| Sonic the Hedgehog #023|
"Sonic the Hedgehog"
Writer: Angelo Decesare
Sonic the Hedgehog 23 is the twenty-third issue of the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series. It was released in June 1995.
This comic features two stories: 'Ivo Robotnik, Freedom Fighter!', and The Vol-Ant'-Teer.
Sonic, Tails and Sally are out looking for berries for food in the Great Forest. Out of nowhere, Sonic starts dancing rapidly, kicking up a ton of dust. Sally asks what's going on, as Sonic sits beside a tree and takes off one of his sneakers, saying there's ants in them. He takes the ants out, noticing they are Mobian Farmer Ants that Rotor keeps. Rotor, who is also looking for berries, runs over and grabs the ants, thanking him for finding them. Sonic, however, is not amused, asking Rotor why he keeps ants. He tells Sonic that he enjoys watching them, and that the ants love living in an ant farm anyway. Despite loving the ant farm, Sonic is curious as to why they keep escaping. Looking over the horizon, Sally changes the subject, calling out to Sonic that Robotropolis is nearby and to hurry up picking the medicinal berries they need.
From behind, hiding in bushes, Robotnik spies on the Freedom Fighters, preparing his next move. He sprouts out with a portable roboticizer, and fires at Sally. Sonic is quick to act, and moves her out of the way. They watch as Robotnik turns his attention to Rotor, who is searching for his ants that he dropped and is unaware of Robotnik. He aims, but is too slow as Sonic runs out of cover to aid him. Before anything else can be done, a giant vacuum appears in the sky, sucking everything in the area, including the Freedom Fighters, Robotnik and Snively. The vacuum (the umbilicus) leads to a square-shaped vessel in the sky.
They land in the vessel, which consists of a large room with many windows around the perimeter. Sally looks out, noticing they are miles above Mobius. Robotnik is quick to place the blame, claiming it is one of his tricks. Sonic himself is confused, trying to convince Robotnik of that, while Rotor tries to figure out who brought them up to the vessel overall. An impatient Robotnik decides to try to go down the tunnel to return to ground, but is stopped by a large metallic hand. The hand lifts him up, as he looks to see the culprit: a large metallic humanoid figure poking up from the level below. Robotnik reacts in fear as the figure tells him that they are remaining with him forever. The others remain fearful as Robotnik is at the will of this being, and them too.
Trying to keep the situation under control, Sonic demands to know the identity of this being. He identifies himself as Car-Heem, a collector from the planet Weeet who has come to collect and study their species. In an attempt to get free, Robotnik tries to sell Car-Heem a copy of 'The Robotnik Handbook'. Car-Heem yells at Robotnik to be silent, and threatens to dispose of him as he appears to be of an inferior species. To save his life, Sonic starts a fib, claiming Robotnik is one of their own: a Freedom Fighter, and is an important member of their group. Tails becomes confused by the ruse as Sally continues, backing up Sonic's statements. Robotnik, seizing the opportunity, follows the fib, intriguing Car-Heem, who works independently rather than other members of his species. To understand more of this means of cooperation, he puts the group in his observation tank: a large replica of a part of Mobius in a tank environment.
Even upon arrival, Robotnik becomes disgusted by the situation, having to live in a non-toxic environment. Sonic, meanwhile, tries to distract Car-Heem away, by asking for some food. He walks away to get some food for the group, giving Sonic the opportunity to try to escape undetected. He does a spindash into the glass wall of the tank, but is bounced back. The group realize they are truly trapped, with no means of escape.
Days pass by as the Freedom Fighters try to adapt to their new home, building a shelter and preparing accommodations. Robotnik, however, has remained his lazy self and doesn't help the others in their efforts, despite them saving his life. Sonic goes over to Robotnik and tells him that, as Car-Heem is constantly monitoring them, if he doesn't act like a Freedom Fighter, he'll get suspicious and likely dispose of him if he finds out he isn't a Freedom Fighter. Fearing for his life, Robotnik gets up and demands to know what he should do. Sonic, taking advantage of the opportunity, forces Robotnik to take the Freedom Fighter Oath, which effectively makes him insult himself. After the oath, an embarrassed Robotnik is approached by Snively, who jokingly congratulates him on becoming a Freedom Fighter.
That evening, while everybody else is asleep, Sonic and Rotor contemplate about being in the same situation as Rotor's ants. This gives Sonic an idea, remembering Rotor's comment that he watches ants because they are interesting. He realizes that they should stop being interesting to Car-Heem, which could prompt him to open the lid on the tank to escape. This presents another problem, because they have no means to get back to Mobius. Robotnik arrives from aside, telling them that, as long as he can have the materials to do it, he can create a vessel to get out of the tank. After that, Sonic can distract Car-Heem, while he operates the umbilicus to get them back home. Sonic's sceptical, as he wonders why they should trust him. He reminds the two that he is, in fact, a Freedom Fighter...while snickering to himself.
