Another day, another issue in the ongoing adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog presented and published by IDW. This time, we follow up on where we left off with the defeat of the Deadly Six, and the kidnapping of poor Belle at the hands of the nefarious Dr. Starline (I’m almost certain he didn’t go to school for that title). Of course, this issue is written by the always welcome Ian Flynn on writing, with the equally welcome Tracey Yardley on art.
I’ll start off by saying this one really tugged at the ol’ heart strings. We first get a nice hero and villain moment between Sonic and Zavok, the latter of whom laughs in the hedgehog’s face about his choice to not deal with them once and for all. This is a running theme in the IDW series, going all the way back to Mr. Tinker and the return to his life as Dr. Eggman, kicking off the entire Metal Virus Saga. Sonic has been criticized both in and out of universe for not finding a more permanent solution to his villains, a very “Batman should kill Joker” kind of debate that’s certainly raised tensions within the fanbase.
However, something that utterly grim is not even remotely on Sonic’s radar, and his response getting a begrudging acknowledgement of respect from Zavok was quite frankly, immensely satisfying. I mean really, Sonic the Hedgehog is about as far from Punisher style vigilantism as you can get. But of course there’s still the matter of the main focal point of the issue, that being Belle’s kidnapping.
We get a heart-wrenching sequence where the wooden bot recounts her time with her creator, with Starline only gleefully goading her on as she suffers through the bittersweet memories. I already felt bad for the poor girl, but this issue really hammered it in just how badly she’s suffered. Of course Starline escapes with the data he acquired from this emotional roller coaster, ominously hinting that it’ll be useful to his next project.
We close off the issue with the Deadly Six arriving back in their home of the Lost Hex, and swearing that their time to fight with the surface world below will come again eventually.
Character wise, this one is as great as always. I loved the interactions between Belle and Starline, her naive innocence and kind nature contrasting wonderfully with Starline moustache twirling, Bond-villain charisma. Flynn clearly had a blast writing these two, probably about as much as I did reading it. The man has a talent for making you invested in characters, be it fan-loathed ones like the Deadly Six, long time favourites, or even all these newer creations for this very run.
Yardley on art is always going to be a knock out of the park, so nobody should be surprised to hear that this one was full of great stuff — Sonic the Hedgehog #44 is expressive, emotive, and filled with energy and personality even in the most mundane of panels. Belle’s range of expressions (while tied down to a table no less) coupled with Starline’s manic movements and fanciful gestures are just a feast for the eyes.
And as supremely unimportant as it is, as somebody who also reviews IDW’s Transformers, I couldn’t help but laugh at the Autobot Matrix of Leadership casually sitting on Starline’s shelf, and of course he’s saying “more than meets the eye” in that very panel. Absolute brilliance. There’s no topping that.
I don’t think I could over-explain any more how much I ended up loving this one. It’s got great emotional moments, wonderfully written characters exploring some of their more personal hold-ups, addresses one of the longstanding character flaws of our main hero, and has some expressive artwork to bring it all home. Flynn and Yardly are the dream team, and they always seem to do their best work on Sonic when united. I walked away immensely satisfied with this comic.
So, y’know. Go read it. I won’t stop you.
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