Current Reviews


Sonic the Hedgehog #183

Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2008
By: Penny Kenny

Ian Flynn
Tracy Yardley!, Jim Amash (i), John E. Workman, Jr.
Archie Comics
“Desperate Times”

Another beautiful cover and another exciting chapter in the Enerjak saga. Team Sonic just keeps rolling along, quietly producing work of amazing quality.

The white background of Yardley! and Hunzeker’s cover effectively sets off the main action of Sonic in the grip of Enerjak, making it particularly eye-catching. Despite the fact that it’s relatively actionless, it is highly dramatic, its palate of blue, yellow, red, and green drawing the reader’s eye exactly where the artists want it to go. Bold and relatively simple in its layout, it perfectly sets up the cover question: Can Sonic win against Ultimate Power?

The question is something of a cheat though. Sonic spends relatively little time with Enerjak this issue. The majority of the book’s action focuses on Sonic, Julie-Su, and Knuckles’ father Locke trying to get their hands on the one weapon that can destroy Enerjak. Unfortunately Scourge and the Destructix stand in their way. Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik discovers it’s harder to hold on to Enerjak than he anticipated.

As always Ian Flynn turns in a sharp script that provides plenty of action and some nice character revealing dialog. Flynn ensures that each character has a distinctive voice. And this is never more in evidence than in the scene involving Robotnik, his assistant Snively, and Dmitiri. Snively’s “While I hate to interrupt your mid-victorious rant” line neatly tells readers about Robotnik, the plot, and himself with an economy of words, while being a fun line it its own right.

Another well-written, well-staged scene is the one between Julie-Su and Locke as they fight their way through the Destructix. The tension between the two is palpable – expressed both in their words and expression. Only the fact that they need to defeat the Destructix keeps Julie-Su from going after Locke.

Speaking of the Destructix – Flynn and Yardley’s decision to label them is much appreciated. Given that the size of the Sonic cast is roughly equal to that of the Legion of Super-heroes, little identifying touches like these make new readers feel welcome and refresh the memories of readers who drop in and out. It’s in no way distracting and only adds to the story; making the scene where Sonic faces off with the Destructix for possession of the ultimate weapon that much more enjoyable. “I hope you guys aren’t planning on charging for overtime” - indeed.

This is issue is a textbook example of how to design a page so that readers can take in everything they need at a glance. On pages two and three what Sonic is doing in the background is just as important as the dialog Julie-Su and Locke are having in the foreground. The way Yardley! has framed Sonic and arranged the captions and word balloons leads the reader’s eyes easily and naturally through the scene. There’s no detail merely for detail’s sake. It all serves a purpose. The pit between Julie-Su and Locke is a nice symbol of their estrangement, while the shot of Sonic in the background halfway between them is a nice foreshadowing of the role he’ll play in the story.

The battle with the Destructix is beautifully choreographed. Yardley!, Amash, and the uncredited colorist move seven villains and three heroes smoothly through a three page slug-fest. Foreground and background work together, with what is set-up in one panel being followed through on in the next. It’s clear, clean action ‘tooning.

The one and a half page battle between Enerjak and the Eggfleet is a compact scene that packs a wallop. It begins with a dramatic underlit shot of Robotnik that fully exploits his menacing qualities. Above him the fleet floats in black silhouette, clearly outnumbering Enerjak. A turn of the page and the fleet attacks, the fiery trails of their rockets leading directly to the next panels, which in a wonderful conceit are the circles of Robotnik’s binoculars. We see the attack and Enerjak’s response from the good doctor’s viewpoint.

In “Ashes and Dust,” the issue’s five page second story, the same team – with the addition of colorist Jason Jensen – takes on the subject of Dr. Finitevus’s motives. They do a good job with what is basically a talking heads flashback piece. Finitevus, who I imagine as being voiced by Vincent Price, exudes menace. On one spectacular page, his dark shadow enframes the flashback panels, a nice visual metaphor for how his plans have engulfed all of Mobieus. The splash page is a stunning multi-generational portrait of all the echidnas affected over the years and dimensions by the Guardians and Dark Legion. How many can you name?

You have to give Flynn credit for the way he’s handled the backstory. Rather than slow the main narrative with information that’s not strictly necessary for the enjoyment of the story, he’s put all the “talky” parts off by themselves in secondary chapters. It’s a way for readers to have their cake and eat it too.

Sonic the Hedgehog #183 is an excellent way to start off the comics reading year.

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