With the exception of a cameo from Amy Rose, the only real characters we see in issue #17 of Sonic the Hedgehog are the three members of Chaotix and Sonic. Sonic doesn’t even appear until half way through. Branching out and focusing on these peripheral characters benefits this issue that continues the series’ descent into slightly darker storytelling as this is where things get a little… The Walking Dead.
Maybe not exactly – none of the characters are dropping f-bombs and there’s no violence to talk about whatsoever, but the gradual increasing threat that is the zombie-robot virus is generating heightened peril. There’s no real cure (as of this moment) and the only way it’s slowed is for Sonic to run himself tired. It delivers an interesting threat to the characters, but also helps flesh out the characterisation of them.
Within the ranks of Chaotix, Vector and Charmy are the two opposite ideologies you find in your typical zombie fiction. Vector is the tortured tough leader having to make the tough decisions whilst Charmy is the devil’s advocate to providing the right thing to do. It’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before, and done better in zombie stories previously, but it’s new and works in the greater context of the world that Flynn & Co have been developing.
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Charmy’s desire to do the right thing highlights the character differences between him and Vector, although Espio feels like he gets short-changed in having his own voice. All Espio does is have a few cool moments of ninjutsu and follow Vector’s lead. Even if the eventual tropes of the guy that goes back to help someone that was left behind feels predictable.
Charmy succumbing to the zombot virus could lead to two schools of thought: that they’re writing out a character already, or that they’re gearing up more stakes to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus. Sonic having to fend it off leads to thinking it may be reversed. Perhaps IDW are going to pull no punches with writing out characters, but it’s doubtful.
Sonic The Hedgehog as a franchise doesn’t really do many character deaths. It’s not that dark, really. The closest it’s done is Blaze’s death in Sonic 2006, but that was reversed, and Johnny Lightfoot from Sonic the Comic. But there’s little doubt that this iteration of the franchise won’t go that far; the letters pages have been mainly from children or Sonic fans who have been reading with their own children. So reading around the story, it appears as if the story may end up with a more peaceful and wholesome conclusion. Which is probably for the best in the end – as the last thing this comic needs is to become The Walking Dead.