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Archie Sonic Universe Issue 23 was the twenty-third issue of the Sonic Universe spin-off series.
The race for the Sol Emerald continues, and things are getting heated! Can Team Rose and Team Dark settle down long enough to track down a thieving trio of hooligans? And when a surprise FOURTH team joins the fray, will it make things better-- or worse?!
- "Treasure Team Tango" - Step Three: The Llevada
Using the Marvellous Queen, Team Hooligan races through the Great Forest with their stolen Sol Emerald. Bean the Dynamite, nonchalant, reflects on the action so far, telling leader Nack the Weasel that while he was initially dubious about his scheme, Nack must have realized he'd need extra muscle, and Bean admits that he enjoys "a good shiny-hunt." He says that this could be the start of a great partnership... but only if everyone else stops ignoring him. He finally gets into Nack's face and demands to know what he's so focused on; Nack snaps that he's trying to escape the zeppelin that's chasing them. "Oh," replies Bean.
Elsewhere in the forest, Team Dark has the defeated Team Rose surrounded; a recovering Amy Rose and Blaze the Cat sit on the ground while Cream the Rabbit and her companion Cheese are being held by E-123 Omega. Having just learned that Team Hooligan, and not Team Rose, now has the Sol Emerald. Rouge the Bat is quite annoyed. Blaze insists that she needs the emerald to save her world; Shadow the Hedgehog tries to prevent her from getting up, lest he have to stop her forcefully (again). She brushes him off, snapping that she has nothing to say to him while Shadow insists he's only trying to spare her further harm. Omega interrupts, asking if he can finally put Cream and Cheese down, saying he's afraid of "popping" them. Amy Rose gives a shrill whistle, getting everyone's attention. She announces that they should all be concerned with stopping Nack's group before they get away; if they keep fighting, they'll all lose the trail. Rouge begrudingly accepts this and says they'll "play nice," and Omega puts Cream and Cheese down; Cream curtsies and thanks the monstrous robot. Now having direction, Amy wonders how they can best follow Team Hooligan. Smirking to himself, Shadow announces that he has something that will serve perfectly.
As he walks off, Amy follows him, wanting to know how he knows Blaze. Shadow curtly explains that she once helped him complete a mission as well as return home afterward. Amy finds it hard to believe that Shadow would now oppose Blaze, even after hearing her say that her world will die without the Sol Emeralds. When Shadow, emotionless, confirms this, an angry Amy grabs him by the arm; she tells him that she had thought he was supposed to be a hero, a savior to the world - so why not save other worlds, too? Not looking at her, Shadow brushes off her hand and says he will do what he has to do. He leaves to get their "ride." Amy watches him go, thinking that he'll do the right thing eventually.
Not long afterward, Teams Rose and Dark set off after Team Hooligan using Shadow's bike; Rouge drives with Amy sitting behind her, and Cream and Cheese happily sit with Omega, who's crammed in a sidecar. Using their above-average speed, Blaze and Shadow run alongside on foot. Amy wonders why Shadow, who's already fast, owns a bike at all; Shadow merely replies that it's G.U.N. protocol that they have some form of transportation. Rouge coyly points out that he's given it a custom paintjob and maintains it himself, and Shadow admits that he's quite fond of the bike. Rouge then remarks that the terrain is still making it awkward to proceed, and wonders if Blaze could perhaps clear a path (despite Omega's eager offers to do so). Scowling, the princess takes off without a word, creating a massive trail of flame. Amy is a little displeased that they're damaging the forest like this; Shadow announces he's going to join Blaze ahead of the group.
Using his rocket-skates, Shadow catches up to the fire-propelled Blaze and tells her he wants to apologize; she continues to glare ahead. He begins to explain that he knows her world needs the Sol Emeralds; when she curtly tells him that the "oceans will boil, the islands will sink and the sky will fall," he admits he wasn't aware of the details. Nonetheless, he says that his mission and world will have to come first, and that he will fight her without regret if needed. Blaze snaps at him, asking why then he's trying so hard to apologize. She races off, and a doubtful Shadow falls behind.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the forest, Team Hooligan is still being followed by the zeppelin. Bean looks back and notices the ship is dropping "another" bomb as Nack desperately urges his bike to go faster. The nearby explosion throws the bike and its passengers; Bean cackles with delight even as he's tossed into the air. As they all crash to the ground, an incensed Nack recovers the Sol Emerald from Bark (who's lying in a trench) and yells at his pursuers, daring them to try that again. To his dismay, a trio of figures instead descend from the zeppelin; they buzz past him with extreme speed, knocking him off his feet. Nack finds himself facing the Babylon Rogues atop their Extreme Gear airboards; Wave the Swallow smugly remarks that her sensors had been right after all and Jet the Hawk, now holding the Sol Emerald, dismissively admits that she found them something special. Smirking, Jet begins to tell Nack to back off, only for someone to call his name...
