Everyone’s favourite franchise-handlers IDW showcase their new series based on the video game company SEGA’s mascot Sonic The Hedgehog. Sonic is a character that’s not a stranger to the comic book art-form at all; with Fleetway’s Sonic The Comic in the UK running from 1993 to 2002, and the more popular and longer lasting Archie Comics run from 1993 – 2017.
IDW have pulled in a strong pedigree of talent to tackle the newest reboot of the character. The leader writer is Ian Flynn, who has worked on several different Sonic properties in the past, including the old Archie series since 2006. Pencils for the first issue were done by Archie-Sonic alumni Tracy Yardley; so there’s plenty of experience with the character in play.
Free from any old comic continuity, Flynn can tackle Sonic with a fresh perspective. In interviews he’s stated that he isn’t going to include any characters from the Archie universe; which leaves him to focus on older characters while bringing in a few new faces; with the aim of potentially bringing in elements from older games. The first story arc is following on from events from the game Sonic Forces.
Thankfully, this opening chapter is quite accessible for new readers that hadn’t played that game. There’s a short backstory on the first page before the issue unfolds into a small vignette where we see Sonic take on a few of his nemesis Eggman’s old robots (or “Badniks”) that are attacking a small town. He gets some help from his buddy Tails before heading off to help another town. Along the way we get a bit of exposition on a former battle that left Dr Eggman in a really defeated state; and Tails muses on how the attack doesn’t feel so random.
It doesn’t seem that dense in terms of plotting, but what the issue aims to show is how Flynn is approaching Sonic as a character and his role in (what this reviewer is assuming is) Mobius. The core characteristics of the character that have lasted through several iterations are there: a drive to help people with a very self-assured cocky attitude. The cockiness of Sonic has been at different levels depending on the medium being portrayed, and Flynn gets the right balance of it here. He’s nowhere near the levels of unlikeability and he appears to care a great deal about people and Tails. As opposed to perhaps the Virgin Publishing books from the early 90s where Sonic appears to actively hate Tails.
For a character built on speed, getting right to the action and starting with history to explore is perhaps the right approach to go with the character. If you start from the definite beginning and begin an origin story in real time – then you run the risk of losing pace. Flynn doesn’t have much time to play around with scene setting – so takes on elements that the audience will be familiar with and hint and a backstory that will undoubtedly get revealed as the series develops.
Penciled by Tracy Yardley, inks by Jim Amash and Bob Smith and the colouring by Matt Herms – the art style looks very lovely. Sonic as a character gets a great lift from a few panels showing an art smirk, a raised eyebrow and at one point a posturing point and wink. It helps with the establishment of who he is, and the stunned surprise and admiration of the townspeople he saves all have a purpose in revealing more about this world. The action is swift, and Sonic’s speed is portrayed effectively. Even the slight emotional moment works as the art manages to show Sonic and Tails having with more layers to them.
As an introduction to our central characters, this issue works very well. It offers just enough to raise a few questions and gives us a good understanding of Sonic and Tails and their relationship.