The Archie Sonic comics have a well-deserved reputation of inconsistent quality control, utterly wack continuity, and wild tonal shifts all over the place.
A lot of well-meaning fans would have you skip to the point where Ian Flynn started writing for the book, but while it’s true that the writing quality ramped up significantly once they put him in charge, there are years’ worth of really good stories a would-be reader would miss out on.
Thus, I saw fit to give the pre-Flynn issues a good once-over and sort through which ones I recommend reading.
Green is a hearty recommendation. yellow is optional but worth it for curiosity and continuity's sake, and red is a hard skip.
Purple is where things get funky: some of these are just so insane that they have to be seen to be believed! If you’re the type who enjoys reading bad fanfiction for giggles, these are ones you should give a try.
Credit goes to Bobby’s post here for inspiring me to do this. Also, any “content creators” looking to make a quick buck by copying this list for a Top 10 whatsit, kindly go rot in Hell.
(And before anyone asks, yes, I know now that there's a much shorter Essential Reading list on Bobby's blog, but I didn't know that when I started this. At least you could say mine's more thorough with what you might or might not find interesting to read. That's how I'll be sleeping at night, anyway.)
- Sonic the Hedgehog #1 -
- Sonic the Hedgehog #2
- Sonic the Hedgehog #3
- Sonic the Hedgehog #4
- Sonic the Hedgehog #5
- Sonic the Hedgehog #6
- Sonic the Hedgehog #7
- Sonic the Hedgehog #8
- Sonic the Hedgehog #9
- Sonic the Hedgehog #10
- Sonic the Hedgehog #11
- Sonic the Hedgehog #12
- Sonic the Hedgehog #13
- Sonic the Hedgehog #14
- Sonic the Hedgehog #15
- Sonic the Hedgehog #16
- Sonic the Hedgehog #17
- Sonic the Hedgehog #18
- Sonic the Hedgehog: In Your Face! #1
- Sonic the Hedgehog #19
- Sonic the Hedgehog #20
- Princess Sally #1
- Princess Sally #2
- Princess Sally #3
- Sonic the Hedgehog #21
- Sonic the Hedgehog #22
- Sonic the Hedgehog #23
- Sonic the Hedgehog #24
- Sonic & Knuckles #1
- Sonic the Hedgehog #25
- Sonic the Hedgehog #26
- Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble #1
- Sonic the Hedgehog #27
- Sonic the Hedgehog #28
- Sonic the Hedgehog #29
- Tails #1
- Tails #2
- Tails #3
- Sonic the Hedgeghog #30
- Knuckles’ Chaotix #1
- Sonic the Hedgehog #31
- Sonic the Hedgehog #32
- Sonic the Hedgehog #33
- Super Sonic vs. Hyper Knuckles #1
- Sonic the Hedgehog #34
- Sonic the Hedgehog #35
- Sonic the Hedgehog #36
- Knuckles #1
- Knuckles #2
- Knuckles #3
- Sonic the Hedgehog #37
- Sonic the Hedgehog #38
- Sonic the Hedgehog #39
- Sonic & Knuckles: Mecha Madness Special #1
- Sonic the Hedgehog #40
- Sonic the Hedgehog #41
- Sonic Quest #1
- Sonic Quest #2
- Sonic Quest #3
- Sonic the Hedgehog #42
- Sonic Live! #1
- Sonic the Hedgehog #43
- Sonic the Hedgehog #44
- Sonic Blast #1
- Sonic the Hedgehog #45
- Sonic the Hedgehog #46
- Sonic Super Special #1: Sonic Vs. Knuckles Battle Royal
- Sonic the Hedgehog #47
- Sonic the Hedgehog #48
- Sonic the Hedgehog #49
- Sonic the Hedgehog #50
- Sonic the Hedgehog #50 Director's Cut
- Knuckles the Echidna #1
- Knuckles the Echidna #2
- Knuckles the Echidna #3
- Knuckles the Echidna #4
- Knuckles the Echidna #5
- Knuckles the Echidna #6
- Sonic the Hedgehog #51
- Sonic the Hedgehog #52
- Sonic Super Special #2: Brave New World
- Sonic the Hedgehog #53
- Sonic Super Special #5: Sonic Kids
- Sonic the Hedgehog #54
- Sonic the Hedgehog #55
- Knuckles the Echidna #6
- Knuckles the Echidna #7
- Knuckles the Echidna #8
- Knuckles the Echidna #9
