Today, I’m taking a look at the newest issue of IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog ongoing series, currently written (and at least partially drawn this time) by Evan Stanley. This issue continues plot threads set up from last time, giving us some more insight on our newest cast member, as well as answering the immediate cliffhanger ending of the last all the while setting up more for next time.
Continuing from last issue, this time around we’re treated to a bit more information on the mysterious marionette robot, Belle. After trying to follow Sonic and co. with fan favorite Tangle the Lemur, it’s revealed that she’s got the internal workings of any old Eggman robot. While it isn’t made clear if she is truly one of the Egghead’s creations or not (perhaps made during his time as “Mr. Tinker” at the very start of IDW’s book?), as far as Tangle is concerned, she’s no bad guy, and offers words of encouragement to pick her back up off her feet.
It’s a cute interaction, and I’m happy to see a character like Belle being explored in these recent issues. She’s unsure of who or what she is, or where she belongs, which is an uncertainty that I’m sure plenty of people can relate to. Reformed or non-villainous Eggman robots were always a fun part of Archie’s book (Shard the Metal Sonic comes to mind), so I’m excited to see what this revelation can bring to the table for future stories.
The other plot thread of this issue concerns the strange realm Sonic, Tails and Amy found themselves in during last issue’s cliffhanger. It’s revealed here to be some sort of pocket dimension used by Eggman to test his inventions in a controlled environment. Our heroes are now right where the villain wants them, in a reality fully under his control… which the issue even uses as its big cliffhanger! An exciting note to keep the reader worried enough to pick up next month’s book to see what happens. Good stuff.
I also really liked the art this issue, maybe even more than usual. Alongside Stanley, another artist by the name of Bracardi Curry was given equal credit, and his influence is noticeable. While some panels are unmistakably Stanley’s pencil work, it’s obvious not everything here is hers alone. Whether it’s just a shared workload or a more collaborative penciling job I don’t know, but it really works regardless. Curry’s expressions are top notch, and there are a lot more hard angles than Stanley’s art, which adds some nice contrast to her softer line work. If this is what Curry is capably of, I’d love to see him tackle a full issue on his own in the future.
I’d say this issue on the whole was a bit more enticing than the last, with some satisfying payoff to the previous cliffhanger and further development for our new cast members. It’s great when a book is willing to parse out enough information to keep you engaged without giving away too much all at once, which is a strength the Sonic comics essentially have down to a science by now.
Evan Stanley’s predecessor, Ian Flynn, is well known for the long form approach he brought to the table back in the Archie days, and the DNA of that still rings true in current IDW published Sonic stories. You need to be good at what you do to tell a decompressed story and still keep your readers engaged and coming back for more, and thankfully as per usual, Stanley’s been proving she’s a total natural at this as she continues to create a solid and engaging experience month to month.
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