Warning: spoilers ahead for Sonic the Hedgehog #43!
It’s not hard to understand why Sonic the Hedgehog always saves the day while Tails finds himself perpetually stuck in the sidekick role. Even apart from Sonic’s ability to reach top speeds and his combat prowess, it’s his name emblazoned on the cover of every issue. Some fans have even questioned Tails’ entire function in Sonic’s stories and games. But the roles of these two Restoration fighters just switched in their most recent battle against some dastardly Zeti demons who have gotten closer to dominating their world than Dr. Eggman: the Deadly Six. In the most recent issue, Sonic and his friends were able to stop them only because Tails is a technological genius.
Before the recent pivotal rematch, the Deadly Six used their electro-magnetic powers against Sonic to control all of Dr. Eggman’s robots and a massive portion of the population that Eggman transformed into metallic zombies through his Metal Virus. To become even more powerful, the Deadly Six’s leader, Zavok, wore a siphon that gathered all of the energy from the Chaos Emeralds, transforming himself into a giant. After Sonic and Silver the Hedgehog worked together to defeat the Deadly Six, Tails began reverse-engineering Zavok’s siphon to turn the Deadly Six’s electro-magnetism against them should they return. He also constructed the so-called Zeti Launcher to send them back to their home once his new siphon disabled them.
In the present day, the Deadly Six successfully deceive Sonic and the Restoration into focusing all of their efforts on securing nearby villages, allowing the Zeti Demons to infiltrate their now abandoned headquarters. Since Sonic is so fast, he reaches Restoration HQ before Tails to confront the Deadly Six once the heroes learn they have been tricked. But rather than saving the day, his only role is to keep the invaders occupied until Tails can arrive with his new inventions in Sonic the Hedgehog #43 from writer Ian Flynn and artist Adam Bryce Thomas.
While not on quite the same scale, this new development in IDW Publishing’s series draws some inspiration from Archie Comics’ discontinued series, where Tails is prophesied to be the Chosen One. The Archie series eventually revealed that Tails was destined to defeat Mammoth Mogul, and Tails did by successfully absorbing all of the versions of himself from the multiverse to transform into a massive fox and use his huge twin tails to reflect Mogul’s Chaos energy. IDW doesn’t offer anything as complex as Archie’s extensive lore and ancient prophecies. Instead, IDW has chosen to capitalize on Tails’ being a technological wunderkind, but the two iterations of the franchise agree that while he may not be as action-oriented as Sonic, he’s truly a hero in his own right, capable of facing threats no-one else can tackle.
Tails is younger than Sonic and is an easy character to put in peril in order to make his superfast ally look heroic. Similarly, Tails has long been cemented as the less-preferred second-player character in Sonic games, giving him a distinctly “second place” edge. It’s therefore great to see IDW give Tails his time to shine, even if this story isn’t as ambitious as the fate Archie Comics awarded the young freedom fighter. While fans of Sonic the Hedgehog‘s comic lineage have long known that Tails is no joke, Sonic the Hedgehog #43 offers concrete evidence that without him, there are challenges that even the Blue Blur wouldn’t be able to overcome.