Considering the relevance of the four-part mini-series SEGA released digitally (See my previous post Picking Up Where Forces Left Off), and quite honestly the lack of other news at the moment, my first set of reviews will be covering the Sonic Forces Digital Comics!
Title: Sonic Forces: Moment of Truth
Story: Sonic Team
Script: Ian Flynn
Art/Cover/Lettering: Adam Bryce Thomas
- “The Rookie”
- Vector the Crocodile
- Espio the Chameleon
- Charmy Bee
- Dr. Eggman (In carrier)
Moment of Truth is told from the perspective of a young soldier within the Resistance, and his struggles with courage and duty in the face of Dr. Eggman’s onslaught. A young soldier is stationed high atop a look-out. Apparently bored with his tiresome duties; he daydreams about how he wishes he could be like Sonic and friends, the heroes that he grew up hearing about. Meanwhile, loathing his own cowardly decision to be a look-out just so he can be the first to spot danger and flee to safety. Gazing below, he admires the Chaotix’s efforts to assist, Charmy‘s, in particular, due to his young age. The unnamed soldier briefly considers deserting the Resistance just so he would not be in their way when he spots a humongous carrier and an army of egg pawns approaching the city. He quickly sounds the alarm and springs into action along side the other Resistance fighters, a sudden surge of courage overcomes him as he realizes this may be his moment of truth.
Vector gives the order to shore up the defenses, and the young soldier attempts to lift a large metal pole to no avail. Annoyed, Vector chides him to speak up if he cannot do something rather than wasting time in the heat of battle. Somewhat more compassionate, Espio hands the soldier a wispon. Momentarily encouraged by the equipment upgrade, he fails once again when he accidentally roasts Charmy’s stinger. Just then, a horde of egg pawns smashes down the city gates and the Chaotix move to engage them while the soldier cowers behind cover. Vector urges someone to get to the artillery cannon to shoot down the carrier before the egg pawns capture it.
The young soldier manages to grab a single shell and make his way to the cannon. Loading it, he fires a shot straight into the carrier’s open launch bay. Dr. Eggman shouts furiously from aboard his ship, cursing the Resistance and vowing to be back with an even more insurmountable force. In shock and disbelief, the soldier climbs down from the cannon and rejoins the Chaotix who applaud his amazing shot. As the Chaotix leave to organize an evacuation, the soldier stands resolute, glad to have helped win the day, but eager to become stronger and do more to fulfill his role in the Resistance and ultimately become a true hero like Sonic the Hedgehog.
Of the four issues, I find Moment of Truth to be the most compelling story by far. It does an excellent job of setting the stage for Sonic Forces by immediately putting you into the shoes of the “Rookie”, a young, nameless soldier in the Resistance. It is clear by his internal monologue that he is yet untested by the war against Eggman, leaving him conflicted between the desire to be like his heroes and his own cowardly desire to run and desert. The “Rookie” is well aware of his shortcomings, he knows his a coward, yet when trouble strikes, he leaps into action eager to prove to others, and perhaps more importantly to himself, that he is not. Three times he is tested and three times he feels like a failure when his mettle is put to the test.
First, Vector gives the command to shore up the defenses and the Rookie attempts to pick up a large metal pole that is too heavy for him to lift. Vector snaps impatiently at him and grabs it himself telling the Rookie not to waste time. The rookie is dejected until Espio gives him a wispon flamethrower with which to aid his comrades. Unfortunately, the young soldier makes yet another rookie mistake when he accidentally roasts Charmy with it. He barely has time to be embarrassed before egg pawns bust into the city. While the Chaotix leap into action, the young soldier instead ducks behind cover.
