|Knuckles the Echidna|
Cover of the first issue of Knuckles the Echidna, art by Patrick Spaziante
|Publication date||April 1997 - February 2000|
|Number of issues||32|
|Artist(s)||Manny Galan, et al.|
Knuckles the Echidna is a 32-issue series of American comic books published by Archie Comics that ran from 1997 to 2000, featuring Knuckles the Echidna, one of Sega's mascot video game characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The series was a spin-off of Sonic the Hedgehog and shared continuity with that title. The series continued the ongoing story of Knuckles's search for answers about his heritage and true nature, which had previously been featured in the Sonic the Hedgehog series as well as several specials and miniseries.
After the series' cancellation in 2000, Knuckles's stories were continued as a regular feature in issues of Sonic the Hegehog until 2003. After this, Knuckles and several of his supporting cast members became a semi-regular feature of Sonic's stories, ultimately crossing over both storylines in a usual manner. Recently, Archie Comics made a surprise announcement that they will re-release some of the series first issues in February 2009, along with the new side-series Sonic Universe. Archie have stated that they plan to eventually reprint the Knuckles series in graphic novel form, just like Sonic Archives.
The main focus of the comic is the title character, Knuckles the Echidna. His sacred duty is guarding the "Master Emerald", why he is destined to do this job is beyond even him.
Knuckles' first three part miniseries "Sonic's Friendly Nemesis Knuckles" was released in 1996. His second miniseries was published in 1997, Knuckles: The Dark Legion and after three issues was continued into Knuckles the Echidna which began starting its numbering from issue 4. Archie has essentially 'retconned' "Sonic's Friendly Nemesis" as being Knuckles the Echidna 1 through 3. This was also done with the Sonic Vs Knuckles: Battle Royal one-shot which they 'retconned' into being Sonic Super Special #1. Knuckles Chaotix is a one shot that ties directly into the ongoing series.
Knuckles the Echidna also used a cover gimmick where the three issues that made up one story had covers that when joined together made one big image three covers wide (known as a triptych). These covers were drawn by Patrick Spaziante until issue 25 when Manny Galan took over for the final issues, Gallan was the series’ interior artist until issue 25 when the series changed format with issue 26 into a main story and a back-up story, Galan became the artist for the back-up stories (Featuring Mighty the Armadillo and Espio the Chameleon) and the main story was drawn by different artists, first Chris Allan (#26-28) then Sonic the Hedgehog regular Art Mawhinney (#29) then finally the writer Ken Penders for the rest of the series’ duration.
Like the Sonic comic, Knuckles's comic is filled with background information about Knuckles's family history. Knuckles's family had split into two factions: the Brotherhood of Guardians and the Dark Legion. Knuckles is a member of the former, and Julie-Su used to be a member of the latter. Much of the conflict of the comic surrounds the relations between these two warring factions.
Cast of characters
With the exception of Knuckles and the Chaotix, and later Ray the Flying Squirrel, Knuckles the Echinda featured a totally original cast of characters created specifically for the book, some of whom have gone onto continue to play a large part in the regular Sonic the Hedgehog series and universe.
- Knuckles the Echidna – Sworn guardian of the Floating Island who was trained by his father Locke, and later by a mentor named Archimedes.
- Julie-Su – A former soldier of the villainous Dark Legion, and half-sister of their leader Lien-Da. She has since defected, and became Knuckles' girlfriend after fighting alongside him for a long period. This character setting had never remained however, and Knuckles' after appearances became of a 16 year old single determined to protect the Master Emerald stationed on Angel Island.
- Chaotix – When the series began the team consisted of Vector the Crocodile, Espio the Chameleon, Mighty The Armadillo and Charmy Bee. Charmy briefly left the group to return home, but rejoined after the series' cancellation along with his fiancé, Saffron. Though Ray the Flying Squirrel was rescued during the series, he did not join the group until after the series cancellation. Later additions included Saffron and Julie-Su.
