Issue #3 Fallout! Pt. 3 Review

Perhaps the most anticipated book in the series yet! The return of Sonic’s friendly nemesis Knuckles and the premiere of the brand new villains Rough and Tumble! Does this issue live up to the hype? Read on and find out!

Issue: #3
Release Date: 4/17/2018
Title: Fallout Pt. 3
Story: Ian Flynn
Art: Jen Hernandez
Color: Heather Breckel
Letters: Corey Breen
Editors: Joe Hughes & David Mariotte
Publisher: Greg Goldstein

Covers:

  • A: Tyson Hesse
  • B: Jen Hernandez
  • RI-A: Nathalie Fourdraine
  • RI-B: Jamal Peppers

Featured Characters:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Knuckles the Echidna (First Appearance)
  • Rough (First Appearance)
  • Tumble (First Appearance)

Synopsis

Sonic arrives outside a walled town and witnesses Knuckles take down a Death Egg Robot outside of it. He ironically comments on how for once, he is too late. He speeds down and greets Knuckles quipping to himself that his rival had “hogged” all the fun.  Sonic arrives and asks Knuckles if he saved any for him, and Knuckles turns and greets him, inquiring why he is there. Sonic explains that he ran into Amy who suggested that he might need some help, and note that as the commander of the Resistance, he is far from HQ.

Knuckles acknowledges this, and expounds on how now that the war is over, all that remains is mostly administrative tasks that he has no patience for, and that he was more interested when there was actual fighting to do. Knuckles says that he would rather return to Angel Island to do some treasure hunting. Sonic agrees mentioning how Amy had tried to recruit him previously.

Sonic asks what the situation with the town is, and Knuckles informs him that the town is a hub for Wisp and Wispon distribution. However, the shipments have inexplicably stopped, so he has come to investigate. Knuckles yells to the town’s guard atop the wall, identifying himself as the leader of the Resistance, but they refuse to grant them entrance or identify under whose orders they were operating. Not to be denied, Sonic and Knuckles merely scale the wall and enter without permission, much to the townsfolk’s shock and horror.

The townspeople begin to flee and hide at the sight of Sonic & Knuckles, barricading themselves inside their homes. The Knuckles wonders if the aggressive Badnik attacks are the reason for them being so spooked, but Sonic is convinced it is something else. The guard clamber down from his perch and tells the duo that they should not be there. Sonic assures him that whatever is wrong, they can fix it. The guard then tentatively begins to divulge that a pair of mercenaries appeared near the end of the war and drove back the Badniks, but then took over the town and seized all the Wisps and Wispons. Since that time they have tyrannically controlled the townsfolk, using the Badnik hordes outside to prevent their escape. Sonic & Knuckles resolve to help the town out and set out to the depot to teach them a lesson.

They break into the depot via a window and discover the captured Wisps amongst various other stockpiled supplies. Knuckles explains that Tails invented a cipher for the wisp language that the Resistance used to ask them for aid in fighting Eggman. They would be deployed in “deployment pods” in various area so that Resistance forces could use them when they entered the area. Knuckles condemns the villain’s treatment of the Wisps, and Sonic asks them to hold out a little longer and they will free them. Suddenly, Knuckles is alerted by raucous laughter from nearby. It is revealed to be two imposing skunks laughing at a fearful jester while feasting at a table and being fanned by several woman, apparently against their will.

The jester appears to have spilled drinks he was meant to deliver to the pair who mock him for his error and demand he go and retrieve another round. Unimpressed, Sonic sarcastically comments that these guys make the Hooligans look like class acts. Knuckles, however, is infuriated, eager to jump in and “break them in half”. Sonic persuades Knuckles to wait until the civilians can get out of the way. Sonic & Knuckles reveal themselves, inditing them with a litany of heinous charges before giving them an ultimatum of surrender or things will get “loud”.

Tumble smashes his mug, demanding to know who said the heroic duo could  ruin their fun. Tumble admits that they have heard of Sonic & Knuckles, but that they have not heard of them. The skunk brothers then proceed to do a choreographed introduction.

“You lookin’ to scrap?”
“Then get ready to crumble!”
“Brace yourselves…”
“For Rough and Tumble!”

The skunks strike a pose, Sonic can barely contain his laughter, but Knuckles warns him to be careful since they appear highly coordinated. At this remark, Sonic is unable to contain his mirth and grabs his knee laughing and call Knuckles the “Salt of the Earth”. Knuckles shakes it off and they engage the skunks in combat.

Rough vaults over Knuckles head, but then is struck with a right hook that sends him flying. Rough recovers mid-air and springs off a post and uses his signature “stink bomber” attack, spraying musk in Knuckles’ eyes and face. However, it is not enough to stop the commander of the Resistances who lands a haymaker into the top of Rough’s head, driving him down through the floor boards.

