Team Shadow embarks on a clandestine reconnaissance mission to discover what nefarious schemes Dr. Eggman is up to, or is it an all-out assault? The team is somewhat divided on this point.
Title: Sonic Forces: Looming Shadows
Story: Sonic Team
Script: Ian Flynn
Art/Cover/Lettering: Adam Bryce Thomas
- E-123 Omega
- Rouge the Bat
- Dr. Eggman
- Shadow the Hedgehog
Arsenal Pyramid stands amid a desert scene; the relative tranquility is suddenly broken by an explosion. Omega has infiltrated the structure, apparently an Eggman stronghold, and has set to work eliminating the egg pawns in violent fashion. From a remote control center, Rouge reminds Omega that is was supposed to be a stealth mission due to the unknown weapons Eggman could have stationed there, but Omega replies that he is unconcerned, confident that there will be no survivors of his robotic rampage. She then reminds him that Shadow will be rendezvousing with him shortly. Omega seems almost offended by the concept, declaring that he is more than sufficient on his own to accomplish the mission.
Meanwhile, Orbot states the obvious to Eggman, that they are under attack, and seeing Omega upon the security monitors, he decides to unleash Infinity, his newest living weapon. Infinity is more than happy to oblige and moves out to engage the intruder. Omega continues to decimate the weak egg pawns, relaying to Rouge that things are going smoothly when Infinity arrives. Undaunted by the unidentified new enemy type, Omega remains focused on his mission to defeat Eggman and attacks Infinity who unleashes an unknown power.
Outside among the dunes, Shadow gaze out at the looming pyramid, as Omega relays a distress signal. A panicked Rouge calls out to Omega who ceases to respond. Rouge calls on Shadow to move in to assist Omega, but he has already begun his approach on the pyramid. As he races towards it, he scoffs smugly about the irony of it being a recon mission.
Presumably sent on a reconnaissance mission by the Resistance, Team Shadow’s encroachment into Eggman territory serves a prequel to Episode Shadow in Sonic Forces. While all the issues serve as teasers and introductions for different aspects of the game, I would rate this one a bit below Moment of Truth and significantly above Stress Test. While this issue is a page shorter than the others, it accomplishes what it set out to do. It introduces a classic team of characters in their respective roles and honors their edgier traits. It also reveals the true capabilities of the Phantom Ruby, in the form of Infinite. I think Flynn does a great job in this issue of showing us a scene directly previous to Episode Shadow without having to cut any corners and sacrifice story immersion or violate any of the characters. The story is straightforward, the conflict is apparent, and the characters are written true to their natures.
Adam Bryce Thomas’s art is on target once again, just like Omega’s Gatling gun. The visual tone he set fits the characters wonderfully, and despite Omega’s lack of expression; Thomas makes up for it with Rouge’s exasperated reactions to Omega, and Eggman’s sinister smugness. However, the climax of the story’s artwork is the flush of red when Infinite unleashes his power on the expecting Omega. It is simple, yet potent and plays well into Shadow’s departure into the fray.
Some eagle-eyed fans also discovered an interesting easter egg in this issue; one that has stoked the flames of hope in many of the “Freedom Fighter Faithful”. If you look closely at the wall in the panel where we first see Rouge, you will notice among other decorations of various treasures and emeralds a few photos. One in particular shows Knuckles alongside another figure partially obscured by glare. Any fan of Sonic comics and SatAM worth their salt will quickly identify the individual as none other than Sally Acorn.
This, along with some statements from Flynn that have been taken largely out of context, have been the fuel that has sustained rampant speculation as to the fate of the Freedom Fighters in IDW’s upcoming iteration of Sonic the Hedgehog. However, one must remember a couple things. Firstly, although I have been promoting the Forces comics as essentially previews in line with the upcoming IDW ongoing series, they are still technically two separate entities. SEGA produced the Forces comics with some talent from the Archie series, but this does not mean that anything, in particular, will be carried over. Secondly, however, SEGA does still retain the rights to Sally and the Freedom Fighters, so her not so obvious cameo is not really an issue either. While, it seems pretty evident that IDW has no intention to utilize the Freedom Fighters at this point in lieu of establishing new characters and canon, it keeps hope alive that they might make an appearance one day. Realistically though, Sally’s easter egg likely amounts to no more than a well deserved nod to hardcore fans.
Of the entire mini-series, the characterization in this issue is probably my favorite. The personalities of Team Shadow, and their interactions is highly entertaining. Omega’s brash, take no prisoners attitude, in a stealth mission no less, and his total disregard for Rouge’s apprehension is spot on. It is tough to make a arrogant, violent killing machine humorous, but Flynn managed to do it, and Shadow brooding alone on a cliff side just seems right. Together with Rouge directing the operation from some remote control center completes the feel that they are truly undertaking a spy mission regardless of whether or not certain members are staying within its parameters. Infinite‘s grand entrance is done excellently. Confident and eager to test his newly bestowed powers, he surely made short work of Omega, but as Shadow begins to close in, one cannot help but be curious to see how Chaos Control matches up against the power of the Phantom Ruby!
In the end, I would give Looming Shadow a solid 7/10. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Team Shadow in action, and Omega is always a riot. Shadow is an oft ridiculed and underused character, so I was happy to see him and his crew appear not only in the mini-series, but also his own side story in Sonic Forces: Episode Shadow. Personally, I find Shadow and Infinite to be a much more interested match up than Sonic vs Infinite. Overall, it is short but fun story, that leads directly into the action of Episode Shadow. If you own Sonic Forces and have not played it, I highly recommend it! Moreover, it is a completely free DLC!
Did you enjoy Looming Shadow as much as I did? Do you have your own fan theories about the Sally easter egg? Have you played Episode Shadow yet? Let us know in the comments below, and check back this Friday when I will be reviewing the final installment in the Sonic Forces mini-series, Rise of Infinite, revealing the origins of Sonic’s newest villain! Make sure you are checking back daily too for the latest IDW Sonic news as soon as it hits!