"Cracking the Eggman"
When the city is ransacked by a quartet of strangely dressed and strangely familiar mustachioed men, Sonic is on the case. "Cracking the Eggman" is basically an excuse for Ian Flynn and James Fry to crack wise and get silly, but it works. Who can resist Eggman dressing up as a ninja, a knight, a cowboy, an Indian, Elvis, and a half dozen others? And for those who demand more from their comics than silliness, this story even presents a moral.
Flynn's writing is smart. He doesn't talk down to his readers, but he doesn't try to show off how smart he is either. He's thought through how the writing and art are going to have to work together to make this issue work and makes the most of both skill sets.
Sonic and Eggman have a quip for every costume. My favorite happens to be the Elvis exchange:
Sonic: Don't step on my sneakers, Buddy! Remember what you did last winter?Younger readers probably won't get it, but the visual that goes along with it is good for a chuckle too.
Eggman: Yes! I loved that one tenderly! I love it, true!
The two page spread featuring Eggman's many costume changes is beautiful, but Fry also does a fantastic job with the book's few action scenes. The Looney Toons inspired antics are clear and easy to follow. The eye focuses in on the main action and tracks the flow without difficulty. For instance, in the ninja sequence, Sonic slides to a halt on the sand as throwing stars rain down on him. In the next panel (which is in a backward L shape that half frames the two previous panels) we see the ninja Eggman leaping downward. Following his movement, we meet Sonic looking up with a dramatic grimace that leads the eye upward to the first panel on the next page of story.
A page turn later and we can follow the progress of the battle as Eggman flails the katana at Sonic. The downward sweep of the katana draws the eye to the next panel, which is directly below. It's an easy to follow progression that is extremely reader friendly.
Fry uses the inherent rubbery nature of these characters to the fullest effect, whether it's exaggerating their movements or showing their emotions. The scene in which Sonic confronts Descoe and the other robots works well, going from dramatic to sweet in an instant – and it's all done with body language and facial expression. Fry also channels Sergio Aragones in a two page sequence that would be right at home in Mad Magazine.
While this issue of Sonic X might not appeal as much as others to the cartoon's fans, it is a book that can bridge the gap and be given to humor fans. This issue isn't particularly character specific. The gags aren't funny because of the character's nature; they're funny because they're clever verbal or physical comedy. Though Flynn neglects to provide an introductory caption explaining who the characters are and fails to identify them all by name, the story works without it. This is one of the few comics on the shelf that doesn't need continuity to make the script work. Someone knowing nothing at all about Sonic could pick up this issue, get a chuckle out of it, and probably be interested enough to come back for more. And that makes it worth checking out.
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