Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – Team Sonic Racing

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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

So apparently this thing came out a month ago!? See, I thought that IDW was just giving everyone a nice break for the holiday season which is why we didn’t get an issue from the main series in December, but NOPE! While I was scrambling to not only get my personal life in order during that horrendous month but finish up ALL my year end work for the site, they managed to slip this one right under the radar and the only reason I picked up on it NOW was because the issue I’ve been waiting for from the main series is finally coming out! Well, I guess better late than never which seems to be the motto of Sumo Digital who pushed the actual game this one shot issue is about back to all the way in May, and with this being the beginning of the year and me still trying to recover from a TRULY awful bout with the flu, I could use a nice and easy softball such as this to get me back in the swing of things and distract me from how much my stomach feels like someone’s been kicking it with great gusto! If this is to be my epithet, let it not be said that I didn’t go out completely on brand. ANYWAY! Does this shameless bit of native advertisement for Team Sonic Racing (which REALLY should be called Sonic Team Racing) manage to be just as engaging to read as the main series, or did I seriously just pay IDW to tell me to go buy this video game? Let’s find out!!

So as shocking as it is to hear, there ACTUALLY is something of a plot in here! I know, right!? Apparently this dude named Dodon Pa who has a glorious, yet sinister, mustache has called Sonic and his various friends to come to Planet Wisp for a race to win some nebulous prize. Okay Sonic, good guy 101: DON’T ACCEPT INVITATIONS TO MYSTERIOUS TOURNAMENTS HELD BY ECCENTRIC WEIRDOS!! It’s either gonna end in one big death match or is a front for money laundering. Either way, you should probably steer clear and find a better use of your time!

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“My mustache is quite pleased with all the carnage!”

Okay, it doesn’t seem to be quite that sinister (at least for now; we’ll see when the game comes out!), but basically we’ve got TEAM SONIC (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles) racing against TEAM CHAOS (Shadow, Rouge, and Omega) in some sort of team based racing. I’m guessing the winner is determined by the combined score of each team members position, but early on its clear that Sonic and Shadow are content to just continue their… “speed” measuring contest and are leaving the rest of the teams to fight amongst themselves to seal the actual victory. This is where they start awkwardly introducing us to mechanics in the game which aren’t very well explained meaning you’re not getting “an edge” on techniques when the game finally comes out and yet it still clearly feels like an advertisement. What I’m actually more curious about is how they can taunt each other about these most epic of maneuvers while racing at ludicrous speeds that would surely drown out anything they’re saying. I don’t see them wearing headsets, and their cars are ALL convertibles!

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“AND DON’T FORGET THAT WE CAN BUY SONIC BOOSTER POINTS AT PARTICIPATING FAST FOOD LOCATIONS!!” “WHAT!?” “I’M JUST REMINDING YOU THAT IT’S NOT JUST DELICIOUS TO EAT AT [insert secured brand deal here], BUT IT’S ALSO SMART BECAUSE YOU CAN COLLECT THOSE SONIC POINTS!!” “WHAT!?”

I’m not sure what else to even say about this. I mean stuff happens, but… not particularly interesting or engaging stuff. Eggman shows up on the track in his car! Oh no! Then everyone starts to race him… and they sure do love racing, don’t they? Also, I’m pretty sure Sonic and Tails do the Shake and Bake maneuver from Talladega Nights which gave me a chuckle at least. There’s just not much substance even within the limited scope of this comic. It’s a one shot about the characters driving cars. Fine! You can STILL do something interesting with it! We have no idea what the layout of the track is for one, which you’d think would be helpful to contextualizing the numerous panels of cars going fast on a road, but I guess knowing details like how close they are to the finish just wasn’t important. If there’s one thing that I found somewhat interesting in this comic, it’s that they DO show some of the other teams that will be in the game as Tails calls for backup from Team Rose and Team Chaotix which apparently has been renamed to Team Vector. Now sure I bet I could have looked at the game’s Wikipedia game to find this out, but as one of those weirdos who thinks that Sonic Heroes is one of the best 3D sonic games ever made (damning with faint praise to be sure), I do kind of like seeing how they’ve updated the concept here even if it is a bit baffling. Team Rose still consists of Amy and Big the Cat (making his first and hopefully last appearance in an IDW book) but for whatever reason they’re released Cream the Rabbit with… Chaos. First, you don’t pay me enough to know if Cream is for whatever reason no longer a part of Sonic canon (by which I mean if you paid me AT ALL I would find out in a heartbeat), but putting that aside… WHY CHAOS!? What, were there not enough Sonic characters to choose from that you had to just throw a bunch of these little punks in a car and hope that they can add up to a personality!? Here’s an idea! If you’re still going for that whole “Girl Team” thing, why not put Blaze in there!? Oh wait, they can’t do that because Team Vector is now composed of Vector, Blaze, and Silver. WHAT!?

