Sonic Live! Special
Archie Comics Publications (1997)
EDITOR: J. Freddy Gabrie
“The Last Game Cartridge Hero”
WRITER/ARTIST: Ken Penders
COLORIST: Karl Bollers
LETTERER: Vickie Williams
“The Substitute Freedom Fighters”
WRITER/INKER: Rick Koslowski
PENCILER: Art Mawhinney
COLORIST: Karl Bollers
LETTERER: Mindy Eisman
“Knuckles Quest” part 2
WRITERS/PENCILS: Kent Taylor & Pat Spaziante
INKERS: Andrew Peopy
LETTERER: Jeff Powell
In our main feature, Sonic is blasted by Robotnik, who has kidnapped the other Freedom Fighters and has Sally in a mind-locking helmet. However, Sonic isn’t dead but in some between zone thanks to a prototype device in the real world that some Sega employees have for some reason. So Sonic teams with two Earth children (played in live action photos by Pender’s son and niece according to the Mobius Encyclopedia) in order to foil Robotnik’s plan to take over the multiverse. Sonic returns to his universe to find his friends all freed and the kids return home to play more Sonic games.
So apparently Penders decided to put his kids fanfic in an official comic, because that’s what this all feels like. The story is a mess. There’s no reason for Sonic to end up between the real world and Mobius, it’s never explained why presumable Sega Of America (given the employees Sonic, Stevie, and Jessie meet in Robotnik’s zone are all American) has some prototype that sends people through the multiverse after a lightning strike, and Jessie really doesn’t do anything since Stevie is the Sonic game fanboy, even knowing a game code (the code is real) that helps save the day. For some reason Robotnik’s zone has all the humans looking like bad anime attempts while Stevie and Jessie look like normal humans when drawn in Sonic’s world and the between zone, but photos are used for the real world. Overall this story rather terrible and really does feel like Penders wanted to do something for his son and niece. It’s just too bad he also inflicted it on unsuspecting Sonic readers.
While that story isn’t canon, the follow-up to it is, explaining how the Freedom Fighters were captured and freed during that adventure. Rotor was testing out a new micro camera when Robotnik’s Swatbots show up in the area. Without Sonic the others head out to stop them, though we aren’t shown just HOW they were caught. Instead Larry Lynx happens to see Rotor’s camera feed and learns they were captured and something happened to Sonic. So he gathers some other background characters to rescue the regular Freedom Fighters and are tasked with becoming the Substitute Freedom Fighters. Not a very exciting story, and Mobius Encyclopedia says it’s canon. I don’t understand this, either.
As for the Knuckles story…why bother putting part two of the “Knuckles Quest” story here? It’s five pages of not much. Knuckles fights a bunch of storybook monsters before realizing these are illusions created by the Charlatan from the Walkers’ prophecy. He’s a wizard formerly in service of the King and shares Tails’ last name Prower. (Tails’ real name is Miles Prower. Get it? Get it? DO YOU GET IT BECAUSE ITS SO SUBTLE! At least it works as a name though.) Magic Prower doesn’t know where the sword is but tells Knuckles his next clue is in some realm called the Land Of Dark. We do see Knuckles use his head and actually shows a bit of respect to the guy he’s visiting but otherwise this story was just here to force you to buy the comic and follow this arc. It should have been saved for the regular comic.
In the end the only reason to get this comic is to be a completist. The main story is fanfic, the first back-up story is officially tied to fanfic, and the final story isn’t enough to warrant any of this.