- Endangered Species - Part 2 - Sonic and Team Fighters can't retake Albion on their own. Who can help turn the tide? Knuckles, that's who! Knuckles confronts old enemies and old hardships all at once to save the last of his people. And is it a good or a bad thing the mysterious Thrash the Tasmanian Devil has arrived?
Endangered Species Part Two: Extinction Event
- Writer: Ian Flynn
- Pencils: Steven Butler
- Inks: Terry Austin
- Colors: Matt Herms
- Letters: John Workman
- Assistant Editor: Vincent Lovallo
- Editor/Executive Editor of Editorial: Paul Kaminski
- Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
- President: Mike Pellerito
- Special Thanks to: Anthony Gaccione and Cindy Chau at SEGA Licensing
Knuckles wanders through Albion, but the city appears to be completely deserted, with no trace of the Echidnas anywhere. Though there aren't many of them left, Knuckles recalls that there should have been several hundred, but has yet to find any. He wanders onto a dock, calling out and announcing that he is here in response to a distress call. Unbeknownst to him, some time previously, Thrash the Tasmanian Devil had stood on the same dock and offered several Echidnas escape through his Warp Ring, assuring them that it was an untraceable means of escape and promising that they wouldn't be worrying about anything again.
Hearing noises accompanied by multiple flashes of light, Knuckles investigates and comes across the downed Tornado, which is being guarded by T-Pup against a hostile Tasmanian Devil Dog. Knuckles scares off the intruder, and quickly befriends T-Pup, guessing that he must be a creation of Tails', though he is curious as to why Team Fighters is in the city. Unaware that the small robot was left to repair the Tornado, Knuckles asks T-Pup if he can lead him to the others. The robot obliges, and Knuckles comes across the unconscious trio, who are being investigated by another Devil Dog. Scaring if off, he shakes Sonic to revive him, and then helps a stirring Amy to her feet as well while Sonic groggily asks what has happened. Knuckles questions the trio as to what has been going on, and Sonic recalls being locked in battle with Metal Knuckles, whose existence Knuckles is surprised to learn about.
Finding the deactivated robot and hearing about its easy time with Sonic, Knuckles attributes it to its abilities being based on his own, annoying Sonic. After asking how Team Fighters' own quest-which Espio had been keeping track of-had been going, Knuckles learns that they were helping the Echidnas fight off the Dark Egg Legion. They recall Sonic's one-sided fight against Metal Knuckles, which prompted Amy to intervene against the robotic Echidna. Tails, meanwhile, tried to turn the Legion's stun traps-reactivated Albion defenses-against the cyborg Echidnas, only for the system to overload and throw out an electrical wave that rendered the combatants unconscious and deactivated Metal Knuckles. Having pieced together how they were knocked out, Team Fighters is ready to continue the battle, only to learn from Knuckles that the city is apparently empty, as is evidenced by the absence of any unconscious Echidnas nearby.
Unbeknownst to the group, Thrash had come across their battle site earlier, counting himself fortunate upon finding all the Echidnas unconscious. However, he soon discovered Team Fighters amidst the battle damage, and gently laid them aside, recognizing Sonic as well as Tails' youth. Blaming the Echidnas for the situation, Thrash assured the unconscious heroes that he would take care of things, activating his Warp Ring so he could "clean up the garbage." Back in the present, Sonic refuses to believe that the city is empty, citing their encounters with the citizens and the Legion, particularly Lien-Da. Knuckles repeats his inability to find any Echidnas in the city, but notes the presence of the Devil Dogs and the various flashes of light. Sonic suggests that the Echidnas may have headed to the docks, but Knuckles reports his search of the area likewise turning up empty, and expresses worries about the situation. He decides that their best course is to call Angel Island for backup, and has Tails rig up T-Pup for communications. He attempts to contact Julie-Su and Saffron, whom he left on the island to guard the Master Emerald, but receives no response. This is all the more troubling as Knuckles spoke with Julie-Su only a few hours previously, declining her offer for help repairing Haven II despite his difficulties.
Deciding to take a different approach, Knuckles has Tails open a channel to Nicole, an easy task given her return to New Mobotropolis. They quickly learn that Nicole has not been able to reach the girls on Angel Island either, and Nicole's suggestion that Julie-Su might have gotten there ahead of Knuckles is shut down by Knuckles' revelation that he and Vector are in possession of the only Warp Rings the Chaotix had. Seeing Knuckles more worried than ever, and with rain beginning to fall, Sonic suggests that they team up to search the island again, and also that perhaps the flashes of light Knuckles saw earlier were signs of Warp Ring use. This seems to implicate Dr. Finitevus, but Knuckles points out that Finitevus would not have left Sonic alone after the hedgehog's previous interference in his plans. Unbeknownst to the heroes, Thrash-using a Warp Ring lost by Finitevus in Downunda-had managed to reach Angel Island with his Devil Dog pack and locate the doctor's lab, only for Finitevus not to be present. While searching the lair, Thrash came across several of Finitevus' notes, on both the location of Albion and how to super-charge a Warp Ring, much to his delight.
