Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #31

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 even more Sonic goodness, and sadly I have not lived up to the principals of my one true idol.  I have not in fact been “Going Fast” recently as I’m a good month behind on this book, though it is somewhat fitting that I’m taking a somewhat lackadaisical pace at reviewing these issues since the book itself is in something of a lull after completing the Zombot arc.  Yeah, let’s pretend I meant to do it like this.  ANYWAY!  With Sonic in another dimension and peace having been restored to his home, what will our heroes do now that they have some well-earned vacation days on their hands?  Let’s find out!!

Much like the last issue, this is mostly about reestablishing the status quo now that we’ve finally come to the end of the story arc, but where the last issue was a bit overstuffed with new conflicts this one manages to find the right balance between story progression and character building; starting off of course with Sonic who has found himself in the Sol Empire.  It seems that the cool blue dude lost his memory after crashing into the ground at what should have been terminal velocity, and so Blaze has to sit here trying to get him to explain not just who he is but how IMPORTANT he is and why he needs to get his memory back sooner rather than later.  What’s fascinating about this is that despite being told he’s essentially the woodland critter chosen one, he seems cagey and aloof in a way that clearly indicates how little he wants anything to do with whatever it is he’s expected to do now.  It definitely goes with the character as he’s been established as the first few issues of this series were about him trying to avoid responsibility and being free to go wherever he wanted before the return of Eggman eventually made that impossible, and I’m curious just how far this amnesiac version of him will go to refuse a call to action.

“Seriously; Sonic the HEDGEHOG?  What about me looks the LEAST bit like a hedgehog?”

Sadly this is a very brief part of the issue as we swiftly go back to Sonic’s dimension (I’m just gonna start calling it Mobius) where everyone else is trying to get their bearings after the devastation of the Zombot virus.  It’s a bit of a shame because I like what they’re doing with Sonic and Blaze is a character who should be in this series a heck of a lot more, but the writers really knocked it out of the park here so I’m not going to complain that I’m getting good scenes from ALL of the characters instead of just my favorite one.  We see Amy in the absolutely ruined remains of Restoration HQ with nothing more than natural lighting and a desk full of random papers to work with, and it’s clearly not something she’s about ready to deal with.  If only there was someone out there who liked organizing things and looked better in a dress suit!  Luckily for her, Jewel the Beetle knocks on… well whatever’s LEFT of the door, and offers her services to The Restoration which Amy accepts with open arms and a stack of papers!  The Restoration has definitely felt like a vestigial element in this series as something of a replacement for The Freedom Fighters which was such an important aspect of the Archie series.  The problem with it is obvious in that it was a secondary element to just randomly stick established characters into (to essentially waste their time) instead of something built from the ground up for the new characters in this book, and hopefully Jewel taking over will be the first step in making The Restoration more than that.  Speaking of new characters, Tangle is out with Tails to find people who have been displaced by the virus (apparently you can get pretty far going at a Zombot shamble), and we cut to them coming across Rough & Tumble.  Somehow they are getting a free pass after all this which I’m pretty sure is the reason the Zombot crisis happened in the first place what with Metal Sonic being set free to turn Eggman back into his evil self, but then again they keep letting Eggman get away with this nonsense and considering our CURRENT political climate, letting monsters get away with everything under the sun feels a lot less farfetched…

And yet it’s still not as egregious as Roger Stone’s commuted sentence.

We also get scenes of Eggman Scheming that isn’t all that interesting, but we do get a brief update on Dr. Starline who’s alive and well in some sort of Eggman warehouse plotting his elaborate scheme to show his not-so-good mentor that he was right the whole time and get that big thumbs up from his daddy figure which only makes me wonder exactly what the heck happened in HIS life that led him to this course of action.  Seriously, how many hugs did his father not give him that he now idolizes the biggest douchebag on the entire planet?  All I’m saying is that if they’re going to do another mini-series than that would be a good place to start, but for now we leave the evil-doers to their machinations to spend some time with the Chaotix who are… well in the midst of a chaotic situation.  It’s not a particularly ENTHRALLING scene as the Chaotix are just kind of running around frustrated about their workload now that everyone is trying to find their missing loved ones, but things get… shall we say INTERESTING when Cream, Vanilla, and GEMERL show up, and it’s STRONGLY implied that Vanilla is into the big strong scaly type!

Play it cool, V; You’re NAILING this!”

See, this is what I’m talking about!  For like twelve issues there I couldn’t care less about anything that was going on because it was all about this ONE BIG CRISIS that frankly felt old and played out a good decade before they started doing it here.  However, in ONE issue we’ve got like what; three or four intriguing plot threads that I’d like to see play out?  Seriously, a date night between Vanilla and Vector would be ten times more interesting to me than yet another punch-up or angst ridden zombie story.  Speaking of angst!  Shadow is… somewhere, standing on a floating rock and just staring into the distance.  Rouge shows up to try to give him an update on the current events post Zombot-pocolypse, but as you’d expect (and as she clearly KNEW would happen), Shadow just keeps staring into nothing; lost in thought and failing to find any interest in the world around him.

“Are you saying I wasn’t living up to my brooding potential?” “Uh…” “I must take a long hard look in the mirror to overcome this dark revelation.” “Are you making fun of me?” “…Maybe.”

Perhaps I’ve missed out on the TRULY good Shadow content out there (I still haven’t ready those Sonic Universe books which seemed to feature him quite a bit) but Shadow has never for a moment not looked like a complete joke to me.  He’s ANGRY and BROODING to a comical extent, and any opportunity to try and legitimize that aesthetic like in Shadow the Hedgehog (and to a lesser extent Sonic 06) has only made the problem worse; so for years now they’ve really had no idea what to do with him and he’s just been kind of THERE as an annoying and paper thin fixture of the franchise.  This issue though, with that ONE look and that one moment of dry wit from him?  Well it doesn’t exactly FIX the character, but I get the sense that SOMEONE over at IDW knows what they’re doing and perhaps can finally give us a version of this character that is… let’s say LESS embarrassingly try-hard.  The rest of the issue involves most of the main characters (except Shadow of course) having a party in Spiral Hill Village; the home of Tangle as well as Jewel.  Everyone’s happy and having a good time (except Whisper who’s mean mugging The Babylon Rogues as they are still kinda bad guys) when the festivities come to a screeching halt as Eggman has just crashed the party in yet another giant robo-suit.  Will our heroes be able to overcome Eggman even without Sonic to take care of it for them!?  I mean probably, yeah.

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This is easily one of my favorite issues of the ENTIRE series so far because it focused on characters and didn’t just shuttle us to the next big crisis.  When given the opportunity to just take a step back and breathe a little, the writers on this can come up with some very compelling scenes that add a lot of dimension to the characters with as little as a single page of talking, and if the series focuses even MORE on this then I think we’ll have something truly worth keeping an eye on.  The only thing that holds this one back is that it IS mostly just set up since we’re going all over the place, and the ending conflict feels a bit perfunctory as there’s not much being set up by it.  At most there’s the vague implication of Eggman working on some sort of SPECIAL PROJECT, but I don’t think taking a robot and going all Godzilla on this party is the masterstroke he had in mind.  For the first time in a very long time though I am genuinely excited to see what happens next.  Not dreading the next issue of interminable zombie drama, not anticipating the END to such drama, or even cautiously optimistic that things are going in a different direction.  I really want to know what happens next and I can only hope that they keep going in this direction!

4 out of 5

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