Writer: Ian Flynn
Artists: Tracy Yardley! (p), Jim Amash (i), Jason Jensen (colors)
Publisher: Archie Comics
Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the best superhero comics being published today. And this issue is the proof.
From the stunning cover by Pat “Spaz” Spaziante to its final dramatic panel, “Eggman Empire” delivers a flat out action epic. Mobius’s Freedom Fighters are enjoying some downtime when Robotnik launches a surprise attack that has devastating consequences. As the cover copy proclaims, “The unthinkable happens!,” and Sonic is left to battle Robotnik alone. Neither one is holding back and there’s a real question as to whether Sonic will survive this encounter.
Ian Flynn’s script is highly dramatic without ever descending to melodrama. Each of the characters has a distinct “voice,” and under Flynn’s pen, you can’t mistake one for the other. Knuckles is the professional. Rouge is the sly flirt. Tails is the youngster eager to prove his worth. And Sonic is the laidback optimist, who can turn on a dime and become the toughest guy on the planet. But Flynn has saved the best dialog for Robotnik. His lines drip with venom: “They knew you were powerless, Sonic.” “So…how come you’re all alone?” Robotnik’s not only trying to destroy Sonic’s body, he’s trying to destroy his soul.
Meanwhile, the combo of Tracey Yardley! and Jim Amash has created a truly animated book. The characters bend. They stretch. They practically bounce off the page. Even when they’re at rest, they’re not statues. They’re just caught between movements. But no matter how distorted their bodies might become, their expressions remain recognizable. Even without words, you know what these characters are thinking. And never has Robotnik looked more malevolent – not an easy trick to pull off when he’s in a helmeted battle suit all issue.
The story layout is exceptional. Despite the activity in each panel, it never becomes so busy the reader can’t easily follow what’s happening. Helped by the characters’ tendency to explode out of the panel, the eye is drawn smoothly toward the next segment of the sequence.
Jason Jensen also deserves kudos for his spectacular coloring job. Panels are ominous, but never muddy and never dull. The gradations of reds, yellows, and oranges in the battle scenes are eye-catching, but not distracting.
This is a great jumping on issue for new readers. Though it’s obvious that Robotnik and Sonic have fought before, it’s equally obvious the stakes have been raised with this battle and a new storyline is about to begin. Actually, any issue is a good jumping on point. Each comic is easily accessible to a new reader, even those who know nothing about Sonic or his videogames.
The blue blur never quite gets the credit he deserves from the superhero fan community. Surprising considering this book has exactly the same elements that have made series like Justice League and Avengers so popular over the years. Sonic has a large cast of colorful heroic and villainous characters with unique abilities connected to one another through ever-evolving relationships. There have been space adventures, parallel world stories, evil twin stories, beloved characters returning from the dead stories, possible future stories, and wedding episodes. It has something for everyone that enjoys a well-told superhero story.
It’s a book that never talks down to its readers. The thirteen and under set definitely know this is “the world’s most way past cool comic!” In the elementary library where I work there have been literal races to the rack to get the latest issue. This one will deservedly elicit the same reaction.
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