The Knuckles comics were weird…and I loved them

When I was a kid, I had a special appreciation for media that didn’t talk down to me and tried to tell a good story with interesting lore and backstory. Knuckles the Echidna, a 32 issue monthly comic series from Archie Comics, did just that. Given Knuckles’ 25th anniversary, I thought it would be nice to revisit the comics in some way. I haven’t read them in some time (due in large part to their lack of easy digital availability) so I will be recounting my memories of the comic’s tone and themes somewhat vaguely and broadly. Hopefully, I will be able to do a deep dive into the comics in the future.

I had been reading Archie’s Sonic comics for a couple of years when the Knuckles the Echidna series got going. Knuckles was a character that got my attention before I was even exposed to his first game thanks to his cool design, his weird abilities, and most importantly his place in the story. Knuckles was that cool guest star character who only popped up occasionally, making his appearances feel special. He could not only could go toe to toe with Sonic himself, but often would, making him Sonic’s “rival,” at a time when that concept was still fresh to my young mind.

To me, Knuckles was the coolest Sonic character. I must’ve not been the only kid who thought that because Knuckles became pretty popular in the comics. His occasional appearances turned into regular back story appearances, which lead to a mini series, which finally led to a monthly ongoing…which was weird as all heck, but also very neat.

Enerjak, an all-powerful chaos-fueled being [Image Credit: Sonic News Network]
As I said before, the Knuckles series didn’t talk down to kids and tackled some subjects that most kids media didn’t put much focus on back then. The world had politics, including three distinct factions: the fanatical technophilic Dark Legion, the fascistic (and later racial minority) dingoes, and of course the citizens of Echidnapolis (who were predominantly echidnas, of course). The series even featured an entire arc devoted to the world’s politics and the tension building up between the factions. The comic also wasn’t afraid to deal with death and romance, going so far as to devote an entire three-issue story arc to Knuckles and Julie-Su’s budding love-life.

The comic also had a lot of backstory and lore. The tension between the Dark Legion and the citizens of Echidnapolis went back hundreds of years, to events involving Knuckles’ ancestors feuding over how technology should be used in echidna society. Before that, there was Enerjak, a power-mad entity created when one of Knuckles’ ancestors absorbed eleven of the island’s twelve chaos emeralds (yes, twelve) in an attempt to return Angel Island (called simply the Floating Island in the comics) to the planet. The series would often dive into this history to give the current day plot line a greater, more epic context, since the conflicts the comic covered often had roots going back centuries.

The comic had some echidna politics [Image Credit: Sonic News Network]
The comic also had loads of weird, often sci-fi concepts. The Dark Legion, who served as the comic’s primary villain faction, often sported loads of cybernetics to display their devotion to technology. These cybernetics could look kind of gruesome to me as a kid. Then there was the Brotherhood, a clandestine organization made up of Knuckles’ living ancestors, who as it turns out were inexplicably long lived, with the oldest being hundreds of years old at the start of the series (I’m not sure an explanation was ever given for that). The comic opened with the Dark Legion escaping from an alternate dimension known as the Twilight Zone, while the second arc focused on two dimensions holding the separate cities belonging to the echidnas and dingoes collapsing in on each other. Then there was Knuckles himself, who was genetically modified when his father, Locke, irradiated his egg with chaos energy to give him special powers.

So yeah, the comic was cool…and weird. Putting my childhood nostalgia aside, it was also flawed. The writing could feel stiff, and many characters often sounded like they were speaking with the same voice. The comic didn’t always make use of what should have been interesting plot revelations, such as when one member of the Brotherhood turned out to be a former leader of the Dark Legion.

This reveal did not have the emotional pay off one would expect: his son, who held a special hatred for the Legion, turned on him immediately, while the rest of the Brotherhood did not seem to express much emotional grief over their son/grandfather/great-grandfather/etc turning out to be a villain the whole time. We were also denied the satisfaction of a reunion between the Brotherhood and the man the Legionnaire replaced.

The lineage of guardians who protected the Floating Island, and later joined the Brotherhood. The living ones go all the way back Hawking, the one with the hat [Image Credit: Sonic News Network]
As I said before, its been a long time since I last read these comics. I don’t remember how pervasive the issues I mentioned above were, but they are there. As much as I enjoyed them as a kid, I couldn’t help but feel a bit…underwhelmed upon revisiting them.

