Review: Sonic Boom vol. 1

It's hit and miss. My very first reaction is to laugh at some jokes and gag at others, the jokes that flop, well; they flop hard. My lips turn into an icy blue grimace, and my eyes roll back into my skull, and I can see my brain. The groaners are bad, and the laughers are okay, I suppose, enough to receive at least a B in clown college. Yet my entire perspective changed the moment I asked myself how my younger kid-self would have liked it. Honestly, I would have laughed my chubby little ass off. Seeing as I am an adult, as long as you pronounce adult with an elongated 'u' and throw up air quotes as you say it, whenever I see a character referring to the “secret seasoning sauce that will destroy the world”, I immediately start seeking the closest, hardest surface to slam my head against. But if I'm being fair, that's not the worst joke in the world; it's just corny. I remember twists on established media, like the Sonic Boom's first issue titling itself “Issue One of... erm, well, One!” would split my sides before I realized that 90% of comedians in the world don't have jokes besides twisting established formula.

sonic-boom-vol-1The point I'm trying to get at is that it's for kids, and honestly, for a kid's comic it's pretty damn good. I'd probably still prefer something like Tyson Hesse's 'Sonic Mega Drive', but that's because I've been into old video games ever since I started playing them. To the kids who want more Sonic in their life and were left bitterly disappointed by the Wii U game, this is an honestly valiant effort with a writing staff that's clearly not too worried about the critical reception, so long as it strikes a chord with children. There are only so many distinct scenarios in which blatantly ignoring the reception of critics is a good idea, but all of them include a stalwart confidence in your work and this just happens to be one of those occasions.

So what did adult-me think of it? Couldn't tell you, honestly, because I spent my reading time in a state of strange bliss, taking myself back to reading the comics of my youth: filler material with bad jokes and effervescently colorful pictures. What did kid-me think of it?

Even as a child, I knew what it meant to kill a joke and Sonic Boom has a bad habit of doing exactly that. This trade paperback features the same mecha for our heroes to fight for every issue and the fact that this is the case is supposed to be a joke. I know it's supposed to be a joke because it's referenced as a joke in every single issue multiple times. There are a few more “one too many” repetitions in Sonic Boom, but for the most part, it's, again, pretty harmless.

The one aspect of these comics that genuinely does the series harm is the character of Sticks the Badger who is written in the same way that a 15-year-old girl might write Invader Zim if asked to create a GIR-centric episode. Sticks is a character who, at the best of times, spouts ridiculous, half-baked non-sequiturs with little to no relevance to anything but her own played-for-laughs paranoia about conspiracy theories and, at the worst of times, expects those non-sequiturs to be taken seriously.

I cannot imagine a child who actually enjoys this character nor have I ever met one. Cloudcuckoolanders like GIR and Pinky from Pinky and The Brain work because they're treated as bumbling morons incapable of doing any actual good or deserving of any respect and the moments in which they do act competently in any way is treated as a surprise and is otherwise unexpected. That role in this comic is already taken up perfectly well by the new incarnation of Knuckles the Hedgehog, so the only job that Sticks has in this story is to say random stuff about the Illuminati and the aforementioned 'Secret Seasoning Sauce' at extremely inappropriate times and pray to God that it's actually funny, which it never ever is.

Stealing the show, as always, is Dr. Eggman, who has been such a delight in every single piece of media he's ever appeared in that explaining his qualities must be something of a redundancy at this point. He's secretly sensitive, bumbling, delightfully ambitious, even regarding ultimately doomed plans, and his whole character is infused with the sort of perfectly balanced cynicism that comes with being the only adult character with adult dreams and adult fears in a cast full of children. Think Stu Pickles or Randy Marsh.

All in all, it's a damn good offering in terms of kid's comics, the polar opposite to the lackluster showing given by The Amazing World of Gumball Grab Bag 2016. It's bright, exciting, fresh and it doesn't treat children like idiots. It's dragged down by its tendency to overuse jokes and it suffers from perhaps the most insufferable character ever introduced to the Sonic franchise ever.

Yes, including Charmy the Bee.

Give it a second thought if you're an adult, seriously, but if your kid's interested, it wouldn't be a total waste of money.

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Sonic Boom vol. 1 Writer: Ian Flynn Artist: Evan Stanley, Jennifer Hernandez Publisher: Archie Comics Price: $12.99 Format: TPB; Print/Digital