Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #5

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Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

We’re back with another issue of Sonic X-Machina, though it’s still unclear how much of a reboot this is rather than a direct continuation of whatever the heck you’d even CALL the Sonic canon at this point.  We’re also on a monthly schedule now instead of getting weekly issues which HOPEFULLY means we’ve burned through all the necessary introduction and are kick this story into high gear; just like our good ol’ pal Sonic!  Will this be all that and a bag of chips, or is this latest entry as underwhelming as my “cool guy” vernacular!?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with Sonic and his best friend Espio the Chameleon on some sort of robo-killing adventure!  Yeah!  Espio the Chameleon!  Everyone’s favorite character from the Chaotix Detective Agency that hasn’t been playable in a game since… I don’t know, Sonic Heroes?  Sigh… you know, if this is supposed to entice ANYONE other than die hard Sonic fans approaching thirty, MAYBE you shouldn’t throw in references to games that haven’t been available for a decade BEFORE they were even born because as much as Sega has been tossing their games on every system imaginable, you STILL can’t find digital version of Knuckles’ Chaotix!   Tails Adventure which is a Game Gear game no one has heard of is on the 3DS!  You can get Sonic Drift 2, a sequel to a handheld cart racer that was only released in Japan, yet Sega still won’t sell you the one game staring The Chaotix… and somehow they find their way into this series.  Sure.  I mean, if you only have so much to work with and are PROBABLY under strict orders not to add TOO much interesting lore to the series (like some other person who sued them a decade ago did), then I suppose relying on the D List Sonic characters is a safe bet.

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MAKE WAY FOR THE CHAOTIX, SON!!  That’s… that’s still a thing people say, right?

Now if you care enough about this wacky franchise to be reading this recap you more than likely don’t need ME to tell you who the heck the Chaotix are, but just to be on the safe side, they were the main characters in a Sonic Spinoff game for the Sega 32x (google it) called Knuckles’ Chaotix.  It’s one of the ONLY decent games for that system which is why scalpers love the damn thing, but nothing really came from it as the mechanics never reappeared in subsequent games nor did the characters have any real lasting power; mostly because half of them were blatant rip offs of already existing Sonic characters like Mighty the Armadillo who was SO much of a copy/paste of Sonic the Hedgehog that I’m pretty sure they just phased his ass out of the franchise entirely.  That leaves us with Vector the Crocodile, Charmy the Bee, and of course, Espio the Chameleon… who’s also a ninja.  No Knuckles by the way who seems to have been retconned out of The Chaotix pretty much the moment that game lost its relevancy (so about two days after its release) which is hardly a good sign as to the viability of these characters outside of EXTREMELY obsessive fans, but even they are probably more enamored with Geoffrey St John or Mina Mongoose as far as deep cut Sonic characters.  Anyway, it turns out that The Chaotix have been scouring the globe looking for Eggman by kicking ass and taking names at his usual haunts (you’d think Sonic would have already checked those places but whatever), and they did indeed find him somewhere out in the country which is where Espio is taking Sonic now.  What they found is most shocking and is a twist that NONE of them could POSSIBLY see coming!  THEY WENT WITH AN AMNESIA STORYLINE!!  SONIC SHOCK!!

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“Also, I’m pretty sure you just broke my wrist.  Ow, by the way.”

I’ve got to say, this version of the not-so-good doctor is a far cry from the sinister looking dude wearing the classic Eggman regalia that we saw at the end of issue four; not that I’d EVER suspect a comic book company of having a misleading teaser at the end of one of their issues!  Perish the thought!  Still, there’s a lot about this whole story that only confuses the lore THAT much more as I wish this series would just start fresh rather than try to incorporate even more of the games that are CLEARLY not connected in any way.  While discussing what to do with a guy who remembers noting about his past, we get a glimpse INTO said past and we learn that both the Sonic Adventure games, Sonic Unleashed, and even Sonic Generations are in continuity as we see visual representations of The Egg Carrier (I think), the destruction of the moon by the Space Colony ARK the giant laser thingy from Sonic Unleashed, and the freaking Time Eater from Sonic Generations.  Okay, first thing that jumps out at me here, where did all the people go?  For at least three of those, there were PLENTY of humans around living in cities and acting like ethnic stereotypes, and yet we haven’t seen hide or hair of them yet!  Okay, but maybe you’re like me and think that humans haven’t been particularly well integrated into the Sonic franchise so this would be an IMPROVEMENT if they just ignored that aspect and we pretended everyone was an animal the whole time; even that really spooky girl form Adventure 2!  Fair enough I guess even if it seems a bit hand wave-y just to assume that with no explanation, but how the hell do you explain the Sonic Generations connection!?  Are we jumping into time travel and alternate universes THIS SOON into the book!?  Never mind that even in the loosest sense of the SONIC CONTINUITY that Generations is a total aberration that’s more of a celebration of the franchise than a true entry in its own right!  What, next you’re gonna tell me that Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection was actually a sequel to Sonic Heroes?  You’ve got to ease us into those things; not front load this new world with ridiculous bull crap while we’re still getting acclimated to it!  Say what you will about those early Sonic comics from Archie, they may have been supremely goofy but they did a GREAT job of setting up its own status quo that wasn’t slavish to the source material!