- Locke the Echidna – Knuckles's Father and predecessor as Guardian of the Floating Island. Locke foresaw a disaster, and exposed his son to the Chaos Emeralds while he was still an egg, giving him abilities beyond those of any other guardian. After training Knuckles rigorously, he passed the position of guardian on to Knuckles and joined his forefathers in the Brotherhood of Guardians. He reappears sporadically throughout the series to help Knuckles with his problems. Currently deceased.
- Lara-Le – Knuckles mother who lives in Echinopolis during the series' run. Her tumultuous marriage with Locke ended badly, and although he has tried to woo her back occasionally, Lara-Le has had enough of Locke placing his work above his wife and son. She currently lives with her new husband Wynmacher with whom she eventually has a child with named Kneecapeon Mace. She dotes on her son and is very motherly towards him.
- Constable Remington – A dedicated leader in the Echidnapolis Security Team and trusted ally of Knuckles. Although he is not corrupt, he is the son of former Dark Legion grandmaster, and has many underworld connections. Remington was briefly missing in action after being captured by Dr. Eggman, but he would later resurface, having seemingly learned of his Legionnaire heritage and taking command of the Frost Legion splinter group.
- The Brotherhood of Guardians – A group of former Guardians who operate out of Haven, a technologically advanced base in the Forbidden Zone, from which they also monitor the planet below. With the exception of Tobor (who is revealed to be a former Dark Legion grandmaster named Moritori Rex), they are all ancestors of Knuckles. They are currently missing following the one-year leap forward in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
- Archimedes – A fire Ant who trained Knuckles, as Fire Ants have trained all Guardians since they began. Archimedes or 'Archy' (pronounced 'Ar-kee') is kind and good natured, but his duty caused him to keep many secrets from Knuckles which led his pupil to mistrust him. Recent issues of Sonic the Hedgehog have shown him to be hiding on Angel Island, but he has received little exposure since his brief reappearance.
- The Dark Legion – The antithesis to the Brotherhood of Guardians, the Legion is an army of cyborg Echidnas who worship Enerjak and technology. Its leaders (known as Grandmasters) are all descendants of Enerjak's original alter-ego, Dimitri the Echidna, just as the Guardians were descended from Dimitri's brother, Edmund.
- Enerjak/Dimitri – Knuckles' uncle and supreme leader of the Dark Legion, he is the ancient forefather of every Legion grandmaster. He was powered by eleven chaos Emeralds and turned into a godlike being before he was defeated and depowered by Mammoth Mogul. After losing his power and enhanced longevity, he was rebuilt as a cyborg. He is currently reduced to a floating head inside a clear protective sphere.
- Renfield the Rodent – A shady businessman who ran the Happyland theme parks on the Floating Island while involving himself in underworld dealings as well. He was later contracted by Dr. Eggman to secretly build robotic armies, but this operation was shut down by the Chaotix Crew. Renfield was named after the character R.M. Renfield from Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897).
- Downtown Ebony Hare – A powerful gangster in Echidnapolis, he tried to muscle in on his subordinate Renfield's Happyland caper, attempting to kill Chaotix member Julie-Su in the process. He was later taken into custody by Constable Remington, and has not been seen since Eggman's take-over of Angel Island.
- Hunter – An Overlander (human) who hunts Mobians for sport. Sophisticated and intelligent, he was also quite insane, and shot dead Knuckles' childhood rival Monk as part of a hunt across Angel Island. He was given increased powers by Dr. Eggman, but was still unable to defeat Knuckles, who threw him into the sea.
- General Helmut von Stryker – The leader of the Dingos during the series' run, a huge, muscled soldier with a militaristic and aggressive nature who worked both against and alongside Knuckles. His current fate is unknown following the one-year jump, and he appears to have been supplanted by his son, a cyborg commander affiliated with Eggman named General Kage.
