With issue 16, we’re heading back into the main storyline with Sonic and his friends. Given the peril created in the last issue, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this installment, as I want to see how they deal with it all. So, let’s dive right in.
- Sonic the Hedgehog Annual 2019
- IDW Publishing
- Story: Ian Flynn
- Art: Jack Lawrence, Diana Skelly, Priscilla Tramontano
- Colors: Matt Herms
As always, I’m starting with the cover, and this time around I got Cover A by series regular Evan Stanley. I like it; it does a great job of conveying the darker tone to what’s happening to the characters right now. Cover C by Nathalie Fourdraine achieves a similar effect. Cover B is a little brighter and features the full cast of heroes with art by Jonathan Gray and colours by Matt Herms.
The general art is decent, as you’d expect. Jack and Diana split the art and Priscilla took on the inks this month, with Matt Herms continuing his run with the colors. While the phrase ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ may spring up as a concern here, there’s really no need to worry. The IDW Sonic team is absolutely on the same page in terms of how this comic is being created, and as a result, everything feels consistent throughout the issue. There were some really nice little touches too, like Tangle using her tail to point and the looks of abject fear of the villagers’ faces during Eggman’s attack. So, if you’ve enjoyed the art so far, this won’t do anything to put you off.
In terms of story, we really follow two adjacent arcs here. The first is the hero side, which sees Sonic, Tails, and Tangle dealing with Sonic’s infection. These scenes were decent and gave us a chance to catch up with how the team is dealing with Sonic’s infection. While he’s hiding it from most, Tails is helping him combat it, and Tangle is now in the know too (as well as Amy in the last issue). I quite enjoyed the idea that moving at speed keeps the virus in check, but doesn’t cure it. With how quickly it infects everyone else it touches, it was good to see a workable explanation as to why Sonic hasn’t been turned yet. It also showed some naivety on the heroes part, as their plan basically involves stopping Eggman before he can start changing people in zombots. Unfortunately, that’s not an option, they just don’t’ know it yet.
The other arc this month sees Dr. Starline learning just how ruthless Eggman can be when he wants to be. The nefarious villain already has a new flying fortress – or faceship – built, and sets about dumping a river of Metal Virus onto the village that took care of him when he was Mr. Tinker. This moment was great for a number of reasons. First, the darkness was turned way up. We even got to see a parent trying to save their child, only for them both to turn. We see Starline in shock at how quickly Eggman can act when he wants to too, which really hammers home the point. Perhaps best of all though is that, right at the end of the issue, while Sonic is maintaining hope, we see a Flickie get infected and start heading towards a city.
Issue 16 did a great job of balancing the real risk that has been introduced in year two with keeping everything child-friendly. When you look at it from the standpoint of the younger market, this actually almost leans into a touch of horror. For that wonderful mix, I give it 5 out of 5.