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If Generations is in continuity, then that means Sonic 06 is as well.  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?

The reason why I’m rambling about no-name Sonic characters and a clumsy continuity by the way is because this issue doesn’t have a whole lot to offer that we haven’t already seen in other Sonic issues and media in general.  The conundrum at the heart of this episode is whether a person who doesn’t remember the crimes he committed and is acting all goody-two-shoes now should be left to do good things or locked up in case their EVIL nature returns.  They did in Total Recall, we saw it with Mr Burns in the Simpsons episode That Fool Monty, they KIND of did it with Kyusaku Sekiya in The Drifting Classroom, Light Yagami did it to HIMSELF that one time, needless to say that this is some well-trodden territory here and I highly doubt we’re gonna start this series off by making one of the only credible bad guys in the franchise into a good guy for more than say two or three issues.  That said, I WOULD kind of like an issue where we follow HIM around and learn more about what he’s been up to other than the rather brief summary we get here.  Despite being questioned multiple times, he doesn’t even seem to be aware that he used to be a genocidal monster, and you’d think a guy that now has THIS nice of an attitude would at least be SOMEWHAT perturbed by his horrifying past!

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“Enslavement of the planet?  Nope!  Doesn’t sound like my style!  Let’s let bygones be bygones!”

From there, it’s basically the same story from all the other issues; a robot army invades the city, as they are wont to do, and our heroes have to jump into action.  Sonic is a bit skeptical as to whether The Good Egg is responsible for this, but he sees the guy setting up a barricade to protect the children which assuages his fears, at least for now.  We get a few action shots of the siege (surprisingly few of them here, though that’s kind of a blessing as the fight has zero stakes or impact) and our heroes congratulate themselves for a job well done once the dust has settled; once again proving how untouchable Sonic is in this series and that our mysterious villain has zero credibility as a legitimate threat since they continue to recycle the same terrible plan over and over again.  I still don’t know why the writers are bothering to hide their identity by the way as NO ONE suspected for a second it was actually Eggman, and there’s really not THAT many interesting villains it COULD be.  If it’s someone new, then the mystery will have zero impact as it won’t be someone we recognize.  If it IS someone we recognize… well who the heck could it be?  Mephiles?  Infinite?  Snively MIGHT be a decent choice if they want to go down that route.  OH! Big the Cat!  It HAS to be Big the Cat!!

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“FROGGY!  Why didn’t you tell me this was going to happen!?”     …     “Froggy?”     …     “WHERE THE HECK IS FROGGY!?”

With the day saved (again) and the threat of robot violence temporarily abated (again), Sonic has made his decision on what he’s gonna do about Mr. Tinker; AKA, The Good Egg.  He shakes his hand, tells him he’s not who he thought he was (seemingly implying that Eggman is STILL not aware that he is Eggman), and Sonic heads off to his next adventure!  But wait!  There’s still one final twist to this tale before we leave The Good Egg to his happy life of community service and wagon fixing!  It seems that someone else has managed to find The Not So Good Doctor and has JUST arrived mere moments after Sonic and The Chaotix dispatched the robot army!  Who is the character this issue will hang it’s cliffhanger on and entice readers to tune in next time!?  Is it Cream the Rabbit!?  Princess Sally!?  Scourge the Hedgehog!?  Nope.  It’s Shadow.  Well… alright I guess.  At least they threw in Rouge who I’m guessing is Shadow’s babysitter at this point.

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“I’m just here to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself.”     “Not HELPING, Rouge.”     “QUIET, BOY!  The adults are talking!”

I gotta say I’m a little bit disappointed with this one.  Maybe I was expecting too much of a change now that we’re on a monthly schedule instead of a weekly one, but it still feels like we’re spinning our wheels to set everything up instead of letting the world and its characters unfold more naturally in a story that’s compelling on its own.  We still don’t know who the villain is, we don’t know what they’re after, and we’ve seen this all before only with a rotating cast of secondary characters.  As much as I’m nonplussed about The Chaotix, it wouldn’t take THAT much to make them interesting characters or at the very least FUN characters.  Instead, they’re barely in this at all (I think Vector gets three lines max) and we’re focusing on Eggman being a “good guy” which has about as much staying power as a disposable razor that you bought used!  So far this series has been a mile wide and an inch deep; opting to repeat itself over and over again to show us all the characters, but without the depth, nuance, or sense of GENUINE danger, there’s no weight to any of it and it all feels like a fluff piece.  As loath as I am to say it, I’m HOPEFUL that Shadow brings something new to the table as he’s clearly being antagonistic at the end of this issue which is kind of a breath of fresh air relatively speaking.  A drag out brawl between these two would at least avoid us from telling another robot invasion story, and it’d be KIND of interesting to see what the heck they’re gonna use as Shadow’s backstory.  Is he still the perfect life form created in a lab that fights with Uzis and ride motorcycles!?  That may be trite as hell, but it’s a heck of a lot more than what we got from The Chaotix!!

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