Breaking from the ongoing arc in which we’re seeing our hero Sonic slowly transform into a zombie/robot hybrid, IDW releases the Sonic The Hedgehog 2019 Annual in which we are witness to five short vignettes involving different characters from the main series.
The growing cast of the main series has previously been a concern, so it’s a welcome change to see stories focusing on characters that haven’t gotten that much ink-time in the past. But they don’t feel as if they have enough opportunity to flesh out the characters despite some good ideas within them.
Tangle & Whisper
If anything, this is allowing some breathing room to show Whisper and Tangle’s growing friendship. It features a cool if brief action sequence and hints to some of Whisper’s backstory and development in how she has grown some attachment to people considering she was a shy loner when we first met her. But it feels as if it’s over far too quickly.
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Sonic & Tails
This one was quite a disposable story really. We’ve seen a lot of Sonic in the main series but this, aside from learning to fly, doesn’t really add anything to what we know about the characters aside from the bond of friendship between Sonic and Tails. It’s probably a necessity to include Sonic because, well, he’s the central figure of the franchise – but it’s a shame the space wasn’t used to beef up other characters.
Silver & Blaze
In contrast, as small as it may be, the Blaze and Silver vignette feels as if it’s developing into a nice small moment for the characters where we learn something about them and the world. Silver and Blaze are the most “detached” from the current reality – with Silver from a post-apocalyptic future and Blaze from a different dimension – so the idea of them interested in gardening works.
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Rouge with Rough & Tumble
This one was fun, as it helped play a little on what little we know about Rouge as a character in that the reveal that she was helping a small community was welcome. Rough and Tumble are one joke characters that live a little in the shade of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog’s Scratch and Grounder, but have gone through some interesting developments in the main arc that were ignored for this one.
Tangle and the Sonic fan club
This was another unnecessary story, as it focused on a fan club of Sonic wanting to take on a badnik and ending with Tangle getting tangled in her own tale. It didn’t really feel as if it added anything overall.
You can clearly see how some of these apply better uses of character exploration. Comparing the stories, we learn stuff about characters that help our understanding of them which we just wouldn’t get the chance to see in the main series. But in contrast to this, the stories don’t really get time to breathe. As interesting as a character study the Blaze/Silver one is, it’s over almost before it even begins.
A year into the run, the side characters probably aren’t as formed to carry longer stories, but if they get around to the 2020 annual it’s hopeful they’ll be able to flesh out the stories more.