- "The Last Minute," Part Three! Sonic has been infected by the Metal Virus, and so far the only thing keeping him from going full-on zombot is his incredible speed... but how long can that last? As Sonic pushes himself to his limits gathering data for Tails, he comes face-to-face with the one problem more important than the Metal Virus: its creator, Dr. Eggman.
The Last Minute, Part 3
- Written by: Ian Flynn
- Art by: Jack Lawrence
- Colors by: Matt Herms
- Letters by: Shawn Lee
- Assistant Editor: Megan Brown
- Editor: David Mariotte
- Special thanks to: Anoulay Tsai, Mai Kiyotaki, Aaron Webber, Michael Cisneros, Sandra Jo, and everyone at Sega for their invaluable assistance
Passing the outskirts of Barricade Town, Sonic puts in a call to Tails, who is at his lab in Central City. Tails tells Sonic that the data from his bio-scanner is coming in perfectly; on the other hand, Dr. Eggman had hit Central City with the Metal Virus just as he, Tangle and Whisper had arrived. Sonic offers to turn around and come help with the situation, but Tails tells him to keep running; his speed data may be their only chance to find a cure, and it may serve as a backup should something happen on his end. Sonic complies and tells Tails to stay safe.
As the call ends, Sonic notes that he feels oddly lonely on his own. Arriving at Barricade Town, he reflects on how he and Knuckles ended Rough and Tumble's extortion racket the last time he came by; now, the skunk brothers are Zombots stuck at the bottom of Echo Mine. Checking the beaten-down state of the town, Sonic realizes that Barricade Town had already been affected by the Metal Virus. He considers checking for survivors, but realizes that he cannot help them - there is no one to help evacuate them, and he cannot carry them out himself without infecting them with the Metal Virus. Investigating also runs the risk of his bio-scanner being damaged and its data being lost. As he agonizes over what to do, Sonic looks up and spots Eggman hovering over the town with his Egg Mobile.
Inside Barricade Town, Eggman and Dr. Starline are testing different radio frequencies in an attempt to communicate with the town's Zombots - so far, their efforts have met with failure. Annoyed by the tedious work, Eggman exclaims that he should have rigged an automated version of the broadcast to play from the Faceship; an annoyed Starline reminds him that wide-band broadcasts had no effect and they agreed to try localized attempts next. Eggman snaps at Starline's passive-aggressive demeanor, telling him that he expects him to have his back; Starline replies that Eggman should have had already had a fail-safe for the Metal Virus mutating beyond their control.
Although he brushes off Starline's accusation as his creation exceeding expectations, Eggman considers his options and suggests using Starline's Warp Topaz charged by the Chaos Emeralds aboard the Faceship. Starline refuses and explains that the Warp Topaz reacts strongly to the most passive of energy waves. In his early experiments, anything above a light, controlled charge resulted in extreme reality alteration; using it on such a large scale could prove exceedingly dangerous. Eggman protests that they just have to be cautious, but Starline points out that the doctor is anything but cautious, adding that neither of them have been immunized against the Metal Virus. At this, Eggman reveals that there is no cure for the virus, explaining that they were going to avoid infection by simply avoiding contact with the Zombots. Aghast, Starline points out that there could be a spill on the Faceship, a mishap in the field or further mutation to make the virus airborne; in any case, they'd be completely vulnerable to infection. A frustrated Eggman tells Starline that he should no longer nitpick him, but the platypus claims that he is only bringing up common sense. As Eggman tells Starline to shut up once again, Sonic appears on the wall behind them, sarcastically asking if their honeymoon was over.
His prior anger forgotten, Eggman gloats to Sonic, asking if he came to watch his unbeatable plan unfold. Not in the mood for banter, Sonic instead asks Eggman "why did you do it?" The doctor is confused by the question, as his efforts to take over the world have been known for years. Sonic clarifies that he wanted to know why Eggman returned to his old ways; even if Starline restored his memories, he could have chosen to live in peace rather than resume his villainous actions. Eggman laughs at the idea, but briefly seems to hesitate as he reflects on his life as "Mr. Tinker." After a moment, he admits that his stint in Windmill Village was "relaxing", but insists that he is doing something better; bringing peace and unity to the world through his brilliant guidance. He points out that he and Sonic were similar in the sense that they both have their own styles that they will not change; the hedgehog retorts that Eggman's style is evil while his is not.
