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 all remember that Sonic movie from a few years ago! You know, the one that came out right before the world ended? I mean, I thought it was just kind of okay, but it looks like we’re getting a sequel and that means more merchandise! I still have a drink topper from the first film that was based on the original design for Sonic (the nightmare never ends in this house), but perhaps a full-on prequel comic book would be a more fulfilling endeavor. Oh wait, they spelled it Pre-Quill, so perhaps not. Still, if you’re gonna get a team to make fluff like this, you might as well hire the experienced people behind the IDW comics and maybe they can bring a little something extra to this oversized advertisement! Let’s find out!!
Our first story titled Hedgehog Day Afternoon involves Sonic the Hedgehog feeling bored and wandering around town until he hears about a bank robbery only a few hundred miles away. I’m not sure what makes him think he’s qualified to be a superhero or why he would want to be one in the first place. Perhaps he’s seen Iron Man one too many times and fancies himself a little blue Tony Stark. In any case, he rushes over there to find the thieves underway and the hostages compliant, so naturally he wants to turn it into a big mess and is still workshopping his hero name.
The first thing to notice about this book is the change in art style. We’ve still got the ol’ Sonic Comic standbys Adam Bryce Thomas, Tracy Yardley, and Evan Stanley on art, but everything is slightly changed to try and marry the comic book and film aesthetics. Basically, this means all the furry characters have extra details on them to denote fur, and Sonic’s eyes are no longer one giant cycloptic nightmare; instead separated and with a bit of white fur between them. It’s a bit uncanny given how slight yet still noticeable the changes are, but the biggest change is definitely the addition of human characters. I don’t know about you, but humans and Sonic don’t usually mix well and the artwork here isn’t all that great. This opening story in particular has Tom who was played by James Marsden and the character here looks about as much like James Marsden as I do. The biggest problem with this story though is that, much like in the movie, Sonic does not shut up! It’s a bit more endearing when it’s in Ben Schwartz’s voice, but there are just bubbles after bubbles of dubiously witty retorts and it just gets exhausting.
The surprise twist here is that the robbers weren’t looking for money but instead for a piece of Robotnik tech in a safe deposit box, and sure enough they find a glove that lets them summon and control a bunch of those drones we saw in the movie. Sonic was able to defeat these things when they were being operated by the guy who invented them so he doesn’t have much trouble overcoming the odds against these goons, but the tech manages to fly away before he can destroy it once and for all. Where is it going you may ask? Why, it’s going straight to Agent Stone! You know, Agent Stone? Okay, if you haven’t seen the movie since it came out, Agent Stone was the latte-making assistant to Robotnik and it looks like he’s trying to gather whatever scraps of Robotnik’s leftovers that he can get his hands on. This first story suffers from a lot of the problems you’d expect from such an explicit tie-in; it feels like it’s there to sell the property first and tell a compelling story second. The comics have managed to skirt around that for a while with the only thing to really promote are the games, but this is what happens when Sega (and Hollywood) get a little too involved and the whole thing ends up feeling like mildly engaging mush. Thankfully the rest of the book is left to its own devices with much less of an obvious hand on the wheel, but I can’t say I liked this next story all that much either.
Continuing more or less right after the events of the first story, this next one titled The Secret of My Distress follows Agent Stone as he… well it’s a bit hard to describe without both over-selling it and understating it. We know from the trailers that Stone ended up as a barista at some sort of coffee shop, but what we don’t know is how he ended up there in the first place! Sounds riveting, right? Well, what if I told you that the story involved a terrifyingly detailed manifesto from Robotnik, a kidnapping of a person, and false felony charges that may end up sending an innocent woman to jail for several years? I’ve either piqued your interest or lost you completely, so let’s try and piece this together. Agent Stone has a copy of instructions from Robotnik that we have narrated to us throughout the story about how people are sheep and the world belongs to those who take charge. Stone uses this advice as well as the Robotnik Tech he took in the last story to get a job at a coffee shop and then systematically remove everyone there through increasing convoluted and terrifying means. To what end? I couldn’t tell you. You’d think someone with this kind of bloodthirsty attitude and access to unimaginable tech would aim a bit higher, but lattes were a thing in the movie so I guess they’re a thing here as well.