In response to Sonic's query as to who else might be in possession of a ring, Knuckles mentions that he knows of one individual-namely Thrash-who is, but can't imagine why the Devil would be in Albion. Tails, flying ahead of the group, spots Thrash up ahead, and the team come upon him and his pack just as he finishes pushing something through his Warp Ring. As Thrash is satisfied with the completion of his task, Knuckles demands answers, and Thrash reveals that he resumed his former quest after leaving the Downunda Freedom Fighters, and has now succeeded, partly because of Knuckles' cooperation. Since Knuckles allowed him to keep the Warp Ring he recovered, he was able to defeat Julie-Su and Saffron and get to the Master Emerald. With its power increasing the strength of his Warp Ring, he has now dispatched all the Echidnas to somewhere where he is confident they will never pose a threat to Mobius, to Knuckles' horror. The Guardian tackles Thrash, demanding that he return the Echidnas, only to be knocked back by a sonic scream of refusal.
Claiming that he is being merciful, Thrash tells Knuckles that he will allow him to live, but is then caught by surprise when Sonic Spin Dash tackles him from behind. Having allowed Thrash his moment of triumph and Knuckles the honor of the first blow, the Hedgehog demands that Thrash bring back the Echidnas. Thrash tries to defuse the situation, having no reason for animosity with Sonic and Team Freedom, only for Sonic to disagree and promise to take down Thrash unless he complies. The Devil responds with another sonic roar that sends Sonic flying, while Knuckles and the others battle with Thrash's pack. Unbeknownst to the fighters, however, a spring of the Krudzu Hybrid Hydra has made its way to Albion, and takes control of Metal Knuckles while announcing its return to Sonic.
Thrash, backed by his Devil Dogs and surrounded by a flaming aura, announces his return to Sonic and Knuckles. To his chagrin, neither of the two recognize him at first-unsurprising for Sonic given that this is the first time they've met-with Knuckles commenting that he doesn't remember ever fighting Thrash previously. An incensed Thrash then leaps in the air, complaining that "It hasn't been that long!"
- This issue continues the behind-the-scenes chain of events that began in the last issue (due to the Ken Penders lawsuit), leading to the Archie Sonic universe's reboot. According to Ian Flynn, this lead to a last-minute change of the story in this issue, although reports of Penders say that he did not cause the change, but Archie did. As such, the story was altered in a drastic degree:
- The story was entirely rewritten. The story jumps considerably further ahead from the events at the end of the previous issue: all of the echidna characters, besides Knuckles, were written out of the story off panel, as well as Saffron Bee (all of whom were created by Penders), thus totally changing the direction of the whole arc.
- The original preview cover for this issue featured both Julie-Su posing next to Amy Rose at the bottom right. Julie-Su was removed for the final cover.
- As revealed by Aleah Baker, the original version of the arc would have debuted a new design for Saffron Bee, who the former had designed along with a redesign of Hershey Cat. She also revealed that Saffron would have played a significant role in the arc.
- According to Ian Flynn, the Krudzu which inhabited Metal Knuckles had no involvement in the original version of the story.
- Although Julie-Su was physically removed from the issue, she still has a presence in Knuckles' flashback via voice communication. This essentially marks the final time Julie-Su is present in any way, shape or form in the series.
- The editorial commentary suggests that the Albion echidna's may have been sent to the Twilight Cage, specifically asking "Could they be in the company of the long absent Brotherhood?"
- In Germany, this issue was printed in Panini Sonic the Hedgehog #9.
- In France, this issue was printed in Delcourt Sonic 6 : Espèce en Voie de Disparitions.
- ↑ Tristan Oliver (15 January 2013). Chatter Suggests Archie, Not Penders, Pulled Plug on Disputed Sonic Comic Chars. TSSZ News. Retrieved on 8 January 2016.
- ↑ Aleah Baker (23 October 2013). The Thread of general Sonic-related questions. BumbleKing Comics. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016.
- ↑ Ian Flynn (1 March 2013). Endangered Species Afterthought: What DIDN'T Change?. BumbleKing Comics. Archived from the original on 2 November 2015.