They say that life begins at 40, but in IDW’s Sonic The Hedgehog run it appears that mini-arcs close at 40. The series doesn’t really capitalise on the milestone but what it does do is close off another mini-arc whilst laying in a few foundations for what might end up being the next epic arc after the Zombot arc.
For those catching up, the series currently has Sonic, Amy and Tails trapped in a strange pocket dimension-slash-nuclear-testing-site controlled by Eggman. He’s using the opportunity to test new badniks that are constantly adapting to the trio’s style of offence and defence, and Eggman is also controlling the physics of the pocket dimension. They manage to escape with the aid of Tangle and the tower that they accessed the dimension within vanishes completely.
Throughout this, the origin of Belle’s creation is revealed – she’s the creation of Eggman when he was believing he was the toymaker, Mr Tinker. It’s a good revelation, and it leads to an interesting conversation between her and Eggman.
The conversation is mainly an infodump and exposition on what exactly the tower they’re in is, but it also allows for a glimpse of development for Eggman. He allows himself to talk about the tower because “she looked after him” when he was Mr Tinker. One of the things that this run of Sonic hasn’t really done is try and give some development to Eggman as a character. Referring back to his time and Mr Tinker offers the hint that the series could eventually dip back and look into Eggman as a character beyond the usual villainous tropes that he easily slips back into.
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For the rest of the story, it functions okay as a finale. Sonic, Tails and Amy don’t really have much to do but it’s refreshing to have to see someone else save Sonic for a change. It highlights the danger they’re in and sells the threat that Eggman’s latest schemes hold.
When you have an ensemble, at some point in a story something will need to happen that only that character can do that helps resolve the plot. To give them a key moment to shine which makes their involvement in the story justified. With Tangle’s ability to have the ever-growing tail of Tangle works in her favour here to do the aforementioned rescuing, and whilst the main trio don’t get much to do here, they did have their moments to shine in previous issues of the arc.
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On a slightly related-yet-not note, the alternative cover art by Nathalie Fourdraine with the internet comments was very hilarious, but also had a much-appreciated reference to the 90s Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series. This leaves hope that maybe IDW could introduce the characters of Scratch and Grounder into the main series. But modern-day versions of Sonic have used Orbot and Cubot in very similar roles to Scratch and Grounder in the flunky-of-the-villain trope. See also: Rocksteady and Bebop from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for equivalent goofy henchmen.
A good, interesting pay-off for the mystery behind Belle, and new concepts that will undoubtedly be explored in future arcs make this a good story to begin the comic’s run into its forties.
Sonic the Hedgehog #40 is out now from IDW Publishing.