Archie Sonic the Hedgehog Issue 212 is the two-hundred and twelfth issue in the main Sonic the Hedgehog comic series.
The fallout from the "Iron Dominion" saga continues to settle as our heroes deal with the aftermath and face some tough choices ahead. What secrets will Sonic and Tails find in the seemingly abandoned EggDome? Will Espio finally confront his former teammates, the Chaotix? Will Princess Sally make a final choice of who to set her heart on? The answers to these and other questions await in this intriguing tale!
"The Roads We Take":
Nearly a week after the fall of the Iron Dominion, Tails and Sonic arrive in New Megaopolis in search of Dr. Eggman and Snively. Tails, tired from trying to keep up with Sonic's frantic pace, tries to speak with Sonic, but the hedgehog tells NICOLE to begin scanning the area, preoccupied. As Tails follows Sonic through the hole in the side of the Eggdome, he expresses worry over Sonic's recent obsession with seeking out Eggman, finally getting his attention by putting a hand on his shoulder. Sonic ruffles the young fox's hair, telling him that he just feels the need to do something, and adds that he's tired of all the surprise invasions they'd had recently. He asks NICOLE if she's picked up anything, to which she replies she hasn't, prompting the hedgehog to tell her to "scan harder." He then tells Tails they'll just have a quick look around before leaving, to which Tails is dubious, saying he's heard that before.
Meanwhile, within the hidden depths of the Eggdome, Dr. Eggman watches the two on a monitor. Snively nervously says that he's sure they'll be found this time, but Eggman is confident that they had taken enough precautions to avoid any detection, adding that their location will only be known when he desires it so. Snively then voices a desire to utilize their anonymity to make a brief trip to the Dragon Kingdom in order to rescue the Iron Queen, but Eggman bluntly refused, saying he would not waste his time and resources breaking Snively's girlfriend out, adding that she blew her chance herself. Patting a dejected Snively on the head, Eggman asked how their "patient" was doing. Snively replied that Lien-Da (who'd been caught in the explosion of the bomb hidden within her cybernetics) was recovering thanks to emergency surgery, adding that the "first round of cybernetics" were successful. Snively then voiced that he didn't understand why they were bothering to save the Grandmaster at all, as there were still other members of the Dark Egg Legion available to them, and adding that Lien-Da isn't trustworthy. Eggman replies that he knows that, adding that Snively can't be trusted either - but claiming that that just makes things more fun. He announces that it's time to go back to work.
In the Dragon Kingdom, Sally Acorn and Monkey Khan stand atop a cliff in the moonlight, overlooking Stormtop Village. Khan remarks that he has a lot of rebuilding to do, including building trust as the new King of the Free People, maintaining peace between the Clans, and ensuring the Iron Queen remains imprisoned. He also adds that he needs to investigate a mention of "other Khans" made by Espio the Chameleon. Sally agrees that it's a lot to handle, but says she has full confidence in him. Khan playfully asks why, and she explains that when they first met, Khan was just a "swaggering, overbearing hothead," but he has since then learned humility, among other things, and has grown a lot as a person. Khan replies that they'd both grown a lot since then, and, embracing Sally, says that the people of the Dragon Kingdom need a compassionate, capable leader and that he has a lot to learn, coyly adding that the region could benefit from a Queen of the Free People. Sally smiles shyly and the two kiss. However, Sally soon pulls away; she says that while the offer is tempting - very tempting - she has her own rebuilding to do. Khan realizes that she's referring to Sonic, and Sally explains that she ended their relationship badly and believes she needs to be sure before moving on - that she needs to be fair to him as well as herself. Khan takes a deep breath and coughs, turning away. Then he puts an arm around Sally's shoulder and says he understands and appreciates her being frank about the situation. She thanks him and the two resume looking over the village. Khan then teases that the moment Sonic screws up his chance, he'll be right there waiting, and Sally laughs. She says she'll stay a bit longer, but that she needs to go home soon...
