Archie Sonic Universe Issue 22 is the twenty-second issue of the Sonic Universe spin-off series.
- "Treasure Team Tango!" - Step Two: The Cruzada
In Blaze the Cat's world, Marine the Raccoon and a koala are trying to tie a dingy to a dock in rough water. The koala comments on how difficult things have gotten since the Sol Emeralds were lost; Marine however replies that they'll be fine, insisting her "best mate Blaze" will find them and set things right in no time. Watching the stormy skies and choppy waves from the dock, Marine confidently adds "You'll see..."
Meanwhile, on Mobius, Team Rose: Blaze, Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit (and her chao Cheese) find themselves facing Team Dark: Rouge the Bat, Shadow the Hedgehog and E-123 Omega. They're currently at the bottom of a ravine in the Great Forest, having tracked a missing Sol Emerald there. Rouge tells the other girls to make things easy on themselves and give up; she plans to take the Sol Emerald. Blaze and Amy take up aggressive stances; Cream asks who the "scary people" are, any Amy pointedly replies that they're "a bunch of jerks who are in big trouble!"
To Cream and Amy's surprise, Blaze addresses Shadow. She icily asks if his is how he would repay her past generosity. Rouge and Omega look at Shadow in surprise, but he averts his eyes. Then he looks up and flatly tells Blaze, "That was then. This is now." Smirking, Rouge says it's just business and that there's no need for things to get messy; however, when Blaze and Amy refuse to back down, Rouge concedes, "Okay, maybe a little messy." She orders Omega to move in, and he opens fire, sending forth a massive barrage of rockets and laserfire. Blaze announces she'll handle things while Amy forces a shocked Cream down for cover; Cream is scared, but Amy tries to reassure her as Blaze creates a wall of flame, destroying the oncoming attack. Having been dropped on the ground earlier, NICOLE, in her hand-held computer form detects the spike in heat and asks if everyone's okay; she is overlooked as Amy tells Cream to hide while she helps Blaze.
Rouge and Omega are both dumbfounded by the ease with which Blaze trumped Omega's attack; Shadow angrily turns on them, asking Rouge if she's lost her mind. Rouge waves it off, saying that she only meant for Omega to scare them, not hurt them. They don't notice Blaze concentrating; suddenly, a massive spiral of flame envelopes Omega, much to the surprise of Rouge and Shadow. Smoking, Omega falls before Blaze, in awe of her "destructive" power. Then, to Blaze's surprise and confusion, the robot exclaims, "I like you! Let us burn things together!"
Meanwhile, above the ravine, a group of shadowy figures watch. One eagerly demands to know what's going on, and another replies that they're to be ready to move in order to take those below by surprise.
In the ravine, Amy lunges at Rouge, causing the bat to drop the Sol Emerald; it is then caught by Cream, but when a menacing Omega looms over her, she screams and, in terror, hurls the gem at his face. Shadow nonchalantly catches it, only to be struck by Amy; as the emerald is about to fall into Blaze's hands, she's side-swept by Rouge, who then has the falling emerald strike her on the head. Finally, Cheese catches it, and Cream orders him to fly off into the forest, saying they'll catch up with him. As Cheese leaves the ravine, Blaze and Rouge dust themselves off; Blaze says that Team Dark will never be able to find the small, lone chao in the woods and declares that Team Rose has won. Smirking, Rouge replies that she'll accept a consolation prize; having seen Blaze summon the grey Sol Emerald before, she grabs the princess by the wrist and forces the magical flames to appear. Twisting Blaze's arm, she tosses the second Sol Emerald to Shadow and tells him to get them out of there. Shadow holds the emerald up and says "Chaos Control!" However, rather than teleporting them, the emerald erupts in a massive ring of fire; Blaze takes back the grey emerald, smirking slightly as she says "And that is why I am their guardian!"
Team Rose runs from the root cavern, Cream hoping that even though Team Dark is "bad," they weren't too badly injured; Amy replies that Omega likely enjoyed it. Blaze thanks the girls again for their help, and Amy tells Cream to fly out of the ravine ahead of them to meet up with Cheese, adding that they need to hurry before "Team Gruesome" recovers. As Amy and Blaze begin to climb the ravine wall, Cream uses her oversized ears to fly above. Landing, she calls for Cheese, only to find him being held by "Team Hooligan" - Nack the Weasel, Bark the Polar Bear and Bean the Dynamite. Nack, holding Cheese in one hand and the blue Sol Emerald in another, leans against his bike, the Marvellous Queen. He smugly taunts Cream, only to be caught by surprise as she angrily lunges at him. Bark catches Cream in one hand, and, to the group's bemusement, she begins to yell and flail, berating them for mistreating Cheese and taking the Sol Emerald. Bean, on the other hand, finds Cream adorable; he begs Nack to let them keep her as a "team mascot."
Suddenly, Blaze and Amy appear at the edge of the ravine; holding her hammer, Amy demands they release Cream. Nack, remembering a painful encounter with Amy in the past, is shaken. Bean, delighted, asks if she wants to be co-mascots with Cream. While Cheese is left behind, Nack orders his team onto the bike and they take off with Cream and the emerald in tow.
Amy wants to give chase, but Blaze beats her to it, rushing off in a torrent of flame. Bean notices that "Little Miss Flaming Lilac" is gaining on them, but before he can say much, Blaze, engulfed in a fireball, speeds through them and sends them all flying. As the bike crashes off in the woods, she stops and catches Cream as she falls. Exhausted, she checks to make sure Cream is all right as Amy (with Cheese on her head) catches up to them. Amy remarks that Blaze must be nearly as fast as Sonic the Hedgehog, which Blaze dismisses; Cream then brings it to their attention that they don't know where the Sol Emerald landed.
