Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America
The one good thing about being as hopelessly behind as I was and having to play catchup throughout December and January was that I got to read A LOT of books in a short amount of time. The wait between the last issue and this one has been EXCRUCIATING as I kept checking back every week in February to remind myself that yes, it’s still not coming out for another week or so. No mini-series to keep me occupied in the mean-time either, and you’d think that by now IDW would take a gamble on a concurrent series, but nope! A full month without Sonic comic goodness for me! Was the wait ultimately worth it as we get started on a fresh new story arc, or will I be willing to wait TWO months after reading this? Let’s find out!!
With the crisis as White Park Chateau narrowly averted and Tails successfully Frankenstein-ing Omega back together, we begin this issue rather low-key as everyone is heading to the newly crafted Restoration home base so that Belle (the living puppet with a mysterious backstory and a clown nose) can find a place among the normal folk and not spend her time in an underground bunker. Okay, TECHNICALLY The Restoration HQ is in an underground bunker as well, but theirs is super nice so it’s still an upgrade!
Gotta say that the picture this issue paints of the Restoration is not the most flattering or interesting one, and I’m starting to realize what Sonic’s deal was about ALL the way back in those first few issues where he was just bumming around the countryside instead of getting involved with this group. They put Belle to work in the Machine Shop just to give her something to do while all the IMPORTANT characters do IMPORTANT things, and she’s paired with this hippie gorilla dude who seems nice at first but quickly turns sour on Belle after she makes a few mistakes. I can’t blame her though, because this is an INCREDIBLY unsafe work environment for anyone; landing somewhere right below an Amazon warehouse and a landmine factory! Sure she can be a bit clumsy from time to time, but there are heavy machines falling all over the place, a serious lack of proper equipment (she’s carrying GIANT boxes instead of using a pallet), and almost NO fail-safes in place! She accidentally crashes a box into a giant metal hook holding a boat in midair for some reason, and that’s enough for it to collapse! And THIS dude has the temerity to say SHE’S a liability!?
In fairness, it does do a decent job of showing us why she doesn’t belong here and is better off doing main character things with Tangle who is ANOTHER victim of this stifling bureaucracy, but it may do the job too well as the whole Restoration looks like a depressing slog where dreams go to die and I couldn’t wait to get away from it while reading this issue. I mean aren’t they the ones trying to restore order to a broken world? Shouldn’t they have better things to do than yell at the new girl and make Tangle file paperwork!? The plot that EVENTUALLY kicks in is that there’s a giant storm-generating machine thing that’s causing some issue for a nearby city, so Tangle and Belle break the shackles of their boring workaday lives to go with Sonic and crew on an epic adventure! No wait, they’re sent to do more paperwork because CLEARLY that’s the proper way to allocate talent around here! You get Arnold Schwarzenegger to join the Justice League, the FIRST thing you do is put him on the customer service line! And of course, they manage to slip away from work a few pages later so it’s not like it matters all that much, and Belle in particular seems to have some sort of interest in this weather machine as it may hold a clue to her mysterious past.
Still, they have a ways to go to catch up to Sonic, Tails, and Amy who are already at the machine, and what they find is a giant glowing ball of something and a suspiciously empty facility with one very big door. Not a group to be deterred by something so flimsy as six inches of solid steel, they burst their way through it and tumble right into some sort of glowing teleporter that seemingly takes them further into the facility. The trio starts wandering an endless series of hallways, never finding an end to them or even any doors lining the sides, and it soon becomes clear that they aren’t dealing with a place that follows the rules in terms of space and matter. Sonic eventually has had enough of this pseudo Doctor Who chicanery and he starts racing all around the place as fast as possible to try and find a way out, and sure enough, the rooms can’t keep up with him until they finally start collapsing in on themselves; thrusting Sonic and company into THE TWILIGHT ZONE!!
We’re just starting out a new arc so I’m fine with the issue being rather slight and without much plot beyond GO TO A PLACE AND FIND SOMETHING ODD, but what kind of threw me is just how much I ended up disliking the scenes at The Restoration. I was legitimately wondering why Belle was putting up with any of this when she can just walk out at any time and find something better to do! Even Tangle, one of the most energetic and fun characters in this whole series, is entirely there on sufferance and it’s frustrating to see her not happy! We do in fact learn a bit more about Belle in that she’s willing to be deceitful in order to get what she wants, but even that didn’t come off as “bad” because it doesn’t feel like there’s going to be any consequences for their actions! I mean MAYBE they’ll pull a Chrono Trigger and put her and Tangle on trial for stealing that broken down hover-bike, but I seriously doubt that any of this is going to matter later on so for now I’m questioning why it took up so much time. Things definitely picked up in the second half however with this very surreal and completely inexplicable new crisis our heroes find themselves in that feels like a G-Rated speculative sci-fi story; such as Little Girl Lost from The Twilight Zone or any number of bizarre Junji Ito stories. I wouldn’t say this was the BEST way to start things off, but I’m definitely excited to see where all this is going!