Archie Comics' "Sonic the Hedgehog" is the longest-running comic based on a video game in history, at a staggering 246 issues (as of December 2012), with numerous spin-offs, super-specials, and one-off issues since its inception in Feburary of 1993. The comic started off as a hybrid of the two cartoons that aired at the time: Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (AoStH), and "SatAM" Sonic, with an emphasis on Adventures. The beginning until issue 20 or so had no real multi-issue stories or continuity between issues, and was generally slapstick humour, with many game references, and a great deal of pop-culture references, such as quotes and titles from songs by The Beatles and other rock stars, to even naming the stories in the issues after them (such as Issue 17's "Wedding Bell Blues", a song by the 5th Dimension). The spin-off Knuckles series would make many references and homages to Star Wars, such as Wynmacher's suit resembling Darth Vader's, one of the buildings looking like a StormTrooper's helmet, female-names being patterned after females' names in the series (such as Lien-Da, Lara-Le…) and so on, though the main Sonic the Hedgehog series would also reference Star Wars on several occasions from Issue 25 onwards as well. The series had later started adopting more and more from SatAM by issue 20, and by issue 30, it had changed to be almost exclusively SatAM-based. The period from issues 26-78 is widely considered the creative and artistic peak of the comic series, with Ken Penders as the main writer, and artists like Manny Galan, Art Mawhinney, and Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante. This period is "Classic" Archie Sonic, as it leads up to "End Game", the final fight between Sonic and Robotnik, as well as the aftermath of defeating Robotnik, such as rebuilding Mobotropolis, and defeating new villains like Ixis Naugus. After Mobotropolis was rebuilt in issue 68, Sonic returns from fighting Ixis Naugus and celebrates his 16th birthday. Peace would not last long, however, as escaped badniks (the Fearsome Foursome, Nack the Weasel, and Snively) would capture Sonic's friend, Nate Morgan, and Robo-Robotnik would return, conquering Mobotropolis once more.
Issue 79 marks a transition from SatAM-based storylines to Sonic Adventure-based storylines, with an entire eight-issue block (issues 79-85, plus Super Special 13) dedicated to the Sonic Adventure adaptation. When things return to normal, however, the story bears little resemblance to the one readers were used to, with Knothole Village growing into a fairly large city, and Sonic being knighted by the King. By issue 114, Mobotropolis was destroyed by nuclear weapons, and when the Xorda attack in issues 124-125, Sonic is teleported to the edge of the universe. When he returns a year later, he discovers that Knothole Village is in open warfare against the Eggman Empire, and breaks up with Sally. He fights to keep Knothole Village safe from the likes of Shadow, Metal Sonic, and Nack. Along the way, Sonic had to help his friend Knuckles and his father (Locke) take back Angel Island, but failed, and even had to fight Knuckles after he was corrupted by Doctor Finitevus into becoming a resurgent Enerjak.
In the most recent issues, Sonic and friends have had to fight the Anti-Freedom Fighters, nicknaming themselves the "Supression Squad", along with the "Destructix" (Formerly the "Fearsome Foursome").
Below will be a summary of each important story arc in the series, with bold names indicating important story arcs.
The beginning of the series lasted from the four-part miniseries (issues 0-3), and then from issues 1-20, in 1993 and 1994. The stories were generally single-issue events that portrayed humourous events within the Freedom Fighters' lives as they fought Doctor Robotnik (who looked like his SatAM self, but behaved more like today's "Eggman"). Milestones in this early part of the comic's history include introducing Bunnie Rabbot (Issue 3), Super Sonic (Issue 4), Anti-Sonic (Issue 11, now named "Scourge" since Issue 160), Knuckles the Echidna (Issue 13), and Robo-Robotnik (Issue 19). The storylines did not get "serious" until around issue 20, and didn't become semi-permanent until Issue 28. Writers during this time were Paul Castiglia, Mike Gallagher, and Mike Kanterovich.
Most comic book companies that would base a comic off of a cartoon would tend to end or cancel the comic series when the cartoon ended, or was cancelled. Archie took a gamble and not only based their series off the cancelled cartoon, but continued and expanded its universe! Starting with Issue 30, the comics would look, act, and feel identical to SatAM, as a way to cater to its fans. The fans responded by adopting the comic as a "spiritual successor" to their beloved cartoon, and readership SOARED from issues 28-78, reaching a record-high for Archie of 110,000 issues SOLD per month! This era's vast success can be attributed to skilled writers Mike Kanterovich, Ken Penders, and Mike Kanterovich.
