"All the Eggs in One Basket"
When Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik escapes from his prison cell, he has one thing on his mind--destroying Sonic the Hedgehog!
Not only does this issue give readers a wonderfully crazed Eggman, it also provides some insight into the Iron Queen's relationship with her allies and Monkey Khan's with the Freedom Fighters. In fact, the whole chapter beautifully highlights the contrast between the Iron Empire and the Mobians. While the Iron Queen barks orders and spurns her erstwhile lover Snively, Monkey Khan offers apologies and receives forgiveness. While the Iron Empire's members plot against one another, the Mobians support one another.
Ian Flynn puts together some outstanding scenes for this issue. The whole hospital sequence with Khan and the Freedom Fighters is just wonderful. Not only does Khan make his amends with Bunnie, but Dr. Quack gets to deliver some sharp lines. I am a little disappointed Flynn didn't include Quack's name somewhere in the dialogue so new or occasional readers could identify him, but that's a minor pick. What's really fascinating is how much exposition about the previous story arc Flynn managed to layer in with the humor and character development. It reads so smoothly and naturally, I didn't pick up on it until the second reading.
In another fantastic scene Sonic articulates his feelings about Eggman to Tails. Again, exposition of facts and emotion are perfectly woven together, moving the story along even as it fills in background detail. The exchange showcases Sonic's decency and illustrates how far he and Tails have come in their own relationship. They are no longer "Hero" and "Hero-Worshipper." They are friends and equals.
Penciler Steven Butler fills the pages without crowding them. Even the panels showing Eggman, his highly detailed fighting turtle, and the destruction left in its wake are open enough that readers can enjoy it without feeling overwhelmed.
Expressions play a large part in the story and Butler and inker Terry Austin do a superb job of capturing them. The look on Sonic's face as he responds to Tails' "It's Doctor Robotnik!" with an "Eh…it is, and it isn't" perfectly captures his ambivalent feelings. Ninja Conquering Storm's sly smile as she responds to the Iron Queen's order is another example of adding meaning beyond the written words to spark readers' imaginations.
The issue's back-up feature is "Birthright Part One," a five-pager that gives readers some insight into what drives Lien-Da. She's always made a wonderful villainess, but seeing her relationship with her brother Moritori and what she'll do to get ahead adds extra depth to her. It also suggests some interesting future story possibilities.
Colorist Matt Herms uses soft browns, yellows, and blacks for the memory sequence. It's a very effective, modern take on the traditional sepia-look flashback and is also reminiscent of the new Battlestar Galactica's color scheme. Artist Jamal Peppers uses a more open layout style than Butler, concentrating on the characters and mood rather than action, giving the chapter a Mamoru Oshii Patlabor movie feel.
Taken all together, Sonic the Hedgehog #205 is an entertaining and enjoyable package.
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