With his patience thoroughly spent, Sonic demands that Eggman reverse the effects of the Metal Virus but the doctor refuses; even if Sonic could convince him to do so, the virus has spread exponentially across the world. Believing that not even he could undo the Zombot plague, Eggman only has to find a way to control them before his victory is complete. That proves to be the final straw for Sonic; deciding to leave the cure to Tails, he lunges at Eggman with the intent to finish their long rivalry. As Eggman meets the incoming hedgehog with weapons from the sides of the Egg Mobile, Starline reflects on how he had dreamed of seeing such a fight; now, he only feels apathy. He recalls Neo Metal Sonic's attempt to revive the Eggman Empire, which failed due to relying on overwhelming power without a proper plan. Starline initially believed that he failed because he was designed as a "ballistic missile with a built-in grudge" against Sonic. However, the first biodata that Neo copied was Eggman's, and Starline was once again seeing the exact same brute force strategy. At last, he recognizes that he idolized Eggman's legend alone; the man himself simply did not measure up to it.
As Sonic and Eggman's battle continues, the latter gloats that Sonic's time is running out - eventually, he will be too tired to run off the Metal Virus' effects. In response, Sonic attempts to grab Eggman and infect him with the virus. Eggman's attempt to dodge sends him and Sonic tumbling to the ground. Several Zombots surround the pair and Sonic taunts Eggman as he could not do anything about it. In a panic, Eggman attempts to command the Zombots. To his bewilderment, they suddenly ignore him and attack Sonic. Starline reveals that he found an effective signal with the Egg Mobile. He muses that his own plans may not be necessary now, "but what will [Eggman] learn from this?" Ecstatic at the success, Eggman orders Starline to upload the frequency to the Faceship. Faced with the risk of Eggman regaining control of his new army, a desperate Sonic bursts out from the horde of Zombots and destroys the Egg Mobile before Starline can do anything. Eggman quickly grabs onto Starline's own transportation machine and tells him to get them out of there. Due to the added weight, the vehicle crashes down atop Barricade Town's gate.
Eggman berates Sonic for destroying the only means of controlling the Zombots but the hedgehog sarcastically voices his concern and tells Eggman to work on a cure instead. Eggman furiously refuses, stating that he would pave over the Zombot hordes if he had to. Seeing the Zombots beginning to scale the wall, Starline suggests retreating so that they could try something else. Furiously announcing that Sonic has already lost and just refuses to admit it, Eggman joins Starline in fleeing through a portal made by the Warp Topaz. Back aboard the Faceship, Starline says that he was unable to upload or memorize the working frequency; however, he was able to recall the range. To Starline's dismay, Eggman does not care to do anything about this; with close-range broadcasts being too risky and the Metal Virus likely adapting to resist it, he does not want to repeat the tedious process just for another failure. When Starline asks what the next move is, Eggman says that he will start by enjoying their next outbreak, asking for the Faceship's current location. Orbot reports that they are above Spiral Hill Village, and the Metal Virus has already been deployed. Satisfied by the news, Eggman announces that he will figure out his next move later, oblivious to Starline's fuming glare.
Back in Barricade Town, Sonic finds that the bio-scanner had been destroyed in the commotion as Zombots begin climbing onto the roof. Realizing that he has done exactly what Tails warned him not to do, he laments his recent string of failures; he thought Eggman had a tiny bit of good in his heart, and the entire world is paying for it. In his despair, he almost fully succumbs to the Metal Virus. Before this can happen, he quickly dashes through the incoming Zombots and out of Barricade Town. Even as bad as things have become, he refuses to give up; some of his friends still need to be kept safe and others are waiting for a cure to their infection. Despite acknowledging that he has messed up significantly, Sonic believes that he has time to make things right. As he takes a brief break from full-speed running, he receives a call from Amy. She tells him that Restoration HQ and Tails' lab were overrun by Zombots, stating that they were now on the way to Tangle's home village to help evacuate it. Despite his fatigue, Sonic readily pledges his assistance, clinging to the hope that things cannot get any worse as he heads for Spiral Hill Village.