- Sonic the Hedgehog #56
- Sonic Super Special #4
- Sonic the Hedgehog #57
- Knuckles the Echidna #9
- Knuckles the Echidna #10
- Knuckles the Echidna #11
- Sonic the Hedgehog #58
- Knuckles the Echidna #12
- Sonic the Hedgehog #59
- Knuckles the Echidna #12
- Knuckles the Echidna #13
- Knuckles the Echidna #14
- Knuckles the Echidna #15
- Sonic the Hedgehog #60
- Sonic the Hedgehog #61
- Sonic the Hedgehog #62
- Sonic the Hedgehog #63
- Knuckles the Echidna #16
- Knuckles the Echidna #17
- Knuckles the Echidna #18
- Sonic the Hedgehog #64
- Sonic the Hedgehog #65
- Sonic the Hedgehog #66
- Knuckles the Echidna #19
- Knuckles the Echidna #20
- Sonic the Hedgehog #67
- Sonic the Hedgehog #68
- Sonic Super Special #8: Sally Moon
- Knuckles the Echidna #22
- Knuckles the Echidna #23
- Knuckles the Echidna #24
- Knuckles the Echidna #25
- Sonic the Hedgehog #69
- Sonic the Hedgehog #70
- Sonic the Hedgehog #71
- Sonic the Hedgehog #72
- Sonic Super Special #9: Sonic Kids 2
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch #28
- Sonic Super Special #10: Crossover Chaos
- Sonic the Hedgehog #73
- Knuckles the Echidna #26
- Knuckles the Echidna #27
- Knuckles the Echidna #28
- Sonic the Hedgehog #74
- Sonic the Hedgehog #75
- Sonic the Hedgehog #76
- Sonic the Hedgehog #77
- Knuckles the Echidna #29
- Sonic Super Special #11 ial #11
- Sonic the Hedgehog #78
- Knuckles the Echidna #30
- Knuckles the Echidna #31
- Knuckles the Echidna #32
- Sonic Super Special #12: Turnabout Heroes
- Sonic the Hedgehog #79
- Sonic the Hedgehog #80
- Sonic the Hedgehog #81
- Sonic the Hedgehog #81
- Sonic Super Special #13: Sonic Adventure
- Sonic the Hedgehog #83
- Sonic the Hedgehog #84
- Sonic the Hedgehog #85
- Sonic the Hedgehog #86
- Sonic the Hedgehog #87
- Sonic Super Special #14: Sonic Stew
- Sonic the Hedgehog #88
- Sonic the Hedgehog #89
- Sonic the Hedgehog #90
- Sonic the Hedgehog #91
- Sonic Super Special #15: Naugus Games
- Sonic the Hedgehog #92
- Sonic the Hedgehog #93
- Sonic the Hedgehog #94
- Sonic the Hedgehog #95
- Sonic the Hedgehog #96
- Sonic the Hedgehog #97
- Sonic the Hedgehog #98
- Sonic the Hedgehog #99
- Sonic the Hedgehog #100
- Sonic the Hedgehog #101
- Sonic the Hedgehog #102
- Sonic the Hedgehog #103
- Sonic the Hedgehog #104
- Sonic the Hedgehog #105
- Sonic the Hedgehog #106
- Sonic the Hedgehog #107
- Sonic the Hedgehog #108
- Sonic the Hedgehog #109
- Sonic the Hedgehog #110
- Sonic the Hedgehog #111
- Sonic the Hedgehog #112
- Sonic the Hedgehog #113
- Sonic the Hedgehog #114
- Sonic the Hedgehog #115
- Sonic the Hedgehog #116
- Sonic the Hedgehog #117
- Sonic the Hedgehog #118
- Sonic the Hedgehog #119
- Sonic the Hedgehog #120
- Sonic the Hedgehog #121
- Sonic the Hedgehog #122
- Sonic the Hedgehog #123
- Sonic the Hedgehog #124
- Sonic the Hedgehog #125
- Sonic the Hedgehog #126
- Sonic the Hedgehog #127
- Sonic the Hedgehog #128
- Sonic the Hedgehog #129
- Sonic the Hedgehog #130
- Sonic the Hedgehog #131
- Sonic the Hedgehog #132
- Sonic the Hedgehog #133
- Sonic the Hedgehog #134
- Sonic the Hedgehog #135
- Sonic the Hedgehog #136
- Sonic the Hedgehog #137
- Sonic the Hedgehog #138
- Sonic the Hedgehog #139
- Sonic the Hedgehog #140
- Sonic the Hedgehog #141
- Sonic the Hedgehog #142
- Sonic the Hedgehog #143
- Sonic the Hedgehog #144
- Sonic the Hedgehog #145
- Sonic the Hedgehog #146
- Sonic the Hedgehog #147
- Sonic the Hedgehog #148
- Sonic the Hedgehog #149
- Sonic the Hedgehog #150
- Sonic the Hedgehog #151
This one’s recommended not because it’s particularly high-quality, but because it’s a good taste of what the first few years of the book were populated with.