The comic has many similarities with the show it was inspired from, but also many differences. It kept nearly the entire cast of SatAM, such as Princess Sally, Robotnik, The Freedom Fighters, and Ixis Naugus, as well as the locations on Mobius (Mobotropolis, Knothole Village), and kept the general theme (environmentally-conscious forest animals versus a technological dictator). Places where it diverges from, however, are vast, such as expanding upon its own history, adding characters and locations uniquely its own, and from other universes (such as the games), and adding a whole new mythos to the series, the Echidnas and Angel Island.
The Classic Era began around issue 28, with the stabilization of the comic's atmosphere and the darkening of the tone, becoming more serious than past issues. The comic switched its inspiration from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog to SatAM beginning with Issue 30, and was a massive lead-up to End Game, with nearly every issue continuing the others. It was during this time that the last of the individual Specials (Sonic and Knuckles Mecha Madness) and three-issue mini-series (Sonic Quest - The Death Egg Saga) were released, but tied in fully between issues of the main series. The stories were well-written, displaying emotional depth, seriousness, humour, personality, and best of all --humanity and believability. The readers could actually RELATE to the characters and believe that Sally was upset and concerned that her father was dying from Crystallization after being freed from The Void. Readers could understand how Tails wanted to help Sonic on missions, and managed to save him a couple of times.
The art during this period was no less important. The very-talented latino artist Manny Galán gave the issues a blend between Anime-style art and traditional American-style art that was present in SatAM, bridging the gap between the games and television shows with the help of ace writers Mike Kanterovich and Ken Penders. Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante would also shine in the spotlight occasionally with his work on the covers and the Specials and Super Specials.
Mecha Madness would be an interesting sub-arc lasting from Issue 39 to Issue 40, then to the Mecha Madness Special, before ending in Issue 41, and chronicled how Sonic went from lovable, blue-furred hedgehog, to evil metallic killing machine, thanks to the traitorous actions of Nack the Weasel, along with the battle between a roboticized Sonic and a roboticized Knuckles.
After Issue 41, Sonic Quest - The Death Egg Saga would tell of Robotnik's latest attempt to destroy Mobius, from a flying/orbiting city-sized station, the Death Egg (a reference and possible tie-in to Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 and Knuckles). The story would finish in time for Issue 42 to begin.
End Game spanned Issues 47-50, along with Super Special 6 (while released 2 or so years after issue 50, it is the Director's Cut "extended edition" of Issue 50, and contained "deleted scenes" that were removed from issue 50 due to space constraints), and chronicled how Sonic and the Knothole Freedom Fighters managed to finally kill Doctor Robotnik, by sabotaging his weapon of doom, the Ultimate Anhilator.
The only downside to this is that many fans in the fandom have suggested that the comic should have ended at issue 50, citing it was a "happy ending" and the open ending left things to the reader to decide. They also feared "an ultimate slide in quality of the comic's stories and apperance", as well as concerns about losing its way without a main villain to fill a story. As we see in the next section, however, that is not the case.
When Robotnik was finally defeated, the Freedom Fighters celebrated… but perhaps they are celebrating too soon, as it seems from the moment freedom is achieved, that another unknown is trying to snatch it away from them and defeat them. This unkown villain would later reveal himself as Ixis Naugus, the same villainous wizard from SatAM. He would become a menacing and recurring threat, even as other new threats (such as Mammoth Mogul, the escape of Snively and friends, and the Fearsome Foursome) appeared. During this period, veteran artist Steven Butler would first draw the comics, and would quickly become a regular artist.
After a long time of imprisonment, Mammoth Mogul would break free from the Master Emerald, only to be re-imprisoned in Issue 56 by Super Sonic, Hyper Knuckles, and Turbo Tails, after his attempt to take over Angel Island, Echidnaopolis, and Mobius, though would routinely break free from his prison every so often to confront Sonic and Tails and cause inter-dimensional mayhem (Super Special 7, Issues 149-151, Issue 163, Issue 186).