Meanwhile, Sonic battles Tumble, spin dashing into his chest and knocking him off-balance. The hulking albino skunk grabs Sonic and bounces him about like a basketball before shooting him towards a post. Sonic vaults off of it and hits Tumble in the face.

Tumble pulls his brother from the floor and urges him to continue fighting. Sonic asks if the ailing Knuckles is all right, who does his best to fight through the pain and stink. Rough & Tumble are done messing around and tell Sonic & Knuckles to say their prayers as they grab a Flame and Lightning Wispon respectively. Sonic admits that this may be a problem, and Knuckles volunteers to distract them while Sonic acquires a Wispon of his own to match them.

Sonic has a better idea and calls on the Wisps to rise up and aid them in freeing the town and themselves from these bullies. The Wisps emerge from Rough & Tumble’s Wispons as well as the capsules around the depot and surround the skunks. Their weapons now ineffective, the skunks begin to panic. Sonic & Knuckles mock their foes with their own choreographed speech:

“The tables have turned”
“They certainly have bumbled”
“It’s butt-kick time for Rough and Tumble!”

Rough is incensed that they are stealing their bit, but Sonic & Knuckles apologetically knock them out for the count. Soon after, Sonic & Knuckles escorts the apprehended skunks outside and are received by a cheering crowd. The guard thanks them for their help and how they could ever repay them. Sonic suggests chili dogs before a Wisp flies and chirps in its native language. The guard asks what it is saying, but Sonic does not have his translator. The Wisp enters the guards Wispon and Sonic understand that it was trying to communicate that the Wisps are happy to remain and help defend the town.

Two of the townsfolk address the skunks, backhandedly hoping they enjoyed their run while it lasted because they will be going to jail for a very long time. The skunks scoff at this sentiment swearing that they will not be able to hold them for long. They swear that once they escape they will  be coming for Sonic & Knuckles and that they have made life-long enemies of Rough & Tumble. Sonic breaks into laughter and Knuckles brandishes a fist in anger. The skunks are put off by the reaction and are escorted away in embarrassment.

Sonic & Knuckles fist bump, and Knuckles thanks Sonic for the help, not that he needed it. Sonic claims that they are even because Knuckles did not save any Badniks for him. Petting some Wisps, Knuckles hopes that this is the beginning of things settling down, but Sonic is resolute on finding out who is controlling the Badniks still, but in the meantime declares a celebration party with the townsfolk and Wisps.

Overhead, a flapper is once again surveilling  the scene, relaying it back to the command center. The unknown figure in the command chair notes that Knuckles is still playing hero and neglecting his duty to protect Angel Island and the Master Emerald. The villain begins hatching some plan regarding it that will accelerate their plans considerably.

NEXT TIME: Sonic TANGLES with a new hero & another returns in a BLAZE of glory!

Story

With the return of fan favorite Knuckles, and the introduction of the brand new villains hyped up months previously, the anticipation and expectation for this issue was high. However, given the road map the first four issues are using to get to their destination, this issue seems to have gone a bit off track.

While at this point readers have recognized that these initial issues are light on plot, this has not been an issue due to the focus on stellar character development and interactions. However, this issue did not quite hit the same high notes that the previous two did for me. Perhaps, the bar was set high last issue with Amy Rose, or Knuckles is just so much more well establish as a character than Sonic’s previous two allies. Either way, while Knux return is a welcome one, it just does not stand out like the others.

Surprisingly, we learn that Rough and Tumble are threatening individuals. More than just your average street thugs. They are strong enough to beat back Eggman’s forces on their own, but also clever enough to seize and control an entire town. Unfortunately, besides their penchant for Team Rocket-esque choreographed speeches, that is about all we learn about the brothers. Certainly, this is not the last we have seen of Rough & Tumble, but I was definitely hoping for a little more.

The fight scene was short comparative to the first two action packed issues. The mirroring of Rough and Sonic both vaulting off a beam back at their foe seemed somewhat uninspired. At least, Rough got at least one stink based attack off, despite not having the expected “stink” puns. Perhaps that would have been a bit too “on the nose”!

Flynn was able to work in a bit of world building that actually fills in some gaps left unexplained in the games. Tails was able to decipher the Wisp’s language and recruit their help in fighting Eggman, even to the extent of waiting in pods to be used by Resistance fighters. The Wisps who power the Wispon weapons are those who remained on Sonic’s world and are willing to help the people in fighting Eggman and other villains and are not forced to do so. This dispels any notion that the Resistance was enslaving the Wisps, as Eggman was trying to do previously.

In the larger narrative, Knuckle’s involvement opens up new plot lines concerning Angel Island and the Master Emerald. Busy leading the Resistance and cleaning up the rogue Badniks, the Master Emerald is defenseless. Who knows what ends the villain could be planning for this powerful artifact?

