After the last issue of Sonic the Hedgehog, in which the inhabitants of planet Mobius had been consumed by Dr. Robotnik’s metal spreading virus, we were left dazed and confused. Far too many plot points happened on each page and it felt like the story was stitching together characters from every game for no real purpose beyond “This is a threat, and it’s threatening!” Luckily, the annual edition of Sonic the Hedgehog makes a much better take on the same story.
When I read these comics, I have to remove the part of me that wishes that these are the Archie Comics run of Sonic the Hedgehog. The level of story-telling from those comics are hard to match; however, this annual edition breaks that pattern as it echoes those old Archie comics.
Sonic the Hedgehog Annual tells multiple short stories in one comic. It sews together the plotlines of what characters in this universe are doing through these story beats of the metal virus, something that had been lacking in the issues leading up to this moment. The level of emotion written and drawn into this issue surprised even me, and it brought me back to what I loved about the original Archie run.
I never have understood Big the Cat. He has always meandered around in the background, ostensibly high as hell, fishing for his only buddy: A frog, unsurprisingly named “Froggy”. I never quite understood his deal throughout multiple iterations, but this comic book finally wrote him in a way where I finally got it.
Once again, “Froggy” goes missing and Big is on the search to find him. Instead of picturing Big as a total space-case, Ian Flynn chooses to write him with such emotional depth about trying to find his missing best friend, a pet. If you are a pet lover (and I know that I am), the idea of missing a beloved animal his terrifying and depressing – and that’s exactly what we get to see Big deal with in this comic book. It’s brilliant.
In an even more harrowing tale, Metal Sonic (My second favorite Sonic character) silently enters one of Robotnik’s labs where the metal virus is lying around in barrels, like the set to a Batman film. Without any speech, we are told a story through incredibly beautiful art by Aaron Hammerstrom and Reggie Graham as Metal Sonic looks at the data coming in through multiple broadcasts about how the virus is spreading and infecting all organic lifeforms. He stares into the pool of liquid metal and dips his finger in it. Then in utter silence, he watches as the metal virus drips off his finger with no infection, reminding Metal Sonic that he is not human. It is a beautiful.
Sonic the Hedgehog Annual is a really good compilation of stories. While I have only listed my personal favorites, there are five stories all together and they are all worth reading. I hope this issue sets the tone for the future of Sonic the Hedgehog comic books!