“Metal & Mettle” (part 2)
“So we’ve got me…my ‘evil twin’ who says he’s ‘king’…my other ‘evil twin’ that won’t stay smashed…and some slapped together combo of the two. This should be interesting.”
Is that not a great opening monolog? Ok, it’s not “This is the winter of our discontent,” but in thirty-one short words writer Ian Flynn sets up the basic conflict of the issue, identifies the major characters, and establishes Sonic as the cocky, confident leading man.
But “Metal & Mettle” has more going on than just Sonic action. There’s also a new twist in the Robotnik-Dmitiri of the Dark Egg Legion relationship, the possibility of a revolt on the part of Scourge’s allies, and a fun scene with Sonic, Sally, and King Elias. With all that going on, I thought it was a full length story. Imagine my surprise when I turned the page and found the back-up feature “Father and Son.” All that comic goodness in only seventeen-pages. Amazing!
Speaking of “Father and Son,” this is a strange little tale. Not strange in the story sense. Basically it’s a confrontation between Scourge and Sonic’s father Jules, which allows readers some insight into Scourge’s history and character. It’s pretty standard Flynn – snappy dialog balanced with genuine emotion.
It’s the look of it that’s strange -- in a very good way. Jon Gray’s pencils combined with Jim Amash’s inks and J. & A. Ray’s colors give the story the appearance of a fevered, psychedelic, pop art dream. Scourge looks like a slavering zombie in a couple of panels, while Jules is a cross between the armor from Southern Cross and Baltar from the original Battlestar Galactica. Bullseyes swirl behind the characters. Panels melt and suns go nova around them. It’s shonen manga with a touch of Steranko. These flashy and evocative graphics make “Father and Son” an art piece as much as a story.
As for the art in the main story, well really, what is there for me to say about Yardley! and company that I haven’t said a dozen times already? Nothing. But I will mention a couple of really nice touches.
First you get the very effective cover. The bright spot that is Sonic and Scourge set against the red and black background eyes is eye-catching without being busy.
The first page follows up on the eye-theme, with close-ups of each of the combatants’ eyes. Not only does this work in concert with the writing as a visual identifier, it also brings to mind classic westerns with the camera going in tight on the gunfighters, building the tension before the shootout begins. It serves a similar purpose here.
Also, check out the scene between Robotnik and Dimitri. Frankly these two characters have silly designs. Yet thanks to these skilled artists, they take on a menacing appearance here which makes their confrontation all the more tense and creepy. The four panel sequence in which the tables are continually turning and the reader can’t be entirely sure who has the top hand is a beautiful example of visual storytelling. If the word balloons had somehow been left off these panels, it would still be obvious trouble was brewing between these two.
To sum up: Sonic the Hedgehog #192 is an intelligent, enjoyable comic. Pick up a copy -- now!
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