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 The Eggman Who Laughed, and this time we get our introduction to one of the more ridiculous evil counterparts ever created; SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG! Okay, so he’s basically a big joke to anyone with even a modicum of taste (nothing more BAD ASS than a hedgehog who uses guns, am I right fellow kids!?) but comic books are a good way of giving characters like this the kind of freedom they need to really come into their own; outside of the much more strict characterization they have in their primary medium. Can the IDW crew manage to give us a whole new perspective on Sonic’s most laughable anti-hero? Let’s find out!!
The issue begins as most fan fiction should with Sonic and Shadow gazing into each other’s eyes with expressions of grim determination! Will they fight to the death? Team up to fight crime? Furiously make out to the cheers of all their friends!? YOU DECIDE!! Well actually you don’t, because Ian Flynn has final say in this issue and decided to go for the boring one. With Shadow finally finding the Not Quite Eggman in this little village he’s ready to rip his head off and shove it down a garbage disposal, but Sonic has been convinced of The Good Doctor’s amnesia story and wants Shadow to back the heck up; otherwise things will have to get nasty! No, not the nasty you’re thinking of.
Well that’s a bit unfair. The artwork as usual is rather spot on and it’s always fun to watch Shadow on the receiving end of a merciless beat down; even if they have to keep the violence PG. You’ve got your class speedster moves full quick hits, dodges, and snide comments, and they even threw in a Tron Light Cycle style chase as they both speed across the globe trying to outrace the other. It’s not bad, but the circumstances are rather flimsy for this fight in the first place so it can only hold my attention for so long. While Sonic and Shadow are working out their personal issues, the Chaotix are doing the only they can given the circumstances as well as the vastly superior speed of the two dueling hedgehogs; question Rouge the Bat about what the heck is going on right now! Truly they are master detectives! Rouge’s answer that she gives with a rather coy smile is kind of meh to be honest as her GRAND SCHEME as it were would barely qualify as such had she not been dealing with a bunch of easily led losers and a dude with a serious emo complex. Apparently Shadow as on a war path to hunt down Eggman, but Rouge managed to find him first and saw that he was in his current docile state. She then decided to anonymously tip off the Chaotix (oh hey! That was actually mentioned in the last issue!) in order to give them and Sonic enough time to assess the situation and mount a plausible defense for the Somewhat Good Doctor once Angry Pants the Hedgehog eventually finds his way there.
Now I’m not about to complain about them trying to give her some depth by portraying her as a master tactician and manipulator (even if it is somewhat undercut by the gratuitous cleavage poses), but there are SO many ways that this plan could have gone badly. Sonic had no idea that Shadow was on his way, so what if he left like ten minutes earlier? Would Shadow have left Egg-ish Man a puddle of broken bones and gratuitous gore? I mean CLEARLY her plan wasn’t to get him to lighten up or possibly reason with him (Shadow doesn’t play by your rules, Boi!) so what would she have done then? I’d actually like to see what Plan B was; perhaps a variation on the Lullaby from Avengers 2 considering Shadow is such a rage case in this issue. Speaking of whom, what’s SONIC’S plan to deal with him? Well his plan may not be as convoluted as Rouge’s but it certainly manages to give me a headache. Basically he tries to remind Shadow of all the times that Eggman fought on their side which proves there CAN be some good in him and that Shadow should be a bit more understanding given his TRUE AMBIVALENCE TOWARDS GOOD AND EVIL attitude that… I THINK he might have here? It’s actually a bit hard to pin down which SHADOW we’ve got here as I don’t recall him ever being THIS much of a good guy before; unless of course he’s carrying guns and working for the government but even then it’s still a bit of a grey area. In here he’s basically Batman, in that he’s a total jerk wad who’s TOTALLY in this to hurt people, but his moral compass aims him in the right(ish) direction as a way to cover for his clearly sadistic tendencies.
So what about Sonic’s plan bugs the crap out of me? Well, we’re back to the whole continuity problem we’ve been having for the last few issues where aspects of the extensive and COMPLETELY disparate Sonic Lore is awkwardly stitched together without much forethought. Specifically, we’re talking about Sonic Adventure 2 which if you recall at the end of the game, Eggman teams up with everyone else to stop the Space Colony ARK from destroying the Earth; an event which Sonic cites as an example of a time that he was a good guy. What I want to know even more than how the heck spaceships exist in this mostly low tech society of anthropomorphic animals (Sonic Adventure 2 took place in a modern metropolis that was filled to the brim with humans) is how THIS version of Shadow fits into that story, but instead Sonic never even brings up the fact that he was not only ON the Space Colony ARK but also refused to help them because he was still in his super grumpy phase until the very last second. I mean granted that would ALSO be introducing a whole new can of worms what with Maria and all, but just skipping over that doesn’t help in establish exactly who the heck this character is supposed to be. I guess we’re at the point where no one is gonna have the patience for a slow build introduction of a character that is THIS iconic to the series, but if you want him to be more than just EDGY SONIC (i.e. a LOUSY Sonic), then it’s gonna take more than what they’re giving us here. Anyway, after a long and meaningful chat (by which I mean a guilt trip from Sonic), Shadow agrees to not murder the old man in cold blood just yet. Well that’s a victory if I ever heard it, but it’s too soon to celebrate yet! You see, in the last issue Sonic and Shadow both overheard Newegg Man referring to something called Eggman Land which is something even I didn’t know about because I completely skipped over Sonic Unleashed. Spoiler Alert, it was some weird amusement park thingy that he constructed as a sort of monument to his villainy… or something like that. It doesn’t really matter because I’m pretty sure Sonic Unleashed is NO ONE’S favorite game in the series, but if Good Eggman is talking about it, they might as well see what it is and if it’s a sign that he’s returning to his EVIL ways. Turns out it was a giant Red Herring the whole time which means this entire fight was… completely pointless!
Well Sonic and Shadow are MOSTLY satiated by this revelation even if they ARE a bit concerned that he could be getting bits and pieces of his memory back which would be a bad thing, but for now they’ll let bygones be bygones and leave the old man and his sketchy as heck indoor theme park alone… for now. However, there is still ONE mystery left to solve that the writers have been tantalizingly dangling in front us like a carrot stuffed with hundred dollar bills since the series began. We cut to the MYSTERY BAD GUY that’s always been hidden behind one of Eggman’s chairs, and we finally see that it was… Eggman the whole time!
Seriously? That’s the best we’ve got? We’re dealing with clones now?
Ugh… I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like we’ve ACTUALLY switched gears from the initial month of issues as the plot, pacing, and overall quality of these hasn’t changed in the slightest since going to monthly issues instead of weekly. Maybe if they kept the weekly model until we were done doing character introduction issues I wouldn’t feel so deflated after reading these, but as it stands there’s just not a lot of meat to chew on so far and I’m starting to lose my patience with it. Shadow isn’t a character that I have much fondness for, but I’d be willing to give him a chance if the writers did something interesting with him which is sadly not the case here. It’s a weird situation where they’re structuring this like it’s a new series with new characters that they need to take their time (but not TOO much time) getting us acclimated to, and yet so much about them relies on knowledge of a thirty year old series that has had more ups and downs than the James Bond franchise, though it’s a tossup which one had the silliest low points. I guess we’ll keep trudging along through these until the writers (or SEGA) feel we’ve gotten enough backstory and we can get into plots that are a bit more involving and have some genuine stakes to them.