By Mike Badilla
Sonic. He's a hedgehog. Blue. Runs fast. Star of (too) many video games, cartoons and comic books. I don't know how many people out there don't know who this character is, but if you don't know I basically just told you all you really need. Did I mention Eggman? Or is it Doctor Robotnik? He makes animals into robots, for reasons. Thanks to the comic series there are many more characters in the world of Sonic, some of which I'm sure we will find in this comic.
Thankfully even for a first issue we have a fantastic recap page! Taken from page 2, Eggman is hunting for seven relics known as the ancient gears, because if he finds them he can create the mega drive, some destructive weapon. Sonic found out about his plan and stepped in, and was joined by his friends Tails (a flying creature of some type, the only one with a full name which is Miles "Tails" Prower) who is a high-flying budding hero (not making this up, folks) and Amy Rose, who "is always happy to help". That's her tag line. Whatever. Sonic also helps Knuckles (echidna, rough and tumble bruiser) realize he was being tricked by Eggman and lets him join their group. They all head to stop Eggman together.
The gang is barreling through a frozen landscape, fighting robots and exchanging "witty" lines with one another when they catch up to Eggman in his snowman robot and a battle ensues. Tails comes up with the idea of attacking the base of the robot and they destroy it easily, releasing one of the ancient gears from inside. Eggman escapes, as always, and the group heads for the haunted depths zone. All the places in the Sonic universe are zones, just so ya know. Inside the haunted depths, Amy is frightened as they head for the next gear. Sonic decides he wants to split up and go fast, so he does to the chagrin of the rest of the group. Sonic tears around the cavern at super speed until he sees the rest of the group battling a robotic dragon and losing badly. Luckily, as all seems lost, Amy finds the dragons weakness and destroys it in a giant explosion.
Meanwhile, Sonic is being chased through the caverns by some kind of driller tank piloted by Eggman, but Sonic defeats him and retrieves another gear and heads for Eruption Ruin zone alone, feeling abandoned by his friends. In this zone Sonic is feeling defeated until his friends arrive and they all exchange a lighthearted chuckle and knuckle-bump and whatnot, all deciding to rely on teamwork in order to get the next gear. They work together and make it to Eggman who is waiting inside and piloting a giant chef robot, which they defeat, but not before being attacked by robot Sonic! He steals all the gears and Amy and leaves, heading for Eggmans flying base!
Okay, in all honesty, I liked this book. I've liked them since I was little, and still do. They have managed to keep Sonic stories new and fresh and frequent for many years now, and this was actually very entertaining. The art is super cute, almost anime-like, and is what initially drew me in. The characters are very expressive of their emotions and what is going on around them, colors are bright and fun and everything is drawn really well. The story is cliched but at the same time done well enough to be entertaining and delightful. There is a lot of action and explosions but also a lot of humor and fun to make this a very enjoyable romp.
Don't turn up your nose at this because "it's a Sonic book". Give it a read, at least for the art. If you're up for a lighthearted romp with some fun and humor as well as action, this is a book for you.
Sonic: Mega Drive - The Next Level #1
Writer: Ian Flynn
Artist: Tyson Hesse
Colorist: Matt Herms
Publisher: Archie Comics