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“Yo, this race is about to get LIT now that TEAM VECTOR is in the house! Am I right!?” “I mean… I do have fire powers.” “I’m from the future and am still trying to understand your old ways of communicating.” “Come on, guys. I booted Espio from the team to make room for you two…” “Who?”

Call me a fool, but I don’t see much of a thematic thru line for these characters; especially since ONE of them hasn’t been a playable character in a non-party Sonic game (i.e. The Waluigi Test) since the Bush administration. I mean sure, out of ALL the Chaotix he’s the one that stands out at least (though Charmy is arguably as popular), but even Silver is more relevant than him at this point! Alright, I think I’ve milked that minor point of contention for all its worth which is good considering there’s still nothing else to really talk about in terms of the “action” here and we might as well jump to the end. Everyone totally gangs up on Eggman, blow his car to smithereens, and then Sonic and Shadow fight about who won the race which you can SURELY recreate and settle for yourself in the upcoming game! PRE-ORDER TODAY!!

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“There is only one way to settle this rivalry once and for all. PILLOW FIGHT!!”

Geez, not quite the “getting back in the saddle” piece I was hoping to write considering how slight this whole thing turned out to be, but wait! As it turns out, IDW seems to have also realized this and filled the end of the comic with even more fluff than usual! We don’t just get the letters from fans and a few pages of another book they’re trying to sell! There’ an interview with Sumo Digital and even a few pages about how this comic got made! Well dang! Now I can switch my snarky critic hat for my SERIOUS GAME JOURNALISM hat as we learn more about this upcoming game!

Okay, there’s not much here as, like the comic itself, it’s just another fluff piece. One thing I’d like to know but isn’t answered here (no, I don’t feel like looking it up) is if you can mix and match teams or if you’ll always have the same teammates if you play as a certain character. At least we learn that there’s a story mode in here which I guess means that each team is gonna have a few cut-scenes between the races, so if nothing else I’d be interested in checking that out.

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ALL the questions!? They’re gonna explain what happened to Princess Sally and the Freedom Fighters!?

I still have Sonic All Star Racing Transformed to play if I need a racing fix, but if this is a genuine improvement and the story is either surprisingly enjoyable or hilariously bad, I MIGHT check it out. The MAKING OF section is about the same in that it’s just more promotional fluff with not much insight. I like that they at least mentioned how the artist (Adam Bryce Thomas) was given concept art from the game to work off of as far as the vehicle designs and I’d be curious to know what else IDW gets from SEGA as far as reference material for their books. I guess that’s as good a stopping point as any which means we have to answer the big question; does this one off issue justify its own existence as a comic book outside of its use as a marketing tool for the game? Well… I do kind of want to be charitable here because the artwork is pretty good which is appreciated as the whole story is one big action set-piece, but it really doesn’t feel like it excels past what was required to make SEGA happy. Now that’s not to say that I think this is some sort of low point for Sonic or anything as the original Archie comics did this kind of thing too, but ultimately it’s just forgettable. A stronger narrative or at least a clearer idea of what the race actually IS (is the track a circuit? Maybe a Cannonball Run style cross country thing?) would have at least given the action scenes a sense of progression instead of just an endless serious of action shots. Well drawn ones to be sure, but even then we could have maybe used a few wider shots to give us a sense of the location instead of just close ups of cars on roads. If nothing else, I’d certainly like to see more one shots from IDW for upcoming Sonic games! Keeping those separate would at least be better than trying to ham fistedly crowbar even MORE ambiguous continuity into this series!

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