This one’s cover story is honestly pretty meh, but the Christmas Carol adaptation is just so delightfully silly that I couldn’t help enjoying myself. I second Bobby’s rec on this one.
Once again seconding Bobby’s recommendation on this one.
Even if the story's tone is still very wacky (seriously, how the hell did they fall for "Free Chili Dogs"?!), for once, Robotnik is actually being as nasty as he's cracked up to be. Aaaaand then the next story of this issue is a stupid "Who's on First" parody. Harvey does come back later, under Ian.
The cover story to this one is pretty lackluster, honestly, but the backup is the first part of the first time we get much character development for Sally. Sadly, apart from a brief flashback, nothing of substance happens in this part.
We do see the first occurence of what will be a staple of Ken Penders' writing; a bunch of meandering exposition monologues with nothing happening, then a cliffhanger the minute something actually happens. Maybe Kanterovich was a sort of Enkidu to Penders' Gilgamesh, because this is FAR from his worst work.
Another lackluster cover story. In part two to the backup, here we see the payoff to that cliffhanger, wherein we meet another shitty tendency of Penders': introducing a character that's supposed to be really close to a pre-established character only to immediately kill them off. Still, we do get a page of Sonic actually acting like a proper boyfriend.
And here's the conclusion to that little arc. Pretty hackneyed, but we do get one final hallmark of Penders' writing: a bizarre fixation what's going to happen 25 years after Robotnik's defeat. On a happier note, we do get to see a story from Scott Shaw! where Tails actually gets to do things.
This one's pretty hokey, but it does introduce a particular character who will prove very, very important much later.
In this issue, we get a pretty fun little story from Angelo DeCesare, and in the backup, we're introduced to Geoffrey St. John, one of the most divisive characters in the series. Sadly, the mini-series the backup leads into isn't that great, due to a really insulting plot twist.
This one and the next both have some really neat art from Archie luminary Patrick Spaziante. This issue also introduces E.V.E., who'll be coming back years from now, and sets up the next issue's beginning.
Another "here's something that'll be important later" story, in particular concerning a brief return of Robo-Robotnik... or is it a different one? Eh, don't worry about it.
This one is really damned fun. Between Robotnik's utter indignation at having to work with the Freedom Fighters, to Antoine doing something genuinely brave while he and Bunnie show their first hints of what'll eventually become the most stable and healthy relationship in the whole series, this one's got a lot going for it. Angelo DeCesare wrote a lot of the better light-hearted stories from this era of the comics.
Hey, look, a Sonic CD adaptation! Just about in time for the PC release, so I wouldn't call it that late. Naturally, this is the debut of both Amy and Met- Sorry, Mecha Sonic. Unfortunately, the only really exceptional thing here is that sweet Pat Spaziante art. Otherwise, it's pretty lackluster: only one zone from the game turns up, there's no time travel involved, and no mention of the Little Planet! I tell ya, Fleetway didn't pull this kind of crap.
The cover story for 28's pretty much a half-baked adaptation of a SatAM episode, and the secondary one is a cheesy Gallagher two-parter that extends into 29, and trails off into the Tails miniseries. The miniseries is pure Gallagher, so it's not terribly well-written. But, if you wanted to see Tails going off on his own adventures, you could do worse.
Hey, it's Uncle Chuck! Getting him back is a pretty major development in the story, so it goes as at least a yellow. Lacks the pathos of this arc's SatAM counterpart, but it's a fairly okay story on its own.
Hooooooo, BOY, have I been waiting to get to this one. Looking at the cover, you might be thinking "Hey, Paph, this one actually looks kind of cool, in a gross way." Well, my friend, Pat Spaziante can made just about anything look cool. Now, a Fantastic Voyage-style story could've been fun, under the right pen, but Gallagher's sure as hell wasn't it. Combine constant gross-out shots with "humor" that would've been out of place in a late-70's Hannah Barbara cartoon, and you've got an extra-potent stinkeroo! If you wanna see early Archie Sonic at its worst, this is it!
Alright, so the first story in this issue actually is actually kinda good, despite Penders being the sole author. Hell, it's the first time a story from these comics actually feels like it's progressing the main plot. In fact, this is roughly the point where the comic starts feeling like a proper narrative, albeit a very clumsy one for now. If you're jumping into this one, and thinking you've missed a lot of building up to this point... you haven't! There's been some hints at the quest to get King Max back, but it's been so in-the-background that this arc still feels very abrupt. So, why is this issue a purple? Well, let's just say that the cover story takes things in a weird, very un-SatAM direction, and the backup is when Knuckles' backstory starts getting especially crazy.