Later on, Car-Heem returns to see what the Freedom Fighters are up to. He looks in to see Sonic laying on the ground with no signs of life. He opens the tank up and reaches in. Sonic wakes up and runs up Car-Heem's sleeve, distracting him as he tries to get rid of Sonic. The others, hiding in a bush, reveal a make-shift helicopter that Robotnik built and lift off, while Car-Heem is not looking. They land the helicopter on a control panel, which concerns Sally due to the lack of cover. Not worrying at all, Robotnik gets up and walks over to the over-sized control panel and steps on a button, opening the ship's airlock. Everybody hangs on for their life as everything loose is sucked out of the ship, including Car-Heem...and Sonic inside him. Robotnik closes the airlock door and gloats about his victory, but everybody else is upset as Freedom Fighters support life. Meanwhile, Rotor looks outside and notices Car-Heem's suit has the ability to protect him in space, but he, and Sonic, are stuck floating in space. Rotor gets an idea on how to save Car-Heem and Sonic. While Sally and Tails hold Robotnik back to stop him from interfering, Rotor activates the ship's umbilicus, that launches at Car-Heem. He grabs it and uses it to return to his ship.
Back on board his ship, Car-Heem thanks the Freedom Fighters for saving him and teaching him not to mistreat other species that are different than him. Sonic accepts the apology as they prepare to be sent back home. Robotnik and Snively, however, have been locked in a glass jar for their trip back home.
On Mobius, having gone through their experiences in a limited tank, Rotor decides to let his Mobian Farming Ants free. Although proud of himself, the others aren't so...now that they are itchy from being covered in ants.
It is nighttime, and Antoine is preparing to go to sleep. As he approaches his bed, he sees a huge shadow of a hairy beast. He freaks out and looks outside, only to see it is the shadow of Tails, sitting on a log near a fire. He goes outside, noticing that Tails is upset because he can't get any sleep over losing a power ring he was supposed to hold for Sonic. He now fears Sonic won't let him join him on any more of his missions. Antoine, for once, decides to take the brave route and retrieve the power ring, which Tails left in Robotropolis. Antoine freaks out again, hearing that it is in Robotropolis, but quickly composes himself. Nearby, Bunnie Rabbot wakes up and listens from hearing all the ruckus. He asks Tails to draw him a map and he'll go ahead and retrieve the ring. He walks back into his house to prepare for the journey.
A tired Bunnie walks out of her house and asks Tails what was up. He tells her that Antoine is going to Robotropolis by himself to get a power ring he lost. He looks back at Antoine's house again, commenting how brave he is, but when he looks back at Bunnie, she is gone...
In Robotropolis, after midnight, Antoine enters the city through the sewers. He pokes his head up to the street from a drain and look at the map to figure out where he needs to go. Unknown to him, a patrol car has detected him and prepares to drive over his head. He continues looking at the map in ignorance, though complaining about the noise of the car. Suddenly, a large metal girder flies over him and lands between him and the car. He complains further about the noise, not noticing the girder, and goes back into the sewer, just as the car hits the girder and flies over the drain, crashing nearby.
He arrives at another street, arriving at the location specified on the map. However, he must climb up a ladder on a tall skyscraper to reach the backpack with the power ring on the roof of the building. He starts climbing, eyes closed out of fear, as three Swatbots see him. He reaches the top of the skyscraper and finds the backpack. The Swatbots arrive at the skyscraper, but Antoine doesn't notice them. They start climbing up the ladder. Before they can reach the top, they hear a sound. The top of the ladder has been disconnected, causing them to fall to the ground. They smash into the ground and can't send their final report as a rabbit-like shadow appears nearby.
To get back home, Antoine must crawl through a pipe suspended over a river of toxic ooze. He crawls inside, not realizing that Robotnik and Snively have arrived in a flying vehicle. They see Antoine enter the pipe and prepare to take him out. Snively sets a collision course with the pipe to destroy it, and Antoine too. Suddenly, one side of the pipe is flung in the air, causing Robotnik and Snively to miss it, landing in the river of ooze. Antoine doesn't even notice the change, only noting that crawling in the pipe wasn't as easy as he thought.
Back in Knothole, Antoine meets up with Tails and Bunnie, returning the backpack and power ring. They commend Antoine for a job well done, but he tells Tails never to perform a risk such as that himself. Antoine, however, considers his act foolish, and tells Tails not to mention his 'foolish' act to the others as he flies away to go back to sleep. He then turns his attention to Bunnie, giving her a kiss on the cheek, thanking her for keeping their 'little secret'. An embarrassed Bunnie is lost for words.
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