I’m here once more to take a look at another issue of IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog comic series, but this isn’t just any issue – today sees the release of 2022’s Sonic the Hedgehog Annual. There’s a lot of content (and tons of creators) packed into this one, so I wont spend too long on each story, so that you can go and enjoy it all for yourselves. Let’s take a look.
The first story, “Guardians”, is by Ian Flynn with art by Adam Bryce Thomas and colours from Joana Lafuente. This one was probably my favorite, and the star of the entire annual in my humble opinion. We so rarely get to see Blaze the Cat in Sonic comics, and the premise she’s used in here (dealing with her workaholic attitude by finding a kindred spirit in Knuckles) is fantastic. Flynn did a great job exploring this aspect of her character (and Knuckles’ while he was at it), and the art team also put in some stunning work making the visuals distinct and cool. If I didn’t have five other stories to go over, I’d dissect this one in particular much more. I really loved it.
The next story is “Weapons” by Daniel Barnes, with art by Thomas Rothlisberger and colours by Leonardo Ito. Another great concept, a battle between the two star Robots of the good guys, Omega and Gemerl. It’s not only a great versus battle concept – their naturally clashing ideologies make the whole thing feel perfectly believable. I also always love Rothlisberger’s art; his expressions are some of my favorites from any Sonic artist, and he makes the normally expression-locked robots really emote without somehow losing that single expression. Masterful stuff.
After that we have “Hero Camp” by India Smith, art by Abby Bulmer and colors by Heather Breckel. This is a cute and relatively short romp starring Cream the Rabbit, who’s been treated exceptionally well by the IDW canon thus far. Even if simple and very “Saturday morning cartoon” in concept, that sorta thing is Sonic the Hedgehog‘s bread and butter, so it lands quite well. I loved how cute the art was too, as it really brought that extra cartoonish feeling that made the story work. Great stuff.
Next is “Future Growth” by Evan Stanley and Gigi Dutrix, with Stanley herself on art and Dutrix doing the colors. A very quaint and heartfelt story about Silver the Hedgehog (whom I knew Stanley had a lot of history with back in the Archie days, so this one was not a shock at all). It tackles some pretty resonant and real themes surrounding adjusting to peace time, all in a very digestible, all-ages friendly way that doesn’t feel insulting or cheap. I think the importance of hitting that balance cannot be understated, and this story is one of the annual’s must-reads for that. And of course, Stanley’s art is as great as ever – she’s a master.
Following that is “Another Grand Adventure For Jet The Hawk”, by Ian Mutcher with art by Natalie Haines and colors by Priscilla Tramontano. This one took me a minute to figure out what it was doing, but once I got the gist of it being almost purely comedic, I had a pretty good time with it. Mutcher understands why Jet is just a fundamentally funny character at his core, and gets a lot of good laughs just having him act like, well, himself. Juxtaposing him against poor Whisper was brilliant. The art was quite good too, with some really good expressions and timing to really carry the humor.
And last but not least, our final story for this year’s annual is “Rough Patch”, written and drawn by Aaron Hammerstrom and colored by Valentina Pinto. This is another pretty funny one, dealing with the IDW’s canons resident two stooges, Rough and Tumble. The premise is simple and cute, and the idea of the duo splitting up over their rhyme schemes not going well is hysterical. The art was good, and the writing didn’t stumble; a pretty good showing for Rough & Tumble!
And that’s that for this year’s Sonic Annual. A great showing, honestly. There wasn’t a single miss in the entire lineup, which is a really great track record considering how many stories they managed to cram in here. Ironically enough, there wan’t much Sonic in the Sonic Annual, but that only goes to show how great and robust the cast is even without the Blue Blur present. Everybody who worked on this issue did a great job, and I had a lot of fun reading it. Pick it up – you won’t regret it.
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