Oh, man, does it feel good to finally recommend another one for real. The cover story's another eventful one, but the real star here is the backup. Yep, this is the Bunnie's Nightmare story Bobby mentioned in her list! It's funny how, after three years of practically nothing in the way of development for most of these characters (we do see a little of Tails coming out of his shell, and Ant turning into the brave hero he'd become later), Bunnie ends up being the first character to really get much of a proper character portrait.
IT'S HERE! We're finally at the fabled Mecha Madness arc! And it's everything it's cracked up to be. If you like big dumb fight scenes, you owe it to yourself to give this one a read.
Wow, where to start with this one. The art here is downright terrible, and the dialogue... Eugh. We do get to see some interesting time/space fuckery in this one, though, and an insight into King Acorn's past. If you like weird, you could do worse than this one.
You know, this one gets points for having Art Mawhinney drawing some surprisingly good action scenes. Also, the Knuckles backup story starts with a really cute scene.
Ho-lee SHIT, is this one infamous, and for good damned reason! I dunno what's worse, the art, the writing, the utter breakage of anything resembling continuity from this series up to this point, or the fact that Penders' poor son and niece had to get roped into it all. If you wanted to see a perfect example of just why everyone hates Penders so much, look no further than here, my friend.
Hey, look, more plot. It's starting to fall a little bit more in line with this story's SatAM counterpart, though with Archie Sonic's trademark lunacy, of course. Lots of great Spaziante art in this issue, too, during the flashback scenes.
This one feels a lot like an episode of SatAM, honestly, even if it's otherwise kind of average. The art is often pretty nice, though, and there's some fun worldbuilding.
And here we have yet more plot. We get an interesting little tidbit about Antoine's backstory, and some future conflict is set up.
The first Sonic Super Special, and... well, given what era of the comics this is, it's not much to write home about. We get the latest detour on the "save King Max" sidequest, and an introduction to Mammoth Mogul, an obvious Kingpin expy who wouldn't really become compelling until Flynn got his hands on him. Meanwhile, we do get a story where Antoine is an actual competent soldier instead of just part of the peanut gallery.
And here comes one of the most infamous arcs in the whole thing; between attempting to kill off Sally (yes, she was really supposed to be dead when Penders wrote this!), the utterly asinine plot riddled with more holes than a dish sponge, and the utter self-important melodrama of it all, Endgame is the absolute nadir of the comics' dark ages. Be very grateful the comics eventually moved on from this.
(As an aside, trigger warning for unrealistically-depicted domestic abuse)
Hoooo boy, here comes the best worst part of this comic's whole run. I know I keep saying "here comes so-and-so", but trust me, the Knuckles series has definitely earned its reputation. If you've ever seen one of those "out of context" panels from Archie, and Knuckles was in it, there's a very good chance that this series is where that came from. It's hackneyed and dumb and weird, and I highly recommend it if you're a shit-lover like me.
Guys, I dunno about you, but I'm celebrating right now. Why? Because this is where the comic takes a massive leap up in quality! You could start reading either here or the next issue, and not have missed much. Mostly, this issue just sets up an upcoming conflict, but the art is nice.
Nothing too spectacular here, but this one's backup story does mark the debut of one of my favorite writers for the book: Karl Bollers! I know he's not all that well-liked in the fandom, what with him having written the infamous Sally Slap and all, but despite some questionable writing choices in his later years on the book, he's by far the first writer whose work was consistently fun to read. As we'll be seeing soon, he'd go on to write some of my all-time favorite arcs from this comic.
Here's a major milestone, as far as the overarching narrative goes. Namely, the reintroduction of Sonic's parents, and the fallout therefrom.
After a brief story from Penders (yuck), Bollers' first proper issue begins, and he wastes no time in setting up shop. Introducing Naugus and his cronies, giving us a moment where Sonic and Sally actually act like they care about each other, and generally stringing together all the loose odds and ends into a coherent narrative are all things you can thank Bollers for in this issue.
This one's pretty alright. The second story gives us a little exploration of Robotnik's character motivations (a little late for that, don'cha think?), the third one is just a fun, goofy little bit with Sonic, Sally, and Antoine's characters all bouncing off each other.
And here we get another one of Bollers' strong suits; making Sonic feel like a real teenager and well-rounded, flawed character, rather than a sassy quip machine.
Relatively weak cover story, and Bollers setting up more conflict. Not bad, but nothing spectacular.
Well, the King Acorn arc sure went out in style. Give it a whirl.
