Everyone loves a good disaster movie. A group of people living their normal lives, suddenly forced to deal with natural forces beyond their control. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, you name it. Some people watch them just so they can see famous landmarks explode. Others because they like to imagine themselves in a similar situation, wondering if they could get out of it alive. A classic form of the human struggle, people banding together against incredible odds.
Most of these stories don’t have a crazed antagonist behind them. There might be some selfish person who looks to capitalize on what is going on for their own personal gain, but rarely are they the one behind it. Not to say there aren’t movies where a crazy scientist has figured out how to make earthquakes and terrorizes the world for money. You just don’t find that in most fiction of this sort. That slips into science-fiction territory, which has entirely different goals in mind.
When you’re dealing with the type of disasters like the one presented in Mobius: 25 Years Later, however, you can’t just leave it be as something out of the character’s hands. If you are building the final chapter to a sweeping epic, you need an antagonist worthy of what is happening around the characters. Crisis On Infinite Earths, the DC maxi-series I cited earlier and a clear inspiration to the “crazy weather” plot, knew this. The weather was a precursor to the end of existence, but as the story unfolded, it was discovered that it was all part of a design by a character known as the Anti-Monitor. A being so evil that he wanted to destroy the universe, leaving only that which he controlled. There was something the heroes could actually fight against. A final chapter that stayed true to everything that had come before it. Not panel after panel of scientists trying to find a solution.
“Scenario” from Sonic the Hedgehog #141 gives us plenty of the latter, unfortunately. The scene opens with Cobar staring at a printout full of fake Mobius lettering. The news isn’t good at all, though everything in his life must be since he aged into a permanently distressed face. The calculations that Rotor made all the way back in the beginning of this story are still holding true, though I don’t know why we need to be told that’s the case again. The readout tells the scientific pair that not only is Rotor right, but that whatever is threatening the universe is accelerating. Even though Rotor’s calculations are on the mark, which means that it accelerating was exactly what was predicted. Which is worse than what they feared. I feel like this whole exchange is going in a circle, with them just reconfirming over and over again that bad things are about to happen. Have they tried to do anything else?
Before they can continue what must be foreplay, Sonic and Knuckles appear out of nowhere, Cobar shocked that Knuckles found them. Wait, wasn’t there a panel a couple issues back showing Knuckles standing in Cobar’s lab, discussing things? And Rotor’s there, no way this place can be some secret underground bunker. The melting Echidna asks the Guardian how he found them, Knuckles refusing to share his trade secrets with Lien-Da‘s favorite scientist. This piece of information makes Sonic suddenly wary of the entire meeting, though I’m not sure why. Yes, she is part of the Dark Legion and all, but Sally Acorn was, only a few issues ago, super excited at the prospect of having dinner with her. If everything is supposed to be entirely different in the future, everyone sure is acting exactly the same. Knuckles tries to calm down Sonic by having him focus on why they’re breaking into Cobar’s lab in the first place, and Rotor calls Sonic “sire.” Didn’t Sonic and Rotor grow up together in Knothole and form a camaraderie in their formative years that helped them as they became Freedom Fighters to defeat the evil Dr. Robotnik? Does he really need to use formal titles to talk to one of his best friends? And…why does Sonic need to wear that crown all the time?! It doesn’t even look as nice as the one featured on the cover of Sonic #131. In fact, that cover was the only time he wore the proper one! Instead, this flimsy piece of gold has been glued to Sonic’s head the entire time. Contrary to popular belief, the royals do not wear crowns 24/7.
With time being of the essence, we of course jump over to catch up with Julie-Su, laying awake. Yep, she’s wearing that nightgown again, with detail to her bare leg as she crawls out of bed. Seems she’s always dressed to impress. Impress who, I have no idea. Ok, that’s a lie, I’ve got some idea, but I’d rather not dwell on it. Walking downstairs, she finds Queen Sally, also lounging about in her sleepware. Is it possible neither of them can fall asleep because the severity of the situation has hit them? Eh, the comic doesn’t tell us. The only thing they can talk about is how their husbands aren’t home, Sally still preoccupied about her husband’s mid-life crisis. While it’s nice she cares about Sonic’s well being, there are other, more important things at stake. Not to mention…why aren’t the two of them with Sonic and Knuckles right now? Surely they should want to be a part of this midnight meeting? At the very least, Sally should be. Didn’t Sonic admit that he isn’t cut out for the duties of king? Sally should be right there on the front lines, even if it isn’t a traditional battle. Guess we couldn’t see the two of them in nightgowns if they were hanging out with Cobar, though. Characterization be damned!
We get into the techno-speak, with Sonic saying the phrase “entropic buildup” with a straight face. Guess he is older, after all! Sonic questions how Rotor can’t explain what is going on, with the walrus simply explaining that it is the breaking down of the space/time continuum on the quantum level. That’s nice and all, Boomer, but that isn’t what Sonic asked. Wasn’t this all basically explained in the beginning of the story? Or is it because we’ve been reading this for almost a year that Ken felt the need to reaffirm why we’re even here?
