When Ian Flynn took over Sonic the Hedgehog as main writer back in 2006, his first task was to wrap up everything the comic had been doing for years. Strung out plotlines with little resolution had become the norm, and had definitely run its course. Sonic #160 through Sonic #174‘s primary purpose was to bring everything back together and reign it in so #175 could be an easy jumping off point, not just for the reader but for Ian to write his own stories involving the sprawling cast of the comic. Part of that spring cleaning was the initial resolution to Mobius: 25 Years Later, even if it had been two years since the storyline had been an ongoing feature in the book.
Though it is possible that revisiting the future would have been on Ian’s mind eventually, the two-part conclusion was not something he decided to write, but was instead editorially dictated by Mike Pellerito. Wanting to also wrap things up to make things easier for oncoming readers, he instructed Ian to find a way to end Ken’s futuristic epic in 22 pages, spread out across two issues. Not content with just having Ian come up with his own ideas, he demanded the young professional incorporate an element in the narrative that could be seen as coming from out of left field: the arrival of King Shadow.
When I was asked to do the M25YL conclusion, I was given three directives by then-editor Mike Pellerito:
– make Shadow king
– make it action-packed
– do it in 22 pages – 11 pages per part of the story
I added my own directive of Lara-Su had to be awesome.
So I had to wrap up the inconsistent Mobius/reality is falling apart plot, wrap up the vague ending the arc was left on, find a reason for to be Shadow to be king, and honor all that was built up previously in very little space. 
While Ian could have completely ignored everything Ken had done for the future, he made a conscious effort to make it feel like a continuation of that story, utilizing Rotor and Cobar as backdrop, not to mention the rolling out of Lara-Su. Though he was careful not to voice his own opinion on the original story (aside from alluding to his displeasure on Lara-Su’s characterization), he knew that it had its fans, and Ian didn’t want to completely alienate them.
“Tempes Aeternus” by Ian Flynn and Tracy Yardley picks up with Lien-Da, proudly dancing about in her victory. With a glass of wine in one hand (I can only hope that it’s chono), she gloats to the floating head of Dimitri. With Knuckles arresting his friends not to mention his own flesh and blood, she proclaims the fall of the house of Edmund. Dimitri can’t help but voice his displeasure at his descendant’s happiness, all the while Rutan watching the scene uncomfortably from the staircase. Lien-Da acts completely unphased by everyone’s unease, replying that this is how things are now, and that the only people who could do anything to change it are locked away.
Sure enough, Sonic, “Tails” and Lara-Su have joined Rotor in the catacombs of Castle Mobius, their captures being smart enough to even tie down Miles’ namesake. The dynamic duo can’t help but joke about how its like old times, Lara unable to wait until she can tell her mom that Knuckles sent her to the dungeon. The only one who is completely down and out is Rotor, who can’t believe any of them are able to joke at a time like this. Even with Rotor’s spirit broken, Sonic and “Tails” can’t help but smirk, Lara moving on to worrying about what her cousin Rutan will have to say once he learns about this.
Moving from sadness and despair to absolute frustration, Rotor turns to the Guardian’s daughter, asking how she is able to act this way. That is when Knuckles bursts in, reminding the walrus of her lineage. Well, being oblivious is an Echidna trait, I suppose! Knuckles starts talking, calling Sonic and “Tails” a pair of lunatics. Lara-Su, acting defiant, refuses to apologize for what she did by teaming up with Knuckles’ friendly rival, to which the Guardian can only smile. His expression joining that of the goofy stares shared by the hedgehog and the fox, Knuckles presses a button that frees everyone chained to the wall. Saying how proud he is of his daughter, Knuckles asks if they really believed he would arrest them. Sonic acts cocky, saying that if it was just him? Sure, but not once he arrested Miles and Lara. What’s also interesting is that Sonic actually calls the two-tailed fox Miles. Perhaps a hint at the maturity all these characters are supposed to have, 25 years down the line? To be fair, I didn’t even notice at first how he didn’t call him by the usual nickname. This must really be the future, if Sonic can steer away from the names of his youth.
Quickly, Miles formulates a plan, saying he’ll hack into the castle’s security systems so that they can get to the throne room, Knuckles able to escort Sally to safety while Sonic handles Shadow. During this, Lara-Su can’t help but be excited by her father’s recent actions, asking if he knew she had overheard the conversation he and Miles had previously. He confirms he did, hoping that she would rebel just like her mother would have. Though she wants to jump right into the fight, Knuckles tells her to take care of Rotor and take him to the nearest hospital. Instead of whining about it, she agrees, seeing it as a lesson he is teaching her about how the Guardian protects all the people, not just someone who rushes into danger.
Lifting Rotor, Lara-Su carries him out while the rest of the cast gets to their duties. Knuckles comments that he can’t believe he’s going against his own forces, though Sonic is sure they won’t mind considering the circumstances. Bursting into the throne room with a well-rehearsed one liner, Sonic and Knuckles stare down King Shadow and Queen Sally, the latter staring on with a blank look on her face. Sitting perched above the throne, yet another statue celebrating Maria as a goddess figure, which I can’t help but feel is creepy. Unlike other times I’ve mentioned how I’ve been creeped out by this story, this is something I can actually understand, since it only makes sense that a mentally-disturbed Shadow would take Maria and turn her into something that she would be horrified at. I do wonder how Sally must feel staring into Maria’s porcelain face every day…
The Guardian asks for Sally to come with him, her not putting up any sort of fight. When Shadow calls Sonic a king, Sally realizes that Shadow is aware of the other timeline, which the dark king explains away as him being master of time and space, him possessing the power of Chaos Control. While I can understand that (even if it is a stretch), I don’t understand at all how Sally is aware of what once was. By all rights, she should have been with Sonic and Knuckles when they went to the Tachyon Chamber all those issues ago, but Ken decided to make her stay at home and do nothing. So why, if she was nowhere near when everything went down, does she remember that things used to be better?
