Regular readers of these reviews might be a little fatigued by the constant references to the IDW Sonic The Hedgehog series trying to balance too many characters and stories. It just about manages it at the expense of development unless there’s a good ensemble story at its core, usually at the end of an arc. Issue #35 feels similar to that, but manages to lay out its story-beats and plot progression in weird, erratic ways; at some points having to get the reader to jump back to make sure they’re following what they should be following.
To its benefit it gets Sonic and Tails merging with the story at the Chao races almost immediately, but then it unravels from there. The focus on Clutch and Rouge is dropped and there’s a focus on Amy for a moment. At one point Sonic vanishes but it hasn’t shown him leaving, although it’s mentioned in the text – and the page needed to be re-read in order to realise that he ran off. There’s even a part where a whole thing with Tails being attacked by a hypnotised Rouge is explained in text rather than shown. Again, re-reading to see if there was a section of comic that was missed. It just feels very disjointed and it isn’t fun trying to catch up.
The issue’s biggest faux pas out of many is how it bodges up the reveal of Dr. Starline. He suddenly shows up and takes the attention over the build-up in a panel from Tails. It’s a little anticlimactic, especially after the interesting work going to him as a character in the spin-off Bad Guys. It feels weird to have him show up now whilst he still has something in a spin-off. Maybe it’s a scheduling issue, but there’s something off about the timing of his appearance. The Starline reveal also takes over the story and moves it further from the Clutch/races storyline, which is beginning to feel like an afterthought.
A poorly laid out reveal that should’ve been the last frame of the issue really drags down an arc that has been struggling to get any momentum. Belle doesn’t really make much more of an impact post her introduction, and the flipping across of Sonic and Tails to the main arc loses any semblance of time as well.
It does feel that whatever was going to follow the Zombot arc was going to have a tough time, but there are still those major issues with the overall plot, and the execution that lets issue #35 down.
Sonic the Hedgehog #35 is out now from IDW Publishing.