Cobar tells everyone that this is normally a naturally occurring phenomenon (wait…the breaking down of space and time normally happens anyway?) but the current state of affairs traces back to Sonic. The king is perturbed, especially as Knuckles rubs it in his face. The undead Echidna scientist goes on to say that he and Rotor have narrowed down the specific moment all of this insanity began to three options: Sonic’s first journey on the Cosmic Interstate back in Sonic #11 (though the flashback they use depicts the events of Sonic #19), the Ultimate Annihilator going off during the climax of Endgame, and the destruction of the Quantum Dial in Sonic #125.
Remember that whole “Knuckles died and came back to life” plot? Well, that ended with Knuckles helping everyone against an alien invasion. The Xorda, some weird squid civilization, had traveled to Mobius millennia before back when it was Earth, and decided to wipe out all life on it due to a misunderstanding caused by Robotnik’s distant ancestor. The “gene bomb” didn’t go as planned, and while most of humanity did die, it caused the animals of the planet to evolve super quickly, forming the Mobius seen in the comic. In Sonic the Hedgehog #125, the aliens came back to finish the job once they realized there were still intelligent living beings there. Instead of another bomb, the aliens figured it’d be easier to just create a black hole to destroy everything nearby. The device, called the Quantum Dial, was dropped in the middle of the arctic, Sonic almost killing himself trying to stop it from going off. While everyone thought our hedgehog hero was dead, Sonic ended up in space for a year, Sally slapping him in the face when he came back alive and kicking. Yes, all very convoluted. No, not a product of Ken Penders. But apparently he liked it enough, seeing as the Quantum Dial incident is the one Rotor and Cobar feel was the most likely cause of their latest predicament. Gee, go ahead and blame Sonic for this, but then forget to mention that if Sonic hadn’t done anything, they’d all be dead anyway. The other two choices would have made a lot more sense. Sonic first went on the Cosmic Interstate because he was lazy, and the Ultimate Annihilator was already shown to have messed with space and time! The Quantum Dial, even if the aliens said it did mess with space and time, just created a big ol’ black hole. Which Sonic stopped from happening.
Sonic and Knuckles both question how they know it was one of these three events, citing zone hopping, the Dark Legions shenanigans, and Knuckles’ moments as being a crazy green guy. The scientific duo reassure them they are right since they have the power of science, Sonic asking what they can do now that they know the exact cause. Basically? Nothing, except give them support, aka bring them food as they type furiously on their computers.
Sonic and Knuckles wander away, telling the pair to make sure they get things right the first time. Set to get back to work, they are unexpectedly joined by Lien-Da, who asks Cobar just what he’s been hiding from her. Rotor looks confused, and the chapter ends. I feel like a lot was supposed to be answered in this chapter, but instead it was just reconfirmation of facts we already know. We know the space/time continuum is in a state of collapse. We know that Sonic has something to do with it. We know Sonic is being skeptical, then believing every word without any sort of convincing. And we know that Lien-Da is…doing something. We don’t even get a scenario in the story like the title promises! It feels like Ken needed to write this because he forgot what the heck he was doing. Eleven months in, that isn’t how this should be reading.
“Moment of Truth” picks up the following morning, with Knuckles laying in bed. Unlike Julie-Su, he fell asleep fully clothed. Groggily regaining consciousness, images of the night before flash in his mind, including Cobar telling him that they only have a year at most before everything is destroyed. A nice piece of information that should have been in the last part, but wasn’t. The recap box also vaguely references Sally and Julie-Su staying awake to greet them home, their wives apparently just sitting calmly by and doing nothing as their husbands are worried over the big issues.
The last image floating over his head before he decides to get up and eat breakfast is his daughter, Lara-Su. Is it him being worried that she might not have a future? That he would be unable to save the one thing most dear to his heart? Nope, he’s just remembering her incessant whining about wanting to be a Guardian. As Knuckles walks downstairs, he gets to relive the argument as Lara ambushes him, nearly giving him a heart attack. She tells her father about how she ran into an old friend of his, this mystery guest asking if she had begun her Guardian training. With a goofy face of exasperation, Knuckles reaffirms his stance from the beginning of the story. She does try to push things further, saying people sometimes change their mind, Knuckles replying, “It’s called accepting the consequences of one’s actions.” I…I don’t know what that means. That implies his refusal to let his daughter become Guardian is because she is being punished, not because he feels the entire practice should be retired. An odd contradiction that doesn’t get followed up in the slightest.
Knuckles does ask her who the old friend was, but before the reader can find out, we jump back to Rotor and Cobar, who have stayed up all night doing God knows what. Trying to run simulations to find a solution to the end of the world, every screen in Cobar’s lab has the phrase “Insufficient Data.” Although the pair were able to discover the breakdown of the space/time continuum, and could even extrapolate the most likely point this all began, apparently they do not have enough information to even begin trying to find a solution. The only way to gather enough data is by studying the phenomenon, watching what it does over time, the only resource they’re in short supply of. That’s when Rotor’s powerful Walrus Brain [tm] comes alive with a crazy suggestion: time travel.
