It’s been a long ride to get here, but it feels as if pay-off is beginning to get rewarded at last in regards to IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog series. It’s about time, too. There were regular gripes over the structure of the issues and how they felt quite formulaic and frustrating in that they kept adding more and more characters without reason. The reveal of Neo Metal Sonic jump-started plot momentum and gave the series a much needed sense of direction.
With the ninth issue of this series, all the characters ar ein the same room and planning a raid on the Floating Islands to stop Neo Metal Sonic from activating the Master Emerald, freeing it from his control. This issue is more set-up for a more action-orientated issue next time, but what it does is highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the series so far.
Let’s get the weaknesses out of the way first. Every character who isn’t Eggman is back. So we have all the introduced characters in the same room, all competing for space. Naturally the more important characters involved get more focus, so it means Sonic and Knuckles get the most here. There’s also some interesting concepts involving Blaze that are clearly setting things up for later on, but then there’s other characters that are here but don’t really get anything to do. Chaotix hardly do anything of note, and Shadow sulks and runs off. At least Amy and Tails have their plot functions to rely on, with her being the tactical leader of the resistance in comparison to Knuckles’ emotional gung-ho attitude. Whisper and Tangle have a couple of moments to remind us we’re there – but it’s all feeling over-crowded.
This could all be a moot point if the attack on Neo Metal Sonic ends up being more in-depth and everyone has key moments that advance the story, but on the evidence of this there’s the nagging feeling of just too many characters to juggle.
But on the characters that writer Ian Flynn gets to play about with, there’s some good stuff. Blaze gets some moments that establish more of her abilities, but also a few moments to reveal how she’s gain more friends. The Knuckles/Amy comparison bodes well for future developments, as the leader who is very ruled by impulsive emotional outbursts has already been mentioned to not be the “real leader” and all the tactical stuff being done by Amy. It helps Amy as a character but also allows Knuckles to have an emotional stake in the story as well.
In fact, if you could give another negative comment, which feels weird to keep talking about the negative stuff as it does feel as if it’s really working on itself as a series, it’s Sonic’s role. Sonic feels periphery to the story at this time, with the majority of character work going to Blaze and Knuckles. The confrontation next issue looks to get Sonic back in focus, but it was curious to see how Sonic felt as if he was just commenting on others. Again, whether it’s because of the overload of characters on display remains to be seen.
Another consistent hook of a cliffhanger ends this issue, with Neo Metal Sonic now going Neo Metal Super Sonic. It’s been a long wait to get to this point, but the excitement is ramping up!
Sonic the Hedgehog #9 is now available from IDW Publishing.