IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog series continues to impress as it maintains a desire to delve slightly deeper into the psychology of its main characters via its ever expanding world of characters. The eighteen issue run, subtitled ‘Vs the Victims of the Metal Virus’ sees the team of Ian Flynn, Tracy Yardley and Leonardo Ito take on the concept of morality and drive of Sonic and Eggman – but doesn’t explicitly use those characters to do it.
This is this issue which validates the inclusion of Starline as a character other than just a sidekick in awe of Eggman. Whilst not completely an audience surrogate, Starline offers an analysis of Eggman’s short-term goals and longer-term mentality that baffles him. It’s the age-old saying of “never meet your idols” played out in comic form, as Starline develops into a different kind of villain. It may not happen for a long while yet, but he could very well become a formidable foe in his own right. The writing even opens up the hint that it wants to tackle and break through the worn tropes of Eggman vs Sonic that have echoed throughout the franchise. It’s quite exciting.
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The rest of the issue focuses on the decisions that heroes have to make, but not everyone can apply those decisions straight away. After the incident that causes Chaotix and Sonic to have to abandon Charmy Bee, Sonic finds the metal virus beginning to take over. As he tries to find his friend Cream, he clashes with robot ally Gemerl – who struggles to comprehend the grey area as all it can sense is the virus in Sonic meaning it tries to eliminate him.
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It leads to Sonic having to leave to run off the virus, as Cream has to try and talk sense into a robot that can’t understand that the virus victims are still people that may be cured. She may be a child, but as Sonic states in a brief moment with strangers that nearly set fire to a forest: she has some common sense. More escalation with this arc at the usual balanced pace with Choas Cheese and Chocola succumbing to the virus is another great cliff-hanger.
There’s still the sensation that the virus is going to be cured. The fact that the letters pages are from very young readers means that the target audience may not be reading death any time soon. But what the series is doing really well is getting to a point where it’s not certain how this will be resolved. Which, for older fans, works just as well.
Sonic the Hedgehog 18 is available now from IDW publishing.