Remember way back in Sonic #132? When we were told about the vague bad thing that was about to happen? How Rotor said it would be nice if they had the ability to travel through time, but it was impossible? Apparently he forgot about that. His melting partner tells Rote that even if time travel was possible, its research had been banned long ago by Echidna scientists. Rotor tells him that it wasn’t the Echidnas he was thinking about, Cobar confused as to where else technology of that sort could exist. Did I forget to mention that the Echidnas are the most technologically superior race on Mobius? Even though they banned most technology for hundreds of years?
Back on Angel Island, Queen Sally tries to get her husband to open up, seeing as he’s been quiet most of the morning. He finally talks to her about how uncomfortable he feels, and that she should have been the one at the meeting the night before, as she’s the real power on the throne. Wait, isn’t that what I just said? Sally tries to comfort him by saying she’s never pulled rank on him, but Sonic says that if they weren’t dealing with Knuckles, Rotor would have gone to her instead of him. Wait, what?! Back during “In Transit,” it sounded like Rotor had to come up with something really good to convince Sonic that he had to talk to Knuckles about the end of the world, since he was King and in charge. Wouldn’t it have been easier for Rotor to go to Sally first, and then have the Queen convince her husband that he was needed? But apparently Sally outranks Sonic anyway? So why is he called King? Why wasn’t she actually at the meeting the night before? Or was she just trying to be nice? When can a commoner become King just because he marries someone destined to be Queen? What monarchy has ever worked that way? And why is Knuckles even involved in the first place?! Wasn’t it Rotor who came up with everything, and Cobar was just double checking his work?!
Oh right. Ken Penders.
Knuckles gets Sonic’s attention, saying there’s a call on the videophone. We get Sonic’s first action shot, an extreme angle where he is actually running. Not even the fastest thing alive can resist Knuckles’ den! On the phone is Rotor and Cobar. Throughout the entire conversation, the pair fight for screen time, even though there’s enough space for both of them to be in the frame. The scientific duo tell the friendly rivals that they’ve only come up with one feasible plan of action, and need the king’s approval to even attempt it. I’m glad they had to gather all the resources of the Echidnas and the Kingdom of Acorn for Rotor to spend one night figuring things out.
Rotor asks Sonic for access to Robotnik’s Tachyon Displacement Chamber, a dues ex machina beyond all else. Stored in a secret location by Rotor after Eggman’s final defeat, the scientists ask to be allowed back in so they can have it operational once more. Using its power of tachyon displacement, they hope to shoot someone back in time to gather the information necessary to figure out a way to save the universe. The catch? They don’t know if the person would be able to return to the present time. Sonic gives the go-ahead, saying they’ll meet them at the shuttle in two hours. Sonic then asks Knuckles to not tell Sally anything. Knuckles’ den is so powerful that not only has it made Sonic run for the first time the whole story, its also made him shift into full King-Dick mode. Only three pages ago, Sonic was questioning himself on everything. Now, he’s making decisions without consulting his wife, and going so far as to make sure she doesn’t find out. What a healthy relationship.
Sonic asks Knuckles what he’s going to do, with the Echidna saying he’ll join him later, as he’s got something he needs to attend to first. Rushing off, Knuckles overhears his daughter having a conversation with Sonia, the latter complaining about how she’ll never be anything more than a Princess even though she was born first. Lara-Su once again complains about how she isn’t Guardian, with Knuckles looking very curious as he hears. Jeeze Louise, does that girl have anything else to talk about?
On that note, chapter 12 comes to a close. Once again, there is the illusion of things happening, but not nearly as much as there should be at this point. A plan has been formulated, but for a threat we haven’t seen in action. And the plan is using a machine which, up until this point, has never been mentioned in the comic. Why would the Freedom Fighters even keep this Tachyon Displacement Chamber around, let alone disassemble then reassemble it somewhere else? You’d think at this point they’d be weary of any tech developed by Dr. Eggman, even if he’s been dead for years. Now, if the point in time had been linked to the activation of the Ultimate Annihilator, then the machine Rotor and Cobar were forced to reactivate could have been that! It would have tied into the history of the comic far more than what we’re dealing with now. I guess creating new things is so much easier. Even if they don’t add much of anything to the story.
We’re entering the home stretch. Well, kinda. Only two more chapters penned by the Ken lay before us. Sure, that’s not the end of the story, but we’re getting there. Before we get to Ken’s most personal chapter, we’re going to take a detour to a slightly different version of the future teased in the pages of Sonic the Hedgehog before Mobius: 25 Years Later was given the green light…
Oh man, part ten and still going strong. You know you just want to read the first nine parts out of sheer joy, right?
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 1 – What’s Future Is Prologue
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 2 – Of Frightened and Dancing Crocs
Mobius: 25 Years Later, The Review: Part 3 – The Adventures of Lara-Su and Old Rotor
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 4 – The Mobius Girls Can’t Help It
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 5 – A Brief History Of The Future
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 6 – A Brief History, Continued
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 7 – The Mental State of Sonic the Hedgehog
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 8 – A Dinner Party At The End of the World
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 9 – The Myth of the Mobius Sleepover