Not far away, Bark is recovering the bike and Bean is stuck upside-down in a tree; he yells at Nack about the job suddenly becoming more difficult than anticipated, but Nack brushes him off, saying he didn't know a Freedom Fighter was around. Bean angrily asks how he could have missed "the Piko Piko Valkyrie" while spying on them earlier, but Nack points out that they still have the emerald. Amy arrives to confront them, but suddenly shots come from behind; the singed and aggravated Team Dark has finally caught up. Rouge flatly demands the two emeralds. Before Amy can tell them that they no longer have the blue emerald, she's kicked aside by Shadow. Blaze attempts to carry Cream to safety as Omega opens fire. Watching in shock, Nack declares it's time for his team to sneak away.
Blaze and Cream hide behind a tree stump while Omega destroys the landscape; he asks them to surrender in consideration of "the poor trees." Cheese mounts an ineffective attack against the robot, but it's enough of a distraction to allow Blaze to mount a counter-attack; she tells Cream to run as she unleashes her flames. However, Rouge kicks her from behind and then slams an elbow into her head, dazing the cat. Meanwhile, Amy is having difficulty trying to fight Shadow, who teleports to avoid her hammer. While Amy fights bravely, she's soon outclassed as Shadow forces her to loose her grip on her hammer, and then knocks her unconscious with it. Shadow and Rouge then bring Amy and Blaze to a clearing; Rouge mutters that Feist gave them less trouble than the girls. To their surprise, Cream and Cheese approach wielding a branch and a rock respectively; Cream timidly attempts to tell them to stop, but the two are snatched up my Omega. Overwhelmed, Cream bursts into tears, surprising even Omega; she wails that everyone's being so mean and that they don't even have the emerald anymore. Omega asks her to clarify, and, sniffling, she tells him that "the smelly weasel man" and his friends took it. Amy stirs, muttering that it was Nack the Weasel and "a couple of goons," and Shadow, seemingly not wanting to have to fight further, tries to insist she not move. Rouge muses, saying that she knows who they're talking about and that it should be no trouble to recover the emerald from them. Blaze begins to wake, weakly protesting, and Shadow asks her to stay down, adding "Please." Angrily, she throws flames to force him to back off and explains that she had already gone to the trouble of traveling the Cosmic Interstate and dodging the Zone Cops; without the emeralds, her world will die, and she refuses to let anyone take them from her.
Meanwhile, Team Hooligan is making its way through the forest on the Marvelous Queen when Nack notices a certain zeppelin seems to be following...
An enraged Blaze announces that she didn't want it to come to this, but she's left with no choice; she commands the secret weapon to be released. The "secret weapon" turns out to be Marine, who cheerfully approaches Team Dark talking a mile a minute; the three cower, Shadow covering his ears and lamenting "not again" while a desperate Omega begs for permission to fire and Rouge cries "It... won't... shut up!"
- Rouge: Omega, do your thing!
- Omega: Yippie-ki-yay, pastel-colored resistance!
- Omega: Such destructive power... I like you! Let us burn things together!
- Cream: How dare you kidnap Cheese! Don't hold him by the wings like that! Do you know how sensitive they are? And give back Miss Blaze's Sol Emerald! We worked very hard to get that for her, you know! This whole day has been nothing but rough-housing and rude people and I simply will not tolerate it!
- Nack: Criminy, kid...
- Bean: D'Awww! Isn't she the cutest little floppy-eared, loud-mouthed, tiny-wittle-bitty fluffy you've ever seen?!
- Bean: Please, can we keep her, boss?! She can be our mascot! I'll feed her and take her for walks and name her Jorge!
- Nack: Knock it off, Bean! I don't have time for your brand of crazy today!
- Nack: Oh no. Not her. Not the hammer.
- Bean: Hey! It's Shouty-Hammer McPain! You wanna be co-mascots with Jorge?!
- Bean: Um, boss? Little Miss Flaming Lilac is about to... never mind.
- Nack: My bike!
- Bean: "Like candy from a baby," you said. What nursery did you come from, pal?!
- Nack: I didn't think she had a freaking Freedom Fighter with her, okay?!
- Bean: You were spying on them! You didn't see the Piko-Piko Valkyrie with them?!
- This is the first time Nack the Weasel and Bean the Dynamite appear on a cover of Sonic Universe.
- This is the first cover of any Sonic comic to feature Sol Emeralds.
- Cream's dress is miscolored pink on the cover.
- Omega makes a modified reference to the recurring line used by John McClane, protagonist of the Die Hard series.
- Cruzada is the name of a tango step; it's Spanish for "crossed."
- The koala bear seen in Blaze's world resembles one of the koalas of the Coconut Crew from Sonic Rush Adventure.
- This issue marks Marine's first appearance in Sonic Universe since Issue 1.
- Bean asks Nack if they can keep Cream as a pet of sorts, wanting to name her "Jorge." This is likely a reference to a popular Looney Tunes bit in which Bugs Bunny is kept as a pet and named George. Ian Flynn tried to differ from this joke a little by using the Spanish version of Jorge (pronounced hor-hey), but some readers still pronounced it "George" and spotted the reference. (1)
- The Off-Panel strip in this issue features Marine the Raccoon harassing Team Dark with her endless chatter. When Marine is talking about E-123 Omega's weight in tons, she guesses it has to be "OVER NINE-THOUSAND!", which is quite likely to be a reference to a popular Internet meme originating from the anime series Dragonball Z. Her irratating nature towards Team Dark references how many players of Sonic Rush Adventure viewed her as annoying, and Ian Flynn is among those who shared this view.
- This is the first issue of Sonic Universe in which Blaze appears in the comic, but not on the cover.
- Team Dark is the only team on the cover to have all the members, with Team Rose missing Blaze, and Team Hooligan missing Bark.
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