Meanwhile, on the Lost Hex, Zavok tells Master Zik that Eggman and Sonic's actions against them will not go unanswered. Zik reminds Zavok that the vengeance must be exact, stating that it was wise of him to have them bide their time and let their hatred and anger fester. Zavok comments that their patience has finally paid off as a portal appears before them, greeting an emerging Starline and saying that he has returned sooner than expected. The platypus comments that the day's events have cemented how much the Deadly Six's help was needed and asks if they actually can exert their will over machines. Zavok decides to demonstrate by controlling a Moto Bug, announcing that the Zeti can command any number of robots before asking when they will serve Eggman again. Starline claims that he has a few more last-minute preparations on his end before taking his leave. The portal has barely vanished before Zik mocks Starline's naivety, saying that he has no idea that they will take the Zombots for themselves and use it against Eggman. Zavok then declares that they will use the Zombots to destroy Eggman, Sonic and the entire world below for merciless vengeance and absolute victory.
Back on the Faceship, Starline recalls the files saying that Eggman used the Cacophonic Conch to control the Zeti and they were eager to turn on him. From this, Starline already knows that the Deadly Six are planning to betray him; however, after doing his research and collecting Eggman's paraphernalia, he is well prepared for that possibility. Reaching into a small portal, he retrieves the Cacophonic Conch, gleefully saying "Take note, Eggman. This is how you do it."
- Amy Rose (Voice)
- Deadly Six
- Dr. Eggman
- Dr. Starline
- Knuckles the Echidna (mentioned)
- Miles "Tails" Prower
- Neo Metal Sonic (Flashback)
- Rough the Skunk (mentioned)
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Tangle the Lemur (mentioned)
- Tumble the Skunk (mentioned)
- Sonic's world
- Chaos Emeralds
- Cacophonic Conch (first appearance)
- Metal Virus
- Multi-Tool Heel Spurs
- Warp Topaz
- The events of this issue occur simultaneously with Sonic the Hedgehog #21 and Sonic the Hedgehog #22.
- Sonic is still infected with the Metal Virus he received in Sonic the Hedgehog #15, "Patient Zero".
- Sonic recalls fighting Rough and Tumble with Knuckles in Barricade Town, an event that occurred in Sonic the Hedgehog #3, "Fallout, Part 3".
- Sonic recalls Rough and Tumble getting turned into Zombots and being stuck in Echo Mine, an event that happened in Sonic the Hedgehog #15, "Patient Zero".
- Dr. Eggman and Dr. Starline are testing override signals on the Zombots, which was something Starline mentioned that they would do in Sonic the Hedgehog #20, "Crisis City, Part 2".
- Starline reminds Eggman that wide-band broadcasts do not work on Zombots any longer. This was first discovered in Sonic the Hedgehog #18, "Victims".
- Sonic recalls Starline telling him that he restored Eggman's memories in Sonic the Hedgehog #14, "Misdirection", which occurred in Sonic the Hedgehog #12, "The Cost of the Battle for Angel Island".
- Starline recalls Neo Metal Sonic's attempted takeover of Angel Island, an event that took place in Sonic the Hedgehog #9-Sonic the Hedgehog #11.
- Starline recalls that the first bio-data Neo Metal Sonic copied was Eggman's, which the robot first explained in Sonic the Hedgehog #7, "Meet the New Boss".
- Both Eggman and Sonic comment on the latter's growing exhaustion after constant running to burn off the Metal Virus. Sonic first observed this in Sonic the Hedgehog #19, "Crisis City, Part 1".
- Eggman is still distributing the Metal Virus in the Faceship, having done so since back in Sonic the Hedgehog #16, "Infection".