Wait, whaaaaaat? Penders wrote a story I liked? Yeah, who'da thunk it. This is mostly a fun, straightforward romp, and it even features Rob o' the Hedge! Yeah, a Penders character I liked even under his own pen. Guess that's two stories of his I've liked unironically on this list, so far. And, of course, it's backed up by the introduction of the infamous Source of All. Nothing too offensive yet, but it'll get there.
Just a part two to that aforementioned issue. Seriously, Ken, why couldn't you have just kept writing stories like this?! Of course, once Sonic and Tails fly off, it's all the usual echidna bullshit, so you can stop reading this issue there if you want. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.
Knock knock, it's Knuckles again. This particular arc is near and dear to my heart; if you thought the last batch of Knuckles comics was weird, you ain't seen shit. Yes, this is the one where Charmy's friend dies of an LSD overdose (even though that shouldn't even be possible), and the other Chaotix all trip balls. We do at least get to meet Harry, who's pretty decent.
The middle story of this issue is noteworthy for being the debut of one Steven Butler, one of my favorite pencillers on the book. While his output on the book over the years was fairly mixed, he makes a good first impression here.
Well, what have we, here? Yes, another one of Bobby's recommendations, and I wholeheartedly second it! If you had any doubts about Bollers' writing before now, this should quash 'em pretty fast.
Hey, look, they've finally met Naugus... and look who else it is!
It's Nate Morgan! And wow, does he make a good first impression, integrating very neatly within the existing framework of the comic's lore, having his own little character arc in this and the next issue, and being the first person above 50 years old in these comics to be friendly and forthcoming with plot-critical info. Sadly, after this point, he'll kinda just be... there. Ah well.
In addition to the Big Dumb Fight of the cover story, we get a very... interesting origin story for Naugus. It's the exact kind of pulp fantasy nonsense I live for.
Speaking of pulp! This one's straight outta Indiana Jones and Conan. A fun, straightforward little story to cap off the World Tour arc.
Sonic and Tails are back in town! The other Freedom fighters can be relevant, again! Also, it's Prince Elias! He sure does exist, doesn't he. Ken mostly just dropped him for the other authors to write, thus why people seem to like him.
Ohhhh, fuck, here's where Penders' bizarre attempt at getting political came into play. Yes, this is the one that began with a paraphrase of That Holocaust Poem to be about hedgehogs. Why the hell did they let this see print, again?
*cackles with glee* Here it is! That infamous "had a bad dream, better microwave the baby" scene came from this very issue!
This one's just a part 1 to a greater arc, but I like the little bits of characterization, mixed with Butler's great pencil work.
Continuing from the previous issue, Bollers once more makes good use of what he's been given. By this point, this book's finally feeling like a real comic book! Also, Paul Castiglia expands a little on Sonic's guilt over the events of #63, as well as a minor piss-take on Sonic's fanbase. Not bad.
I don't know why both this and Sonic the Comic felt the need to explain away Sonic's design change, but of the two comic continuities, this one was more creative with that particular plot point.
This has to be the most "green" entries in a row on this list, and hot damn is this one worthy of it. That's right, Robotnik is BACK! Bollers has been building up to this story for years by this point, and hot damn does he bring the ol' tyrant back with style. One could also argue this is another decent starting point for new readers, since it offers a Robotnik-tinged recap of the important plot points Bollers would expand on. And then we get a dumb gun PSA from Penders, because of course.
Admit it, you did a double take just then. Yes, this particular issue's cover story is a crossover with Sonic, and it's as asinine as you'd expect. Honestly, I probably would've loved this as a kid. Also, Gallagher and Manak feel so much more "in their element" on Sabrina than they do Sonic, which explains a lot. Drawing blue hedgehogs is a specialized field.
So, yeah... This sure was a thing that happened. I'm sorry, I just can't think of anything to say about this one. More Sabrina, and a crossover with Sonic Underground of all things. It also has the honor of having a pin-up of one of the few times Ron Lim (who is otherwise a good artist, mind you) actually drew Sonic right.
Not too much happens in this one, but we do get a nice bit of Elias's character getting developed.
Wow, I think this is the absolute worst the Knuckles comics ever got. Between the utter lack of plot on the front stories, the rampant toxic heterosexuality on display, and the art that falls further and further into the Uncanny Valley with each page, this particular arc is infamous for good reason. Whether or not you should skip to #28 depends on how fast you want to fry your brain.
He's baaaaaaack! This story's a hell of a lot of fun. Space stations, personal stakes for Sonic, and a wonderfully rotten Robotnik.
