Archie Sonic the Hedgehog Issue 61 was the sixty-first issue of the main Sonic the Hedgehog comic series.
- "Outback Gut Check"
We find Sonic and Tails accompanied by Walt Wallaby and Barby Koala of the Downunda Freedom Fighters, surrounded by a force of Platypi with Guru Emu and Wombat Stu in cages overhead. The quartet proceed to dispatch their foes, with Barby complimenting Tails on his efforts; Walt then assists Sonic by throwing him into the air so that he can use his Spin-Dash to free the two trapped Freedom Fighters. The two parties begin speaking, asking each other plenty of questions, but Walt calls a halt to the whole thing and suggests that they go back to their last known contact with the Knothole Freedom Fighters and work forward from there. The four Downunda heroes then take turns explaining how they defeated their arch-enemy, Crocbot, and were ridding the Great Crater of the ruins of his prison camp when their missing teammate, Duck "Bill" Platypus, went rogue. He subsequently returned at the head of an army of his own people, attacking the reconstruction site and forcing the Freedom Fighters to close it down after their volunteers started quitting.
Bill then sent an invitation to Guru and Stu, asking them to meet with him and work out a peace, only to capture them when they arrived. Barby and Walt had been preparing to go after them when Sonic and Tails arrived in the Winged Victory, still in pursuit of Ixis Naugus. Having been appointed by the Mobotropolis Council to check on the situation in Downunda, the pair agreed to help Barby and Walt, earning Tails an affectionate kiss from the Koala before the group set out. This catches them up with the present, with the group-now totaling six-determined to locate Bill, though Walt and Sonic immediately begin clashing over the chain of command. The hostilities continue as they travel by raft on a nearby river, until Barby is forced to intervene after hearing a suspicious noise. The group are then attacked by Platypi riding Mobini Crocodiles, but manage to beat them off and then escape when Tails and Sonic use their special abilities to propel the raft forward at high speed and protect the vessel from any further Crocodile attacks.
The group spots a hut just off the river with a dock nearby, and realize that it must be Bill's headquarters. They approach the structure and hear Bill inside, apparently talking to himself about the current situation. Breaking into the room, they confront Bill only for him to faint from exhaustion, and then hear strange noises coming from beneath the floor. Finding a trapdoor, they open it to reveal none other than Crocbot-or at least, his limbless torso. The robot then explains his role in recent happenings: having planted a post-hypnotic chip on Bill while the Platypus was his prisoner, he used him to gather an army of Platypi. With the materials gathered by them, he intended to have a Combot constructed to repair him so that he could take his revenge. However, even with this plan thwarted, he starts to warn them about a so-called Bunyip when Sonic pulls his plug, much to Walt's irritation.
Sonic responds that he's been given authorization to deactivate hostile machines like Crocbot, and Barby reaffirms that they are likewise subjects of King Maximillian Acorn. Soon afterwards, Sonic and Tails take off with Crocbot stowed away in their plane, bidding goodbye to the Freedom Fighters. The Downunda Freedom Fighters then contemplate Crocbot's words about the Bunyip, which Barby recognizes as a mythological creature, leading the group to assume that Crocbot was just muttering nonsense in his damaged state. Up in the plane, Sonic comments on how jealous Walt was of the attention Barby was giving Tails, whom Sonic thinks likes his friend, and Tails responds that he'd like to see her again too.
- "Total Turbulence"
Flying through a stormy sky over a rough sea, Sonic and Tails continue their pursuit of the wizard Ixis Naugus, unaware that he's transformed himself into a nearby storm cloud. Tails expresses gratitude that they're not traveling by boat, while Sonic replies that the skies ahead aren't the safest for their plane either. Consulting a tracker built for them by Uncle Chuck to help them find Naugus, Sonic is perplexed when the reading seems to disperse, and blames it on the weather. Naugus, still unseen by the heroes, curses their device and its ability to detect him even in cloud form, but gleefully takes advantage of his new form to strike them with a powerful blast of wind that sends them spiraling towards the sea. Sonic struggles and manages to regain control of the plane, and flies it right through the wizard's cloud face. The pair then see land in the distance, and wonder what further adventures are waiting for them.
Geoffrey St. John and his teammate Fleming narrowly escape from an explosion, apparently caused by their efforts to deactivate one of Dr. Robotnik's old traps. The older Secret Service agent informs Geoffrey that he's too old to continue on these missions, having served on the team since Geoffrey's father led the service. Some time later, Geoffrey meets with King Max while the latter is being examined by Dr. Quack, and Max informs him that he needs to find new operatives to deal with future threats to the kingdom. Geoffrey agrees and asks if the king has any candidates in mind, to which Max responds by saying that he trusts Geoffrey's judgement. He then informs Geoffrey that he has a specific task in mind for the Skunk, though he doesn't elaborate beyond his orders to assemble a team capable of covert operations outside the Kingdom of Acorn's boundaries. Considering his directive, Geoffrey reminisces on his father's words regarding the occupation as leader of the Secret Service, which he regarded as a "dirty job."
Determining that his new force will need a camouflage expert for scouting purposes, Geoffrey travels to the Floating Island. Using full spectrum goggles, he quickly identifies his intended target and fires an arrow with a clamp attached, pinning him to a tree. The invisible individual is revealed to be a Chameleon, and an acquaintance of Espio of the Chaotix. Boarding Geoffrey's plane, the pair then head to Downunda and home in on Wombat Stu, though the Chameleon has his doubts about Stu's potential. Regardless, Geoffrey approaches the Wombat and offers him a place on the team, which Stu accepts out of a desire for adventure. Returning to Mobotropolis, Geoffrey has the pair go off to get some sleep before visiting his next intended recruit, Hershey Cat. Surprised to find her doing paperwork, he is informed that she volunteered to do the job when Sally asked. He then asks her to join him at the armory the next day, promising to handle things with Sally with regards to her reassignment. He then heads to his quarters to get some sleep and ponder who the next operative should be, unaware that two intruders are waiting for him...
- Sonic and Tails aid the Downunda Freedom Fighters in freeing Duck Bill from Crocbot's control after he has assembled an army of Platypi.
- Before being deactivated, Crocbot mentions the mysterious Bunyip.
- Sonic and Tails are attacked by Ixis Naugus but escape.
- Geoffrey St. John recruits Hershey Cat, Valdez and Wombat Stu into the Secret Service.
- Valdez the Chameleon, Espio's friend and mentor, appears for the first time, but his name isn't revealed until the next issue.
- This is noted Spider-Man and Silver Sable artist Steven Butler's debut. He would become head penciler the very next issue.
- Barby Koala's dark gray chest fur is interpreted as an article of clothing in this issue, similar to that worn by Bunnie Rabbot in the Sonic the Hedgehog animated series.
- It could be argued that Duck "Bill" Platypus would succeed Crocbot as the Sub-Boss in Downunda, given that he would go on to become Grandmaster of the Downunda Dark Egg Legion. This issue also marks the first appearance of the Platypi who later make up the ranks of the Legion.
- It would later be revealed that Geoffrey selected the various Secret Service members with an eye at furthering his agenda in service to Ixis Naugus. (StH #233)