Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #13

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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 a brand new issue of the brand new Sonic comic!  A bit late to be sure, but I’m gonna go ahead and blame that on this being the thirteenth issue… and the fact that I’m SUPER behind on everything else I’ve got going on.  ANYWAY!  Now that Eggman is back in business and ready to take over the world once again, what will his opening salvo be, and will Sonic and crew be prepared for what happens next?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with a quick recap of the status quo since the last arc ended.  Amy is running The Resistance which has been rebranded as The Restoration (thankfully they didn’t go with The Reconstruction), Knuckles is watching guard on Angel Island which he SHOULD have been doing this whole time, and for some reason they want us to know that Silver is still out there looking for whatever it is that may be threatening THE FUTURE, so chances are he’s gonna play a role in this story later on.  Oh, but what about our dear pal Sonic?  What’s HE been up to since saving the world!?  Well instead of doing something IMPORTANT like seeing if Mr. Tinker is still where he left him or possibly checking into what Metal Sonic is up to, he’s just chillaxing on a beach.  I mean sure, down time is necessary for mental health, but considering what he just went through the LAST time they assumed Eggman was gone for good (if you recall, the series started after the supposed death of the guy) it might be prudent to take a few preventative measures as well.  Heck!  If nothing else, make sure that the guys you captured back in issue 3 are STILL in Resistance/Restoration custody!  Oh, whatever!  I’m sure there’s no extraordinary evil schemes underway that are gonna blow up in his face any minute now, right!?

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“I’m probably gonna get blamed for this, but whatever.  I’ll fix it just like I fix EVERYTHING ELSE that goes wrong around here…”

Sure enough, Tails got a message announcing Eggman’s return and telling Sonic to meet him in Windmill village.  You’d think he’d be sweating bullets right now as he realizes he’s directly responsible for… well everything, but Sonic’s TOO COOL to express any emotional other than confidence, so he and Tails rush off to Windmill Village to kick some butt and bask in everyone’s adulation!  Hello?  Adulation?  Where is everyone anyway?  Oh, maybe the village elder knows!  The village elder who… is strung up in a tree and clearly beaten half to death.  Huh.  I guess the autograph signing is gonna have to wait a tad as these two have a real mess to clean up.  Said mess by the way turns out to be, who else, but Rough & Tumble who are now decked out with Eggman branded super weapons and I’ve ALSO learned that they are brothers as well as skunks.  I mean… kinda I guess?  Hey, if we let Knuckles call himself an Echidna and Sonic call himself a hedgehog, we can let these two say they’re skunks!  Now the bout that ensues between Sonic & Tails and the Dynamic Duo is actually quite the improvement on the action we’ve seen in this series which is definitely appreciated, but there are still some problems that have yet to be addressed.  Now as I mentioned (and as was foreshadowed in issue 12) Rough & Tumble have some new weapons to help them even the odds in their fight which is a decent way of escalating them as threats, but we never get an explanation of what they are or what they can do.  Now I don’t need them to do a full rundown of the product features and specifications, but I had to read it a second time to really get a grasp on what was going on with them.  Rough’s weapon (he’s the short one) is some sort of grenade launcher he wears on his back that shoots out… stink bombs I guess?  Meh. Nothing much going on there which is why he faces off against Tails.  Tumble on the other hand (the tall one) has a bit more going on because his weapon is a mechanical tail to replace the one he lost.  Now I always thought he just had a short tail, but as it turns out there’s some backstory they’re teasing for these tertiary characters which no doubt means they’ll get their own mini-series soon enough; the more content IDW can produce with their own original characters, the better!

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“I WILL CUT YOU TO PIECES, SKIN YOUR BOTTOM HALF, AND WEAR IT LIKE A PAIR OF PANTS!!”     “Yeah… dibs on not fighting that guy…”

