him his newfound power. Feist then reveals that he has combined the many Chaos Emeralds into seven, one of each color of the originals, and that he is able to use their power to reshape the Zone at will. The still off balance heroes then ask if he will give them one, asking in behalf of the comatose Max Acorn. Feist agrees, presenting them with the gray Chaos Emerald, but informing them as well that if they should return seeking another Emerald, they will have to face his challenges. The two then head back through the Star Post portal, hurriedly making sure that Rotor closes it behind them.
Not much later, the two heroes join Uncle Chuck, Dr. Quack, and the Acorn royal family in Max's bedchamber, where they use the Chaos Emerald to activate Chuck and Quack's machine. At long last Max awakens, to the joy of his family, and quickly learns to his surprise that Elias has assumed the throne in his absence. As the family reunites, Sonic and Tails leave them to their moment, but are quickly pursued by Sally, who hands them the Chaos Emerald and asks that they take it to Merlin Prower. Sally replies "I'm just returning the favor" in answer to Tails' query, and the two later arrive at Freedom HQ at the same time as Knuckles, who has the Guiding Star Gem with him. The wizard reveals that he intends to use the Emerald and the Guiding Star Gem to take them to Argentium so that they can rescue Tails' parents. All four are transported successfully, but arrive to find Argentium in war torn condition, leading a worried Tails to go looking for his parents while Merlin chases after him. Noticing alien ships fighting in orbit, Sonic and Knuckles identify some of them as belonging to the Xorda, but are unaware of the identities of the others.
Amadeus Prower then appears, revealing that the other aliens are a vicious race known as the Black Arms who have been fighting the Xorda for some time. His wife Rosemary welcomes Sonic back to Argentium, and the Hedgehog immediately rushes off, bringing back Tails and Merlin. The couple embrace Merlin, glad to see him again and sharing their confidence in his eventually coming to save them, while Merlin is quick to credit Tails for the rescue. Sonic then pushes Tails towards his parents, both Tails and his mother shedding tears at the reunion, and the trio embrace joyfully as the other three look on happily. All six then transport back to Mobius, where the Prowers are received by a thrilled King Elias, who invites Amadeus to join the new Court of Acorn. Amadeus agrees that he wishes to take part in Knothole's future, saying that his time with the Bem has given him new ideas that he hopes will benefit the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, at the Knothole Cemetery, Sonic is seated by the graves of Sir Connery and Tommy Turtle, and seeing a shadow turns expecting Fiona. It turns out to be Knuckles, who questions Fiona's continued absence and then remarks that Sonic picked a bad place for a date. The two banter briefly, but Knuckles then asks why Sonic is out here, the Hedgehog revealing that it still pains him to have lost two of their friends so quickly. Knuckles agrees, gritting his teeth at the apparent loss of the Brotherhood of Guardians while Sonic muses about the rising number of enemies for them to deal with. Knuckles then questions whether Sonic is wanting to quit, which Sonic is quick to deny. The two then depart, Knuckles promising that their fallen comrades will not have perished for nothing, and that they will defeat Robotnik. Their conversation then turns, surprisingly, to Shadow, whom Sonic considers a friend, though Knuckles reminds him that the black Hedgehog is currently working with Eggman. Sonic then reveals that he doesn't believe Shadow to be evil, but simply confused, and that once he comes to grips with his situation he'll make the right choice. Unbeknownst to the duo, Shadow is confronting Robotnik and Snively in New Megaopolis, demanding that they hand over Gerald Robotnik's diary.
The Island of Misfit Badniks
Enjoying his day off, Sonic explores an area of the Great Forest where the Freedom Fighters fought their early battles against the original Dr. Robotnik. He then steps on a wooden panel, which breaks under his weight, dropping him into a dusty installation. Sonic recognizes it as a "Spy-der Hole", a base created by the original Robotnik for his robots to use in their battles against the Freedom Fighters. Looking through the records, Sonic then discovers the existence of the Island of Misfit Badniks, where defeated robots could go for repair or retirement after losing to the Freedom Fighters. Grabbing a plank, he sets off for the sea, determined to learn if the Island still exists. Using the plank as a flotation device, he swims out to the island's coordinates, and finds it waiting for him. Landing, he is surprised to discover that the entire landmass is made out of metal, meaning that there are no real living creatures on the island. He is then hit from behind by a spiked projectile, and awakens later to find himself bound to an upright table and surrounded by a group of Badniks whom he remembers defeating years ago. The robots then promise to terminate him, only for Sonic to start vibrating at super Sonic speed and break free of his restraints.
Sonic quickly decimates his old enemies, but is then caught off guard by a punch from one Badnik he never encountered: Pseudo Sonic. The original robotic replica then reveals to his opponent the story of his creation as the first mechanical Sonic, and then his defeat at the hands of Tails while Sonic was dealing with a reaction to Poison Sumac Blossoms. Since then, Pseudo has regretted not having been able to tangle with Sonic, and the two then begin going at it. After trading several punches, the two are halted by Bat Brain, who remarks that the two seem to be evenly matched. He then suggest settling it with a "bighorn challenge", in which the two will charge each other at full speed to determine which is stronger. They agree and collide, the impact knocking Sonic quite some distance from the island to land near his plank from earlier. He then watches as the island vibrates, apparently from the impact, and then watches in shock as it sinks beneath the waves. Thinking the Badniks destroyed, he starts heading home, unaware that he is being observed by his old foes. As it turns out, the island was equipped with technology that allowed it to submerge itself and then reform underwater with a special dome to protect it from the ocean. The Badniks analyze Pseudo Sonic on Caterkiller's orders, and determine that though he has been damaged, he can be rebuilt. The villains then vow that they will see Sonic again soon.