Comics Club: Sonic the Hedgehog IDW Ultimate Collection Volume 3

A wonderful hardcover Sonic fans will be delighted by!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 03/26/2023 20:50 Comment on this     ShareThis

Comics Club is where we take a look at video game manga and comics to offer our impressions and insights. Part review, part reflection, Comics Club is a great way to find something new to read based on all of our favorite pastime: video games! Warning: mild spoilers ahead!

When Archie Comics lost the publishing rights to its long-running Sonic the Hedgehog comics, many fans were crushed. The series deviated a great deal from the source material, but after decades of introducing interesting cast members and developing Sonic’s world in a way SEGA had never quite done in the video games, the Archie books had earned their place. Then, in 2017, everything came to an abrupt end, with storyline cut off right in the middle with no resolution to be found.

It was a tumultuous time. Fans were bummed to learn that favorite characters would never be seen again, and the question lingered as to whether or not Sonic would ever get another comic book series. Then, in 2018 publisher IDW took the reigns, bringing along longtime Sonic scribe Ian Flynn and many other Archie expats to the title to help shepherd it into a new era. Sonic the Hedgehog was reborn, but was it as good as it was with Archie?

The answer is an emphatic “yes.” I have been reading the Sonic comic for almost the entire time since Ian Flynn took over writing duties in 2006 with issue #160 of the original series. While I adored the likes of Sally Acorn, Rotor, and Shard, the extended cast was something of a hodgepodge. Not a terrible group, but one that a fan of the video games might come across and be very confused by. It’s not that Sonic games have the most compelling overarching narrative, but when a talking walrus and good guy version of Metal Sonic show up, things can get weird real quick.

In an effort to scale back (and to jettison said characters owing to a very convoluted copyright battle that Archie unsuccessfully litigated in court), the IDW series focuses on the core cast of Sonic’s crew from the games. Tails, Knuckles, and Amy are front and center, with a smaller group of original characters sprinkled in. Flynn has done a delightful job spearheading Sonic’s adventures for years now, but somehow after all this time he seems reinvigorated working on Sonic for IDW. From the outset the stories feel more grounded in the world of SEGA’s beloved mascot while also branching out into new territory.

IDW has been collecting the series in oversized hardcovers under the moniker of the Ultimate Collection. Volume 3 hit stores earlier this month and collects issues 21 to 32 of the series, along with the 2020 annual. As a coffee table book, these Ultimate Collection volumes are gorgeous. Printed at 7.38 x 11.13 inches, the book is big but not unwieldy. Its glossy pages show off the art at a scale larger than the floppy monthly comics, letting readers soak in all of the detail. There’s even a cloth bookmark embedded into each volume, making it easy to mark where you’ve finished reading. I normally don’t gravitate to hardcover comics, but this has become my de facto way of collecting the IDW series. They’re great.

As for the content of Volume 3, this sees Sonic taking on a deadly infection called the Metal Virus. It turns everything into a zombie-like robot under the control of Dr. Robotnik. The stakes feel high given it’s a Sonic comic, which is admittedly geared towards a younger audience. Still, the action is satisfying, and Sonic and friends all feel genuine as they interact and try to save the world around them. Flynn mixes things up by introducing the Deadly Six, from Wii U’s Sonic Lost World. Their appearance forces an alliance between Sonic and Eggman to try and end the threat of the Metal Virus and the Deadly Six. I won’t go into any spoilers, but I will say that catching up with the first two volumes of the series will make the story here more enjoyable, as well as the ending.

If you’ve been on the fence about reading IDW’s Sonic run, I can say with confidence as a longtime fan that this book is legit. Between Flynn and company sticking around and the more focused, accessible cast and story, this is Sonic comics at their best. The Ultimate Collection is the perfect way to experience these stories. Find your local comic shop and ask for a copy, or head to a local bookstore (and we humbly implore you to find alternatives to Amazon if you can—give mom and pop shops the money, or worst case scenario order through Barnes & Noble).

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