Meanwhile, on Angel Island, the Chaotix gather around a campfire near the Master Emerald shrine. Knuckles the Echidna announces that if the group is to continue working as a team, they'll need to forgive certain recent events... which means there are to be no more secrets among them. Espio agrees and explains that he's received clearance from the leader of his clan - the Bride of Constant Vigil - to reveal any info he'd been withholding. He then announces to the group that he was originally sent to the island under orders to monitor Knuckles, as a member of his clan had been sent to watch the actions of the active Guardian for many generations. He further explains that in that time, he's come across other information concerning individual members of the group. Vector the Crocodile smirks, saying that Espio has nothing on him. However, the chameleon dryly explains that Vector was originally from Downunda and adopted his "street accent" to hide his origin, prompting a flustered reaction from the crocodile. Knuckles icily accuses Espio of knowing that his own family had been alive all along - of knowing all about the Brotherhood while Knuckles sought out answers and said nothing. However, Espio says that that wasn't the case, saying that while he knew of the Brotherhood in general, he never had any details and only knew of the current Guardian, Knuckles himself. As Knuckles glares, Julie-Su shrewdly asks if Espio would have told Knuckles anything if he had known. Espio hesitantly replies that it isn't so simple. Surprising the group, Charmy Bee eagerly asks to be told something about himself. Espio and Saffron share a worried glance; Espio then tells Charmy that he was once a prince, and that Dr. Eggman had destroyed his kingdom and came close to doing the same to the bee's mind with his Egg Grapes. Charmy turns away in a huff, saying he thinks he'd remember such a thing, while Saffron tells Espio that Charmy still needs more time. Mighty pokes the fire with a stick; while everyone else is somewhat dejected, he tells them to give Espio a break, saying that he's one of the good guys. He tells Knuckles that his own family kept their existence a secret and points out that he forgave them; the echidna begrudgingly admits this, but says that Mighty wouldn't be so quick to forgive if Espio had kept secrets from him as well. Espio hesitates before turning to Mighty... and then says that while he's sure his parents are gone, he came across evidence that his sister is still alive... as a member of a Dark Egg Legion chapter. The group looks on tensely between the shocked Mighty and ashamed Espio, and Mighty suddenly gets up and leaves. Espio apologizes, covering his face to hide a single tear.
Still within the Eggdome, Tails continues trying to convince Sonic to give his search a rest as the hedgehog races down hallways. Sonic finally stops, apologizing and saying he was sure they'd find something this time. Tails says it's fine, but the two of them are caught by surprise as NICOLE begins to beep; she says she's picked up a signal. Tails wonders if it's Eggman, but NICOLE doesn't believe that to be the case; she traces the signal's source and directs the pair to a locked door. Tails inspects it before hooking NICOLE into the door's control panel; the two manage to override the lock. Sonic is bored to find the room appears to be nothing but a storage space, but Tails finds it odd that an out-of-the-way room had such an encrypted lock. Sonic notes that the equipment in the room looks like something Tails or Rotor would use, rather than Eggman's style. Tails soon realizes that the source of the signal is coming from within one of the many stacked boxes in the room. The two open it and react in shock; Tails then pauses, asking "Is that...?!" to which Sonic replies, "It sure is. Wait until Knuckles gets a load of this."
Back on Angel Island, Mighty has returned to his home at Rocky Hill and is focused on packing a bag when Ray enters the cave. Stuttering badly, Ray attempts to ask Mighty if he's mad; the armadillo replies that while he's not happy, he's not mad. Picking up his bed, he says that while he wishes Espio had told him sooner, he understands and will respect the traditions of his clan. Ray wonders what he's doing, and Mighty announces that he needs to find his sister. As he heads out of the cave, Ray grabs the bag, protesting that the Chaotix need him. Mighty replies that they'll be fine, saying that Vector's being much stronger since completing his training and that Knuckles will still be around. Ray then pleads to be allowed to leave as well, saying he doesn't want to be left behind again. Mighty hesitates, and then tells Ray he can come along; they'll say goodbye to everyone and be off on their own adventure.
In New Mobotropolis, NICOLE, in her holographic body, welcomes Sally home as the latter arrives via Warp Ring; Sally squints in the sun, commenting that she'd forgotten it was daytime in this part of the world. NICOLE says she hopes things are going well in the Dragon Kingdom, and Sally replies that she believes them to be in capable hands. NICOLE asks if Sally will be returning the Warp Ring to Knuckles then, but Sally says she will do so later and begins to ask about Sonic. The hedgehog skids into the scene, asking if someone had said his name and causing Sally to jump. She replies that it wasn't an invitation to startle her; he replies that he never needed one and asks how "Monkey Fuzz" is doing. Sally replies that Ken is fine, and Sonic says he wishes him luck. NICOLE interrupts, asking about Tails, and Sonic replies that he's at the city's Science Center, giving their new "friend" some emergency power. NICOLE dissolves, saying she'll go to lend a hand. Sally is confused by this exchange, and asks for an explanation; Sonic replies that it'll have to wait until after lunch. Sally grabs his hands before he can leave and offers to buy lunch for the two of them; Sonic is surprised and then, grinning, asks if "Monkey Ken" won't be jealous, but Sally explains that there's nothing to be jealous of, as they had agreed they weren't ready to be serious. Sonic wonders if it's due to them being so busy, and she says that that's part of it, saying they'll talk more over lunch, just like old times.
