Sonic the Hedgehog was a long-running comic book series from Archie Comics, starting at the height of Sonic mania (no, not that Sonic Mania) in 1993 all the way to 2016, when Sega and Archie suddenly ended their 24 year relationship. In fact, it was the longest-running monthly American comic series to never have a relaunch, making its cancellation an even more bitter pill to swallow.
So when it was announced at last year’s New York Comic Con that longtime writer and avid Sonic fan Ian Flynn would be returning to write a new series, this time published by IDW, it was a very big deal for fans of the Fastest Thing Alive. Flynn wrote Archie’s Sonic series for over 100 issues, and is widely considered one of the best writers to ever tackle the blue hedgehog. Tyson Hesse is the new series’ cover artist, having worked on several Archie Sonic comics, and creating the opening cutscene for the critically acclaimed Sonic Mania video game. IDW promised a fresh start for Sonic and the series on the whole, noting that Flynn was "coming at it with a completely fresh and new perspective." How did that perspective come to fruition?
Pretty well, unsurprisingly. This may be a #1 issue under a new publisher, but it’s very much the same Sonic we know and love. At the same time, though, the story feels relatively fresh, despite ultimately being about what Sonic is always about: beating up evil robots while spouting sassy catchphrases. What’s fresh about it is that on the outset, it appears as if Dr. Eggman (Dr. Robotnik for all you American Sonic fans who fell off after the Genesis years) has gone into hiding. Instead of working their way to Dr. Eggman, Sonic and Tails must figure out why some robots are launching coordinated attacks on peaceful towns with ostensibly no leader to give the orders.
Other than that, it’s an introductory issue for a pretty one dimensional character, so there’s not much to say right now. It does end on an interesting cliffhanger, and Sonic will almost assuredly not be his chipper self soon enough. But this issue is all about seeing what Sonic is capable of, and watching that 1990s eXXXtreme ‘tude come out in full force.
Tracy Yardley’s artwork is very pleasant to look at. It’s a style you’d probably expect — appropriately cartoony, with solid, vibrant colors from Matt Herms and simple backgrounds. It’s not a technical masterpiece, but it feels like a Sonic cartoon through and through, and that’s what it set out to accomplish. If you were a fan of the Archie series or any of the cartoons in the 1990s or 2000s, you’ll dig this for sure.
For its first month, this series will come out weekly, so there’s a lot more Sonic on the horizon for the month of April. Issue #3 teases the return of Knuckles — who was mentioned in this issue but not seen — and issue #4 will feature an entirely new character altogether. So if for some reason this issue didn’t quite grab you, there’s a lot to look forward to.
The drought is over — Sonic the Hedgehog is back. After a very checkered past, the past year or two has been deeply encouraging for Sonic fans, between Sonic Mania and this new IDW series. Hopefully the series can maintain this quality, but with Flynn and Hesse at the helm, there’s no reason to think it can’t. While it isn’t breaking any new ground, it’s a refresher course on what makes Sonic so beloved.