Sonic the Hedgehog‘s comics have seen the Blue Blur go through triumph and tragedy, and his best adventures span numerous issues with major impacts for the franchise’s characters and larger stories. Rather than a series of isolated adventures, Sonic’s fight for freedom is a saga, and the best stories truly embrace that idea.
Here, then, are the greatest comic storylines every Sonic the Hedgehog fan should rush out and read. The list will consider both Archie Comics and IDW Publishing continuity, though it’s worth noting that Archie published hundreds of issues during its incredible run, while IDW has yet to reach 75, meaning there’s plenty of time for the latter to bring fans even more stories that belong on this list.
13 Mr. Tinker and Belle the Tinkerer (IDW)
Although Dr. Eggman has had alter egos before – like Archie’s Dr. Kintobor from a parallel universe – IDW’s Mr. Tinker is the same Dr. Eggman from Sonic’s world, except he gets knocked in the head hard enough that he becomes temporarily good. This situation completely reinvents Sonic’s all-time arch-nemesis, rather than copping out by using an alternate universe like Sonic Prime and Archie.
This storyline also not only presents philosophical questions in Sonic such as whether a villain can be punished for committing crimes they don’t remember, but adds tragedy to the mix much later on in the series when Mr. Tinker’s daughter Belle the Tinkerer is abandoned once he reverts to his Dr. Eggman persona (but later finds a letter from her father saying goodbye.) Tragedy, big questions, and a fearless exploration of the franchise’s main villain make this a must-read story. Belle first appears in Evan Stanley’s Sonic the Hedgehog #34, but it’s not until #49 that she gets some closure on her father.
The Metal Virus saga is the only storyline in IDW’s main continuity so far that successfully incorporates horror, and it’s a bone-chilling entry. Essentially Sonic’s take on the zombie apocalypse, the arc lovingly includes iconic tropes, such as the heroes being forced to sacrifice already-infected victims. The story pushes Sonic into twisted but still recognizable territory, but is also smart about following the entire cast, rather than solely placing Sonic front and center. The Metal Virus is introduced in Ian Flynn, Evan Stanley, and Tracy Yardley’s Sonic the Hedgehog #12, with Sonic the Hedgehog #32 closing out the epilog of the saga.
11 Imposter Syndrome (IDW)
Ian Flynn, Aaron Hammerstrom, Mauro Fonseca, and Thomas Rothlisberger’s Sonic the Hedgehog: Imposter Syndrome produced some of the franchise’s most compelling villains, both in terms of their own complexity and the fact they are dark mirrors of Sonic and Tails. Readers initially sympathized with Sonic and Tails’ cyborg replacements Surge and Kit, during the Imposter Syndrome tie-in series that revealed a portion of their tragic origins and established their unhealthy relationship. All this culminated in Sonic #50 where their true demons and tortured nuances came to light. Surge revealed her twisted outlook on life and desire for revenge on Sonic, and Kit wrestled with his own identity after being accepted by the heroes, ultimately returning to his tormenter in one of Sonic and Tails’ most upsetting failures ever.
10 Tangle & Whisper Miniseries (IDW)
Tangle and Whisper are undoubtedly the greatest IDW-exclusive heroes so far, and two of the best side characters in the franchise overall. The two couldn’t be any more different from each other – with Whisper being a withdrawn and deeply traumatized warrior, and Tangle an enthusiastic and extroverted hero – and yet they complement each other perfectly. The Sonic the Hedgehog: Tangle & Whisper miniseries from Ian Flynn and Evan Stanley sees this unlikely duo getting paired on a mission (mostly because of Tangle’s pushing and prodding) that brings them even closer together. It is during this mission that Tangle first learns about Whisper’s tragic past, and Tangle’s ability to empathize and accommodate Whisper’s feelings is what helps them come together.
9 Operation: EndGame (Archie)
This four-issue arc (Sonic the Hedgehog #47-#50) was pivotal in introducing events fans had never expected to see, many of which had hugely consequential outcomes. For example, Sonic literally kills Dr. Robotnik, which later paves the way for his counterpart from another dimension Robo-Robotnik (aka Dr. Eggman) to take over. Sonic’s home even gets blasted into its own dimension, the restoration of which eventually culminates in Sonic’s physical appearance changing forever. It’s also believed that Sonic killed his girlfriend Princess Sally, and Sonic is even arrested. This arc plays hard into the “freedom fighter” nature of Sonic’s allies, seeing the Blue Blur on the wrong side of the law as a fugitive and making dark choices with lives on the line.
8 The Sword of Acorn (Archie)
The Sword of Acorn’s story encompasses numerous arcs and storylines, beginning in Kent Taylor, Ken Penders, and Art Mawhinney’s Sonic the Hedgehog #42 with the search for its whereabouts. But it’s the stories that occur once it’s been found that matter. It causes Sonic to break the law, suffer the consequences of his actions, and become bested when the sword chooses someone else as its wielder. Sonic not only steals but loses the holy relic to restore the free will of his roboticized family in #86, causing Sonic to eventually lose his knighthood (yes, Sonic was knighted). One of the unique strengths of the Archie continuity is truly exploring Sonic’s flaws, and the Sword of Acorn arc didn’t let Sonic off the hook for his worst qualities.