During this time, the comics would offer our first glimpses into the past of Mobius, and how things became the way they were. This began with Super Special 2 - A Brave New World, with the Freedom Fighters investigating Robotropolis and coming to terms with their loss of childhood, their coming of age, their own mortality, and the new task ahead of rebuilding their planet. This would continue with "Tales of the Freedom Fighters" from Issue 58 to 65, and from 67 to 69, chronicling the past, during the Great War, and up to Robotnik's Coup d'Etat. During this period, The comics would also give us our first glimpses to other Freedom Fighter Groups, such as His Majesty's Secret Service (Issues 61-66), and the Downunda Freedom Fighters (Issues 60-61). Sonic would also come to understand the perils of rabid fans and hero-worship on a grand scale, when he is abducted by the Sandblast City Freedom Fighters and imprisoned ("Icon", Issues 62-63). Icon's two-part storyline would also give readers a unique view on Archie Comics addressing their concerns when one of the characters speaks what the fans did during their letters: "We have read, written, and chronicled all of your actions and quests. You are a hero. However, we think that Sally's sacrifice would have been made far stronger if she had died as a martyr in End Game." This is a rare insight into the influence that fans have on their favourite comic.
Ixis Naugus was tracked by Sonic and Tails to the south pole of Mobius from Issue 53 to Issue 66, nearly freezing to death before being found by the kind human scientist, Nate Morgan (possibly a reference to actor Morgan Freeman, as he looks similar in apperance). Ixis would be ultimately defeated by not Super Sonic, but by Ultra Sonic and Turbo Tails. Sonic's triumphant return to Mobotropolis in Issue 68 was celebrated (as it was also his 16th birthday). While Nack, Snively, and the other escaped convicts would cause trouble for Sonic, Nate Morgan, and the Freedom Fighters, they would be later rounded back up.
This would also start the second of the "flashback" story arcs: Tales of the Great War. This story line lasted from Issue 71 to Issue 79, and was about Uncle Chuck reminescing of better times, and how things happened during the Great War, similar to Issue 61's "The Library"). In Issue 71, Sonic would be transformed from hi "old" look, to his current look with longer quills and green eyes. Like End Game, there would be a 24-issue-long lead-up to a dramatic change in Issue 75, starting with Issue 51. It would be the return of Robo-Robotnik (from WAY back in Issue 19), and he would automatically tie-in to the games by assuming the form of "Dr. Eggman". This would mark the end of the Classic era.
Quite possibly the most extreme change in the comic series began with Issue 79, the dawn of the "Sonic Adventure" tie-in. While the tie-in was originally supposed to last from 79-83, Knuckles Issues 33-34, and Super Special 13, Knuckles was cancelled at Issue 32, requiring the storyline to expand to Issues 79-85. This storyline contained the entire world of Sonic Adventure and its effects would last to today, such as overlander cities, Robotnik as Eggman, and re-writing part of Echidna history to fit in with the game.
Sonic and Tails encounter the latest incarnation of Metal Sonic, and Tails is taken prisoner deep inside an active volcano. Sonic must struggle to rescue his little friend while fighting for his life against Metal Sonic. In the end, Metal Sonic is convinced by Sonic that he can be more than his programming, and sacrifices himself to save Sonic and Tails, letting them return to Knothole.
The "Chaos Knuckles" sub-arc is composed of mostly back-stories, but were continual from Issue 88 to Issue 99, and eventually completed at issue 125, and tells of Knuckles gaining hyper abilities and his colour transforming from red to green, becoming a living chaos emerald after fleeing the Dark Legion's destruction of Angel Island, and helping Bunnie and Antoine rescue Antoine's father, General D'Coollette. When Nack and his sister Nic are offered a large bounty to bring in Knuckles (without harming him, if possible), they agree, and attempt to round him up, but fail. Athair calls upon Tails to subdue Knuckles after an echidna tries to draw off most of Knuckles' power into a harmless chaos emerald device worn by another echidna (who would become a "photonegative" of Knuckles, Dr. Finitevus), but is knocked out as Knuckles is joins the Dark Legion. During his tenure with the Dark Legion, Chaos Knuckles attempts to re-write history several times, each with a failed outcome. Eventually, Chaos Knuckles is murdered by Mammoth Mogul, and meets the echidna goddess Aurora, who explains what happens, but manages to return to life several months later, just as the battle against the Xorda aliens is underway. His return is bitter-sweet, as he sees his friend Sonic supposedly killed in the attack, only to be reunited with him a year later in issue 134, when Sonic returns from the dead himself. With his return to mortality, Knuckles discovers that his powers have become dormant, and the Master Emerald's rejuvinating effects on his powers cause him great pain instead, but he learns that enough of exposure to the Master Emerald, painful as it might be, would fully-restore his powers, as chronicled in Issue 141 during a battle against Hunter.
