Tracy Yardley gets to write his first story arc since Sonic X in a tale that starts out with the Babylon Rogues in a dangerous race against the Battlebird Armada to find the lost Babylon Garden, their ancestral home. But as the story takes a huge twist involving Sonic, does it become too epic for it’s own good? Kinda, yea. Keep reading.
We start off with the Babylon Rogues taking on a giant golem that’s defending a magical key which will open the secrets to the hidden Babylon Garden. Jet uses his skills, Storm his brute force and Wave her brains. It’s a great scene that really shows off the strength of the main characters. They succeed only to be chased after by the Battle Bird Armada. You see, Jet and the others were members of the armada, but they wanted to be free to do things their way and busted out together. (Makes sense for birds to have an urge to be free.) Speedy (Tails arch-enemy from “The Tails Adventure” AKA the little, green duck in the flying metal diaper) want’s to join him, but Jet refuses and the Rogues fly off. Back to the present, it looks like the Rogues have given the Armada the shake when in comes the (heavily over-powered) Grand Battlelord Kukku. He takes out the Rogues with one Iron Man grand slam and manages to beat them down until they re-join the armada. The Rogues reluctantly agree and with the key, they manage to find the location of the Babylon Garden. This is where things get both interesting if not a bit over the top.
You see, the main confrontation lies in the Babylon Garden’s location. It’s right below Mobotropolis. It’s also taking place at almost the exact same time as the events in the main Sonic book. Sally’s robotcized, Sonic’s angry as heck, Naugus is King (sorta) and Bunnie is flesh and blood again (Oops! This issue went out before the events in Sonic #232 and spoiled those last two plot points for everyone). Both the Rogues and the Armada attack the city which leads to a huge evacuation while a very depressed Nicole does a back of the city on her computer at Knothole HQ. The armada even manages to override Nicole’s shields. Yea. The same shields Eggman couldn’t get through, Dr. Fukukurokov can get through just fine. Sonic attacks the Rogues only to be foiled by some gravity gun they pulled outta nowhere. Meanwhile, King Naugus teleports up to the Battlebird ship only to have Kukku just walk up to him and sucker-punch Naugus in the gut! This is the same Naugus that Sonic can’t land a hit on despite his super-speed. The same Naugus that can instantly turn to smoke. Slugged in the gut like a momma’s boy. It’s like watching Sauruman get defeated by Sonny the Cocopuffs bird.
With both Sonic and Naugus incapacitated, the Armada destroys the entire city! The Rogues then fly into the giant crater that was once Mobotropolis with Sonic (having shaken off the effects of the gravity gun) hot on their heels. The Rogues discover the hidden city and venture inside. They find a robot. Still and dormant with what looks like a slot for their key in front of it. Of course, they insert the key and the robot comes to life just as Sonic arrives to ruffle the Rogues feathers. Sonic asks the robot why Nicole built Mobotropolis right on top of this. It ends up Nicole did not build the nanite city, but rather it was A.D.A.M. (Dr. Eggman’s “son” from stories long ago) who constructed it using the resources from the Babylon Garden to try and find the Chaos emeralds that were scattered into space back then. (This would explain how the city was built so quickly in issue #176.) Ends up the Babylon Garden is actually a giant spaceship and can make huge jumps through space using a wormhole generator. However, the ancient Babylonians removed the key because their was a malfunction in the generator that would cause a black hole effect thus destroying the entire planet.
The robot then decides to return to home for repairs. This means launching the ship and destroying the entire planet in the process. As it lifts off, Sonic goes to stop it, but Jet tackles him because he wants more questions. The BattleLord Kukku sees it taking off and anchors his own ship to it. He then sends Speedy out to stop the Rogues. With the Rogues and speedy in-fighting, Sonic manages to snatch the key from the robot pilot. This sends the ship falling back down. An angry Sonic smashes the key and leaves with a threat. “If anyone back home isn’t okay, you better hope you can run faster than me.” Speedy and the Rogues eject as well while the Armada ship crashes down with the garden. Kukku vows revenge on the Rogues. Looking over the destruction, Storm ponders the fact that they’re aliens. Jet tells him that this changes things. “Cause now I gotta be the fastest thing in the universe!”
The word for today kids, is overpowered. This is what happens when a character becomes a lot more stronger or powerful than he normally is for the writer’s convenience. A good example was Silver being able to defeat Enerjak’s god powers with only his telekinesis. Here, the Battlelord Kukku is able to easily kick Naugus’s butt and Dr. Fukkurukov manages to Nicole’s shields which Dr. Eggman and even techno-mage Iron Queen had a tough time doing. There are some arguments in this case. some might say that Naugus wasn’t expecting a sudden slug to the gut or that Nicole’s was too distracted with her own depressed funk, but I don’t buy that myself.
The first two issues started out pretty strong. It was mainly an adventure with the Rogues facing against the Battlebird Armada in a race to find the Babylon Gardens. It showed us some insight into their origins. The only flaw the first issue had was the ridiculous amount of exposition that was a huge wall of text in each panel. Yardley was turning into Chris Claremont and every word balloon was a huge paragraph. It seems like editor Paul K must’ve had a chat with Yardley, because the other 3 issues narrative flowed much better. When issue 3 hits, the book becomes more about the Armada fighting Sonic and Naugus and the Babylon Rogues end up taking a back seat in their own arc. Like ’em or hate ’em I felt this needed to be more their story than anything and putting the Babylon Gardens right below Mobotropolis forced the story into being less of a fun adventure and much more epic than I really wanted. While we get to know these characters better, they didn’t really develop anymore than they had at the start.
Then there’s the matter of story crossover. I always consider that a major sin. I enjoy Sonic Universe the most when it’s stories that are happening away from the main book. The point of Sonic universe is to have stories that star other characters that are NOT Sonic. When Sonic is involved with one of these stories, it usually ends up being one month ahead or behind (see “Journey to the East”) the main book and in this case, can spoil important plot points (Bunnie’s change). Needless to say, I prefer it best when the stories are kept separate, but in the same universe.
Now, I don’t wan’t it to look like I’m just bashing the book entirely. There’s some really good stuff here. The Rogues battles with the Armada and Speedy were great. Getting to go into the origins of the Rogues desertion of the Armada gave us some good insight into their characters as well. While Yardley does get lost in text in the first issue, the other 3 go at a great pace and he shows a really good knack for character, pacing and dialogue. It’s a huge improvement over his first outing in Sonic X. While I feel that “Babylon Rising” could have been toned down a bit, the story is still very fun and I always enjoy seeing more of the Battlebird Armada (when Kukku isn’t written as godlike anyway). Fans of the Babylon Rogues and the Battlebirds will enjoy this arc greatly. If you’re not a fan of the Rogues, there’s nothing here that will change your mind about them.
NOTE: Well, I woke up to a few PM’s screaming at me “It’s Rogues!” So I went and fixed that. Sorry for the spelling error.