TSS Review: Sonic The Hedgehog #1 (IDW)

The old phrase “The more things change, the more they stay the same” has never been more true when it comes to the return of Sonic in comics in IDW’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” #1.

After being gone from comic shelves for over a year thanks to a fallout between Sega and Archie, Sonic’s found a new home with IDW. But the creative team has not left. This issue features a story by Ian Flynn, along with Tracy Yardley on pencils, Jim Amash on inks and even Matt Herms doing the colors. IDW knew the strength of the Archie Sonic books for the last ten-plus years was the strength of it’s creative team, so it only made sense to bring them all over.

So what’s different? Well, for one thing this is a full reboot focused primarily on Sonic as the main character and taking place in the game universe (but not canon to the games themselves). There’s no Mobius, no Ixis Naugus, no Freedom Fighters (yet) and no baggage from over twenty years of continuity.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD! (Please note that this is the start of a new story arc so there’s not a lot to spoil.) The comic is adapted from “Sonic Forces” and takes place after the end of the game. Eggman has been defeated and is currently missing, but his robot army has been on auto pilot without him. Most of them have been only a minor threat with some going off blindly and even walking right into the ocean. However, after some more difficult bot battles, Sonic and Tails have noticed that the robots seem to be more organized. Has Eggman returned or is there someone else at the controls? With Eggman not appearing until issue five, I’d say it’s the later.

The main plot is almost background fodder for the bot-kicking action of Sonic and Tails. The book does a good job of showing off their camaraderie. Sonic is arrogant and full of bravado while Tails mostly uses his wits and fights alongside Sonic in a few scenes. One scene worthy of note is Tails worrying about Sonic getting into too much danger. While those who have never played Sonic Forces may see him as being a bit of a worry wort, those who played the game and know what Tails went through will get a bit more character depth out of the scene.

I also like how the citizens react to Sonic. While there are some resistance fighters, most are inexperienced and scared. They see Sonic as not only a hero, but a celebrity of sorts. They gush over him and want his autograph.

Tracy, Jim and Matt haven’t lost a step. The art’s great and the colors really make it pop. One minor complaint is that the paper stock is a bit too stiff and crinkly for my tastes. While re-reading for this review in the quiet comfort of my home, every turn of the page was extremely loud with more crackles and pops than a bowl of Rice Crispys. Basically the paper stock used for the cover is used for every page. I know it’s a weird critique to make, but it’s true. Also, while the inks and colors are very bold, the print is a bit dark. They use dark purple borders around the panels and Sonic himself even seems a darker blue. I don’t know if this is on purpose or the printing just came out too dark. I will say it does look sharper than Archie’s prints.

While yes, your favorite creative team is back, it does lead to this feeling of the book being new but not fresh. It’s as if I haven’t picked up the Archie book in over a year and just came back in at the end of a game adaption story arc. It may not be the same world or all the same cast, but it doesn’t feel much different. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I imagine most fans wanted Ian, Tracy, Matt and all the others back on board. I did too and I’m glad they returned. But those who may have been looking for a brand new Sonic experience like they’ve never gotten before probably won’t find it here.

One thing I’ll say is that I do really like the new fan section “Sonic Letters Squad”. Not only does it include letters and fan art, but they are also posting pictures of fans in their cosplay. It’s nice that this is starting with issue one. I also hope they bring back a form of “Off-Panel” in the future or allow fans to make their own little comic strips for the back of the comic.

Overall, while IDW’s Sonic does feel more familiar than fresh, the new comic is off to a great start. There’s plenty of action, character interaction, fun and a bit of mystery to hook you into the next issue. Let’s hope Sonic gets another twenty year run at his new home.

The Spin: “2014: A Hedgehog Darkly”

spin

You know, there are some well respected scientists who are convinced that there exists a bunch of parallel universes in which things are similar to our own, but have some slight differences. Let’s imagine for a while we live in one of those universes, the one where Boom the game isn’t terrible.

boombeards

In an alternative universe, they all have beards because.

