I’m back with another review of IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog comic series, written and drawn once more by Evan Stanley after a brief absence as head writer. We’ve got a very chill, character-driven issue this go around — a nice break from the non-stop action of the last arc.
The plot follows Amy Rose taking Tangle, Belle and Jewel out on a camping trip to get away from all the hectic stuff they’ve been dealing with as of late, leaving Sonic behind to hang out with Tails. I like this, as we don’t get a lot of stories focusing on the female cast of Sonic, and it’s cool that a lot of the new ones created for the comic are getting to share that spotlight alongside Amy. It also leaves out the fan favorite Whisper the Wolf, her absence being explained via flashback as needing to hunt down her sworn enemy, Mimic. This arc seems like its focus will be on each of the girls’ personal problems, with Amy’s tarot reading session (a nice deep cut callback to an oft-forgotten aspect of her skill set) revealing that they’ve each got something weighing on them that they’re not being open about.
On that note, characterization is the most important thing to talk about here. The second-hand embarrassment was strong during this story (in a good way!), and I could feel the tension and awkwardness floating around the characters as they each try and dance around talking about their own problems whilst sitting around the campfire. The fact that Amy is the only one clearly aware of this fact, and did something nice to try and cheer them all up with her readings, was very sweet despite it not quite working out for the best. Gotta respect the girl’s hustle, though.
It was also interesting seeing Tangle without her usual trademark pep, showing just how much not having Whisper around is effecting her. Belle is as adorably disaster prone as ever of course, and still suffers from her feelings of self-loathing and loneliness that’s been the focus of the last couple arcs. While the problems faced by Tangle are fairly obvious with her flashback with Whisper, and Belle has had a couple whole arcs dedicated to making hers well known, Jewel’s problem seems a bit more subtle, and doesn’t make itself fully apparent yet despite some hinting. We haven’t actually explored her much at all in the series so far outside of just being “Tangle’s friend”, so I’m interested to see where Stanley is trying to go with her.
The artwork is drawn by Stanley herself this time around, and that’s always really cool to see. Before she was heading the book as its main writer, she had plenty of years giving the blue blur some of his slickest and most expressive art he’s ever had. Her ability to show characters’ personalities or how they’re feeling via their posture and expressions is rivaled by few, and that alone should speak volumes. That made her work a perfect fit for this slower, more character driven issue.
Overall, this was a fantastic issue, but with Stanley doing both writing and art, it’s easy to see why. I love when we get character-driven stories in Sonic comics; they provide fans with something to sink their teeth into outside the usual action-packed formula we tend to see. The focus on a borderline background character like Jewel and the painfully underutilized Amy Rose is great, and with artwork that’s eye catching and pleasing to look at, you really can’t go wrong.
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