Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America
Well now that we’ve dealt with that distraction from Team Sonic Racing (again, they REALLY should have gone with Sonic Team Racing! It sounds SO much better!), we can FINALLY get back to the actual series and all that juicy plot we’re all so ready to lap up! Will the defeat of Super Metal Ultra Chicken and the return of Angel Island to its former glory signify a longstanding era of peace and prosperity for the citizens of… wait, have we officially called this place Mobius yet? Maybe they’ll clarify that in this issue! Let’s find out!!
The issue begins with Sonic and Tails who are in some sort of basement with Metal Sonic chained up in a very suggestive manner; not something unfamiliar to Sonic Comics (check out the cover for issue 175 of the Archie series), but you can all relax because they’re about to let him go. It seems that between the end of the last issue and the beginning of this one, they repaired Metal Sonic from the damage he incurred in their last battle, but JUST enough to get him moving instead of in fighting shape. That said, even if he doesn’t have his laser beams and whatnot, he still very clearly breaks through his metal constraints, so it’s not like he’s totally harmless, but I guess Sonic is too impatient to either wait for Tails to utterly de-power him or find a better way to keep him in place.
Sonic offers his metal counterpart his freedom in the hopes of getting him to stop acting like a jerk, which I’m SURE he’ll take under advisement as soon as someone would be kind enough to point him towards the exit. Yeah, no. I know it’s a trope for Good Guy CharactersTM to let the villain live to show how much better they are, but isn’t there like… a trial or something that should be happening right now? Is there no legitimate form of government under which to hand Metal Sonic over? Come to think of it… what IS the state of the government in this world!? At least in the Archie comics it was made clear that Eggman was firmly in control and prior to that it was a monarchy, but here? I mean sure there have been robot attacks in the last few weeks, but that’s hardly the same as a totalitarian dictator ceasing all power, and yet the only sort of group we’ve heard about so far is THE RESISTANCE. I’m just saying that there’s a significant part of this world that STILL feels underdeveloped and it didn’t take the Archie comics this long to set it straight! It also helped that they were written prior to the SONIC EXPANDED UNIVERSE and were much more detached from SEGA’s vision of the character which I think is something they could certainly use a bit of here (not EVERY creator is gonna be Ken Penders, and you’re not gonna HAVE a Ken Penders situation if you don’t lose the contract!), but regardless at least things are moving along as we gear up for the next act. Now at this point in the story, Sonic’s basically done everything important that he’s gonna do in the story, so let’s switch back to Rough & Tumble as well as Dr. Starline (oh hey! They DO have new characters!) who are still trying to get Dr. Eggman to return to his old evil self instead of the kindly old Mr. Tinker that they’re stuck with after kidnapping him. If only there was something from his past that could reignite the old memories… oh hey there Metal Sonic! WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED THIS IS EXACTLY WHERE YOU’D GO!?
We’re gonna go a LITTLE bit out of order here by talking about the rest of Eggman’s scenes first before getting back to Sonic despite the two stories being intertwined throughout the issue. The reason why is that I want to contrast what works so well about the former and why the latter feels lacking. The first thing that caught my attention is how well they’ve managed to get Eggman’s personality down and make him at least somewhat menacing instead of an utter joke which he’s almost always been whenever we see him. Like… right off the bat, he’s awakened to his true self just ten seconds ago, and he’s already scheming things and berating the new help. Now Rough & Tumble certainly deserve it for being total losers, but Dr. Starline is starting to prove himself to be a rather competent villain which only boosts Eggman’s gravitas that such a guy wants so desperately to work with him. The important thing here is that we learn about Dr. Starline’s super power gimmick which is some sort of NEW magical stone that allows him to teleport (something he calls a Warp Topaz) and not only did he use it to break Rough & Tumble out of jail, he ALSO somehow used it to steal the Chaos Emeralds; something you’d think The Resistance would be keenly aware of and freaking out about, but I guess they were a bit busy fighting off a giant robot chicken monster in issue 11. Come to think of it, I’m actually a bit surprised that I hadn’t noticed at all that the Chaos Emeralds hadn’t shown up yet considering how prominent they are in the series which I guess goes to the rather well-crafted story that kind of did a slight of hand replacing it with the Master Emerald which DID show up a bunch until now. Oh, and also this simple gag here is REALLY funny and the art is fantastic!
