The Special Zone (originally known as the Zone of Silence and sometimes referred to as the Void due to an effort to trick the Knothole Freedom Fighters) is a zone created by the wizard Ixis Naugus. Its properties are much different than that of Mobius Prime's, and Naugus was able to control it entirely, even merging it together with the true Void. The Zone of Silence had long acted as a prison zone used by Dr. Ivo Robotnik after his successful takeover of the Kingdom of Acorn. It's most notable prisoners include King Maximillian Acorn, the Original Freedom Fighters, former Warlord Kodos, Uma Arachnis and Feist. In 3237, the Zone of Silence became home to all of the Chaos Emeralds in the universe when the Chosen One fulfilled the Ancient Walkers' prophecy and caused The Great Harmony. It has since been referred to as the "Special Zone."
Creation by NaugusDuring the Great War, the Kingdom of Acorn's chief magician Ixis Naugus decided to create a safe haven for himself in order to avoid the ensuing carnage from the war. He also desired a place where he could hone his skills of the elements. Stumbling across the Zone of Silence, he reshaped the tiny realm to suit his needs, creating a twilight dimension filled with rocks and his hideous Minions. After successfully disposing of the Overlander Nate Morgan with his partner Kodos, Naugus withdrew to the Zone of Silence where he would wait until the Great War's end before re-emerging, as well as hide from Kodos once the Warlord turned on him. However, Kodos had the portal locked so Naugus could not escape, leaving him trapped in the realm of his own creation. (StH: #65, #66, #73, CSE)
Use by Robotnik
When Kodos attempted to take the Overlander Julian Kintobor under his wing as a future partner for his planned takeover, Julian betrayed Kodos and sent him into the Zone of Silence, as he already had plans to take over himself. Julian informed King Max that Kodos had died when he tried to use one of Naugus' devices which he didn't fully understand. Julian replaced Kodos as Warlord, and began planning his schemes. (StH: #74)
After the Great War's end, Julian began his military coup to overthrow King Max. With the king captured by his SWATbots and the majority of Mobotropolis' citizens being rounded up for roboticization, Julian informed Max he changed his name to Dr. Ivo Robotnik, and banished Max to the Zone of Silence. However a breach occurred shortly after with the Zone of Silence extending beyond it's perceived boundaries into Robotnik's lab, and he realized the zone could expand indefinitely like a force of nature until it merged with all energy and physical substances around it. Robotnik and Snively were nearly enveloped by it until the the doctor activated his Photon Cannon to stave off the zone's advances. This method proved effective, but only so long as the cannon was kept active. While in the zone, Max struggled to survive in the harsh environment, prolonged exposure to which caused its prisoners to go both deaf-hence its name-and insane, and against beings such as Feist and Kodos. Eventually he was rescued by Naugus and forced to serve the wizard as his knight, whereupon he came to command an army of goblin-like Minions. (StH: #36, #41, #43)
Shortly after the coup, Robotnik entered the Zone though he knew it was dangerous, in order to learn more about it's properties, and check on those imprisoned inside. He found the environment boring upon arrival, but was soon attacked by Feist and brought before Naugus, who showed Robotnik his complete mastery of the zone and used it against him at his leisure. Realizing he would never conquer the Zone of Silence, Robotnik was eventually able to make a craft from the remains of his Egg Mobile, and escaped with help from Snively. Robotnik then ordered Snively to continue monitoring the Zone for expansion, but to never let him enter it again under any circumstances, as the experience had left him thoroughly shaken. During the early years of his rule, Robotnik met resistance in the form of the Original Freedom Fighters, and found a way to put the Zone to use. After bribing one of its members, Private Trey Scales, Robotnik lured the group into a trap. He roboticized them all, including Trey Scales, and then banished them to the Zone of Silence never to be seen again. (StH: #143, #234)
