Since Sonic the Hedgehog moved into IDW’s hands following the cancellation of the beloved Archie Comics tenure, fans had to make a lot of adjustments. Under the pen of fan favorite Sonic-scribe Ian Flynn, the book’s first few years were a definite hit. But after the emotional ride that was the Metal Virus Saga, it’s been a nice change of pace having a new head writer in the driver’s seat. Ian Flynn had been giving his all on Sonic’s main book for nearly two decades, and despite how much I love the guy’s work, it’s very refreshing to see somebody else take the reigns and give their own take on the Blue Blur.
Evan Stanley is a great match for the book, unsurprising given her history with the character and his universe. Not only is she a great artist, but is now really proving her chops as a writer under the editorial pressure of a licensed property. Her run so far has been filled with a levity and charm that feels so distinctly Sonic — even newcomer character Belle feels right at home in the supersonic hedgehog’s world. Given her history with creating popular fan works, I’m certainly happy to say I’m not surprised.
On that note, this issue was all about the aforementioned Belle, a robot who feels more Pinocchio than the usual Badnik styled ‘bots we’re used to. The issue is solely focused on building mystique for Belle, and on endearing her to us further. Not that hard when she’s that absolutely adorable. She’s been keeping secrets ever since her debut a few issues back, a trend continued here, with little hints being dropped as to what her real story is all about.
The issue mostly focuses on her antics as she attempts to adjust to the characters’ hidden underground bunker. She’s a fish out of water here, much like Tangle the Lemur from the beginning of IDW Sonic, trying to adjust to the crazy world that she’s suddenly entered. Fittingly, Tangle herself is the one who tries to help her fit in, which also serves as a reminder of just how far she’s come since being the new kid on the block.
Sonic comics have always had very solid characterization, dating as far back to the good ol’ Archie days, and that legacy still holds true here. Even if we don’t get much from our core cast in this issue, Belle and Tangle more than carry us through with their fun personalities. I look forward to seeing how their friendship grows in upcoming issues.
The artwork is stellar, as per usual with IDW Sonic. Adam Bryce Thomas’ style is the perfect kind of expressive for these characters, able to balance quirky and funny with sleek and cool, just like Sonic should be. Again, as a veteran of Sonic comics by now, this comes as no surprise. In addition, Reggie Graham’s (great name!) coloring job deserves so much praise on its own. The textured look he brings to the page is utter eye candy and some of my favorite color work in comics right now. I’ll also draw special attention to the final few pages, which have a trippy psychedelic feel that remind me of the classic Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon.
IDW Sonic is always a fun book to check in on every month, especially if you like long form storytelling. Unfortunately, that also means not every issue is a great jumping on point for newcomers. This issue drops you into the middle of things without much of an explanation, which can be very jarring if you aren’t actively following the book month to month. Devoting time in every issue of an ongoing story to helping the reader play catch up isn’t an easy (or practical) endeavor however, so it’s a shortcoming that’s more than excusable.
The important thing to remember when reading Sonic is to, ironically, be patient. Though there isn’t a lot of plot in this issue, Evan made sure to take her time getting us a bit more familiar with a new cast member, while also setting up a ton for payoff in the next issue. If she hasn’t already won you over, I’d be surprised if this arc’s conclusion doesn’t do it for you.
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