“House of Cards: Royal Flush!” (part 2)
Writer: Ian Flynn
Artist(s): Tracy Yardley, Jim Amash (i), Jason Jensen (c), John Workman(l)
Publisher: Archie Comics
“Back off, Tails! I’ve got to stop your folks before they do something stupid!”
“No! I’m through listening to you!”
And with that opening bit of dialog, the fight is on as Tails lets loose and takes on his former hero and best friend Sonic. Meanwhile Tails’ father Amadeus, the leader of the revolution, invades the palace and confronts King Elias. It’s a true battle royale that leads to some surprisingly sweet character moments.
Ian Flynn’s script is taut, dramatic, and not without bits of humor. There’s enough action to satisfy fans who want to see Sonic do something, but the issue’s problems aren’t solve by violence. Rather, Flynn has his characters use reason, empathy and sympathy to come up with a solution. It’s a positive message, handled in a deft, smart way.
As always, the dialog is sharp and to the point. Tails’ anger and frustration come through clearly, while Sonic’s genuine cluelessness is equally apparent. The prisoners in New Mobotropolis’s jail get some witty banter, but the best lines are those reserved for Elias and Amadeus. It’s not Henry the V’s “Crispin Crispian” speech, but Elias’s “I will not belittle” monologue manages to recap history, show Elias’s character, and give an epic feel to the proceedings. It’s a beautiful piece of writing. Too bad there was that spelling error.
In another beautiful scene Sonic finally realizes what’s really behind Tails’ anger and indulges in a rare bit of self-analysis: “I went with it like I go with everything else – I just do.” It is little moments like this that show just how far these characters have come since the early days of the series.
Yardley’s panel layout is clear and dynamic, with the opening page being a stunning foreshadowing of the great visual storytelling to come. At the top of the page Sonic and Tails are in extreme close-up, their fists flying. Centered beneath them are the credits, which are surrounded by a half-circle of the clearly labeled characters, each of whom is holding a hand of playing cards in keeping with the storyline’s overall title.
Part of the charm of Yardley’s art is that his characters are big! They fill the panel, allowing readers to see their every emotion reflected on their mobile faces. When Yardley does pull back, he doesn’t forget to incorporate the background detail to emphasize the mood. One scene in particular shows a conversation in the foreground, while in the background two characters are enjoying the antics of a baby. It’s a welcome peaceful moment after the previous pages’ high-octane excitement. Inker Jim Amash also deserves a big hand for these scenes, as it’s due to his work that those details come through as clearly as they do.
I suspect this issue will be something of a favorite with fans wanting to learn to draw these characters. Pin-up poses abound. Fortunately they don’t distract from the moment, but rather intensify it. Elias has a couple of absolutely beautiful poses, and Tails’ tails have never looked better.
As he did the in the previous issue, Jason Jensen uses black to superb effect. The shadows on Sonic and Tails during their battle dramatically enhance the mood. Actually his color choices for the entire book are fantastic. The opening scenes between Sonic and Tails are set against the cool grey and blues of the prison – emphasizing the coldness between them. Later the fight moves to the warmer blues, green, and violet of the forest where the emotions are warmer and more heartfelt. Meanwhile Elias and Amadeus’s battle takes place against a golden brown background that differentiates their battle from the others’- subtly reminding readers that not only are they in a different scene, but that their fight is for a different reason. For Sonic and Tails it’s personal; Elias and Amadeus fight for a principle. Of course I could be reading too much into it, but it makes a good thesis.
All in all, another great issue.
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