Thoughts and Impressions on IDW Sonic the Hedgehog Issue 55

Surge the Tenrec is a walking disaster, but she’s our walking disaster.


Your reviewer

Ringpenz is a member of the Tails’ Channel Discord server, a writer and poster of bad jokes.


Overview

With only one more issue to go, the “Overcharged” arc is drawing to a close. By way of summary, most of this arc has featured the new antagonist Surge getting into fights and then losing them. Using a piece of stolen Eggman tech called the Dynamo Cage, Surge has been supercharging her powers to put herself on equal footing (power-wise) with other Sonic characters—and then losing whatever fights she has with them. Given everything that has happened so far, the name “Overcompensated” may be better suited for the story.

To the surprise of no one, Surge is once again in over her head in Issue 55. It isn’t really her fault this time—both Sonic and Eggman have closed in on her and Kit’s location, effectively cornering them in Starline’s repurposed Eggman base. To make things worse for her, everyone has agreed to a truce in hopes of ending her desperate and wildly unsuccessful rampage. She’s screwed and she knows it, but in true Surge fashion, she’s willing to run head-first into battles she probably won’t win. 


Story highlights

Unlike the delayed shipment that caused my local comic retailer to get its copy two days late, this issue delivers. There’s a lot to love and not much to hate. If anything, this may be one of Evan Stanley’s best issues to date. Here are my writing highlights of choice: 

First and foremost, Dr. Eggman. I agree with some readers that he’s been shafted a few times in the comic, so it’s great to see him being smart, resourceful, and merciless. When I get to witness him in all his egg-shaped glory, the choices made by Doctor “I Can Fix Him” Starline suddenly start making a lot more sense. Oh, it’s a beautiful sight to see!

On a more serious note, he was the perfect character to have in the room when Sonic and Tails learned of Surge and Kit’s origins. His impressed reaction to their creation adds weight to the scene when contrasted with Sonic and Tails’ horror at the reveal. The entire scene was well done, but his presence was the cherry-on-top to the whole thing. 

Look at his happy smile!

Moreover, I love that they gave him a gun again. Given the relative complexities of his usual plans, it’s jarring in a fun way to see him just shoot at someone. The same applies to when he picks up characters and smashes them against the ground. First Starline, and now Surge? Looks like he finally figured out that he can just throw around the 3ft tall animal characters if they’re causing him trouble. Good for him! 

The next major highlight carries over from other issues in the disembodied voice of Dr. Starline. One of my favourite things they’ve done with his character is keep him involved postmortem; his influence is still there, haunting the narrative despite his presumed death a few issues ago. Throughout the arc he’s appeared in hallucinations to psychologically torment Surge, and this time, his adjustments to Eggman’s base left the doctor stranded in a room with the ever-violent tenrec. He may be dead, but Starline is still well alive in our hearts—and in our Egg base structures. What a king! 

Since this is a comic book, whether or not Starline’s really dead is still up in the air. If we assume he’s genuinely dead, I’m left to wonder if his impact has an expiration date. He’s the character that kick started most of the comic’s events in the first place by kidnapping Mr. Tinker—his influence will always be felt, but will it diminish with time? 

Lastly, a Stanley centrepiece: cute moments between Sonic and Tails. I will finish off the writing highlights section of this review by pasting this great scene in the issue: 

Art

The art in IDW has been consistently great, and this issue is no exception. A noteworthy aspect of Adam Bryce Thomas’ work has always been the cinematic feel to his art, which is largely a result of framing. 

The dramatic feel to these panels lends well to the story guiding them. The vibrancy of the colours is key to Sonic, so moments where the palette shifts has always made the respective scene more impactful. Reggie Graham’s colours truly shine in the reveal scene:

Tails finds Dr. Starline’s instructions for how to win as Sonic in Super Smash Bros.

The green shading is a dramatic change from the popping colours just a few pages ago, and really helps to emphasize the horrified expressions on the characters’ faces. 

All in all, the art is as solid as ever. Props to everyone involved. 

Criticism

In terms of criticism, I fear that Eggman and Sonic have been entering too many “truces” in the series as of late. Team ups between the two should feel special. The frequency at which they work together is making these moments less monumental, to the point that it didn’t even occur to me to be excited when they started working together during the issue. 

Furthermore, nothing about Surge’s rampage required a truce between Sonic and Eggman. Wouldn’t it have been fun to see them fighting over Surge instead of against her? Sonic’s compassion routinely causes conflict in the series, so why isn’t this doing the same with Eggman? It feels like a missed opportunity to have them see relatively eye-to-eye here. 

Moving forward, I do hope to see fewer team ups between Sonic and Eggman. While fun, the frequency at which they occur only serves to blunt the hype associated with them. This is something that should only be saved for the most dire of situations! 

Final thoughts

Issue 55 is a solid entry to the series. Mixing an action-packed, fun narrative with art that’s a feast for the eyes, the issue presents itself as IDW in peak form. Its few blips will only become an issue if repeated, so its flaws are largely negligible if you don’t nitpick as much as I do. 

This arc has had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, so I eagerly await the conclusion. Issue 56 can’t arrive fast enough!

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