Issue 102 would see the departure of Elias, who abdicates the throne for Sally, after Geoffrey blames him for how useless he and the Secret Service have become in recent years, as well as for the resurgance of Mammoth Mogul, Dr. Robotnik, and other villains. At this point, Heavy and Bomb unleash nanites that infect Geoffrey and Hershey, where they are taken to the medical facilities until issue 118.
Issues 103-105 pay homage to the Guardians of the Galaxy, an older comic by Marvel, and told of the Freedom Fighters' decendents uniting after 1000 years, along with a cryogenically-preserved/reawakened Sonic the Hedgehog, uniting in their fight against Robolactus(?) and Silver Snively.
This story-arc tells of the origins of the Downunda Freedom Fighters, as the backup story to Freedom Fighters of the Galaxy, in Issues 103-105. Included in Issue 104 is a somber memorial about the 09/11/2001 terrorist attacks.
This story arc consists of Issues 106 and 107, and tell of Dulcy trying to withstand and survive an abusive relationship from a dragon-gone-bad, Xan in Station Square. Sonic arrives when the President asks him for help to subdue Xan.
Issue 110 was a critical issue, as Station Square's Outer Threat Immobilization System (OTIS) has malfunctioned and declared Dr. Eggman to be a threat, and launches five nuclear missiles towards his headquarters in Robotropolis. The effects of a nuclear detonation on the city would unleash radiation and its fallout would blow downwind over Knothole and kill all the furries living there. Sonic and Tails manage to save the day by disabling the protective shield aroud the city, and re-enabling it just as the missles pass through, to contain the radiation within, but the roboticized humans (including Nate Morgan) are killed when the city is wiped out.
Issues 110 to 120 were largely self-contained within their issues, with very little continuity in between, but still respecting the overall storyline's progression. In other words, there were no real "multi-issue"/two-parter stories during this time. The only real continuity between issues would be the Knuckles backup stories.
In issue 112, Antoine ends up in the unlikely role of hero, defeating Anti-Sonic, while Lupe convinces Uncle Chuck to forgive himself for roboticizing her and her family. Issue 113 is an adaptation of the classic SatAM episode "Cry of the Wolf" from Season 2. Issue 114 marks Mammoth Mogul's Return, with the return of the "real" Tails (who was found out in Issue 99 by his uncle Merlin and the guardian Athair to be from a seperate dimension but has all of Tails' memories, thanks to his transformation into Turbo Tails way back in Issue 56 to fight Mammoth Mogul, causing him to switch dimensional places with an alternate-reality version of himself). Issue 115 chronicles Muttski, Sonic's pet dog, temporarily gaining supersonic speeds. Issue 116 displays the first encounter between Rouge and Bunnie Rabbot, and their ensuing fight, due to Rouge thinking Bunnie was a cybernetic robot trying to re-capture her, when in reality, Bunnie freed her from her prison cell by shorting out the laser bars.
Issue 117 chronicles a back-up story first, of Snively and Robotnik's attempts to get back to the real world from inside Robotnik's computers (where they were sent in Issue 110, when Robotnik uploaded their consciousnesses to his computer just before Station Square's nuclear attack). The second, main story in the book tells of Sonic disguising himself as a rabbit to get into the Bottom of the Barrel Bar and Grille in the Forbidden Zone, to try to find and save his childhood friend, Tommy Turtle. Upon finding each other, Sonic discovers that Tommy's been working for the Fearsome Four, and is told to leave. When Tommy sticks up for him, he's allowed to stay, but Tommy is ridiculed for having a friend. During this, Drago makes a deal with Robotnik, not knowing Robotnik is still a robot, and is roboticized, along with the rest of the Fearsome Four. This would be the first of Tommy's many appearances in the series, and this story is an alliteration to Aesop' Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. The final story of Issue 118 is of Chaos Knuckles meeting an injured Harry the Dingo, the cab driver that occasionally helped him out. He heals his friend and asks where he can find Mammoth Mogul, but is told by Harry that Mogul has set a trap for him.