Jet is more than surprised when Bean suddenly grabs him in a hug, happily addressing him as "Jettison Q. Hawkinton" and referring to Wave and Storm the Albatross as his family, calling Jet a "proud papa." Jet snarls that that's not his name, trying in vain to get Bean away from him. Meanwhile, Storm mutters to Wave, saying he'd thought that the Battle Lord had "taken care" of Bean in the past; Wave dryly replies "No such luck." While Bean continues to pester Jet, Nack orders Bark to retrieve his bike (though he's not pleased with Bark's lack of a gentle touch, calling the bike a "delicate lady"). He retrieves and assembles a laser sniper rifle and takes aim at Jet; unfortunately for him, an indignant Bean calls attention to this and the Rogues scatter. Jet boasts that he's too fast for Nack to hit, but Nack snarls that he's overcome Sonic the Hedgehog in the past; Jet should be nothing compared to him. As Bean clings to Jet's board, Jet is nearly hit by a shot; Storm blocks it with his own board at the last moment, colliding with Bean. While Wave dodges Bark, she tells the boys to quit wrecking "her" gear (as she's the team's mechanic) and to just take the gem and go. Jet recovers his grip on the gem; as Nack attempts to aim, Bean topples onto the barrel of the gun, ruining his shot. The Rogues mock them as they fly back towards the zeppelin, infuriating Nack; he angrily tells Bark to drive.
With Bark piloting the Marvelous Queen, Nack stands on the seat, attempting to steady his rifle as he aims at the retreating Rogues. He lets off a shot; it strikes the Sol Emerald in Jet's hand. To his shock, the emerald suddenly erupts in a massive shockwave of flame. Bean whistles, impressed, while Nack and Bark look on in disbelief.
Nearby, Blaze suddenly collapses in pain; Shadow rushes to her side as Rouge brings the bike to a stop. Amy jumps off the bike and asks Blaze what's wrong; gritting her teeth, she says she felt something react with the emerald. Amy and Shadow help her to her feet, and while Amy is concerned, Blaze insists that she can now pinpoint the emerald's location and that they should carry on. Amy tells Rouge to start up the bike and orders Shadow to carry Blaze, which results in an awkward exchange of glances.
Elsewhere, Bark pulls the Marvelous Queen to a stop and Nack hops off, seeing the dazed Rogues lying in the grass with the Sol Emerald. "Looks like I got three birds with one stone. Ha!" Nack jokes as he scoops up the emerald. He's even more impressed that the gem isn't the least bit damaged. A groggy Jet remarks that's good to know, saying they'll be able to pick it out of the wreckage. He and the other Rogues suddenly race away on their boards, while Jet orders the zeppelin's auto-pilot to unleash a "full bombardment." Numerous bombs begin to fall from the blimp. Bark, resigned, takes off his hat while Nack screams in dismay, not wanting to die in such a manner; Bean, however, is casually impressed by the ton of falling bombs. He waves his arms as though conducting music, and on his count, the bombs all detonate prematurely, far above the surface. Wave is shocked; Jet tells her to be glad that Bean is more "Rogue" than "Armada."
Nack puts the Sol Emerald under his hat for safekeeping. Now that his bike has nearly been blown up (repeatedly), he's especially mad. With Bark and Bean following, he angrily approaches the Rogues, who are ready to put up a fight, but all six are forced to stop when Omega fires a blast between the two groups. Teams Rose and Dark have finally caught up, and Amy is less than pleased to see that the Babylon Rogues have gotten themselves involved as well. Likewise, Jet is displeased to see more competition, though Storm seems curious about "the cute pink hedgehog." Nack is utterly exasperated. Amy remarks they have no way of knowing who exactly is holding the emerald; Rouge doesn't think it matters. Amy admits that if they team up, they can likely outdo the other two teams with ease. Rouge compliments her plan, and then calls Omega and Shadow over to her. Shadow sets Blaze down and Team Dark huddles; Rouge figures that they can just take the gem with ease and let the other two groups overwhelm Team Rose while they escape. Shadow hesitates, asking Rouge if she'd really betray them twice in one day, but she retorts that it's their mission and that she refuses to leave without the emerald. Shadow isn't happy with this, but stays silent.