 

There are around 22 hours left of 2014 by the time I post this. Cast your mind back to nearly a year ago, when this happened. Exciting wasn’t it?

Now, let’s address one thing which I know a certain class of people will say “Well Sega never said that publicly!” and “They never intended for that to come out!” That really doesn’t work as a defence or as a counter claim for the following reasons.

1: That was a piece of official documentation given to the press, every single member of the press was more than free to say ‘Year of Sonic’ following the embargo date. That is an official document from Sega stating that they see 2014 as being ‘The Year of Sonic.’

2: It did come out. It came out 24 hours prior to the intended date, but it so easily could have come out 24 hours after the event, at which point there would be none of this ‘Sega didn’t intend it to come out.’

So then, 2014, the year of Sonic. How did you all enjoy it?

Let’s get right to it. Sonic Boom has set back Sonic’s reputation by nearly a decade. After the disaster to Sonic, Sonic Team and Sega’s reputation which was Sonic 06, we are right back there again. If you were not around back in the time of 2006. Congratulations, you now know how it feels. The only difference is that the vast majority of people saw what Boom was and was prepared for a catastrophe, the only horror was how the game was even lower than the majority of negative expectations.

Anyway, let’s pretend for a moment that didn’t happen. That Boom was somewhere around Generations level of quality, e.g. a good-great game. How was it? Actually… let me put it another way.

Imagine Boom was a good-great game and you lived outside of the United States how was the year of Sonic?

It would still have been kinda naff.

The year of Sonic 2014 is in my opinion, especially if you live outside of the US was a complete non starter. Even if Boom the game was a success, the Year of Sonic was a doomed to fail concept which never saw any life.

Why? Well let’s look at it. Boom is supposed to have three main support pillars. Game, TV Show and Merchandise. How many regions have all three?

So far, only the United States.

How many countries have two? Just One, France.

Everywhere else has just the game or none at all. Put aside the fact that Sega have all but doomed the future reception of Boom in those other nations thanks to the quality of their first product for just a moment and think about it.

How can this be a year of Sonic when it’s no different than previous years, had less impact and less substance?

Now before there’s a flood of ‘EUROPE GETS EVERYTHING’ or “AMERICA GET’S EVERYTHING!” comments which normally follow stuff like this. First of all, grow up. Not every nation can get every single announcement or idea, there’s always going to be some things specific to a region.

However this one is different. Sega announced that this would be ‘The Year of Sonic.’ They then went onto their blog and relayed all the exciting information. There was no ‘it’ll be coming to the UK or other regions by the end of 2015,’ it was 2014 is the year of Sonic.

boombeards2

Following on from other ‘Year of’ Such as Luigi who saw a huge worldwide promotion of him as a character and from other so called ‘year of’ promotions in other media which saw an equal share of promotion worldwide. Sega knew exactly what it was doing with this one. In fact I wouldn’t doubt it if it were someone in a marketing meeting said ‘Well Nintendo just did Year of Luigi!’ without thinking about having content to back that up.

Some people might be thinking ‘well the merchandise will come when the TV Show does. How I wish I shared your belief, outside of America, especially in Europe, video game merchandise is in shockingly short supply except if your game is called Minecraft.

Despite a strong showing at various toy and merchandise shows, video game merchandise, especially Sonic merch in Europe seems to get a very poor showing. Jazwares is a grand example of this, despite having their own UK office and promoting new distribution partners in the UK, what was release was painfully small compared to the US.

Should Tomy decide to release their Boom toys in Europe, I will be very surprised if it’s the entire range shown so far in the United States is released in Europe, it has never happened before and I very much doubt it will happen for a long time.

But aside from that. Only one nation got all three of the main pillars, so why should anyone else care or feel that this year was any different even if Boom were any good?

For that matter, even if you live in the United States, even if Boom were good, there seems to be major lack of what was promised.

Skip to 1:40 in this video.

You get invited to a party at Amy’s house.

What is… why are they dancing like…  …Am I awake? Is this update actually happening?