Issue 118 would be the first of several issues that had the "magazine cover" format attempted by Archie. It was met with mixed responses, and eventually phased out by Issue 134. This issue brought the full return of Dr. Robotnik and Snively in the real world with new metallic bodies, but at the cost of their ability to roboticize-by-touch. Sonic and Tails attempt to battle Robotnik and Snively, but are transported by the Bem (Ceneca-9009) to a battlezone to fight each other in opposite forms (Sonic and Tails roboticized, Robotnik and Snively in human form). Sonic and Tails easily defeat their enemies, and are transported back to Mobius, fully restored. Robotnik and Snively are also returned to Mobius, but remain in human form. Hershey and Geoffrey also talk about how they've been incapacitated by the nanites, and now that they've recovered, what they plan to do with their lives. Geoffrey confesses to Hershey that he was wrong for driving King Elias away, and feels he's failed himself, his country, and his own father (Ian St. John). He plans to find out where Elias is, confront him, and convince him to return. Issue 118 also reveals that Knuckles has been murdered by Mammoth Mogul.
Issue 119 tells of Sonic and Tails' battle against Robotnik's newest robot, a giant caterkillar, on its way to destroy the town of Furville. Bunnie also is captured (briefly) by Jack Rabbit (who has not been seen since Issue 61). The issue also reveals that Rotor made NICOLE in the future, and sent her back in time to assist the Freedom Fighters (revealed in Issue 18), and how he tries to discover her creator (much to his annoyance, from being unable to do so).
In Issue 120, Mina asks her mother how she got her dad to notice her, in the hopes that she'll be able to get Sonic to notice her, but she comes to terms with the realization that despite her super speed, she is just not cut out to be a Freedom Fighter. Julie-Su, Mighty, and Vector also reminesce about Knuckles after his funeral.
Issue 121 focuses on "The Prince and the Revolution", where Geoffrey, hershey, and Sonic find Elias after he ran away. He's married a young female and made a good, peaceful life for himself, his wife, and their future child in Feral Forest, but Robotnik has come to disrupt all that. The second story shows Knuckles as he continues his journey into the Afterlife, meeting his ancestors. The third story is about Mina finding her talent as a singer, gaining the nickname "songoose".
In Issues 122-123, Princess Sally is kidnapped by Nack and his weasel brothers (Karl, Jeff, and Connor) as they break out of prison and terrorise Knothole Village on their hoverbikes. The King immediately interrogates one of the captured weasel brothers with Bunnie Rabbot, and learns of the location they are holding her hostage. Mina sets out with Sonic to rescue the princess, and to prove to Sonic that she loves him and wants to be with him, but is devastated to learn that he and Sally still have feelings for each other, and that Sonic would rather just "be friends". This devastates Mina, but she puts her own life in danger to save Princess Sally from Nack the Weasel when he tries to shoot her. While she nearly dies, she saves Sonic's relationship with Sally, but realizes she has to move on from the blue blur.
This story spanned issues 124-125, and told about the return of a violent alien race, the Xorda. They had previously visited Earth to assist humans and interact with them, but they were violently captured and vivisected (disected alive). This angered the Xorda, and they retaliated, destroying Earth with gene bombs that would mutate and evolve the animals on the planet into sentient beings, while killing off most of the human race. This was recorded during the earliest part of Echidna and Mobian history as the "Days of Fury". The Xorda have returned to finish their job, since the Mobians still contained a large amount of human DNA. After Princess Sally attempted to reason with the Xorda leaders, she returned to Castle Acorn and prepared everyone for battle.
All the Freedom Fighter groups, Station Square, GUN, and even some enemy groups like the Fearsome Foursome and Doctor Eggman temporarily put their differences aside to defeat their greatest single, common enemy in Mobian History, the Xorda.
Knuckles returns from the afterlife, to be greeted with tears by Julie-Su, who feared he died permanently. Much to Knuckles' horror, his powers have been lost (well, reverted to being dormant). As Sonic manages to save the day from the Xorda's space-bending dial weapon, it explodes, teleporting his body. Fearing that Sonic has been killed, particularly since no trace of his body has been found, he is delcared dead, fallen in the line of duty, and flags are ordered to half-staff. Sally admits at his funeral that she doesn't know how she'll cope without Sonic.