That said, there’s still plenty about the comic that did age well. The interior art was mostly done by Manny Galan, one of the best artists Sonic comics have ever seen. He nails the look of a the comic’s characters and world perfectly, and his work is still a joy to look at. The comic also employed an interesting concept with its covers: each cover of the comic’s three issue story arcs could be combined together into a single image. These covers were mostly done by Sonic comic legend Patrick Spaziente, often depicting epic scenery and action.

The covers didn’t go together cleanly, but would often tell their own little stories. Here we have the arrival of the Dark Legion, a past tragedy from their formation, and the climactic present-day battle [Image Credit: Sonic News Network]
It’s kind of unfortunate these comics are so inaccessible in an age when nearly any comic can be bought online. This does, unfortunately, bring us to one of the reasons why I have difficulties going back to these books even when I do have access to my old copies: the Ken Penders lawsuit.

This is something I’d rather not get into right here, so I will keep it brief: I think every artist should be compensated for reprints of their work, and I wish Archie had worked something out with Penders to make that happen. I hope IDW does what they couldn’t. I also think that, by copywriting the characters he created, Penders effectively destroyed this comic’s legacy. Its characters will never be able to grace any Sonic comic continuity again. They have already faded into complete obscurity and they will never again be able to interact with the game characters they were created to flesh out. I think this is very unfortunate.

Though, in a sense, the Knuckles series being inaccessible does feel right to me. Back when the Knuckles comics were being made, I had difficulties getting ahold of them. My local book store didn’t carry them and the comic book stores that did kept going out of business. So to get them, I’d have to go to a Books-A-Million in Potomac, Virginia, which was an hourlong drive. I didn’t get to go often, but whenever I did and I got to see that Knuckles comic on the rack, it was always special. That reflects my feelings on the comic as a whole: special, memorable, and a series that will always evoke my childhood to me. I do hope inaccessibility does not become this series’ fate. So far as I’m concerned, it at least deserves more than this.

Maybe one day.

Shadow, Big, Tails & Knuckles are in Lego Dimensions

legodimensionsbigthecat

Just posted by the LEGO Dimensions Twitter account. It looks like we won’t just be seeing Sonic and Eggman in the new LEGO Dimensions pack, but also Shadow, Tails, Big, and Knuckles.

No gameplay footage was given, but fans will be overjoyed at Big the Cat in Lego form.

The Sonic Level pack is released on November 18th.

Source: Twitter

Freak-Out Friday: Knux Row the Third – A Fistful of Emeralds

With the unveiling of the upcoming CGI-based show Sonic Boom, accompanied by a teaser picture of the cast, many were quick to point out the bulky design of Thrash SoreAss Knuckles the Echidna.

The verdict? Popular opinion said “we love it”! I mean of course, he’s finally rougher than the rest of them, the best of them, tougher than leather – and at long last, we may now see him flex his muscles (because unlike Sonic, he doesn’t chuckle).

So because we all crave Beefy Bara Knuckles and are aching to see the fighting freak in action once more, I’m bringing you some of that today, by way of TripleKyun!

You ready?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFPZfNM7bPg

Special thanks to Indigo Rush of the SSMB for the tip~

Freak-Out Friday: Knuckles Plays Sonic Adventure 2

You know you’re always in for a treat when a star from your favourite series dabbles into some of his own work?

For today, Knuckles the Echidna himself provides us a few clips of his Death Chamber playthrough… as himself!

So, sit back and relax to the smooth sound of Knuckles’ voice this Friday night.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W6azTxgoBM

Put together by Dexter Manning!

Freak-Out Friday: Knuckles, You Pervert

And you dare call innocent Tails out for “stooping that low”! Sheesh, I knew you were a knucklehead, but a hypocrite too?

What a jerk!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2xoSf5pGGs

Put together by DeannART2! The scene is borrowed from the Toradora! anime.