Meanwhile, Amy tells Cream and Blaze that she's sure that Rouge is planning to turn on them, much to Cream's dismay. Storm asks Jet for orders as the hawk puts on his goggles. Bean eagerly asks Nack if it's time for him to "make boom," brandishing a bomb.
Suddenly, all four teams launch themselves at each other. Rouge orders Shadow and Omega to take no prisoners; she wants that emerald. Amy rallies Cream, Cheese and Blaze, saying they're fighting for Blaze's world. Jet says he doesn't care who anyone is; he just wants the treasure. Nack, beyond having lost his patience with this job, orders Bark and Bean to take them all down, or they won't get paid. The battle for the Sol Emerald just got a lot more hectic...
- The Untold Team Hooligan Story!
Team Hooligan are riding on Nack's Marvelous Queen, Bean yelling "Yes! Mush! Onwards!" Then the bike runs out of juice and Nack comments that it will take forever to reacharge, Bean still yelling mush. Bark then gets an idea and whispers to Bean. It then cuts to Bean pulling the Marvelous Queen with ropes attached to him while chasing a shiny spoon on a string held up by a stick held by Nack.
- Cream: Thank you for being so gentle, Mr. Robot!
- Omega You are too cute to eviscerate.
- Cream: Ms. Rose, what does "eviscerate" mean?
- Amy: I'll... I'll tell you later.
- Shadow: Blaze. I wanted to apologize. I know your world needs the Sol Emeralds...
- Blaze: The ocean will boil, the islands will sink and the sky will fall.
- Shadow: ...I will admit, I didn't know that. But my mission and world come first. I will fight you without regret.
- Blaze: Then why are you trying so hard to apologize?
- Bean: Jettison Q. Hawkinton! It is you!
- Jet: Gawk! Bean?!
- Bean: And you brought the whole family! Quite the proud papa, ain't'cha, Jettison?
- Jet: That's not my name! Let me go!
- Storm: Uh... I thought the Battle Lord took him out...
- Wave: No such luck.
- Bean: Where's your wallet? I wanna see photos!
- Nack: That tears it! You can backstab me, cheat me, kick me while I'm down... but nobody tries to blow up my bike!
- Teams Rose and Dark hold a truce.
- Shadow remains conflicted about opposing Blaze.
- The Babylon Rogues intercept Team Hooligan.
- Rouge decides to betray Team Rose yet again.
- All four groups confront each other for the Sol Emerald.
- "BAD TO THE BUNNY" is a reference to the 1982 song Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood and the Destroyers. It's specifically a reference to the film Terminator 2: Judgement Day, where Arnold Schwarzenegger's character stole and rode a motorcycle with Bad to the Bone playing in the background.
- The bike Cream is riding appears to be Shadow's Dark Rider from Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. Shadow also rode motorcycles in Shadow the Hedgehog (which was a standard issue G.U.N. bike) and 2006's Sonic the Hedgehog (which was another G.U.N. bike but with machine gun armaments and boost capability), but they were not the Dark Rider. They do bear design similarities, though, and it is possible these two bikes inspired the Dark Rider. It even has Shadow's logo on it.
- Llevada is the name of a tango step; in Spanish, it generally means "to carry."
- Although having cameos in the past, this issue marks the first time the Babylon Rogues take a major role in the main comic storyline.
- In this issue, it is explained why Shadow the Hedgehog uses vehicles, claiming they're G.U.N. protocol.
- When Bean lands on Nack's sniper rifle, he says "Excuse me monstrosity. Do you have the times?" This is a nod to the Homestar Runner cartoon (specifically the Strong Bad email "animal").
- Omega's line of "Urge to maim...rising!" is a nod to Homer's last line on the Simpsons Halloween special episode "The Shinning".
This issue has been reprinted in the following places:
- Sonic Universe Vol. 6: Treasure Team Tango