Yep! Bollers went back and used a character introduced all the way back in '95 to bring back Robotnik! Of course, there's the problem of him conflating the issue #19 Robo-Robotnik with the #22 one despite them being seemingly different people, but... Eh, I think he pulls it off convincingly enough. Plus, I like the idea of a Robotnik that's so utterly petty that, even when he's won in his own universe, he has to track down and defeat the one that stopped him that one time years ago.
Between Snively being roped into helping the FFs, Fry's spectacular pencilwork, and the introduction of Mina Mongoose, this one's a pretty solid arc.
Nice little issue with some good character scenes. The bit at the end with King Max in particular stands out as one of the few times he's not a douche.
It's time for another Good Idea/Bad Idea! Good Idea: putting out a Special all about the most prominent girl characters in your book. Bad Idea: letting Ken Penders write that Special all about the most prominent girl characters in your book.
Sally is once again rendered impotent by the men around her. Hershey kind of just exists Lupe and her family ger roboticized in an utterly gut-wrenching story that ends with a shot of her gravestone (despite her thankfully being technically alive).
We get a bunch of backstory for Pink Knuckles that nobody gives a shit about. There's not a single redeeming feature in this shitsho-
wait, Bunnie got a story? And it actually marks a crucial turning point in her character arc, complete with a sweet scene between her and Antoine?
... Damn. That makes three Penders stories now that I actually liked. That old cliche about a stopped clock applies here, I guess.
Wow, so much genuine pathos in this issue. It's nice seeing how everyone's feeling about what's been happening, lately. Sonic in particular feels like a real character, here, which Bollers excelled at.
Finally, no more of these damned Knuckles comics.
This special's title story isn't anything to write home about, but the second story from Dan Slott is some very fun stuff indeed, with an AU featuring all of Sonic's friends mutated into kaiju, and a gut-wrenching plot twist. A fan favorite, in its day, and a solid story to this day.
And here begins the Sonic Adventure adaptation! I have a lot to say on this one, but for now I'll just say that you have to commend the writing staff for molding years of pre-established canon into a shape that lets SA's plot play out.
More great character drama in the first story, but then Penders takes over and fills the rest with endless chatter. Eugh.
More continuity-wrangling. It's pretty cool seeing some locations from the game in the first story, at least.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for SA, but seeing all these scenes from the game faithfully rendered in the comics' art styles is a treat, even if the actual writing is held together by scotch tape.
Look, Ron Lim is a good artist, but you can tell he struggles with proper cartoon characters like Sonic and co. When you don't have as many Pretty Pictures to distract you from writing that's heavily lifted from the game, it's not as fun.
Luckily, Butler took over for this issue, and it looks a hell of a lot better.
Butler is still on duty, but Penders is the one writing this issue, and suffice to say, he completely misses the point of SA's story just when it matters most.
SA's story wasn't great or anything, but its core message was one of overcoming cycles of violence through empathy.
In the game, the whole Big Dumb Fight with Super Sonic was just a means of getting all the rage and hatred out of Chaos's system, while Super Sonic's brute-force Power of Friendship helped it detox from the negative power it had absorbed.
Here, Sonic and Knuckles take it out like any other beastie, and then it and Tikal unceremoniously GTFO. And then, of course, there's the racist bullshit with the cat people. Oh well, could've been a lot worse, all things considered.
Did somebody say "Big Dumb Fight against a random background element from SA?" Yeah, I'm all aboard for this. Ron Lim's wonky Sonic art thankfully doesn't detract from how great he is at drawing action scenes, and how Bollers is at writing them.
Rising stakes, an epic assault on Robotropolis, and a great character moment for Sonic to boot? Yes, please.
More good character drama in this issue.
Hey, look, it's Mina! Say what you will about the insufferable editor-mandated love triangle she got roped into, she's actually a pretty believable character that would go on to become one of the better-developed side characters in the book.
Rotor's back! Sadly, he doesn't have much involvement in the plot, but at least he's back in town. Otherwise, nothing too spectacular happens in this issue. Turns out Uncle Chuck's back in action, though.
Oooooh, this one's rancid. This one was drawn by the mysterious "Many Hands", and WOW does their art reek. This one was so bad, they actually never reprinted it. Thankfully, it did get redrawn as a flashback sequence in the 2011(!) Free Comic Book Day special. Feel free to skip ahead and read that one now, if you want.
The writing for this issue is fine, and introduces one of the best arcs in the comics, but the art... is 100% traced from other issues! Yeah, I shit you not! That's just how bad the quality control for this comic was, during this period.
Much better. Sonic meets actual consequences for his mistakes, and for once it's actually his fault. Elias and Geoffrey have some intrigue going on.
