While on a recon mission, Sonic and Monkey Khan encounter the Dark Egg Legion, Yagyu ninjas, the Iron King, and the traitor Espio. With a line-up like that, you just know you’re in for plenty of action and writer Ian Flynn and company don’t disappoint. 12 of the story’s 17 pages are devoted to the heroes dealing with an increasing number of foes.
However, this isn’t just a slugfest. Flynn provides some well-scripted character and humorous moments between blows, while at the same time filling new readers in on what has gone on before.
Sonic and Khan have an interesting dynamic. Their relationship is a prickly one, with the more serious Khan feeling Sonic isn’t taking the threat of the Iron Empire seriously. In a clever reversal, Khan is somewhat uncertain as he encounters the Dark Egg Legion for the first time, while Sonic jumps into battle eagerly. But by the time the Iron King appears, it’s Sonic showing some doubts, while Khan is the more confident character.
One of my favorite scenes involves Sonic fighting former ally Espio. Flynn gives the Hedgehog this wonderful bit of dialog: “It’s mind control, isn’t it? Punch me once for ‘yes,’ twice for ‘no.’ No, see that was a kick.”
Flynn also does an excellent job of injecting emotion into the story. The scene between Sally and Khan builds on a moment that occurred last issue, suggesting a personal relationship is developing between the princess and Khan.
Steven Butler and the rest of the art team do a fantastic job making this an extremely attractive and dynamic looking book. Butler’s pencils, under Terry Austin’s inks, give the characters a lean, more mature, more realistic (relatively speaking) appearance. His Iron King is an impressive, dominating figure, reminding me somewhat of Jack Kirby’s Doctor Doom.
The action is easy to follow, flowing smoothly from panel to panel. Butler has a superb understanding of graphic storytelling. All of the elements in the panel are placed so that the main action can be taken in at a glance. There’s no confusion as to who’s doing what to whom.
Butler also does a beautiful job with expression. The aforementioned scene between Khan and Sally wouldn’t have the subtext it does, if not for the subtle play of emotion Butler captures.
Colorist Matt Herms’ choice of palette is perfect. On the pages detailing the fight, the panels are set against a black background. This makes the more colorful characters pop off the page, while at the same time increasing the ominous nature of the scene. Though Hermes uses cool aqua, grey, and purples in the backgrounds, this is not a dark book. Rather these colors reflect the iron nature of the Iron Empire.
Finishing out the issue is “A Lonely Girl’s Story,” written by Flynn and penciled by Jamal Peppers. This is the origin of the Iron Queen as related to the love-struck Snively. Flynn manages to make her a somewhat sympathetic character here, without erasing her sense of menace.
Except for the first panel, in which the Iron Queen looks more than a bit like Marvel Comics’ M.O.D.O.K., Peppers does a beautiful job on the art duties. His young Queen is adorable, while his backgrounds successfully convey an impression of isolation and loneliness. If you look at the panels, you’ll see the Queen is always apart from the other humans in every scene. Her attention is either focused away from them or she’s alone in a desolate natural setting. Even without the text, you would get an idea of why she’s become what she is.
If you’ve been thinking of trying Sonic or haven’t read an issue in a while, Sonic the Hedgehog #202 is an excellent jumping on point.
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