Welcome, one and all, to my first comic review in a while. This is one that I’ve been excited for ever since it was announced, so I’m going to get straight into it.
- Sonic the Hedgehog #1
- IDW Publishing
- Story: Ian Flynn
- Art: Tracy Yardley
Let’s start by addressing the thing that a lot of people have been asking about: this is not a follow-on to the Archie imprint series. From the get-go, IDW have been adamant that this will be a very different beast to its predecessor, even if they did retain the same head writer for the series. Instead of picking up where Archie left off, we’re thrown into a timeframe set just after the events of the recent game Sonic Forces. Now, I can understand where this may bring up some mixed feelings for people; quite aside form the loyalty of the Archie Sonic fanbase, Forces had a bit of a mixed reception. I would say though that it’s well worth giving things a chance here. Even if you weren’t a fan of the game, the world set up in Forces provides plenty of potential material for a bigger story than the more retro styled Sonic Mania did. That is a potential that I full expect Ian Flynn to explore too. And as it pertains to the Archie point, many of us have already been there. I was personally very used to the world of Sonic’s Fleetway comics before I started reading the Archie ones. I understand how easy it is to get attached and to not want change, but the fact is, it’s happened already. And with things only just starting out, it would be unfair to judge the series too deeply just yet.
It’s a good start though. We’re told on the first page that after the events of Forces, Dr Eggman has vanished, leaving his robot horde behind without direction. As the comic progresses, we also learn that things appear to be changing with their behavior, and that Dr Eggman is not likely to be the culprit. Meanwhile, the end sets up the next issue in terms of reiterating that a threat is rising and that we’ll be spending some time with one of Sonic’s allies. Everything is kept very simple, but I get the impression that there’s a reason for this. For one, the first month will see four issues released rather than the standard one (which will be the case once we hit May). Each one is designed to introduce us to the dynamic between the titular blue blur and one of his comrades. In this easy, it’s my personal favorite character, Tails. Next week will be Amy Rose, week three is Knuckles, and week four is the new girl of the group, Tangle. What that means is that the first short arc is there purely to set up the world that the tales will be set in.
What’s nice is that it really wasn’t an exaggeration when it was stated that you don’t need to have played the games or read any previous Sonic comics to understand this. The simple, action-heavy approach works to give readers a jump-on point that is easy to swallow, which is a wise move. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if each of the first four issues follows the same approach too, slowly chipping away at the over-reaching arc while keeping things moving swiftly. Once we hit May and beyond, that’s when I expect stories to get a little heavier on detail, though likely not as much as the Archie comics did, at least to begin with. Yes, I would have maybe liked a little more here, but I do understand that the first month is acting like a bumper issue, so this is really as good a first issue as we can expect in that regard.
Art wise, the internals by Tracy Yardley are very good, much as you’d expect from the Sonic comic veteran. In particular, he excels at giving background and incidental characters just enough of an exaggeration to their facial expressions for them to pop without ever taking the focus from the main action. That isn’t just limited to background work though. Tails has some wonderful moments in terms of both facial expressions and body language in this issue, which really helps bring him to life. Meanwhile, I was given Cover A, which features art by Tyson Hesse, who is working on the Sonic Mania animated adventures on YouTube. If you’ve not seen his Sonic artwork before, it’s well worth looking into. It’s always felt like it attains a nice balance between Western and Manga style art to me, and this is no exception.
The page lay-outs are decent, with the talk-based sections being kept fairly straight forward, and the actions sections being a little more frenetic without sacrificing the ease of reading. I also liked the way the backing color for the pages switched depending on what was happening, with white before everything kicks off, blue when Sonic is doing his thing, and black when it’s villain time.
In all, this is a good start to the newest chapter in Sonic’s comic adventures. I’m looking forward to seeing not only how the lore expands, but how Ian Flynn manages to balance the storytelling now that he isn’t constrained by many years and issues of prior comic history. This one scores an easy 4 out of 5.