Tossed in Space spans Issues 126-129. After nearly dying saving Mobius, Sonic is teleported to the far side of the galaxy, and must find his way back home. He encounters several alien civilizations, and even finds emeralds similar to Chaos Emeralds, that actually manifest Super Sonic as a separate living entity (though, an evil/psychotic one bent on destruction, like in Sonic the Comic) for a short period of time, before dissipating. Sonic finally manages to get to Argentum, home of the Bem alien civilization, and meets up with long-lost friends, Amadeus and Rosemary Prower, parents of Tails. From there, they sneak Sonic out of Argentum on a dilapedated craft that starts to break up on reentry, but Sonic manages to survive and reaches Mobius unharmed.
Sonic finally reaches Mobius and is welcomed back by his friends and family that missed and mourned his death. While only six weeks' time may have passed for Sonic in his experiences from space, a full year has gone by on Mobius, thanks to time dialation. Sonic learns of all the extreme changes that have gone on since his near-death. Sally admits to Sonic at a concert in Knothole Village that his apparent death broke her heart and she nearly lost her mind from grief. She couldn't bear it to happen again, and asked Sonic to give up fighting Dr. Eggman, and rule with her as Prince-Consort within the Kingdom of Knothole. Sonic declines this, stating he would still willingly give his life if it meant it would protect everyone he loved from harm and danger, and that if he doesn't fight to protect the furries, who will? Sally breaks up with Sonic and slaps him across the face in front of everyone, telling him that Dr. Eggman can have him all to himself. This was chronicled in Issues 130-134.
This was originally intended to be a Sonic Super Special, but they were ended after Issue 15 was completed in 2000. Due to Knuckles' cancellation and the subsequent extension of the Sonic Adventure adaptation, Mobius: 25 Years Later was constantly pushed back from release, but finally saw the light of day in Issues 131-144, and Issues 166-167. The series tells of Mobius 25 years after the main series (where the characters are in their early-40s, as opposed to being teenagers in their late-teens and early-20s), and how they've grown apart. Sonic and Sally have married, have two children, and are King and Queen of Mobius, while Knuckles is still the Guardian of Angel Island, but is training his daughter, Lara-Le to assume the title when he retires. Unfortunately, all is not cordial, as Knuckles lost an eye thanks to Sonic preventing him from becoming "Chaos Knuckles" again, though the prosthetic/artificial eye is much more enhanced and improved than a normal eye (which he could have cloned from his own skin tissue, but declined), and Sonic still behaves as the young, brash globe-trotting hedgehog he was. Rotor comes upon a disturbing discovery about the extreme weather Mobius has been experiencing lately, and is able to connect it to Sonic travelling between all the different zones and times in the past. Mobius will soon dissolve or collapse into a black hole, and he needs to find a way to convince King Sonic and Guardian Knuckles to put their differences past them and work together.
While they do agree and go with Rotor to fix the situation, something disastrous happens when Sonic attempts to travel back in time to fix the criticality point that started the destruction of Mobius. The timeline is altered, and Sonic is a homeless drunk, his children (Sonia and Manik) are completely wiped from existance, and Queen Sally married King Shadow, hoping she could tame and change him from being a ruthless and violent dictator. Knuckles sets a warrant out for Sonic's arrest, but Tails manages to return from Downunda (with Mina and the kids, who were protected from the time change) and rescue Sonic from Knuckles. Lara-Su feels something has changed, but can't quite put her finger on it, and decides to help Sonic and Tails overthrow Shadow because she's able to link her memories of people and things that have not happened/existed to the time-change. Sonic manages to overthrow King Shadow and rescues Queen Sally. This entire saga took place in Issues 131-144 and 166-167, and will be followed in Sonic Universe Issue 5's story, "Mobius: 30 Years Later".
This story arc composes of Issues 135-137, and tells of how Sonic risks his neck in a rough far-out town to save a childhood friend, Tommy the Turtle. After reuniting and catching up, Sonic invites Tommy to join them in Knothole, and Tommy accepts.
The Return to Angel Island is one of the more major story arcs, and lasts from Issue 138 to Issue 141. It tells of how things have collapsed in Angel Island while Sonic was gone. The Dark Legion took over once more but splintered into the Flame Legion and Frost Legion, two warring factions, while Doctor Eggman has taken over and given assistance to the dingoes, who have enslaved everyone else, including Knuckles' family and friends. The guardians are nowhere to be found, having been tossed into the very same Twilight Zone that the Dark Legion was cast into so many times in the past. Only Locke's whereabouts are known, as he is a prisoner of the vicious and violent General Kage Von Striker, son of the dingo leader General Helmut Von Striker. Half-roboticized to increase his strength, he shows no mercy towards torturing Locke into giving the location of the Master Emerald, and chastizes Harry the Cab Driver for not hating echidnas enough, claiming that without hatred of echidnas, he's abandoned his duties as a dingo.
