“Metal and Mettle" (part 1)
With the New Mobotropolis Council voting to let King Scourge and his minions keep Freedom Fighters’ HQ and Knuckles suffering from a crisis of confidence, is it any wonder that Sonic’s thinking, “Why does it feel like we’re losing ground?” And that’s before Metal Sonic shows up!
Ian Flynn has developed a good rhythm for the Sonic series: big story, intimate story, big story, intimate story. After last issue’s melee, we’re back to Sonic alone against the bad guys. And an interesting battle it is, if only because of the personalities and abilities involved. Basically, Sonic is fighting two different versions of himself. Obviously, speed is not going to be the deciding factor in this battle. There’s also a bit of psyching going on as Scourge makes Sonic an interesting offer. The dialog between these two is smart and bright and Flynn does a nice job showing that they are the flip side of one another. There are similarities in their speech patterns, but also differences.
The Knuckles’ storyline is the more emotional, thoughtful one of the issue; dramatic without tipping over into melodrama. Still feeling guilty over the Enerjak thing, Knuckles fails to notice his guilt is cutting him off from the people who need him. Julie-Su’s response to his moroseness is honest and real. Readers will be saying, “You go, girl!” as she lets Knuckles have it. In a sequence that combines humor and humanity, Knuckles reaches a turning point in his emotional journey. The resulting scene with Julie-Su is absolutely perfect. I’d love to quote from it, but it really needs to be read in context.
For those who enjoy cutting humor in their comic book, the by-play between “evil Tails” and Scourge is delightful. The snarky Miles gets to deliver some of the book’s best set-up lines: “Your Majesty? There’s something here to see you” and “If we helped you against one robot, would that be unforgivably insulting?”
Tracy Yardley! and Jim Amash give Sonic and Scourge a fluid, stretchy line, while Metal Sonic is depicted as heavier and slightly less flexible. With his jointed claws and feet and pointed face, he at times resembles a kiddified version of an Evangelion robot.
There’s lots of white space in this issue of Sonic, making it a very bright, open looking book. There are only two instances when Josh Ray makes heavy use of black. The first is on the opening page in the captured FF HQ. The second is when Scourge propositions Sonic. The sudden, dense appearance of black here after the earlier brighter pages effectively highlights the devil’s aspect of the deal. Even if the reader couldn’t read Scourge’s dialog, thanks to the coloring and pose he’d know this was a bad guy with an evil plan.
The main story runs only seventeen pages, allowing for the inclusion of “Invaders From Beyond.” Basically a prequel/trailer for the Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood Nintendo DS game, the five-pager features Knuckles and Tails attempting to capture the mysterious thieves who are after the Chaos Emeralds.
Characterization is less nuanced here than in the comic book proper, but the story serves its purpose as a teaser. Flynn sets-up a mystery, provides some action, and leaves off with a cliff-hanger. On the art front, Yardley! and team do their usual bang up job, though Knuckles and Tails look a bit younger and rounder here, probably to match the game design. The villains, on the other hand, are really interesting. They’re like legged-snake ninjas with floppy puppy dog ears. I want to see more of them.
All in all, another solid issue of the world’s longest-running videogame-based comic.
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