In the years that passed, Robotnik conducted further experiments on the zone's properties, and concluded that the Photon Cannon's efficacy was temporary at best and would eventually fail. To that point he concluded the only way to end it's threat was to destroy the Zone of Silence before it consumed Mobius and attempted to amplify the cannon's power output. This disrupted the magnetic fields around Robotropolis and caught the attention of the Freedom Fighters who were experimenting with efforts to rescue the King from the zone, and Sonic's intervention thwarted Robtnik when the Photon Cannon was accidentally destroyed. This turn of events forced Robotnik to entrust Sonic with his Energy Inhibitor device which theoretically would stabilize the Zone of Silence and make travel between the two zones less difficult. Once the Freedom Fighters entered the zone, they encountered a battalion of Minions led by King Acorn who had lost his memory and ordered them to surrender or face consequences. During the battle that followed, Sonic was forced to use the Energy Inhibitor, and the resultant wave sent him and the others flying off and were nearly lost to the zone if not for Rotor’s rescue. Ultimately their effort to save the king failed, but they resolved to not give up hope. (StH: #36)
Liberated PrisonersIn 3235, the Zone of Silence was found to be collapsing, forcing the Freedom Fighters to make a final rescue attempt for the king. Sonic the Hedgehog, Geoffrey St. John, and Sally Acorn managed to enter the Zone of Silence with a device known as the Neutralizer meant to halt the collapse. They found that Robotnik’s experiments on destroying the atomic structure of the Zone of Silence’s energy had affected its quantum properties, and created “windows” that allowed them to see past and future events taking place within the zone. Eventually they arrived at a whirlpool where the zone was collapsing; witnessing the Minions heading right into it and encountered Max once again. While Sonic subdued the amnesic monarch and brought King Max back to Mobius Prime, Geoffrey got Sally to safety and activated the Neutralizer, stabilizing the Zone of Silence and saving the Minions in the process. (StH: #41)
The king however slowly began turning into crystal, a side-effect from his alliance with Ixis Naugus to survive in the Zone's harsh conditions. When Dr. Robotnik was killed, Naugus managed to escape from the Zone of Silence as well, due to the Ultimate Annihilator weakening the dimensional barriers. Naugus was accompanied by Kodos and Uma Arachnis. Naugus had hoped to establish himself as Mobius' new king, as he made a deal with King Max in the Zone that he would save his life in return for Max making Naugus king. However, Sonic and the others refused to accept this, and defeated Naugus. (StH: #42, #43, #53, SQM #1)
Naugus and the ZoneWhen Sonic and Tails give chase to Naugus, they found themselves facing the wizard at Nate Morgan’s castle in the Southern Tundra. Naugus was in pursuit of Nate’s stockpile of manufactured Power Rings, with hopes of them giving him the power to merge Mobius Prime with the Zone of Silence. Due to Naugus’ mastery of the zone, his magical skills became greatly enhanced while in there, and causing a fusion of the two worlds would grant him omnipotent power to conquer Mobius. His efforts failed even when as Ultra Naugus, though he was able to defeat Ultra Sonic and Hyper Tails with help from the zone’s effects. Through Nate Morgan, Naugus was once again trapped in the Zone of Silence and the opening was sealed shut. (StH: #66)
In the year that followed, Naugus escaped from the Zone of Silence for a brief period when Sonic came across leftovers from Nate’s ring trove, and almost defeated Sonic with his mastery of the natural elements. His victory was brief, however, as Sonic was able to return him to the Zone. Forced to accept this development, Naugus turned his energies towards merging the Zone of Silence with the Void in order to make it more stable. Roughly one year later, Dr. Eggman was experimenting with filtering raw energy from the zone to power his projects via inhumane methods including the soulless husks of Mobians. Naugus was freed from the Zone of Silence when the children of Uma Arachnis - the Arachne - used the Sword of Acorns to cause a dimensional rift in Dr. Eggman's Egg Vineyard and free him, while the victims of the Egg Grape Chambers were pulled into the Zone. The dimensional rift also resulted in the death of the Ancient Walkers. (StH: #162, SSS: #15, CSE)
Change into the Special Zone