Sonic and the Freedom Fighters immediately agree to help Knuckles and his friends, the Chaotix rescue the other echidnas from the concentration camps on the island. They manage to find Knuckles' family and friends, and Constable Remmington brings them up to speed on what has gone down on the Island for the past year. The Chaotix manages to free Locke and kill Kage, but not before he releases one of Knuckles' most-feared enemies: HUNTER!
When Hunter threatens his family, Knuckles becomes enraged and absorbs power from the Master Emerald, restoring his powers and super-charging him into Hyper Knuckles. Hyper Knuckles manages to drown Hunter by throwing him into Azure Lake, casts most of the Dingoes into the Sandopolis Zone, and drives the Flame and Frost Legions back into retreat as he begins to power down. Knuckles has a bit of a falling-out with his father, who feels Knuckles isn't fulfilling his duties as guardian by staying with Sonic and the Freedom Fighters. Locke feels Knuckles should help his own people and try to push the Legions and Dingoes out of the echidna zones, while Knuckles claims that the big picture means he has to look at Mobius as a whole, and fight any internal, or external threat, with Dr. Eggman being the biggest one at the time.
Issues 142-143 tell of the original freedom fighter group that inspired Sonic and Sally to form their own. They were comprised of Great War veterans who knew that Mobotropolis was lost, and that they could not completely topple Robotnik with their limited resources, so they improvised guerilla warfare to slowly wear down Robotnik and steal supplies to win a war of attrition against him. They were betrayed by one of their own and cast into the Void. They were never heard from or seen again, and were mourned by the Knothole Village furs. This inspired Sonic and Sally to mobilize the other children into becoming the Knothole Freedom Fighters, and vowed to pick up where the original freedom fighters left off.
The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown spans Issues 146 to 149, and sums up much of what went on during Sonic Heroes and after, focusing on Metal Sonic, Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog, and the Freedom Fighters, and their fights with each other. Starting in issue 149, and ending in 150, is a two-part story of Tails becoming The Chosen One, fighting agianst Mammoth Mogul.
Songoose is a two-part story of Mina Mongoose performing at a morale-boosting concert for the Royal Army. However, things do not go according to plan, when Nack the Weasel (heavily disguised) attempts to assassinate her (but fails). He's quickly captured by the Freedom Fighters, and sent to the Knothole Jail (where his brothers are incarcerated). He quickly explains that Robotnik hated her music and wanted her murdered, and the Freedom Fighters set off to encounter Robotnik. Towards the end of the arc, Ash nearly dies saving Mina, who admits that she'll always have a special spot in her heart for Sonic, but that she truly loves Ash, and wants to be with him.
Issue 150 starts off with "From Hero to Zero in No Time at All", where Sonic challenges Ash Mongoose to a game of darts, with neither one getting particularly far ahead of the other. After getting annoyed, Sonic decides to walk along the stream with Mina. While this is happening, Nack is speaking with one of his cohorts about stealing the Master Emerald, and how difficult it would be to pull off such a heist. Rouge overhears this and decides to make a bee-line for Echidnaopolis.
Back in Mobius, Mina feels a bit ashamed for walking out on Ash to hang out with Sonic, and has second-thoughts about "cheating" on him like this, so she walks back towards Knothole to be with Ash. After a few minutes, Amy Rose shows up, and Sonic starts flirting with her. Amy considers this a bit out-of-character for Sonic, but appreciates it anyway. After sunset, Tails stumbles upon Sonic and Bunnie making out in the bushes, and is shocked by this. He runs off, upset from being reminded of how Sonic "stole" Fiona from him.
After a few hours, Bunnie decides to head home. It is then revealed that it has not been Sonic the whole time, but rather Anti-Sonic that has switched places with him, having been inspired to do so from watching Patch (Anti-Antoine) after he had swapped Antoine and Patch in order to get rid of the evil coyote (Patch). Upon seeing how successful Patch was at tricking everyone, and how good of a life he was having, he decided to get in on the fun, as well.