With Sally out of the room, Sonic lunges at Shadow, throwing a punch that completely misses its mark. Sonic is confused, his faker looking extremely annoyed. Throwing off his cape, he begins to completely wail on the blue hedgehog, explaining that while he was barely a challenge 25 years ago, now he is nothing, past his prime while he remains the ultimate lifeform, unaging. As Shadow’s cape flutters to the ground, Shadow bests Sonic in only a page. I guess that’s what happens when you eat chili dogs you find in alleyways, Sonic.
Before he can finish him off, Shadow is attacked by the sudden arrival of Lara-Su, done with her task of rescuing Rotor. Unable to defeat her as quickly, he lets his Chaos powers emerge, Lara-Su letting it be known that she also has some control over the raw energy of the Chaos Emeralds. Shadow starts throwing out Chaos Spears in a flashback to his own videogame, but Lara-Su is able to push each and every shot aside. Reciting the poem Tikal made famous in Sonic Adventure, the Guardian’s daughter is able to somehow freeze Shadow in a Chaos-fueled prison, the permanent Chaos Control preserving a goofy look upon the dark king’s face.
With the threat neutralized, Sonic gets up, still looking shaky, asking Lara how long that should hold Shadow. She says she doesn’t know, but that it should be good for a few generations. Knuckles then bursts in, making sure that his daughter is quite alright. Together, they share another father/daughter moment, already making their relationship more believable than what Ken showed. Before, all we got was an extremely generic sitcom version of a father and a daughter, with the latter barely defined as a person. Here, in 22 pages, we get Lara-Su as Ken probably wanted her to come off as: a young woman coming into her own, reflective of Knuckles’ own journey from teen to father. I get the sense that Knuckles actually cares about his daughter, and that he wants to be there for her growing up in a way his own father never could be.
With the pair walking away, we are left with the couple Sonic the Hedgehog has been revolving around since the beginning: Sonic and Sally. Able to process their reunion, the two look at each other like a young couple first becoming aware of the difference between men and women. Walking into a more private room, Sally tells Sonic about Knuckles explaining what happened with the alternate timelines, and how she’s always felt like something was off all these years. Even though she already said she knew about the original timeline, so Knuckles’ revelations shouldn’t be all that revolutionary. Either way, she goes on to say that the only reason she married Shadow was to try and unite Mobius, in the process hoping to tame him. Even so, she never was in love with him, politics being the only reason they were together.
Sonic then asks about the elephant in the room: what should they do about each other? After all, Sonic remembers a world far different than what Sally has been living. Sonic remembers being married to Sally and having children, while this Sally has been doing all she can to try and keep Mobius together. With a smile, she harkens back to her youth, saying she remembers their young love, and some of the trouble they had. He tells her that they worked through it, and asks if she would be willing to work through it again. Getting close, holding hands, and then finally with a kiss, the pair of Sonic and Sally come back together. With the windows open and the wind blowing, the story ends on a bittersweet note, with Sonic asking if Sally’s ever thought about having kids.
I won’t lie, Ian’s conclusion does feel rushed, but knowing of the editorial mandate, I can cut him some slack. This was a story he wasn’t prepared to write, forced to include elements he hadn’t come up with and have it all reach a satisfactory end in 22 pages. Under those circumstances, he did pretty well. The fact something actually happened in the story? The fact it was fun reading it, even if there was an overarching sadness about what Sonic lost? Those elements balanced out in a way the previous installments by Ken never did. I can’t say for certain that if Ken had been able to finish the story he wouldn’t have been able to pull off something similar, but I have my doubts. Though I must admit, I am a little bothered by how easily Lara-Su was able to beat Shadow. The introduction of her being able to use Chaos powers makes sense when you consider her father, but without any sort of hint of her being anything more than an annoying teenage girl when Ken wrote the story, it comes out of left field. More than likely Ken would have made Lara have some sort of superpower (as hinted at by the retractable knuckles in her hands), but some vague foreshadowing could have gone a long way. Unless Ken always meant for to be nothing more than just an annoying teenage girl.
Thus, after 126 pages, we have reached the end of Mobius: 25 Years Later. It’s been a wild and crazy ride, but what can you really say about it? A lot, apparently. Which is why we’re not quite done yet. Come back tomorrow, where we will finally finish this series and look back on the legacy of the future.
Before tomorrow wraps this up, be sure to take a look at the last few installments if you’ve missed them:
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 1 – What’s Future Is Prologue
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 2 – Of Frightened and Dancing Crocs
Mobius: 25 Years Later, The Review: Part 3 – The Adventures of Lara-Su and Old Rotor
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 4 – The Mobius Girls Can’t Help It
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 5 – A Brief History Of The Future
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 6 – A Brief History, Continued
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 7 – The Mental State of Sonic the Hedgehog
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 8 – A Dinner Party At The End of the World
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 9 – The Myth of the Mobius Sleepover
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 10 – It Goes Full Circle, If Only Halfway
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 11 – The Secret World of Jani-Ca
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 12 – The Completely Expected Death Of Locke
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 13 – When Is A Finale Not A Finale?
Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 14 – All Hail King Shadow