While all this is going on, Eggman and Dr. Starline are conducting some horrifying experiments which gives us a bit of insight into whatever they have planned for the rest of this story arc, and like with the fight scene it IS still pretty good but I do have a few issues here.  No doubt that they are doing a great job of characterizing Eggman who no one has been able to take seriously as a threat for like fifteen years now (hence why he’s almost always the secondary villain in the more recent games) and the darker edge they’ve given to him is certainly selling the menace as well as the anticipation to find out what happens in the next issue.  However, I think maybe they need to pull back just a LITTLE bit here as the book spends WAY too long explaining what it is he has planned when it’s a relatively straightforward scheme.  We’re essentially bringing things back to the basics as Eggman is planning on Roboticizing the plants and animals of this world to create a mechanized utopia which is more or less the starting point of the Archie comics.  However, it take SIX PAGES all told to explain all the details of how the process works, what it works on, and even teasing some possible unforeseen consequences.  Is all this attention to the specific mechanisms of this process going to pay off in some convoluted plot twist down the road?  I mean probably, but that’s hardly the interesting part of the drama which, at least as far as I’ve read, is the approach they take in the Archie comics.  Eggman captures someone, sticks them in THE MACHINETM, and turns them into his robo-slaves; nice and simple!  Here, it seems to be some sort of goop that Eggman’s developed which works like a virus, and it also only affects living things so non-mechanized inanimate objects are safe, the robo-slaves created are much more aggressive, and as far as I can tell (they MIGHT be hinting that this isn’t the case), the goop needs to directly touch the thing it’s roboticizing meaning it’s not a transmittable robo-virus.  I’m STILL probably missing some important detail there, but already you can probably tell that the focus is much more on the minutia than it should be.

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“Now DANCE for me, my furry slave!”     “What?”     “I’m bored of these experiments, so instead you will dance for my amusement!  NOW!!”

Now I don’t want to come down TOO hard here because the execution is still really solid with Eggman being TRULY monstrous (the implied animal cruelty that his character is associated with is much more upfront here), but its’ another thing that doesn’t flow as well as it should and I’m somewhat dubious at how many these specific details being laid out are going to pay off.  In any case, as Eggman and Starline are finishing up their experiments they check in on Rough & Tumble’s progress to see how they are handling themselves.  Short answer, pretty badly.  Long answer?  Tails does that Sherlock Holmes super calculation thingy to catch one of Rough’s grenades and throw it back at him while Sonic finds a way (causing an unnecessary amount of property damage in the process) to destroy Tumble’s new tail and crush him emotionally instead of physically.  Honestly dude, if you JUST wanted a new tail you should have gotten it from Eggman and then just booked it for the nearest village to live out your life in peace; probably growing a mustache in the process just to keep your identity secure.  I mean sure, Eggman and his buddy Starline could PROBABLY find you, but considering how badly you’ve done up to this point they might figure that it’s not worth the effort!  You’d certainly be better off than you are now!

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“After all is said and done, who’s the REAL bad guy here!?”     “It’s… it’s still you!”     “NAME CALLING AT A TIME LIKE THIS!?”

Yeah, after seeing their new partners in crime fail so miserably, it’s clear that Eggman and Starline need to bring them back to base and have a meeting with HR about their job performance; HR meaning Hurt-Bots to knock some sense into them.  Using Starline’s magic teleporting crystal thingy, they pluck the two out of the village which leaves Sonic and Tails confused as to how that just happened but little doubt as to who’s behind it.  With yet another embarrassing defeat under their belts, Rough & Tumble are pushed to the side while the grownups work out the next phase of their plan.  In the meantime, Dr. Starline has decided that he will face Sonic next, which means we’ll finally get to see how he fights and if he’s the slightest bit credible as a threat!

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“My plan is to open a portal on the ground and another in the sky.  I’ll throw Sonic in the ground portal and SPLAT!  No more blue hedgehog.”     “Yeah… that plan is probably TOO good.”     “What?”     “I mean we don’t want to KILL him!  Where’s the fun in taking over the world if you don’t have a rival’s face to rub it in!?”     “Sigh… yes sir.”

I am actually quite impressed with this issue; especially considering how lackluster the Sonic bits in issue 12 ended up being compared to the far superior Eggman portions.  Things are a bit more evened out here as the Sonic parts are MUCH improved and the Eggman’s parts, while not quite as good as they were last time around, are still definitely the highlights of this book.  I still miss the Freedom Fighters and what they brought to the table (whatever The Restoration is, we need A LOT more information about it), and I can nitpick about the fight scenes or the places where the exposition is excessive for certain things, but the new arc is coming along quite well and it’s much more engaging than the MAIN CHARACTER ROLL call we got for like five issues straight.  Even the new character Dr. Starline and the expanded roles of Rough & Tumble have been working far better than expected (especially considering how quickly I wrote the latter two off after their first appearance) and it’s starting to feel more like what I loved about the Archie books even if the pieces are still not quite there yet.  The book has a decent amount of momentum now which is more than I can say for most of the first arc, so here’s hoping they can keep it going with the strong writing they’ve been showing thus far!

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