Characters

While many were expecting to get acquainted with Rough & Tumble, this issue focuses more on Sonic & Knuckles interactions, acting as more of a set up for future appearances of the skunk mercenaries. Sonic and Knuckles are depicted like a classic buddy cop duo. Sonic is the loose cannon who is not taking things too seriously, laughing  at the goofy villains and thinking outside the box. Knuckles is playing the grizzled veteran who does things by the book and takes things a bit too seriously.

Although one could argue Knuckles has some anger management problems, a closer examination is that he has a strong sense of justice. Despite not being a brilliant strategist like Amy, he is nonetheless the leader of the Resistance because when Silver appeared to him with a warning of things to come, he knew he had to do something about it. Knux is a man of action and deals with things the best way he knows how, with his spiked fists!

While Sonic is not known for his planning, he is shown to have a cooler head and more casual approach than his counterpart. When Knuckles sees wrongdoing, he can barely contain his righteous fury. He is also shown to be extremely proud, not admitting anything was wrong after being sprayed by Rough’s musk despite being in obvious pain.

Overall, Knuckles’ characterization is spot on, and perhaps the best part of this book. His personality is perfectly consistent with his game counterpart. One can easily see this Knuckles having been fooled by Eggman back in Sonic 3.

As for our new villains, I was somewhat disappointed with what we got. In the first few pages, they are established as significant threats by the townsfolk who are seemingly living in fear of their lives from these two grizzled mercenaries. We seem them described using shadowy figures creating mystery. However, they are revealed to be bullies with a goofy shtick. This is not a problem in my opinion, I just feel the level of threat that was foreshadowed was somewhat dissonant with the revelation of Rough and Tumble.

Nevertheless, I think they show a lot of promise and are genuinely interesting characters. I like that they are independent, and were acting under their own interests. It was a welcome divergence from a third issue of smashing Badniks. Their plan for taking over the town was quite intelligent and ruthless; hopefully, we will get to know them a bit better before long and see some of that implied cleverness  beyond the silly speeches.

Art

While it was disappointing that we did not get to spend more time with Rough & Tumble, we can be comforted in knowing they will return, but what truly disappointed me about this issue was the art. Jen is no stranger to Sonic comics, she did a number of off-panels, then a few lovely covers, and ultimately the interior art for several issues of the sadly short-lived Sonic Boom series. Unfortunately, something went wrong with this issue, in my opinion, and her art was not up to her normal caliber. Certain panels lacked detail and stuck out like a sore thumb, like when Sonic was spinning, and some of the perspective angles seemed off or too flat. Perhaps coming off of Thomas’ clean style is an unfair comparison, but it is hard when I have seen better work from her.

Perhaps similar criticisms of the other artists apply here as well; the 4 issues in 1 month timeline may have been a bit stressful for the artists. Thankfully, you can tell that she gave Rough and Tumble extra care and attention to make sure they popped in their debut, but I wish the lacking surroundings did not accentuate that.

Covers

Like this issue before this and the one coming after, this issue has 4 covers, including two retailer incentives.

Cover A by Tyson Hesse: Part 3 of 4 connecting covers depicting Sonic racing across the Emerald Hill Zone with his various friends and allies.
Cover B by Jen Hernandez: Again, the B cover is illustrated by the interior artist of the issue, Jen Hernandez. I actually really like this cover despite my criticism of her interior work. I think it perfectly encapsulates the tone of the story in a single image.
RI-A by Nathalie Fourdraine: Nathalie’s 3rd cover was the first revealed for issue #3 with a dynamic shot of Sonic & Knuckles racing up a canyon wall with Tails cheering them on from below. Retailers receive 1 copy of this variant per every 10 copies ordered.
RI-B by Jamal Peppers: Jamal makes his return to Sonic comics with this great cover depicting the fight scene with the Wisps aiding our heroes. Retailers receive 1 copy of this variant per every 25 copies ordered.

Overall Thoughts

Although, I still enjoyed this issue, and was sure it was going to be my favorite of the month, it turned out to be my least favorite so far. The high expectations for Rough & Tumble paired with the lack luster art sapped much of my enthusiasm despite the strong representation of Knuckles and the world building with the Wisps. Despite not being the strongest start, I am sure that we can only get better from here and have high hopes for Rough and Tumble and Jen at IDW!

I hope you enjoyed my review of issue #3! It was not easy being critical of this issue after all the praise I have heaped on the series thus far? Do you think I was fair in my assessment or am I completely wrong? By all means let me know! Based on my statistics, I know you guys were hungry for Knux, Rough, and Tumble! Did they live up to the hype or are you somewhat let down like I was? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 Comments

  1. I agree the art was not so good. It’s unlike ABT and Evan Stanley she did not have clean and consistent inks, I think another inker should ink Jen’s work and not herself because with good inks her art would look miles better.

    Like

    1. Ah, you think Heather Breckel was the problem? Interesting. Jen admitted on twitter that she was out of practice and will try to up her game next time.

      Like

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