With the exception of issues 25 and 29 the series was broken down into three part story-arcs:
The Dark Legion
Led by Kragok, The Dark Legion, a cult of technology-worshiping echidnas formed by the disgruntled son of Enerjak, return from the twilight Zone that Steppenwolf, the second Guardian, sent them too so as to reclaim the Floating Island. Knuckles and the Chaotix defeat them as their plan is about to succeed destroying their base. From this story to present the Dark Legion have been hiding/living on the Floating Island. The story also re-accounted the history of the Dark Legion and the history of Steppenwolf, the first fully trained Guardian.
Lost Paradise (Issues 4-6)
The damage caused to the Zones (alternate realities) in the Endgame story-arc in the regular Sonic the Hedgehog series causes Echinopolis (the capital of the Floating Island) and Echidna's ancient enemies the Dingos to both return to the Floating Island after they were evacuated to The Hyper Zone by Guardian Hawking some 200 years earlier to escape the radioactive fallout of a Dingo missile strike. But both cities are attempting to return to the same location which could cause them both to be destroyed. Knuckles meets his mother and Julie-Su, and deals with the warring General Stryker. Echidnapolis is the city that survives, leaving the Dingos stranded there and causing a housing problem. The story also told the history of the disappearance of the Echidnas and introduced Constable Remmington and Grandfather Hawking.
Dark Vengeance (Issues 7-9)
Mammoth Mogul revives Enerjak from his space prison and returns him to The Dark Legion (after quickly defeating the fire ants), and the Chaotix Enerjak tortures Knuckles for an entire issue before splitting him up into individual molecules and leading his Dark Legion to Echinopolis where he clashes with the Dingo and Echidna armed forces, a fight which lasts until Mammoth Mogul appears and drains Enerjak of the energies he absorbed from the Chaos Emeralds, leaving him an old man. The story continued onto Sonic the Hedgehog issue 56 where Super Sonic, Hyper Knuckles and Turbo Tails fought Mammoth Mogul. Julie-Su also went undercover into the Dark Legion in this story causing readers and characters to question where her loyalties lie (either her old cult or Knuckles and the Chaotix).
The Lost Tribe (Issues 10-12)
Introducing yet more Echidnas, The Lost Tribe are the descendants of the Echidnas who chose to stay on Mobius when the Floating Island was raised they are currently under the leadership of Athair, Knuckles' ancestor who abandoned his role as Guardian to lead them. Knuckles is left in charge of the band after Athair vanishes and safely takes them to Albion via Mercia which is under the rule of Antoine D'Coolette's robotisized father. The story ties into Sonic the Hedgehog #59 and introduces Rob O' The Hedge and also tells the origin of Athair.
The Chaotix Caper (Issues 13-15)
A story focusing on The Chaotix, which now include Julie-Su. The team are caught up between two warring gangsters—Renfield The Rat and Downtown Ebony Hare. Hare was worried about Renfield's new Happyland amusement park because of its 'Special Sauce' -- an addictive drug the rat put in the food. The 'Special Sauce' seems to be especially poisonous to bees and kills Charmy's childhood friend Mello and nearly kills Charmy, who has to be operated on. Julie Su also nearly perishes when she discovers what is going on and is thrown from a roof by Hare while the Chaotix are recovering in hospital from the Special Sauce. After recovering and stopping Hare the Chaotix bury Mello and Charmy reclaims his birthright as prince of the Bees. The story tells Charmy's origin and also reveals that he can grow to 'normal size' as well as the small size he was shown as being previously. It also introduced Harry the Cabbie.
Reunion/Deep Cover (Issues 16-18)
Fully introducing and focusing on the Brotherhood of Guardians. One of their number Tobor was replaced by Moritori Rex the father of current Dark Legion leader Krygok after a battle between them left them both blind and buried in rubble. The real Tobor returned to the Floating Island and his revelations lead to a battle between Knuckles and Krygok, and then Tobor and Krygok leading to the latter two being trapped in the Zone. Their fates have never been addressed. The story introduced a strange reaction caused by the meetings of the Descendants of Dimitri (The Legion leaders) and the Descendants of Edmund (The Guardians) that opens portals to other Zones.
