Written By: Ian Flynn
Artist: Tracy Yardley
Colorist: Matt Herms
Lettering By: Corey Breen
Cover by: Kieran Gates
Published By: IDW Publishing
Sonic the Hedgehog #5 is a solid enough entry for longtime fans, yet it leaves an odd aftertaste. This installment continues the trend of the preceding issues by re-introducing more franchise mainstays while continuing to tease the overall plot. The trail that Sonic is on to find whoever is responsible for increased enemy robot activity leads him and the Chaotix agency right to Dr. Robotnik/Eggman. Things are not what they appear, however, and it seems that another party may be pulling the strings.
This issue is pretty straightforward and does not really do much more than continue the formula that the series has followed so far. Inasmuch as it delivers typical Sonic fare, this comic does fairly well. The artwork is solid and the characters hold pretty well to what we’ve come to expect of them. However, a few odd elements do stick out and left me feeling that while this new series may not, as fans feared, be a complete disappointment, Sonic may never reach the heights of storytelling that occurred under Archie.
Say what you will about the ups and downs of the Archie continuity (and there is plenty to say, both good and bad) but the comics had a world and lore developed over many years that used the games as a springboard, not as the raison d’être. The Sonic comics of yesteryear followed the beat of their own drums, occasionally doing miniseries that would summarize a game, but these books used the games and were not subservient to them. As such, they never felt like a tie-in comic, a product that existed to serve a parent product. In contrast, this new series feels completely determined by the parent product i.e. the video game series. Unfortunately, the game series has a notorious history of disappointing and even downright angering fans (how about that besiailty kiss in ‘06?).
In a comic that is already following in the footsteps of Sonic Forces, yet another game with a mixed reception, we are given a series of images referencing other games in the series. While it’s nice to give easter eggs to fans of the series, IDW does not explain these constant game references, assuming readers will already be in the know. For a fledgling series trying to gain new readers, this decision is perplexing. In addition, these exciting images of space stations and mega robots make the action in the comic itself seem dull by comparison.
When the characters are interacting with each other, the dialogue well represents Sonic and his friends. But the shadow of Sonic Forces looms large in this series, resulting in some bizarre and even jarring exchanges where adventurous anthropomorphic animals speak like grizzled war veterans, reminiscing over the horrors of war.
One strength of this series is undoubtedly the artwork, and this issue takes up the baton. Sonic artwork is one of the most commonly created on the internet today, so the bar is quite high. Tracy Yardley’s art is solid, but not quite as good as Adam Bryce Thomas’s work in issue #2, evidenced by a perplexingly goofy expression on Sonic’s face on the second page of this issue.
Time will tell if IDW has what it takes to carry Sonic’s legacy from Archie. So far, there’s good reason to hope, but there’s also some niggling doubts that I hope will be smoothed out soon.
Pros-Solid artwork, characterization is on point.
Cons-Feels like a game tie-in at times, dialogue is jarring at points.