This issue's great. Love the awkward interactions between Robotnik and his brother, here. We even get one of my favorite little gags, in this issue.
Also, Hope! She'll be important, pretty soon. Not a fan of the high school nonsense the editor shoved in, but it's thankfully only temporary.
More of what I liked in the previous issue, basically. I especially love the scene with Hope. She's the first well-developed small child character in these comics who really feels like an actual little kid, which is going to make what happens to her that much more heartbreaking.
The art in this issue feels like the penciller (one Nelson Ribeiro) just used one of those ReSaurus Sonic figures as a model, and copied it as literally as possible. We do get some plot development, at least.
Nelson's still here, but thankfully Harvey Mercadocasio helped out a lot, particularly with Sonic. Snively looks like a Chucky doll, though. Whatever the case, the art seriously degraded partway through the issue. I won't try and point fingers (er, talons) here, though.
Yeah, I agree with Bobby on this one. Even if it's incomplete (and would remain so until Sonic Universe #2, years later), the art here is amazing. If you find yourself wanting more, feel free to jump ahead to the aforementioned Sonic Universe issue before coming back.
Just some buildup to the next issue.
Hell yeah! Yes, another Bobby rec. But lord howdy, is this one hell of a climactic way to cap off 100 issues.
This one's pretty trippy, though not much of substance really happens. Yes, Nate's really gone, now.
This one's got a lot going on. Between hinting at a conflict between Sally and the always-creepy Source of All, bringing Elias's self-doubt to the fore in the most mortifying way possible, and King Max's true colors starting to show, this one's a doozy of an episode.
More stellar character writing, this time with a focus on King Max's obsession with Elias being the heir to his throne. And, of course, Robotnik pulling out his most cruel plan to date. Yeah, I won't deny it: as far as cartoon villains go, Neo-Robotnik is one of my favorites.
This one's a bit of a mixed bag; on one hand, we do get to see Sally's diplomacy skills, but on the other, the cover story doesn't go anywhere beyond a brief fight scene.
I think this is the first time I've ever had to put a trigger warning on a non-Penders issue, even one I've said was a hard skip.
I mean, yeah, Endgame dealt with domestic abuse in an equally sloppy way, but Dulcy's abuser gets much more physical, almost comically so.
Drago at least had a modicum of Gaston-esque charisma going for him, while Zan is literally nothing but "RAWR I'M MR. ABUSE". This issue is a big thing people bring up when criticizing Bollers, and this is one case where I actually agree.
Oh, lord. So, full disclosure, "Benny Lee" is actually Bollers writing under a pen name.
Apparently he'd been getting a lot of criticism about his work being a little too soap operatic (which it can be, at times), so he tried to branch out and more light-hearted stories as Benny. To be fair on this particular case, the original Robotnik was a much sillier character than his replacement, so I'd argue Bollers
was just writing him in-character.
As stupid as this plot is, seeing OG Robotnik be such a dumbass is kind of funny. Also, we get a nice little recap of Hope's subplot from her perspective, complete with art from the much-beloved J.Axer.
Thank Gosh, Bollers finally resolved that stupid subplot with Rotor's family. And then the backup story ends up being a long failure of the Bechdel Test. Siiiigh.
Yep, this is the one where Robotropolis gets nuked, meaning the cast is stuck living in Knothole from here on out. Not even a hint of pathos here, either (though I'd argue that Robotropolis was already unlivable anyway, so destroying it was more of a formality at this point). On the plus side, we finally get to see the Source of All at its absolute creepiest. Originally, Bollers had planned to reveal that it wasn't as benevolent as it seemed, and was in fact an eldritch entity using the Acorn lineage for its own gain. Sadly, this is all we get of that plotline.
Much better. We get a story where Sally firmly refuses the Sword's plans for her, a fun story with Rob o' the Hedge, and Sonic coming out to Tails as asexual. ... Okay, maybe not, but you can't tell me it wouldn't make sense.
Huh, an all-Bollers issue. Sadly, the first story's pretty asinine, but the second one is pretty heartwarming, albeit brief.
This issue's an anachronism if I've ever seen one. A direct adaptation of a SatAM episode in 2002, almost a decade after the show's cancellation. Worse yet, this is another one of those issues that never saw a reprint, with good reason. This one's got some of the worst art in the book. Just look at it, and remind yourself "someone was paid real money for this".
This one always stuck out to me as being one of the weirder continuity tidbits, and while Bollers wrote it, it's all technically Penders' fault. The Tails we've had with us for some 20 issues now? A fake. Yep, for almost two years, the Tails that's been palling around as practically a background character has been a fake, one that unceremoniously gets killed off here.