Boy! With so much going right with this half of the story, I bet that all the Sonic stuff is JUST as good, right!? Sigh… okay, so I don’t want to dunk TOO hard on this part of the story because it TECHNICALLY is a lot of the stuff I want from this book, but I don’t think it’s done particularly well here. The book devotes eight pages to Sonic more or less going up to every major (and minor) character we’ve seen so far in the comic book canon and saying goodbye to them. Knuckles is chilling out on top of the Master Emerald where he decides to disband the resistance so he can continue to chill out there (again, why did he bother being leader in the first place!?), Amy is… doing something with a clipboard, The Chaotix are trying to get paid for their job, even Rouge is just hanging around on a lounge chair for no reason other than to let us all know that Shadow’s nowhere to be seen. I mean sure, character moments are some of the best parts of this book (the flight in issue 9 is still a highlight so far), but there’s not a lot of meat to these scenes as it’s just pleasantries and trite humor. The only thing close to a bright spot here is when he talks to Tangle and Whisper, mostly because the latter is the best thing about this book still, but it’s still not all that great because Tangle has yet to really become a character in her own right. She’s still more or less a one dimensional fan of everyone there and has yet to show any real emotion other than overwhelming excitement. Hopefully the writers can flesh her out a bit or at least pair her up with Whisper more to try and balance things out.
So yeah, I guess the lesson here is that you need to make the most with the room you’ve got and filling it with unremarkable fan service will always pale in comparison to genuine storytelling. Even if Sonic’s side of the story came up short this time, we’ve at least got an interesting start to Eggman’s new scheme; one that he teases at the very end of the book by the way! And so the issue ends with us getting a look at Eggman’s new scheme which I’m PRETTY sure is that he’s planning on resurrecting The Guardians; meaning that this is in fact a crossover with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s too late to take it back now! I’ve sewn that fan theory on the internet, and now nothing can stop it!!
I’m actually genuinely surprised by this issue for two reasons. First, I didn’t expect them to get such a good head start on the next story arc, and second, I didn’t think I’d like them turning Eggman back into Eggman this quickly. Admittedly it MIGHT have been nice to draw out his transformation for a bit longer, but as far as Mr. Tinker inevitably turning back into Dr. Eggman, well at least they made him rather compelling right off the bat which is more than I can say for a lot of the heroes when they were first introduced. I’m curious if there’s going to be much fallout from this issue, such as the fact that the village Mr. Tinker was at is going to miss him or if everyone is going to get on Sonic’s case for letting Metal Sonic go free, but that’s a problem for the next issue and the uncertainly of that definitely doesn’t take away from this issue’s strengths. However, I do want to get back to what I was saying earlier about certain aspects of the book feeling underdeveloped. Yes, there have been some new characters introduced to this book such as Rough & Tumble, Tangle, and Whisper, but I still don’t get the sense of this being a cohesive world which was one of the best parts of the Archie books. For the most part, this still feels like one of the games where each one has a brand new status quo so you can never get a sense of what world they live in or get invested in it to any serious degree. For a while there they were sharing the world with humans, but that hasn’t been the case since what, Sonic Unleashed? While I do want the world of this comic to expand and for there to be new surprises out there, I don’t want it to keep feeling like the world is only what it needs to be for any given issue because that’s kind of what they’ve been going with so far and I just don’t have any investment in it. This is probably why the Sonic parts of this issue fell so flat, because we’re SUPPOSED to feel triumphant in this moment and yet it all feels kind of hollow. Hopefully this is something they’ll improve on over time and at the very least the writers seem to be heading in the right direction for the time being!