“House of Cards: Part 1”
Writer: Ian Flynn
Artists: Tracy Yardley! (p), Jim Amash (i), Jason Jensen (colors)
Publisher: Archie Comics
With the Eggman threat neutralized for the moment, it’s time for civil unrest to raise its head in New Mobotropolis. Amadeus Prower’s demand that King Elias step down and abolish the monarchy not only sets the stage for a civil war, it also puts best friends Tails and Sonic at odds. Or rather it gives them an excuse to act on the tension that’s been building between them since way back in issue #130.
Action junkies might be disappointed with the relatively low amount of super speed hijinks in “House of Cards,” but anyone who’s into character oriented stories is going to jump for joy! Ian Flynn has done a beautiful job of putting these characters into positions they don’t want to be in – and none of it has come out of left field. He’s built on what’s come before in an outstanding way.
This particular issue is very much about fathers and sons, their expectations for each other, and what they owe one another. Elias, doubting his ability to rule, is struck by Amadeus’s arguments for democracy, and yet he has a duty to uphold what his father, the ailing former king, worked so hard to hold onto in the face of Eggman’s attacks. In two short scenes Flynn fleshes out this background character and makes him a conflicted man of principle.
Tails, meanwhile, is less conflicted. He follows his father because he is his father. Ideology doesn’t enter into it. But it’s hinted that part of Tails’ motive might also be the desire to step out of Sonic’s shadow.
And speaking of Sonic, he’s caught in the middle. Never known for his deep thinking ability, the Blue Blur needs a clear-cut enemy to fight. This conflict between two people who should be friends doesn’t make sense to him. Flynn gives him a great line that sums up his position perfectly: “After all that, whose side do I want to be on?” Readers will be asking that same question. When both sides are right, who do you support? Whatever happens, Flynn seems to be setting up a major shift in the Sonic-Tails friendship.
Now don’t think this issue is all deep thoughts and highly dramatic speeches. While it is a bit ligher than normal on humor, Flynn provides some through the use of the kibitzing criminals who are in prison with Amadeus. And the final eight pages are the opening rounds of a knock-down, drag-out fight that looks like it might go down in New Mobotropolis history.
Which leads us to the artwork. Per usual, the art team does a fantastic job with both the characters and the new New Mobotropolis setting. Without taking the attention off the characters and their stories, Tracy Yardley! gives readers a view of a city that combines high tech and greenery. Al Gore would be proud. As a bonus feature, five Data-File pages showcase the new library, civic center, marketplace and Castle Acorn. A map is also included to help newbies find their way around the city.
This is a great feature, but the highlight of the issue is Yardley!, Amash and Jensen’s use of blacks. Check out the various panels depicting the jail break, Sonic’s bedroom, and my personal favorite, Sonic confronting Amadeus. The judicious application of heavy black gives these scenes an almost 3-D look. The highlighting adds to the inherent drama of the script, and subtly emphasizes the darkside of this brave new Utopia.
After the less than stellar last issue, Sonic the Hedgehog #178 bounces right back with a mature storyline that isn’t a polemic and packs an emotional punch.
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