Each time he is tested, he feels like he has failed. However, I believe that the Rookie learns an important lesson through this battle, that courage is not merely the absence of fear, but the willingness to act despite of it. Sure, he could not lift the pole, but he tried. Sure, he roasted Charmy’s behind, but it was an honest mistake. Sure, he leapt to safety while the Chaotix charged in, but he did not have the battle experience that they did. In each instance, he felt he had failed, but despite those perceived failures, he kept going. In the end he summoned the courage to take that one in a million shot right at Eggman, himself, and save the day. While we see him acting a bit incredulous towards the praise from the Chaotix, the last panel shows a vastly different character than we met in the first. Gone is the apathetic and cowardly Rookie, in his place stands a determined veteran of his first battle, resolute to become greater than what he was before.
In only 7 pages, Flynn manages to tell a story with a complete arc, and all without Sonic the Hedgehog making an appearance! Moreover, I think the fact that while this story serves as a fantastic introduction to the tone in the world of Forces; it also manages to be its own self-contained story, putting it a peg above the other three as far as story telling goes. The others function more as teases, ending with cliffhangers without the featured characters developing much. Most likely this is because all of the featured characters besides the “Rookie” are already well known within the Sonic universe, so I cannot fault him much in that regard. Regardless, Moment of Truth is a great opening salvo to both the mini-series and Sonic Forces.
Adam Bryce Thomas brings Ian’s scripts to life with his signature clean art style. In particular, I have always been a big fan of his illustrations of the Chaotix, Espio in particular. The colors he used brought out great contrast with the rather bleak background. His dynamic panels, and expressive faces do much to bring the tone of conflict and desperation to the reader’s attention. I believe the “Rookie’s” dull, bored expressions and posture of the the opening panels pair perfectly with the story’s juxtaposition of the final panel revealing a determined and resolute character transformed by his experience. One thing I am curious about is why the “Rookie” was not illustrated as a green fox-like creature with glasses as he was in much of the promotional material. Whether it was intentional, creative license, or Thomas just not having a model from which to work at the time, I rather like that the character in the comic is distinct from the promotions. It gives him a somewhat unique personality and arc that can be separate from your own experience when you play as your own avatar in Forces.
As much as I love the Chaotix, and let me tell you that I love the Chaotix, the “Rookie” absolutely steals the show in this issue. Despite the fact that we will likely never see him make an appearance in the on-going series from IDW, his character growth was by far the most compelling thread in the entirety of the mini-series. We might never know his, name but we went through it all with him, especially those of us who have played through Forces! Beyond that, the modern Chaotix trio are the first characters to return: Vector the Crocodile, Espio the Chameleon, and Charmy Bee. As in the game, they joined up with Knuckles to form the Resistance and are in charge of the city’s defenses. Beyond that, we do not see much from them. Vector still seems to be in charge in addition to being the muscle of the group. Likewise, he shows himself to be short-tempered, barking at the “Rookie” when he cannot lift the pipe. On the other hand, the chameleon ninja, Espio seems a bit more quite and compassionate, reassuring the “Rookie” and equipping him with a wispon. Charmy is identified as not just being a small bee, but being a “kid”. As such, he seems quite playful and carefree, only getting grumpy when his stinger was burnt and pouting about it afterwards. Moreover, he gushes over how cool the “Rookie’s” daring actions were. Essentially, the Chaotix seemed to be the same as they were in the games and their Post-SGW counterparts.
I would rate this issue an 8/10. The pacing is perfect, especially for such a short book, and it does the job of introducing a new, interesting character, as well as setting the tone for Forces, and ultimately for the on-going series. I was thrilled to see the Chaotix, and think they were utilized perfectly as far as the story was concerned. I look forward to seeing more of them in the future. Artwise, Thomas is by far my favorite of the artists announced to be working on the on-going series and I am glad to see him returning and hope that he will continue to be a regular at IDW. Overall, if this is a foretaste of what Flynn, SEGA, and IDW have in store for Sonic, I am confident that it will be a new era of greatness for the Blue Blur.
I hope you enjoyed the first of many reviews! Anything I missed? Anything you would like me to expand on more? Let me know in the comments below! And check back in Friday when I post my review for part 2 of the Sonic Forces mini-series featuring Silver, Knuckles, and Chaos, and check back daily for the newest IDW Sonic Info!