SASASR iOS Distributes “The Knuckles & Shadow Update”

With the announcement of Transformed, the iOS version of the first Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing has received a massive update this morning, namely with two new characters added to the roster who weren’t available beforehand: Knuckles the Echidna and Shadow the Hedgehog.

Continue reading SASASR iOS Distributes “The Knuckles & Shadow Update”

Sign the Dan Green Guestbook

Many of you will know and love Dan Green for the many characters he has bring to life through his voice acting career across many different mediums – most notably voicing Knuckles the Echidna in recent years.

Unfortunately, Dan’s wife has passed away after giving birth to their twins last week. We here at the Sonic Stadium would like to extend our utmost sympathies at this time to Dan and his family in this tragic loss.

We call upon you, Sonic fans, to visit the Dan Green Guestbook. Here, you can donate to help Dan take care of his daughter and son. Even if you cannot spare anything monetary, spare a thought, leave Dan a message on the page, and show him the love and support he has from his many fans.

Thank you.

Visit the Dan Green guestbook by following this link

Pre-orders Now Open For First 4 Figures’ Classic Knuckles Statue

First 4 Figures has today opened pre-orders for their recently teased Classic Knuckles statue. An ‘Exclusive’ version has also been revealed, which features red and yellow lights to give a lava effect to the rocky base themed around Sonic & Knuckles‘ Lava Reef Zone. The Exclusive version will set you back $189.99 and is limited to just 500 pcs, while the standard version (without lights) will cost you a little less at $169.99 and will be limited to 1,500 pcs. Both statues will be released Q2 2012.

You can pre-order and view more images of the statues at the links below.
First 4 Figures Classic Knuckles statue: $169.99
First 4 Figures Classic Knuckles Exclusive statue: $189.99

Thanks to sonicwalter via Twitter for the heads up!

Got a news tip? Send it in to thesonicstadium@googlemail.com, shadzter@sonicstadium.org or via Twitter at @Shadzter and we’ll credit you for the find.

The Knuckles Rap…and the Big the Cat Story

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqQgkxNkV7g&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Those of you who were at this year’s Sonic Boom event will definitely recognise this trio! RandomEncountersEnt have returned to thank everyone for 80,000 views of their Needlemouse: The musical video which won first place in the 19th birthday video contest last year.

Their thank you comes in the form of the above video – enjoy!

Check out the other videos of the RandomEncountersEnt youtube channel for other videogame parodies.

There’s also a dancing Eggbot…Dreadknux and I apologise for talking over the top of it’s funky moves.

Knuckles & Amy Confirmed For Sonic Colours DS

In an interview with Video Games Daily, Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka has confirmed rumours dating back to E3 in June, which claimed Knuckles the Echidna and Amy Rose will be appearing in the DS version of Sonic Colours. Iizuka reveals that both characters will feature in the game’s story mode, but like Tails, they will not be playable.

The DS version introduces the other characters like Knuckles and Amy as kind of the guest characters. They don’t have any direct influence on the gameplay but they act as the narrative to the background of the story, so if you play the DS version you get a better understanding of the story for Sonic Colours.

Iizuka also gives us some insight into how Sonic Team implements fan feedback from previous Sonic games into upcoming titles:

The team always looks at feedback immediately after we release a game and they are always looking to the pros and cons of the feedback and try to address those through the next game developed. They don’t really take it fully because they have their own thoughts but they do look at feedback and try to input as much as possible.

That feedback is actually the story of how Sonic Colours came to be. The players had always wanted a pure Sonic action game. They always wanted to play as Sonic and they always wanted the high-speed action stages. That is how we started the project for Sonic Colours — that was the most important feedback to look into. With Sonic Colours we wanted the stage to start with high-speed Sonic action and end with high-speed Sonic action. We didn’t want to break it up by introducing other characters or other kinds of action so the feedback has really influenced this game.

For the full interview, head over to Video Games Daily

Knuckles Is a Smooth Criminal

Archie’s Sonic creators Ian Flynn and Tracy Yardley! both made an appearance at Toronto’s FanExpo con. Naturally, their presence attracted some Sonic fans to the show, including the person pictured below. The Archie people got a picture of one of them and posted it up on their facebook wall.

Prepare yourself for the most epic cosplay ever!

Knuckles Jackson