So yeah, kind of a dark direction to take this book right after the rather tame and boring Sonic story! While it gets points for that though, it’s not a particularly compelling narrative on its own and really doesn’t tell us all that much about the characters that we didn’t already know. Sure, Stone is a bit more bloodthirsty than we saw in the movie, but Robotnik’s ramblings on every page are really obvious and more than a little tedious to get through.
The next two stories, Always Bet on Red and Two for the Road, are much more in line with what you’d expect from a Sonic comic and are hopefully what we can expect to see more of in the upcoming movie. The first follows Knuckles through an interdimensional hunt for Sonic the Hedgehog, and while he remains cagey on the details, it’s clear that his task is a very serious one. We learn that he’s the last of the Echidnas which is a little odd considering we saw a whole bunch of them at the start of the first movie, but maybe something happened after Sonic left that he could have prevented or something like that. In any case, Knuckles is definitely written as you’d expect him to be, as hard-headed as he is hard-hitting, but he gets kidnapped mid-dimension hoping to fight in some sort of arena; indicating some great powers at play on other worlds that could ALSO be a part of the new movie! Oh, who am I kidding? We’re gonna spend ninety-five percent of our time on Earth to save on the budget just like in the first one! Still, whether he’s on a fantastical planet of monsters or just on boring ol’ Earth, Knuckles is sure to liven things up significantly!
Our fourth story follows Tails as he hops around the multi-verse to try and find where Sonic ended up for reasons that are still unclear. What is clear though is that Sonic’s caretaker Longclaw the Owl has died in the time since (most likely moments after Sonic left with the Echidna bearing down her), and by visiting their old home he’s able to do some sort of scientific timey-wimey stuff to get a better bead on Sonic’s location. He narrows it down to a few planets that he races through (all of which are references to levels in the games), and of course, his final stop is planet Earth; some backwards little nothing on the butt-end of space. Of course, he wasn’t alone in his travels as Knuckles’ spy was keeping a close eye on him; setting up the confrontation on Earth that we all got super hyped for in the trailers!
These two definitely feel the most like a Sonic comic story what with strange worlds and lots of furry animals walking around, though compare them to almost any issue of the actual Sonic comic and they feel pretty insubstantial.
Our final story called Mushroom with a View is certainly an interesting one, and by interesting, I mean that Robotnik takes magic mushrooms and fights off mushroom monsters. Trust me it sounds better than it actually is, but I guess it’s not without its charms. After all, how often do you get to see a version of Jim Carrey mug from the panels of a comic book!?
Much like the Team Sonic Racing tie in comic, there’s not a lot of meat on the bones here and the whole thing feels rather disposable; simply one piece of a larger marketing push for a movie that might be better than the first one but is still probably gonna fall short of what fans really want. Heck, the whole comic is probably a good indication of how that movie is gonna turn out; a slog whenever it’s about Sonic doing human things on Earth with the best stuff being the parts connected to the original games and maybe some goofy fun with Jim Carey’s Robotnik. Then again, looking at things purely from a fan perspective is how we get so many people upset at the new Halo series, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the movie before it comes out. This comic though? Yeah, I’m probably not breaking any hearts by saying that this isn’t great. It’s got enough of the Sonic comic charm (and enough of the talent behind it) to keep this from being a total disaster, but I looked up the author credited on all of the stories here, and his output, while by no means bad in and of itself, is definitely in line with this kind of marketing-first entertainment. You might want to check it out if for no other reason than to see the awkward blending of styles as the movie universe crashes into the IDW comic series, but you’re probably better off spending that money on popcorn when you go to see the movie.