Sonic the Hedgehog: Legacy, book 1

38-coverSonic the Hedgehog is an iconic video game and cartoon character, and the comics included in this collection – #0-3 of the original Sonic the Hedgehog miniseries and #1-16 of the ongoing series – embrace that.

The Legacy series begins with a brief recap of how the main conflict started: peaceful Mobius, a world where anthropomorphic and non-anthropomorphic animals coexist without comment, was one day attacked by the evil Dr. Robotnik and his robot slaves. If being oppressed by Robotnik weren’t bad enough — and it really is, since his rules include “no laughter,” “no books,” and “no fun” — the baddies have a machine that turns woodland creatures into robots with no free will. When Sonic’s beloved uncle and dog are robotified, everyone’s favorite super-speedy blue hedgehog joins Princess Amy’s freedom fighters. From their underground base in the forest, these rebels challenge Robotnik in a series of short, humorous escapades.

Having played various Sonic games, I knew some of the characters: sidekick Tails the two-tailed fox is one of the resistance fighters, and we get a brief appearance by Knuckles the Echidna. Others are new to me, and there may be reason that some don’t appear more in Sonic’s canon (Antoine d’Coolette, a hapless caricature of a French military officer, for example).

The physical gags are as universal as those in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. We have robots crashing into images of our heroes drawn on walls, robots being bludgeoned by their own unsympathetic boss, and as many explosions as you could hope for.

And then there are the puns. Rampant, unapologetic, and sometimes surprisingly clever, they pop up on almost every page. The book is very self-aware: when Sonic is faced by a villainous tree, he pauses before the attack to get all his tree puns out of the way. At another point, Bunnie Rabbot, half-robot bunny extraordinaire, takes advantage of a symphony hall setting to claim that everyone knows she’s “the sax cymbal of this comic.” This should tell you something about the state of the fourth wall: in rubble. Characters sometimes speak directly to the reader and more than once the reader is presented with a drawing of a Sega Genesis controller and asked to help Sonic get through a tricky situation in the book. (Luckily for those of us without Sega skills, Sonic is quite capable of managing on his own.)

These comics originally came out in the early nineties and it sometimes shows. We get VCRs, frequent use of the word “dude,” and Sonic’s repetition of the phrase, “Hold on to your spats!” Still, most of the humor and action (see above) work just as well now as they did when the comics first came out. The themes of the mini-adventures, which range from “collect the Chaos Emeralds” to “girl power” to “time travel,” are hard to fault. There’s also an assortment of short “Sonic-is-SO-FAST” episodes. Sonic can pitch a fastball and catch it himself! Sonic stays dry by running between raindrops!

There are some fun extras, like a recipe for Sonic’s favorite chili dogs, a how-to-draw-Sonic guideline, pin-up art, and an entire short adventure where the speech bubbles are left blank for readers to fill in. Also included is an introductory letter from contributor Patrick Spaziante, which offers such tidbits as the fact that Knuckles was originally supposed to have “Rasta” speech patterns, but was changed to “standard comic book wise guy” at the last second. (As opposed to Antoine, who goes from regular comic speech to “zis eez how comics write ze French” halfway through the volume.)

The artwork is, as you might expect, cartoonish. The characters have large heads and huge eyes and are much given to comical facial expressions. The violence is entirely silly, and there is no sexually suggestive behavior or dialog, “sax cymbal” Bunnie notwithstanding. (And she’s pretty tame, a little busty for a rabbit, but hardly scandalous.) This big, floppy tome, 512 pages on thick paper, has a surprising amount of text, but none of it is tough reading. Young readers, fans of the Sonic franchise, and those who like slapstick humor should enjoy the Sonic: Legacy series.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Legacy, book 1
by Michael Gallagher, Ken Penders, Angelo DeCesare, and Mike Kanterovich
Art by Scott Shaw and Dave Manak
ISBN: 9781879794887
Archie Comic Publications, Inc., 2011
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages