As a kid, I’d get so excited whenever my family would take me grocery shopping. No, not because of the potential snacks I’d try to sneak into the cart and definitely get caught for, but because I’d run straight to the magazine section looking for one thing: Sonic the Hedgehog comics.
I naturally always looked forward to the latest issue simply out of my love for Sonic, but there was something that Sonic comics achieved that separated it from other franchises. Comic publisher Archie Comics was able to take the success of a gaming icon and build an entirely reimagined, expansive universe around it, turning Sonic the Hedgehog into the longest running (and fastest running) comic series based off a video game character ever. Since I started reading, hundreds of more issues followed and it felt untouchable.
However, after 24 years of a prosperous Mobius, it was announced that SEGA of America concluded their publishing partnership with Archie.
This news was heartbreaking. What would happen to Sally Acorn? Rotor the Walrus? Bunnie Rabbot? And god forbid, what would we do without Antoine? Years of canon (amidst the reboots) would be lost, and I along with many others couldn’t help but feel it was an end of an era.
In typical Sonic fashion, he didn’t go down without a fight. SEGA of America announced that they would be partnering with IDW Publishing to release an all-new Sonic comic. It was comforting knowing that there were more adventures in sight, but what could we come to expect from them?
Lately, things have been looking up for the blue blur, and the IDW Sonic comic is no exception. The critically-acclaimed success of Sonic Mania spurred many fans to get excited about Sonic again, not just as a game, but as a character.
Tyson Hesse, who also worked on Archie’s Sonic comics towards the end of their run, brought his expressive designs to the animated cutscenes and promotional videos for Sonic Mania. The passionate demand for more was so overwhelming that it gave life to a new online cartoon, Sonic Mania Adventures. Tyson Hesse even designed an all-new character for the IDW Sonic universe: Tangle the Lemur!
Along with Hesse, many Archie favorites are back on the project such as veteran Sonic writer Ian Flynn. Iconic artist Tracy Yardley’s unmistakable style also fills the pages of the first issue, serving as a warm welcome to a new beginning. It’s clear that IDW respected the talents that brought so many Sonic fans joy, and to see them back at it is reassuring.
IDW is publishing one issue every week of April, which is an awesome way to get readers hooked as well as satiate my never ending need for recurring Sonic content. You’ll see me buying the same comic twice every week so I can get all the variant covers. Seriously though, the amount of effort and care that went into launching this series on the right foot shines through, and being able to immerse yourself into the story right off the bat is crucial.
Ian Flynn captures aspects of the characters just as you’ve always known and loved them. It’s so natural that it almost feels like the Archie Sonic comics never left. Not only that, he simultaneously delivers well-paced world-building to setup a fresh start for the Freedom Figh- er, I mean The Resistance. The story follows the events after Sonic Forces, using that universe as a the initial jumping point for this new canon.
The dialogue is snappy but sincere, the paneling is engaging, and the art spins right off the page. There’s been no shortage of action in this iteration of Sonic. Witnessing the teamwork of each character and the subtleties of their personalities creates an even playing field where Sonic isn’t the only one hogging the spotlight.
While it might not be my grandma buying me a Sonic comic at the local GIANT anymore, there’s something cathartic about being able to go to my local comic shop (shout-outs to Dr. Comics and Mr. Games) pick up the very first issue of Sonic the Hedgehog all these years later. As I read each coming issue I can’t help but think about the next kid who picks a copy off the shelves and joins in on these amazing adventures for the first time.
Cameron Trentalange is an Associate Producer at Crunchyroll and he’s putting his “Sonic the Hedgehog Expert” resume credit to work. You can follow him on Twitter here!