Here’s a milestone for you: this is the first issue of the IDW Sonic the Hedgehog run not written by Ian Flynn. It’s written by Evan Stanley, who also is the artist for this and the rest of the issues of this new arc. She’s supported by colouring from Reggie Graham.
It’s a stark contrast from the previous issues where there’s an element of darkness throughout the dramatic stories being told. Here everything feels brighter, rounder and more vibrant. Bold colours around the panels feel noticeable. If they were used in previous issues then they may have been missed, but from the outset there’s definitely a statement of something new happening.
But the initial impact of “oh this looks like it’s going to be cute fluff” gets undercut when the story unfolds. Rouge The Bat takes the lead in the story and is assisted by Amy, Cream, Cheese, Gemerl and the head of Omega. A story that looks at underground gambling of Chao races with a villain that has influences of a slightly more adult nature.
This is implemented with the character of Clutch, who is practically as pimp-ish as one can be in a comic aimed for a primarily younger audience. Big fluffy fur coat, a cane, a gold tooth and jewellery – there’s definitely a stylistic choice here. There’s not much learnt about him apart from that he’s clever, cunning and already feels like the right foil for Rouge.
In terms of Rouge as a character, any fans of her will be in their element as the story begins to focus with her as the lead. Side-plots of Shadow and Sonic & Tails notwithstanding, this feels like it’s setting Rouge up for a good exploration of what makes her tick, with Cream, Cheese and Amy all looking to have key roles in the narrative, even if Amy appears to only be there to have Rouge tell her what she’s doing.
Whilst it still feels as if the natural progression of the story crashed into a wall rather than breaking slowly from the previous issue, the set-up for this next mini-arc is quite interesting. It does, however, feel as if it is part of another spin-off comic rather than the main series at this point. The only thing that makes it feel like it’s part of the main storyline is a section involving Sonic and Tails searching an old Eggman base. But as the issue is laying down several different foundations to hopefully converge – it can be forgiven.
Sonic the Hedgehog #33 is out on 14th October from IDW Publishing.