It’s been a minute, but I’m back for another review within the universe of IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog, this time with the highly anticipated Imposter Syndrome mini-series by none other than Sonic comic veteran Ian Flynn. Joining him, we have art being done by Thomas Rothlisberger and Aaron Hammerstrom. This first issue is the official debut of Dr. Starline’s creations, the two characters that have been teased by the main title for a while now: Surge the Tenrec and Kitsunami.
First and foremost, the plot of this issue is pretty simple. It’s meant to introduce us to these new characters, so it’s mostly just them running about being themselves, to get us a feel for who they are. It’s narrated by Starline of course, who fills us in on how this relates to the larger events of the main book — more specifically, how he created Surge and Kit, and what he plans to use them for.
The characterization is the best stuff here, which is nearly always the case when Flynn is writing. Starline’s clinical dissection of the book’s (and the larger franchise as a whole) formula gives great insight into his worldview, and as usual Flynn seems to be having a great time with writing his larger-than-life persona. What I really loved about this issue, though, were Surge and Kitsunami themselves. It’s plainly obvious to anybody with a history with Sonic comics that Surge is meant as a sort of expy of Scourge, another sharp-toothed, green and punkish counterpart to the blue blur, whose legal entanglement leaves unavailable for new stories. Surge isn’t just Scourge with a new coat of paint, though — she’s given enough here to feel like a distinct character on her own, shown through some (obviously mostly internal) care for her partner and anxious pondering when she begins to question her purpose and wants.
Contrasting Surge’s “Sonic” is Kitsunami, her “Tails.” The issue really makes you take a liking to the little guy, shown to be meek and eager to please — not unlike some incarnations of Tails himself — and of the two is the one I much more easily see eventually being tempted to the side of good. As purposefully designed by Starline, he’s the “look” before Surge’s “leap”, and their stark contrasts in personalities and genuine care for each other (even if a bit reluctant on Surge’s part) makes them a fun duo on arrival. I honestly can’t wait to see the two square off against their inspirations. There’s also some genuine pathos in how Starline treats them, immediately wiping their minds when they start to show thoughts and feelings outside the ones he programs into them, not letting them question their purpose or who they want to be. One issue in, and Flynn’s already sown the seeds of future character moments with that alone. Great stuff.
The art is charming and a real blast in this book. Both artists match each other so well that I couldn’t even tell there were two of them, which I’m grateful leads to a smooth reading experience. The expressiveness on the characters is sublime, with Surge’s manic hyperactiveness in particular being an absolute treat. I should also give special mention to their character designs, because they’re both really cool too look at (and full of super nerdy references if you know your Sonic).
Overall, this was a great start to this mini. I loved the characters so so much. Starline was already a welcome addition to the cast of the Sonic canon, but Surge and Kit have already become some of my favorite characters in the whole pantheon for how fun they are in this book. The story is basic but serviceable as a vehicle for these new characters, and it hypes you up for their inevitable encounter with the main cast. The art of course is just as stellar as the rest of it, really driving home every point I made about how defined and expressive the characters are. The book’s great, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check it out. I do have one complaint for you though, Ian…
…Where’s my evil Knuckles?
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