It is at this point that Rouge is looking around Echidnaopolis, trying to find Locke the Echidna (Knuckles' father, and guardian of the Master Emerald). When she finds him, she tries to seduce him during a walk through the rainforest, though he remains suspicious of her intentions until his friend Archimedes teleports her away, and reminds him to think with his head and not to fall for a pretty female, despite Locke's insistance that he was mearly trying to figure out what she wanted.
In Issue 152, it shows the "flip-side" of what was going on, with Sonic on Anti-Mobius, and having to contend with the Anti-Freedom Fighters, being beaten up by them, and eventually tied to a log, being hung above an Octopod-filled stream by the others, before being tossed into the water. On Mobius, Anti-Sonic sneaks up on Rouge, posing as the real Sonic, flirting with her, and offering her Chaos Emeralds in exchange for her help.
At this point, the Anti-Freedom Fighters think they've managed to kill Sonic, and look to see if they did the job. Sonic leaps out from the water in front of them. Antoine (disguised as Patch) wonders if Sonic is Anti-Sonic, or the real Sonic, before reminding himself that Anti-Sonic and real Sonic look identical, and that Anti-Sonic is the one that sent him here (and his only way back to Mobius). After fighting off Antoine, Anti-Sally, and Anti-Bunnie, he takes on Anti-Tails and Anti-Rotor, telling them that he's not Anti-Sonic, and just wants to go home.
On Mobius, Anti-Sonic watches as Rouge approaches Locke. She flirts with the guardian to distract him while Anti-Sonic goes for the Master Emerald, only to fall to a sneak-attack by Sonic, who has returned from Anti-Mobius. Sonic manages to get his shoes back from Evil-Sonic, but the fight turns very violent. Anti-Sonic throws several rocks at Sonic and pins him to the ground. Rouge begins to kiss Locke and make out with him, until he releazes that there's a fight in the Chaos Chamber. The older echidna jumps down the hole leading to the chamber, finding Anti-Sonic on top of Sonic, pinning the good hedgehog to the ground while holding a rock in his hand, ready to stun or kill him. Locke realizes that the REAL sonic would never use a weapon in battle, and shoots Anti-Sonic out of the chamber with his telekinetic powers, running to Sonic's aid as soon as Anti-Sonic is out of the way.
Rouge is enraged with Anti-Sonic over his failure, but reverses her mood when Anti-Sonic shows her an emerald (but not a Chaos Emerald). She is pleased and decides to team up with him, and walk into the forest to discuss things more "privately".
Locke brings Sonic back to Knothole Village, where a patiently-waiting Amy hugs and kisses the blue-furred hero. After Sonic takes her home, he wonders why she came on to him. Amy explains what happened, and Sonic ends the story, thinking to himself "First Amy, now Bunnie… what"s next?!".
This story arc has its roots in Issue 150. In Issues 155-156, Patch (Evil-Antoine) masquarades himself as Antoine, and tries to poison King Maximillian Acorn and marry Princess Sally, to become King, but Sonic discovers this, and is able to send him back to Anti-Mobius, rescuing Antoine in the process. It is later revealed that Patch swapped places with Antoine about a year ago, and this is what caused the falling-out with him and Bunnie.
Until 1999, most games had adaptations, including the games (or part of them) as part of the "Archieverse" or Mobius, such as Sonic 3 and Knuckles (Issue 13), Sonic 3D Blast (Sonic Blast Special), and Sonic 2 (The Death Egg Saga). Most games until 1999 were included, but this all changed with Sonic Adventure. Sonic Adventure has radically changed the comic series from what it used to be and what made it popular and what it is, changing it into something nearly unrecognizable, and setting in motion a series of sweeping changes that have affected the comic universe to this day. Sonic Adventure took up six issues (Issues 79-85) plus a Super Special (Issue 13), and the comic went in the direction of trying to emulate or become an anime-appearing manga comic.
Coupling this attempt of anime with the Sonic Adventure adaptation led to disastrous results. Readership quickly declined, worsening from the destruction of Mobotropolis in Issue 114, the breakup of Sonic and Sally (Issue 134, the "Slap Heard 'round the World"), the "reshaping of the world" in Issues 161-164, the destruction of Knothole Village in Issues 175-176, and even the destruction of the original Freedom HQ (180-present).