We finally come to the conclusion of this latest arc for IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog ongoing series, with story and art by Evan Stanley and additional art by Adam Bryce Thomas. In this issue, we get a definitive answer to what exactly’s been going on the past couple months worth of story, and have some much-needed confirmation about a certain character’s history.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Sonic the Hedgehog #40!
We finally learn, once and for all (what was always somewhat obvious) that Belle is none other than a wooden robot built by Mr. Tinker, Eggman’s amnesiac alter ego all the way from the very beginning of the entire book. When we learn just how hard poor Belle had hoped what she heard about her creator was not true, only for Eggman to take nothing but glee in pulling the rug from under her, it’s a truly heartbreaking moment. She’s a sweet character, and the issue really drives that home. We even get a tearjerker of a scene near the end where she comes to terms with her parentage not being all she’d hoped it’d be. But that’s okay, because now she’s got some great new friends to make up for it. Really sweet, and true to the often kindhearted nature of Sonic’s setting and characters.
From a characterization perspective, everybody is on point as always. Stanley has more than proven herself capable of sustaining top quality characterization by now, but I especially loved the very brief bits of banter from Orbot and Cubot. They really felt like they leapt right off the screen from the Sonic Boom cartoon and into the pages here, and that was honestly just delightful. Eggman’s twisted ego and unflinching, cartoonish dedication to his own evil is also still great, but seeing how much he really enjoyed twisting the knife simply to make Belle feel bad was just cruel — in an engaging, totally on-brand Eggman way.
Of course we get further explination about what Eggman’s really up to here, which I’m guessing is Stanley dropping some hints for bigger plans from the less-than-good Doctor in the future. There are a lot of implications one could draw from this, with how vast and unpredictable the canon of Sonic can be. What his strange space-time warping experiment could possibly mean for a future arc, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.
With two extremely talented artists like Stanley and Thomas on board, one would think this issue’s art would be outstanding — and it is, mostly. But while the two have great pencil work as always, the coloring job feels downright flat and lifeless. It takes what is otherwise extremely dynamic and expressive artwork, and sucks out a lot of the dimension that makes both artists’ styles really pop. It’s a real shame, since the two are probably the best artists IDW’s Sonic has had, and a double feature of the two of them is usually a treat. Hopefully this gets rectified in future issues, because I’d hate to see the wonderful art of this book suffer in any way.
Overall, another solid issue of Sonic. It’s a conclusion to another fun little breather arc to explore some characters and have a wacky adventure, with some tension and drama along the way. This is quintessential Sonic comics if I’ve ever read ’em. With my only complaint being the less than stellar coloring of the art, the rest of the issue does exactly what it needs to do. I’m happy we finally get some character resolution for Belle as well, and I hope to see what she’s going to bring to the group dynamic in the future. With the promised return of the Deadly Six next issue, we’ll just have to see where Stanley wants to take us on this ride next.
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