Eggman works on a new project while Snively stares sadly at a photo of Regina. Monkey Khan stands proudly on a cliff. Espio and Mighty shake hands while Knuckles watches, and Mighty and Ray leave Angel Island. Sally and Sonic walk off holding hands.
Sonic is standing next to Big the Cat, with an unseen announcer asking the readers which of the two is 'denser'. Sonic and Big appear confused by this, and the announcer then says that the two will be dropped into water to see who floats, with Sonic flailing his arms and saying he "thought this was about smarts". The last panel shows Big floating on the surface via his life preserver belt and Sonic sitting on the bottom, the announcer finding the results "fascinating".
- Sonic: We'll check a few hallways and then call it quits.
- Tails: That's what you said yesterday... and the day before that, and the day before that...
- Monkey Khan: These people need someone compassionate, and capable. I've still got a lot to learn. They could benefit from a Queen of the Free People.
- Sally: Ken...
- Vector: Nice try, Espio. But you've got nothing on me.
- Espio: You were originally born and raised in Downunda. You adopted an overbearing "street lingo" accent to hide your origins.
- Vector: Croiky! I mean, dag yo! I-I-I mean...!
- Knuckles: So you knew my family was alive. You knew about my forefathers. You spent all that time at my side while I was looking for answers and said nothing.
- Espio: No... I knew about the existence of the Brotherhood. But I never had any details. All I knew about was you.
- Julie-Su: But if you had known, would you have told him?
- Espio: ...It isn't that simple...
- NICOLE: Turn left at the next junction.
- Sonic: Right!
- NICOLE: No left.
- Sonic: No, I meant...
- NICOLE: Ha ha ha! Just a bit of directional humor.
- Sonic: Hardy-har-har. We'll make a real Mobian out of you yet.
- Sally: So we'll sit, we'll talk, and you can tell me all about how cool and brave you were today... while I pretend to be totally impressed.
- Sonic: Ha! Just like old times.
- Sally: Yeah, just like old times.
- Eggman and Snively are revealed to be hiding deep within the Eggdome.
- The Iron Queen is revealed to have been relocated to the Dragon Kingdom for her continued imprisonment, and Eggman reveals that he has no plans to liberate her due to her failure.
- Lien-Da is confirmed to have survived and is recovering from her injuries.
- Sally tells Monkey Khan she's not ready for a serious relationship with him, and that she wishes to try and patch things up with Sonic.
- Espio, having rejoined the Chaotix on Angel Island, reveals that Mighty's sister is a member of the Dark Egg Legion while his parents are deceased.
- Sonic and Tails find Dimitri and bring him back with them to New Mobotropolis.
- Mighty and Ray leave Angel Island in search of Mighty's sister.
- Despite being one of four characters to appear on the cover, the Iron Queen does not actually appear in the story, but is merely mentioned as having been moved to the Dragon Kingdom and effectively abandoned by Dr. Eggman. Snively is also shown to have a photograph of her.
- Mighty's sister first appeared in StH: #185 as an infant in a flashback.
- This is the first issue of Sonic the Hedgehog to be published on glossy magazine style paper.
- Ian Flynn stated on his message board that Vector was given training by Mighty, explaining Vector's design change to match his official SEGA canon design used on Sonic Heroes onwards, upon Sonic's return from space. Because of Mighty's statement in this issue, this is now considered canon.
- Vector's origins are delved into more in this issue when Espio reveals that Vector actually has an Australian accent but picked up an "over-bearing street lingo" to hide his past.
- On the cover, Sonic is mistakenly drawn with four fingers on each hand. Also, this is the first issue cover Sanford Greene made since STH:167.
- This issue would end up marking the final on panel appearance of Saffron Bee, not counting her counter part in SU#25-28. She was originally supposed to make background appearances in comics 221 & 232, and make full appearance in SU# 46-49 and comic 246, but was cut out and later pull out in prior of the removal of characters created by Ken Penders from the comic.
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