The cover story's pretty "meh", but on the plus side, we get a smorgasbord of Spaziante sketches.
This one's got a fun little bit with Sonic raiding Robotropolis. The backup story, meanwhile, is a Big Dumb Fight between Bunnie and Rouge, drawn by J. Axer!
Here we get another Big Dumb Fight that's more of a curbstomp than anything, but it does introduce the BEM, who will be very important, soon.
So, Sonic and Tails stopping a gigantic Caterkiller, Bunnie beating the crap out of some robians, and Nicole being her usual sassy self as Rotor tries to hack her. Not a bad issue.
This issue starts out with a sobering reality check on why Mina isn't going to be joining the FFs, but does hint at what she'll eventually be doing. Otherwise, nothing too notable.
Checking in on Prince Elias, and Mina blooming into a proper Songoose.
Only one notable story in this issue, but it's the first part of a story that gets a lot better in the second half.
Hey, look! Sally gets to do something clever and resourceful! And we get the start of one of the best arcs in the whole comic, bar none. Stay tuned.
Shadow's back! Better yet, we get to meet the Xorda! They're nasty motherfuckers, for sure. And of course, the plot twist that's been foreshadowed for years and years has finally been brought to fruition.
And here it all comes to a head, with as big and flashy a climax as you could hope for. But we're not done yet! This is just the beginning...
Hellll yeah. After issues and issues of soap opera shit, it's nice to see an arc that's pure pulp sci-fi, Sonic-style. Also, any fellow Sonic the Comic fans, can I get a "fuck yeah!"? Yep, it's a portrayal of Super Sonic straight outta Fleetway.
This one's straight out of a Twilight Zone episode. Can't say much else, because of that.
Well, if it isn't E.V.E. Turns out, she took Sonic's advice of "surpass your programming and become your own person" to mean "become a genocidal mechanical hellplanet". We get some neat visuals in this one.
And here we are, guys, the conclusion of the Tossed in Space arc. Honestly, it's nice to see what happened to Tails's parents after all these years.
Between the massive changes that happened in the year of Sonic's absence, and the sudden and massive rise of stakes, this one's a good start to the new status quo.
An issue of buildup, basically.
A few really cool (and silly) things happen this issue... Problem is, Dave Manak is doing the pencils, and it really undermines the impact of it all. We also see hints of the conflict between Sally and King Max starting to escalate.
Much better. Between M going full Terminator, and Bunnie being cool as hell, this one's a fun romp. We also get a glimpse of just how badly the past year's broken Sally.
Oh, Gosh's hairy belly, is this one gonna be an unpopular take. Yes, I actually like this issue, in spite of how it ends. For starters, this is the debut of fan favorite Jon Gray. He can do serious and silly moments with equal skill, as we'll be seeing over the course of his run. So, to address the elephant in the room (second time I've used that cliche): yes, the Slap absolutely was as hamfisted as people make it out to be, but it does make sense in context. Between the trauma of losing Sonic for a year, the stress of being told she can't do shit by her overbearing father, and now Sonic getting ready to put his life on the line all over again, Sally is not in a good place. If you want a more thorough analysis of this scene, Bobby's got you covered.
Well, now that that little fiasco's done with, let's have one of the best arcs in the book, and the second-to-last Bobby rec I'll be seconding. If you've ever thought "gee, Penders sure did make a lot of Knuckles clones, could someone ever actually do something interesting with them?", the answer is "yes", and "Bollers did it". This arc's pretty much the big one I point people to when defending Bollers, and with good reason; it's fun, it has real dramatic weight without going too far over the edge, and resolves Knuckles's power-loss subplot elegantly.
So, real talk. I've put trigger warnings on two issues now, but this one has to be the case that most personally disgusted me. The other two cases were ham-fisted depictions of domestic abuse.
This one involves flat-out rape-by-deception. I'm not even kidding. You know, I'll let Bobby do the talking
again. This happened in a comic aimed at 8/10-year-olds. On the plus(?) side, this is the issue that gave us Titan Tails. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to throw up.
Time to cap this list off with the last Bobby rec, and the last pre-Flynn rec, period. Yes, this is the sapphic Sally/Nicole story, and it's beautiful.
And that's all, folks! From here, you can safely skip to #160, where Ian took over!
One last thing before I end this page. Seeing as Archie's old continuity got brough to an abrupt end via reboot, you're probably wondering why you should even get invested at all.
Well, thankfully there's Archie Sonic Online an excellent fan continuation of that continuity online, so if you wanted to see more of the old gang, here you go.
With all that said, thank you everyone for reading this list. Hope you enjoy reading through these. ^,=,^