Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America
I’ve never been that big of a fan of the Zeti, so the prospect of another story arc focusing on them wasn’t exactly a welcome proposition. Fortunately, after a pretty rough start, they did manage to give us something interesting in the last issue and now we’re moving on from them to the more interesting story of whatever it is Dr. Starline is up to! Is this a great jumping off point for the new story following the solid ending to the Zeti arc, or will I be begging for them to come back by the end of this issue? Let’s find out!!
Now I DID say we’re moving on from the Zeti but we do have a bit of cleaning up to do and some loose threads to tie up, so the issue begins with the Zeti being force marched by Tails and Sonic to return to their… actually, where are they from? Space? I mean they’ve got a rocket ship there, but I think it’s more like a cloud city than another planet; just a bunch of floating hexagonal islands in the sky that they somehow can’t escape from once they’re put there. Heaven forbid they ever figure out technology like parachutes or REALLY long ladders, but in any case it seems clear that they’re not going to be a threat for a while if Serious Tails and Sassy Sonic have anything to say about it!
Before they get on the mystery ship of questionable build quality, Zavok gets one last dig in at Sonic for his continued mercy despite the dire threat the Zeti pose which forces sonic to reflect on the terrors he has inflicted on this world with his previous acts of benevolence. Losing track of Mister Tinker and letting Metal Sonic go free directly led to the return of Eggman and therefore the Zombot Virus; not to mention the havoc the Zeti reigned in the last few issues when Sonic and Crew didn’t finish them off earlier. The guy certainly makes a good point here, but it looks like Sonic hasn’t learned anything yet and is just gonna let the consequences fall where they may as he’s confident he can fix whatever the bad guys break. Sounds like arrogance to me, but then again Sonic is VERY good at dodging consequences and he does live in a world where no one really cares that they were all turned into Zombots. Heck, there’s probably no surer sign that they live in a Capitalism-Free Utopia than the fact that a disease brought the world to a standstill for a while and things just kinda went back to normal when it was gone. CAN’T SAY I FEEL THE SAME IS HAPPENING WITH THE REAL WORLD! Anyway, with the Zeti sent back to their homes (at least for the time being) everyone can now focus on finding Belle who was kidnapped by Dr. Starline during the Zeti attack on The Restoration base with The Choatix leading the charge since they’re detectives and all that. They better hurry soon though because I’m not sure I trust where this Starline guy got his doctorate.
On the list of things I expected to see in a Sonic comic, BRAIN SURGERY was pretty far down on that list! To Starline’s credit though, he’s at least better to Belle than Bruce Maddox was to Data! He’s aware that Belle is a unique creation that he himself doesn’t fully understand so he won’t try to disassemble her; instead he just wants to stick a few probes in her head and analyze how it operates under various emotional stimuli. The goal of this is still rather ambiguous as Dr. Starline’s ultimate plan has been merely hinted at for a dozen or so issues at this point, but this is still a VERY compelling storyline and I love the interplay between these two characters. The IDW series has done a great job with its original characters, with Starline in particular being a standout. His single-minded and giddy ambition comes across very well here through the dialogue and the artwork, and Belle who is normally a very reserved character gets to show a lot more range here from fear and sadness to outright indignation like when Starline starts going off about how great it was that he was able to return Eggman to his evil glory; all of which only feeds into Starline’s plans as the more she reacts the more data he’s able to harvest.
Through these emotional interrogations, we do finally learn more or less the complete story of Belle. She was built by Mr. Tinker, helped him fix all the toys and gadgets he made for the kids, and just kinda hung around the village after Tinker disappeared. Not long after that the Zombot virus hit and she STILL just kinda bummed around Tinker’s old barn until the virus was cured, but then PREJUDICE reared its ugly head and the villagers turned on her for being an Eggman creation! Admittedly this doesn’t fill in ALL of the holes as it’s unclear why she was never mentioned when the Choatix found Mr. Tinker initially, nor does it explain how she was able to find Eggman’s secret arctic base, but the minutia is far less important than how we see these events affecting Belle. Sure, she has friends now, but Mr. Tinker was her sole tie to this world and without him, she was left adrift. Even worse, his reputation and his horrific deeds had tainted her in the eyes of the people who knew the connection and so through no fault of her own she’s given this baggage, which seems a LITTLE unfair given that the villagers themselves knew that Mr. Tinker was Eggman with amnesia, but it at least gives us a bit more pathos for Belle as an addendum to her confrontation with Eggman back in issue 40. All of this emotional turmoil is just PERFECT for Starling who’s got all the data he needs now for whatever the next step is in his secret plan, and it’s just in time too as the Chaotix have just busted down the door to his secret lair and are threatening wedgies and noogies if the nerd doesn’t let the robot go! Amused at such a paltry group of Sonic Misfits, he humors them long enough to dodge all of their moves before running out the door to continue with his evil machinations; leaving Belle quite intact physically, but emotionally not so much. And so the issue comes to an end with Vector trying to piece the robot back together, but it’s gonna take more than head pats to make things right. Well, I should say that the issue EFFECTIVELY ends on that note. There’s a bit after this to tease more Zeti nonsense, but they’ve had enough of the spotlight already!
I find that IDW’s version of Sonic the Hedgehog tends to work a lot better when it narrows its focus rather than try to expand it. That’s not ALWAYS the case as I found that one Annual with the shorts during the Zombot arc to be kind of annoying, but with the last issue taking place entirely within one action scene and this one primarily about an interrogation, I think it’s becoming more and more clear that events are not this series’ strong suit and that they should only serve to hold up and connect the more interesting character work rather than be the primary focus and driver of events. Where the story goes from here is unclear as there aren’t any more moving parts or storylines from the last few issues that need to be resolved which could mean a fresh start, and I hope that they take the right lessons away from the last few issues to give us something really interesting in whatever the next arc is going to be!