Sonic: Imposter Syndrome, as well as Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap, are owned by IDW and SEGA of America
This mini-series has been one of the best things we’ve gotten from the Sonic comics in quite some time as it has genuinely interesting characters with a sense of depth to them that leaves the rest of the cast looking like paper cutouts. I’m guessing at least some of that has to do with this series focusing entirely on original characters and not SEGA mascots, but whatever the reason is I’ve found myself looking forward to these issues more than anything in the main series; and that includes the Chaotix finally getting a story arc! Was that anticipation worth it for this third installment, or will I be rushing back to Sonic by the time we’re done? Let’s find out!!
Right off the bat, this issue gets dark as we watch a series of video diaries from Dr. Starline where we hear his unfiltered thoughts and see the depths of his cruelty. His rage at Eggman is uncomfortably apparent at the start only to be tamped down by his insistence on self-control which is probably good for his blood pressure but not so much for Kitsunami and Surge who are in fact watching these videos along with us. Whatever these two may have done or the toxicity of their relationship, you can’t help but feel for them as they watch the one person they know in this world calmly talk about them as pawns in a game they are forced to participate in.
These videos final provide some answers as to the nature of these two and it’s basically the Android storyline from Dragon Ball Z. Starline kidnapped two kids and started filling them with robot parts to turn them into cyborgs and steadily brainwashed them so that they forget their past and only know what Starline wants them to know. This includes erasing the horrific training regimen that he put them through; so terrifyingly awful that I’m not convinced these are the original Surge and Kitsunami but are clones that he had to make after the previous versions were torn to shreds. Each time he puts them through a nightmarish challenge he would wipe their memory and reap the benefits of their improved skills which, along with his oversized glove full of jewels, basically makes him the Thanos of the Sonic comics. Surge is naturally outraged and wants answers, but even when Starline walks in on the two of them and is clearly going to erase their minds once again, he still has the indecency to not treat them with any amount of fairness or respect. It’s a pretty harrowing tale of dehumanization and I’m surprised that they went as far as they did in this direction. It’s not graphic or anything, but the emotional weight of Starline’s deception is pretty darn palpable!
Like any good Frankenstein story though, the monster ends up being the downfall of the man, and Kitsunami’s training to protect Surge kicks in with a vengeance as he swiftly overpowers Starline; allowing Surge to grab his Hypno-Glove and give the not-so-good doctor a taste of his own medicine. With that, they are free to do what they want as they have overcome their creator and can run right out the door to escape. Sure, the guy will probably try to go after them, but they’ve already proven their fortitude and could easily take him down once again if need be. Instead, they decide on something else and this is the one point of contention I have with this otherwise phenomenal issue. For reasons that I’m sure are apparent to Surge, she wants to burn it all down; destroy the heroes, the villains, and everyone in between because… I don’t know, I guess if she didn’t want to do that then there wouldn’t be much reason for a fourth issue. The story arc would have simply ended here with Surge and Kitsunami going back to society and reaping those Furry Socialist benefits until they figured out what they wanted to do with their lives. Instead, they hatch a convoluted plan to get everyone in the same place at the same time so they can… I don’t know; punch them all at once? Overwhelm half a dozen heroes and villains who have been doing this a lot longer than they have?
Perhaps that was a bit harsh. I’m not that annoyed by the plan itself as I am the motivation behind it. I understand wanting to punish Starline even more in some fashion and that pretending that he’s still in control here is a perfect way to go about it, but I need a better reason than unfocused rage to understand why Surge is so bent on dragging everyone else into this feud. Heck, I’d even take something as simple as curiosity and personal drive for her to still seek out Sonic; to see if she really can stack up to him! Whatever the motivations are though, the plan is underway and they manage to convince Starline that they have come to their sense and that they are still on his side. I’d still be worried about Kitsunami though; the dude has a thousand-yard stare that should be sending shivers down his spine!
Starline is somehow convinced by this, probably because he assumes that they have finally realized his genius, and lets them know more about the upcoming plan. The idea is to infiltrate Eggman’s latest facility and upload a virus into it that will allow them to take over, much like he did with the Eggnet Facility in the Bad Guys mini-series, which will attract the attention of the Restoration. For Starline, this means finally defeating Sonic and crew in front of his idol Eggman, and for Surge and Kitsunami it means a chance to kill everyone and walk away as the only survivors. Pretty lofty goals if you ask me, but I admire their gumption!
I’ve been reviewing these books since they started coming out and I’m pretty confident that this is the best issue out of all of them. It really feels like they’re getting away with something they shouldn’t be given how dark the subject matter is, and yet it never gets so grim as to lose sight of the more adventurous nature of these books. The cruelty is tough to sit through at times, but it works to inform and define the characters and only heightens the catharsis when they get a chance to push back against all that has happened to them. I’ll admit that I’m pretty mixed about the plan they come up with at the end and how it could all turn into a convoluted mess, but it also gives us a lot to look forward to in the finale. The confrontation between Surge and Sonic, Starline finally proving whether or not he’s equal to Eggman, and I don’t know about you but I think Kitsunami is a serious wildcard and could turn the tables on everything at just the right moment! If the last issue manages to pull all this off that could very well be the first Sonic comic to get a perfect score from me, but until then I’m just happy that IDW is willing to take such big chances with these!