Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America
Things are starting to get serious around here now that Eggman has a robo-virus thingy as well as two ignorant test subjects to use it on! The villains have certainly been the highlight of this arc to be sure and giving Rough & Tumble a cybernetic upgrade could certainly bring them up to Eggman and Starline’s level, but the more and more the writers put into that side of the story, are they letting the good guys fall to the wayside? Let’s find out!!
The issue begins with Sonic and Amy who are trying to suss out Eggman’s latest plan and end up finding his lair which is adorned in typical Eggman fashion. No one can expect him to inhabit some place with anything less than Baz Lehrman levels of flair, and frankly that’s why I love the guy! I mean how can you NOT respect someone who will exert that much effort on something so vain!?
Now as funny as it is to imagine Sonic and Amy entering this cave through Eggman’s gaping maw, the experience is much less jovial for the latter as this was APPARENTLY the site of a previous battle that she took part in where, and I quote “We lost a lot of good people.” Okay, is it just me or did we miss the MUCH more interesting stories when the writers decided to set this story AFTER the big war!? Seriously, everything we’ve heard so far about the BC (Before Comic) era about the full scare battles sounds like some serious business, and I kinda want to read it! I don’t know, maybe they’ll make a spinoff about that or perhaps the Whisper/Tangle miniseries will have a bunch of flashbacks. Chances are we will never know the names of those heroes who valiantly gave their lives that day (I’m guessing one of them was Mighty the Armadillo) but at least these two may finally discover Eggman’s newest plan once they hack in the mainframe using the base’s computer which, once again, is the same plan as we saw in issue 8. Seems like a bit too soon for this book to start repeating itself, but in any case the only new detail we learn is that Eggman is planning some sort of distribution facility which we the readers can infer the purpose of but is still a mystery for these two as the data says nothing regarding the robo-goop. Their breech into the Egg-frame is short lived as Rough & Tumble come storming through a nearby cave wall in a giant drill car that apparently requires two people to operate and that these two are qualified to do so. Eggman hasn’t roboticized them yet which is odd considering they are no less obnoxious now than they were when he came up with the idea, but then I’m not the mega genius who thought to immortalize his visage on the entrance to his own SECRET CAVE.
The fight scene is about what you’d expect by now as Sonic easily outwits them with his super speed and snarky attitude (has a large vehicle EVER won a fight against someone with Main Character PowersTM?), but what happens next is where things start to get interesting. Once Rough & Tumble roughly tumble out of the useless drill, they reveal to Sonic and Amy their backup plan which are backpacks filled with the roboticization good; not that they know what they are in for of course, but I guess trusting the megalomaniacal tyrant has worked for them so far , so why stop now? To their abject horror, as well as Sonic’s, Amy’s, and even the reader’s, Rough & Tumble are coated in this nightmare fuel and turned into, the robo-slaves which Sonic quickly starts referring to as ZOMBOTS. They may not be any better at combat which seems like a design flaw to me (this is why you test it on more than two helpless critters!), but they get the job done in the end as things start to turn ugly for the hedgehog pair. What we’re gonna do now is go back and forth on what works and what does NOT work about this plot turn; starting with their designs! As I feared, the roboticized versions of Rough & Tumble are just shiny with no further mechanical characteristics and as unnerving as it is to see them sapped of all personality in favor of being single minded shells of their former selves, I can’t help but feel that we’re missing an opportunity here to REALLY cement these two as interesting and tragic villains. What works though is that we have a new twist that we didn’t see before which only adds to the horrifying nature of their transformation; namely that they’re becoming liquid metal in a sense which is that much more disturbing when you think of what must have happened to the meat and bones of their bodies to get them to this state. It’s genuinely unnerving to watch as parts of their bodies are twisted and mangled only to reform moments later.
To continue with what’s good about this, the ultimate goal here for Eggman was NOT for Rough & Tumble to destroy Sonic; rather to infect him with the robo-virus which they do as Sonic has to naturally come into contact with them to do any damage at all, so even if the battle ends with the two of them falling down a VERY deep pit it’s still bad news for Sonic and leaves us on a very dark note which is a great way to entice us to read the next issue. This is also great planning on Eggman’s part as the backpacks only infected Rough & Tumble after they already got to Sonic and Amy so… I guess the goo would still be fresh? It’s a bit unclear if a Zombot can infect someone long after they’ve been turned, so making sure they were nice and fresh for the fight ensured Sonic’s exposure to the goo. However, to kind of get back to my earlier point, I’m not too thrilled with the way that this latest threat is being presented as it lacks a lot of punch to it. I mean come on, Zombots? That’s where were going here? Again, this is a problem with trying to evaluate a comic on an issue by issue basis, but I personally would have liked it if there was a real transformation of these two for the book to build off of instead of having them serve as a small piece in Eggman’s larger plans before being thrown down a plot hole. I MIGHT have been too hard on these two when they first showed up which wasn’t a GREAT issue, but the writers have done some interesting things with the characters since then, so I genuinely hope this isn’t the end of their story and I wish the roboticization in this wasn’t so… basic I guess. This idea is still in its earliest form however and there’s certainly room for it to grow or mutate over time, so let’s just say we’re putting a pin in this for now instead of outright calling it a flaw.
So the defeat of Rough & Tumble ends up being bittersweet and not just because they’re stuck being zombified robot monstrosities at the bottom of a dank hole, but because Sonic himself seems to be going down the same road. The infection doesn’t seem to be spreading immediately like it did for Rough & Tumble, but time seems to be running out fast for the blue speedster which is bad news for everyone involved. Frankly it’s probably a good idea for Amy to smash him in the face with her giant hammer to knock him into the hole as well until they can get this all sorted out, but I doubt the book is going to be THAT pragmatic (I’d be AMAZED if that’s how the next issue begins) and instead we’re leaving things on a very uncertain note. Eggman on the other hand who I’ve barely even mentioned so far is utter elated at the news and is already planning to put his volatile robo-virus out into the world to finally take it over once and for all! Will he finally succeed in his quest for global domination!? Probably not, but we’ll have to wait until next month to find out!!
The series is still on a hot streak as far as issues and is definitely an improvement over the first story arc, but I still kind of wish they’d pick up the pace just a bit or at least put some more plot threads into each issue. This one felt rather slight as the only real goal here was to get Sonic covered in goop, and even though Amy was on hand to bounce off of him she really doesn’t have much of a presence in this; especially once the action kicks in. Still, it’s hard to complain when the format is what it is, so I’m still having fun reading these even if things are moving at a much slower rate than I’d like especially with the heroes not having as much to do as the villains who continue to outshine them at every turn. Maybe the next issue will give the writers a chance to flesh out the other good guys once Sonic is out of commission or is turned to the dark side. When he did that in the Archie comics we got a great scene of Antoine, the comic relief cowardly Frenchman, pulling a knife out and threatening to stab him in the heart. I’m not saying they’re gonna go THAT far here, but I wouldn’t object if Tails were to take a swing at him!