Today we welcome the return of longtime fan favorite Sonic writer Ian Flynn to the pages of IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog comic. Having left his head writer status to Evan Stanley not long ago, Flynn is making a small return to the main book proper to follow up on the events of the Sonic the Hedgehog: Bad Guys mini-series, which he also wrote.
This new arc sees what’s happened to Deadly Six leader Zavok since the end of the aforementioned mini, still in a poor state since those events went sour for him. This issue is primarily focused on him traveling Sonic’s world and getting the gang back together, so to speak. We get a series of events depicting him reuniting his team of miscreants before they finally come together with a new plan to exact revenge on Sonic and the Restoration for defeating them during the events of the Metal Virus Saga.
Zavok and the Deadly Six are not exactly what you would call fan favorite villains in the eyes of the Sonic fanbase, having originated from the poorly received Lost World video game. With that being said, Flynn’s interpretations of the characters have seemed to strike a better chord with fans, due in no small part to his own history with fleshing out lesser explored aspects of the Sonic canon. That’s on full display here, with each member of the Six being distinct and quirky characters that feel right at home in the Sonic universe, much like how he handled fleshing out Zavok himself in the Bad Guys mini-series.
I appreciate the time dedicated to giving these characters something that makes them unique and stand out against the usual Sonic rogues gallery. Given that they occupy so many villain slots, they each need to be able to stand on their own and — most importantly given their origins — as a unit. This is something Flynn does well, with Zavok in particular feeling like an interesting and uniquely motivated antagonist in his own right contrasted to more established or fleshed out characters like Eggman or Dr. Starline. In a way they feel almost reminiscent of the old Archie Sonic series, which was notable for its larger cast of non-Eggman villains who would also be a challenge for the characters in their own distinct ways.
Of course, we also get some time dedicated to Sonic himself having a scuffle with Eggman, along with the Restoration planning to counterattack the Deadly Six, but it’s only a few pages and not the primary focus of the issue. I actually enjoy that quite a bit — Sonic has to be a presence in his own book, of course, but not every issue has to be about Sonic. Taking that time to further develop this take on the villains, their worldview and tactics is a lot more interesting and engaging way to start this story, and it also helps establish that the other characters are playing right into their hands, none the wiser about it. Fun stuff.
The art is done by Flynn’s longtime collaborator Adam Bryce Thomas, who does a fantastic job this issue. The coloring by Matt Herms is also very well done, and complements Thomas’ art beautifully. Thomas has been one of my favorite artists to ever draw Sonic, in any of the character’s many stints in the world of comics. He’s got a sense of movement that’s energetic and cool, with nearly every panel feeling like it’s popping off the page. That’s the kind of energy you want to bring to any Sonic story, and he’s no slouch in that regard.
Overall, this is a great issue. I’m a big fan of Ian Flynn’s long work on Sonic, and it’s always great to see him get to play around with this property more. The man knows what he’s doing, and while I’m sure he’s enjoying the break from his nearly unbroken decade-plus streak of being in charge of Sonic’s comic adventures, I’m happy to see him come back, refreshed and ready to tell some great stories. I am eager to also see where Evan Stanley plans to go when she returns, but between two fantastic talents helming the books right now, you really can’t lose if you’re a Sonic fan.
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