7 Geoffrey St. John Takes Over (Archie)
This storyline transpires during the overarching Sword of Acorn epic saga after Sonic steals and loses the relic. One of Sonic’s greatest critics Geoffrey St. John gets the opportunity to rule the kingdom from the shadows in Ken Penders, Karl Bollers, and James Fry’s Sonic the Hedgehog #93, which drastically alters the overall format and formula of the series, acknowledging an idea the franchise often glosses over: Sonic and his allies are kids. Since Dr. Robotnik has been defeated, Sonic and his adolescent friends no longer have the need to battle and are placed where they belong at their age – in school. The transition has a similar tone to early Harry Potter books, and focuses on interpersonal issues between the main characters.
6 The Bem (Archie)
Extraterrestrials play a major role in Archie’s Sonic, with one species even explaining the anthropomorphic appearance of Sonic’s people. But this particular storyline involves a specific race of aliens called the Bem who interfere with Sonic’s world numerous times. The aliens’ plans aren’t initially clear, and the story smartly brings multiple discordant events to a head by explaining they were orchestrated by the Bem. The story sees characters switching between organic and robotic forms, adding an element of body horror that’s perfectly suited to the otherworldly Bem. Sonic the Hedgehog #118–#129 covers much of the Bem saga, though their actions have ripple effects forward and backwards through Archie canon.
5 Mobius: 25 Years Later (Archie)
Every fan wants to know what characters get up to after the story ends. This ambitious arc called ‘Mobius: 25 Years Later’ in Sonic the Hedgehog #136 through #144 fast-forwarded events into the future, where Sonic is not only married with children but is king. Even relationships that fans felt would never change – like Sonic and Tails’ friendship – take unexpected turns. Although the lives of many beloved characters are explored in this story, the highlight is how much Sonic has been struggling to adjust to his new roles as a father and ruler. In one of the sadder developments, Sonic even risks his kids becoming fatherless so he can once again save the day and feel like a hero.
4 Democracy in Mobius (Archie)
Although Sonic’s people are ruled by a monarchy for the majority of the series, it’s eventually replaced in Ian Flynn and Tracy Yardley’s Sonic the Hedgehog #179 with a system where six elected council members plus the king vote on decisions. The change is used to make the comic’s characters more answerable to authority, and especially to explore the renegade way they usually go about things. In #197, for example, Sally is put on trial for thwarting an incoming invasion from a parallel universe without the council’s permission. While Sonic’s team remain the heroes, it’s fascinating to see them buck against an ‘enemy’ who isn’t Robotnik-levels of evil.
3 Ixis Becomes King (Archie)
It’s one thing when the bad guy takes over the world by force, but it’s something else entirely when they’re welcomed with open arms. Such is the case when longtime villain Ixis Naugus saves Sonic’s people from Titan Metal Sonic, becoming so popular and beloved that he assumes the throne in issue #232 (from Ian Flynn, Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Ben Bates, Jamal Peppers, and Jonathan Grey.) Ixis was already bad news, but he gets progressively worse as the mages trapped within his mind grow in power, causing a monstrous transformation in Sonic the Hedgehog #240.
2 Regina Replaces Dr. Eggman (Archie)
Most villains in Sonic’s universe come and go, but Dr. Eggman always reigns supreme as the hedgehog’s number-one nemesis… except when an antagonist named Regina Ferrum actually swept in and took over Eggman’s empire. This story is defined by Regina’s own intriguing history and how she utilizes Eggman’s resources to suit her own needs, along with Sonic’s personal struggles with how he defeated his arch-enemy by breaking his mind, even showing the former villain compassion and mercy. It’s an incredible shake-up of the status quo that’s unfortunately short-lived, from Sonic the Hedgehog #201 to #211.
1 Sonic Betrays Tails
Although this storyline is controversial for some because of a shocking scene between Sonic and Tails’ father, its positives more than make up for that one moment. The story sees Sonic and Tails – one of the tightest dynamic duos in fiction – have a massive falling out that comes as a direct result of Sonic’s thoughtlessness. It’s a friendship that no one in a million years would expect to fall apart, and yet it works when it happens because Archie is so invested in Sonic’s flaws, even when it concerns Tails. With romance, rivalry, and family on the line, Sonic and Tails’ falling out pulls no punches and hinges on the hero’s awful actions, not lazy misunderstandings, mind control, or any other cliché. Their problems are no flash in the pan either – Tails blow up at Sonic in issue #155, and the two don’t reconcile until #179.
The best Sonic the Hedgehog stories dig into the Blue Blur’s status as a flawed hero, often combining intense tragedy with true insight into the franchise’s characters – as shown in the selections above.