Writer Ian Flynn does his usual fine job this issue as he advances one storyline and brings several subplots into sharper focus. Wizard Ixis Naugus is proclaimed king of New Mobotropolis by the grateful populace, even as he tries to control the three entities in his head;
Sonic is frustrated at every turn in his attempts to return things to normal; and Eggman plots to use the roboticized Princess Sally to destroy the Freedom Fighters once and for all. While no one storyline is resolved, unless you count Sonic's trip to the Flying Island to see Knuckles, it feels like quite a bit happened in seventeen pages. This issue is reminiscent of Chris Claremont's way of writing the X-Men: several stories going on at once that reveal something about the characters' characters.
While Ben Bates' art has a cartoony look (Naugus mugs shamelessly in every panel he's in),
and he's capable of rendering expressive faces that reveal emotion.
Bates also does a superb job with body language. There's a panel showing the spy Geoffrey St. John, who is also Naugus's apprentice, smirking at Sonic that is wonderful. The spy stands with studied innocuousness against the wall as he baits the hedgehog, his arms folded across his chest, his tail curled.
As enjoyable as "Dark Tidings" is, however, it's Scott and David Tipton's "Fragile" that makes Sonic the Hedgehog #232 something special. Due to events in the main storyline, Bunnie's life takes an extraordinary turn. In this five-pager, beautifully illustrated by Jamal Peppers and the rest of the Sonic team, readers gain insight into what makes Bunnie Bunnie and why she and Antoine make such a good couple.
Though "Fragile" is basically a "talking heads" story, Peppers and company provide three panels that show Bunnie in action. These capture her character perfectly. The panel showing her soaring through the clouds is beautiful, while the one depicting her laughing off a missile barrage captures the sense of power and fun that drew many of us to superhero comics in the first place. We want to believe superheroes enjoy having their powers and making the world a better place. We want to believe, too, that's what it'd be like if we had those powers.
Besides the iconic moments, there's also plenty of emotion on display. Bunnie runs the gamut from despair to anger to fear to sorrow to self-assurance. Every change of expression is clearly visible on her face. With just a narrowing or widening of her eyes or change in the tilt of her head, Peppers lets readers know how she's feeling.
Antoine also gets some good moments as he tries to help his wife through this traumatic time. His expression when he attempts to use logic to reassure her and she turns from him in anger is pitch perfect. The moment when he cups her face with his hand and declares "It was you all along. It was always you" is Grade-A Swoon material. While the male portion of the audience might not enjoy it as much, tween and teen females will love it.
Sonic the Hedgehog #232 provides readers with solid, character motivated action, drama, and romance and attractive art.
For the past 13 years, Penny Kenny has been an elementary library paraprofessional in a rural school district. For the seven years prior to that, she headed a reading-math program designed to help first grade students with learning difficulties. Her book reviews regularly appeared in Starlog from 1993 to the magazine's unfortunate demise in 2009 and she has published several e-novellas under a pen name. She has been a reviewer with Comics Bulletin since 2007.