- Starline finalizes his agreement with the Deadly Six following their first meeting in Sonic the Hedgehog #21. Zavok and Master Zik privately reaffirm their intent to betray Starline and destroy the world as vengeance against both Eggman and Sonic, which Zavok previously mentioned in Sonic the Hedgehog #22, "The Last Minute, Part 2".
- Starline mentions being an avid collector of Eggman's paraphernalia, which was first seen in Sonic the Hedgehog #14, "Misdirection".
- Starline is revealed to have the Cacophonic Conch in case the Deadly Six turn on him. He learned of its ability to control them in the files he read at the end of Sonic the Hedgehog #20, "Crisis City, Part 2."
- The Editor's Note on page two incorrectly states that Rough and Tumble were turned into Zombots and left in Echo Mine in Sonic the Hedgehog #14, "Misdirection", whereas this event actually happened in Sonic the Hedgehog #15, "Patient Zero".
- On page three, Dr. Eggman tries to communicate with the Barricade Town Zombots at a frequency of 141.12. This is the contact frequency for Otacon in Metal Gear Solid.
- On page six in the first panel, Sonic is not seen with his bio-scanner.
- On page seven, Eggman's comment to Sonic about them not being so different and having their own styles that they will not change, and Sonic's rebuttal that Eggman's is filled with evil while his is not, are references to the lyrics of "Open Your Heart".
- Story so far...: "Story so far..." is a summary of the current plotline for the comic. It features a landscape drawing by Cream of various locations that have been established in the series and some that have yet to be introduced. The people and locations on the map that have been marked with a red X indicate that they have been affected by the Metal Virus.
- Roll Call: Roll Call acts as a quick reference guide to new readers about the characters. This issue provides data files on Sonic, Dr. Eggman and Dr. Starline.
- Sonic Letters Squad: Sonic Letters Squad is a section where the comic staff can post fan artwork and fan letters that have been sent in to them.
- Team Sonic Racing One-shot - Free Digital Ashcan
- Dr. Eggman: You've exceeded my threshold for nitpicking, Doctor.
- Dr. Starline: It's not nitpicking! It's common sense!
- Dr. Eggman: You'll shut your bill or I'll staple it shut!
- Sonic: Aww, is the honeymoon over already?
- Dr. Eggman: You know, we're not that different, you and I. We both have our own styles that we won't change.
- Sonic: Yeah, but yours is evil and mine's not!
- Dr. Eggman: Again―agree to disagree.
- Dr. Eggman: Hahaha! One last battle before you're my Zombot slave?
- Sonic: One last butt-kicking before we lock you away forever!
- Dr. Starline: I got lost in his pageantry―in his showmanship. I was inspired by Eggman's legend. The man simply doesn't measure up.
- This issue was initially going to be released on 27 November 2019, but was soon moved to 20 November 2019 instead. It was later moved back to 27 November 2019.
- There was some inconsistent reporting on the art team for the issue when the solicits were released: while the ComicList solicit correctly listed Jack Lawrence as the artist for the issue, the Previews World solicit listed Priscilla Tramontano instead.
- Cover RI acts as parallel artwork to cover RI of Sonic the Hedgehog #5.
- SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #23 CVR A TRAMONTANO. Previews World (26 July 2019). Retrieved on 23 August 2019.
- SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #23 CVR B YARDLEY. Previews World (24 August 2019). Retrieved on 24 August 2019.
- SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #23 10 COPY INCV FOURDRAINE. Previews World (24 August 2019). Retrieved on 24 August 2019.
- Bracardi Curry on Twitter. Twitter (26 October 2019). Retrieved on 26 October 2019.
- IDW Publishing November 2019 Solicitations. ComicList (23 August 2019). Retrieved on 26 August 2019.
- David Mariotte on Twitter. Twitter (26 August 2019). Retrieved on 26 August 2019.
- Digamma-f-wau on Twitter. Twitter (26 August 2019). Retrieved on 26 August 2019.