Sonic the Hedgehog #218

A comic review article by: Penny Kenny
"Thicker than Water" (part 2)

Sonic and Bunnie fight for control of the Badlands' Oil Ocean Refinery while the Sand Blast Freedom Fighters and Dark Egg Legion look on. In a smart opening scene, Ian Flynn fills readers in on what happened previously, gives them a solid idea of the Sand Blast and Dark Egg Legion's characters, and moves the story along with a fast paced, all out battle. The difference in attitude between the two groups opens the book with a strong contrast. The Sand Blast Freedom Fighters' leader leans back with a smirk and declares, "We didn't want them here anyway. So we sit back and enjoy the show."

Meanwhile the Baron, the Legion's leader and Bunnie's uncle, proclaims "We hold until Bunnie has the situation under control, or until she needs us." The shiftiness of the Sand Blasters compared to the support of the Legion is a reversal of what readers think of when they picture Freedom Fighters and the Dark Egg Legion and makes them look beyond the label to the character beneath. At the same time, Sonic and Bunnie are duking it out, even as they're conflicted about their own roles.

The solution to the problem is one that satisfied no one, yet it has to be done. Adding another layer of characterization, Flynn has the Baron refuse to see that Bunnie is working for the greater good. He's so focused on his small group and his old prejudices, he can't move past them to acknowledge Bunnie is helping everyone. It's a pretty mature theme to tackle in what many see as a "kids'" comic.

Flynn hits all the emotional notes just right. Besides the angst, anger, feelings of betrayal and sorrow, there is also humor. Sonic and Bunnie play off each other very well. I'd share some of their exchanges, but it'd ruin the story for you.

The art team of Ben Bates, Terry Austin, and Matt Herms does a great job of conveying all the energy and emotion of the plot. During the battle, the panels tilt and are wider at one end than the other, leading the eye to the next action and creating a sense of frantic movement. Background characters also get attention lavished on them. On the first page, Dark Egg Legion members lean against vehicles in boredom, raise arms in victory, and watch the battle intently. They aren't strictly necessary to the scene, yet they add to the sense of what's going on off panel.

On the emotional side of things, there's a panel that just really stands out to me. Jack, the leader of the Sand Blasters, has just figured out what Sonic's plan is. The panel is a close-up on his eyes. Though still large, they're narrowed in anger. Colorist Matt Herms uses a lighter shade of brown that tints the whole image, giving it a sepia appearance. Behind Jack are wavy anger lines. It's very reminiscent of similar scenes in shonen manga such as Dragonball Z.

Another detail I particularly enjoy is how often Bunnie's wedding ring is shown. Not only does this remind readers that she's a tough, happily married heroine, but since her marriage to a D'Coolette is one of her uncle's hang-ups, it's thematically important to the story.

I don't mention letterer John Workman enough in these reviews, but the man deserves a lot of the credit for making the issue as enjoyable as it is. He makes sure the right words are emphasized for maximum dramatic impact and he makes the text clear and legible. You don't have to strain your eyes deciphering the dialog because one letter looks too much like another.

Rounding out the issue is the Jamal Peppers penciled "Hindsight," a five-pager that fills readers in on what happened to the Iron Queen and demonstrates that Snively is still plotting against Eggman. Though there's no action, Peppers does an excellent job of keeping the reader interested by varying the angles on shots and focusing on Snively's body language. He tugs on his collar, he pleads, he produces fake smiles. It's very well done.

Sonic #218 gives readers a solid and enjoyable ending to the "Thicker Than Water" storyline, sets up new storyline possibilities, and is easily accessible to new readers.

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