The Forbidden Zone (Issues 19-21)
A crossover with the Sonic the Hedgehog series, the story follows Knuckles and King Acorn's Secret Service#Members#Geoffrey St. John|Geoffrey St. John's King Acorn's Secret Service|Secret Service as they journey into the Forbidden Zone (the location of Haven, the base of operations for the Brotherhood of Guardians). The Secret Service are looking for Queen Alicia and Knuckles is searching for answers about his past, and they are both shocked to find Prince Elias, an heir to the Acorn throne nobody had previously known about. This story, though lacking much in the way of action or adventure would have huge ramifications in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
Dark Alliance (Issues 22-24)
The Dark Legion tries to gain control of the Floating Island via an upcoming election in Echidnopolois, taking control of a prominent senator to support their Hitler-like candidate Benedict who soon gains the public's favor. Enerjak, now powerless and a cyborg, takes control of Haven and kidnaps Knuckles, Julie-Su, General Stryker, and the Brotherhood of Guardians. They are freed by Locke and Spectre, Benedict is revealed as a robot and the Legion escapes once more. This story also introduced Lien-Da, who has gone on to become a major antagonist in Sonic the Hedgehog. Also notable in this story was Benedict's mention of a secret held by Constable Remington, an issue not seemingly resolved until much later in the main Sonic the Hedgehog title.
Issue 25 detailed Knuckles' origin and his meeting with his father for the first time since he abandoned him as a child.
The First Date (Issues 26-28)
A story focusing on Knuckles and Julie-Su's friendship. When Julie-Su goes out on a date with another Echidna, Knuckles finds out the date clashes with a surprise party for Knuckles' birthday.
A Friend in Need (Issues 26-28)
A back-up story featuring Mighty the Armadillo, adapting the arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog. Mighty and Nic the Weasel rescue Ray the Flying Squirrel who has been trapped holding onto a gem since Sonic and Mighty escaped from a prison camp years earlier.
Issue 29 tells a story of when Princess Sally Acorn used to vacation on the Floating Island and play with Knuckles.
King of the Hill (Issues 30-32)
Monk, a purple ape who bullied Knuckles as a child, returns to the Floating Island after being literally thrown off the Island by The Brotherhood of Guardians. Their fight is interrupted by the Overlander Hunter, who hunts Mobians for sport. Fitted with restraining collars the two are forced to work together to evade Hunter using Knuckles' knowledge of the Island and Monk's brute strength. Knuckles releases the full force of his Chaos Emerald-born powers to stop Hunter, who is, as a result, imprisoned by The Brotherhood.
Though the series was canceled with issue 32, Penders resolved many dangling plot threads in Sonic Super Special #14. He also continued to write back-up stories in the regular Sonic the Hedgehog series that followed the ongoing series in which Knuckles developed fully the Chaos Emerald based powers he first displayed in the King of the Hill story-line. Knuckles eventually died to save Enerjak's life. The Afterlife story that followed was part of the lead up to Sonic the Hedgehog #125 and following the 1-year jump in issue 130, Knuckles and The Chaotix were living in Knothole City working as Freedom Fighters.
Most of the characters from the ongoing series were dealt with in the Return to Angel Island story-line (issues 138-141) where the Dingos had taken over the Island, the Dark Legion were acting as a resistance group, and the Brotherhood of Guardians were missing. Hunter, Constable Remington and the Fire Ants were among the casualties of the story-line, though the story also raised some questions as to the whereabouts of some of the Knuckles the Echidna characters, most notably General Stryker.
- Main article: List of Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog publications
- Sonic HQ's Knuckles the Echidna Comic Archive Pages
- Knuckles the Echinda 1-32 (April 1997 - February 2000)
- Archie Comics Launches New 'Sonic' Graphic Novel Series, Brigid Alverson, May 11, 2011