When Eggman's computer-virus "son" A.D.A.M. used Shadow the Hedgehog and Tails to draw all of the Chaos Emeralds in the universe to Mobius in order to use their powers to finally defeat Eggman's enemies, Eggman freed the two while Sonic kept A.D.A.M. busy. With the energies of the Chaos Emeralds empowering them, Turbo Tails and Super Shadow worked together to send all of the Chaos Emeralds into the Zone of Silence, thus fulfilling the "Great Harmony" as prophesised by the Ancient Walkers. (StH: #169)
With Feist as the only known being still in the Zone of Silence, he used the limitless powers of the Chaos Emeralds to warp it into the Special Zone and modify it to how he desired. Sonic and Tails entered the Special Zone to ask Feist for one of the seven Chaos Emeralds he formed to save the dying King Max. Feist granted them the grey emerald due to Sonic's efforts in defeating Feist's former master Ixis Naugus, but warned the two that if they returned, he would test them before giving them another Chaos Emerald. Later, Shadow and Rouge the Bat were sent into the Special Zone to retrieve a Chaos Emerald for GUN, Feist told them they could have an emerald if they completed his challenge. Feist took away Shadow's Chaos Control abilities and with only thirty seconds left to complete the challenge they failed as time ran out and were teleported out of the zone. They later returned with E-123 Omega as part of the newly formed Team Dark. Feist presented them with a different test this time, but they failed again and Feist delightedly mocked their efforts. Omega then open fired at Feist as their backup plan, allowing Team Dark to steal the emerald and use it to escape the Special Zone, leaving an enraged Feist behind. (StH: #170, SU: #4)
Some time later, Sonic and Geoffrey returned to the Special Zone for another emerald, and though Sonic completed Feist's challenge, Geoffrey betrayed him and standed him there while he left with the emerald. Feist eventually got bored of watching Sonic just fall in open space and provided him with another challenge to allow him to escape in exchange for some entertainment, which he was successful in doing so while delighting the self-appointed god. Weeks after, Dr. Eggman and Snively entered the Special Zone in pursuit of their own emerald and competed against each other in another of Feist's challenges. Dr. Eggman won the emerald, but seemingly at the cost of stranding Snively in the zone with Feist as an added twist. After he left, Snively was stuck in the zone for a few moments until Eggman transported him back safely, away from Feist and inciting his wrath. (StH: #219, #220, #223)
PropertiesDuring Naugus's rule of the Zone of Silence, it existed as a barren wasteland, practically inhospitable to those living in it without Naugus's help. The Zone was given it's original name because after a few days of exposure to the environment, sounds and vibrations cease to exist, which can lead to a maddening effect. The Zone is also more akin to a force of nature than a dimension of finite proportions, as it would expand to merge with all energy and physical matter around it and on other planes unless stabilized or kept at bay with a constant feed of positive energy. This unstable nature was tempered when the zone was fused with the When Feist reshaped it, the zone became much more colorful and warped. (StH: #36 #53, #170, CSE)
- The change from the Zone of Silence to that of the Special Zone was to make the comic more similar to the game series, which is what writer Ian Flynn intended to do.
- The 'tests' of Feist are like that of Special Zones from various Sonic games. Sonic Universe #4 'tests' are based off of the Sega Mega Drive's Sonic 3D Blast version and the original Sonic the Hedgehog version.
- There was another zone earlier in the series that was called "the Special Zone" that was filled with Power Rings and Chaos Emeralds. It was first seen in issue #4. It's possible that the zone in Super Sonic vs. Hyper Knuckles" is the same zone (as evidence from the Book of Myths mentions it), however, it was later destroyed by Super Sonic. Also, Zonic had mentioned it later on, and seemed "okay". Either way, that special zone was never heard from again.
- Yet another parody of the Phantom Zone, in Superman it was a floating glass that trapped its subjects and the Zone was a barren wasteland inside of it. Additionally, in the DVD commentary for Superman II, director Richard Donner mistakingly refers to the Phantom Zone as The Zone of Silence.