After handling the issue of Sonic and Princess Sally’s relationship with intelligence, maturity, and good humor, Ian Flynn tackles the question of who will rule Acorn in an action-packed, thought provoking, humor-filled chapter that also marks the dramatic return of Eggman. Released the same week as Action Comics #900, with its controversial and rather staid backup story of Superman renouncing his American citizenship, Sonic the Hedgehog #224 shows you can have your political concerns and fun too. Superman might stand in solidarity with the Iranian people, but Sonic gets into an “Is Too/Is Not” Staff vs. Sword fight with Ixis Naugus and Sally gets to kick the traitor Geoffrey St. John around. I know which one I think is more exciting.
That isn’t to say Flynn isn’t exploring some serious ideas and reflecting on current American politics if you want to go that route. Sonic’s cry of “No! No! No! He’s the bad guy! I beat him up, and that’s it!” does seem to describe a vocal segment of the American people, while the Acorn Council’s less adversarial approach will recall the cries for more diplomacy early in President Obama’s term. However, if you just want to enjoy the story for its cool moments of Naugus’s mystical flames being blocked by Sonic’s Sword of Light or Bunnie wrapping St. John in her expandable arms, that works too. See, the wonderful thing about Flynn’s writing is you can enjoy it for the action-adventure aspects, the character moments, or the deeper subjects you can tack on to it. He really does write All-Ages stories.
It wasn’t until I read “Total Authority” for the second time that I realized Flynn has been building up to the Council’s division for over a year. The arguments coming to the surface this issue have their origins in both character and history, though I suspect something more than past grudges and differing ideologies is at work here. My one nitpick with the Council scenes is that the characters aren’t always called by name. Though they’re all distinctive in appearance, I could not remember who a couple of them were. Someone yelling out their name when addressing them would have been helpful and in keeping with the drama of the moment.
Flynn uses Naugus to his full potential in this storyline. While the wizard has flashy elemental magic to enforce his claims, his most dangerous weapons are his words. As such, he’s a villain who proves a real challenge for Sonic. The Blue Blur can counter the results of magic, but the power of persuasion is harder to defeat.
The art team does a splendid job of bringing energy and a sense of movement to the pages. The speed effects and multiple images used to show motion are especially well done. They’re visible enough that you can see them, but light enough to convey the feeling of fast action. Sally’s spin kick and Antoine’s flashing sword as he goes after St. John are prime examples of this. In another fast-paced scene that looks like it should be in a big budget movie, King Elias grabs the flying Sword of Light and leaps into battle against Naugus. While lasting only six panels, it plays out with a fierce intensity.
Expression also plays a large part in this book and nowhere is that more evident than on the story’s first page. The book opens with a two-thirds panel showing Naugus confronting the defiant Sonic and the Council. The scene is dominated by the cocky Sonic and sneering, slathering Naugus, but if you look in the background you’ll notice each of the Council members displaying emotions perfectly in keeping with their character. Elias is at attention, waiting for the next move. Rotor is angry, looking like he’s ready to join in the brawl. Uncle Chuck is nervous. Hamlin is furious and so on. Without a word of dialog, new readers get a sense of who these characters are just by how they look.
Filled with thrilling action and ending with a great cliffhanger, Sonic the Hedgehog #224 should definitely be on your reading list.