Picture for a moment if the Marvel Universe were condensed into a single comic series, let's say The Amazing Spider-Man. It would be cool, but eventually the reader would yearn to read other stories within that world. What are the other heroes doing while Spidey is saving the day or taking a nap? This is the same concept with Sonic Universe, a spinoff series from the main title. The Sonic games have established a fantastic mythology that has transitioned well into the comic world. As much as we love the Blue Hedgehog, people were definitely interested in stories starring the other characters. In the games it didn't quite work out that well with Shadow the Hedgehog, but perhaps in comic land things would be different. Sonic Universe Volume 1 contains Issue #1 to #4, which has been dubbed 'Shadow Saga.' It's a fantastic read for people especially that grew up with Adventure 2 and up.
The first issue features Shadow on a mission to acquire a Chaos Emerald. It's an interesting story for a few reasons. It opens up with him battling Metal Sonic. Shadow has always been a fan favorite character for the obvious reasons. This issue is particularly interesting since we see how far he's come as a character. He actually sympathizes with Metal Sonic, saying that the two aren't very unlike. The other intriguing part is that Shadow lands in Blaze the Cat's world. It's pretty cool since it references Sonic Rush Adventure. (The comic's version anyway, but close enough.) This is apparently the first time they meet, so it's cool to see how personalities collide. Ian Flynn really nails all of the characters. The dialogue between Metal Sonic and Shadow in the final part was fantastic and easily the best part of the issue. Even if Marine was a bit annoying, this is easily the best issue of the bunch.
The second issue isn't quite as good, but still has a nostalgic touch. This time Sonic joins in on a mission with Shadow and Rouge. It's cool because while they're doing their thing in present day, there are also panel flashbacks to Adventure 2 in-between. Yes, the classic battle between the two in Green Forest is recreated with dialogue and everything. (This makes me want to pop in the disc.) It even manages to showcase the Biolizard and the Super Hedgehogs. While this wasn't quite as good as #1, it was still nice to have a little bit of nostalgia thrown at me. Plus, the banter between Sonic and Shadow is fantastic and shows how far their relationship had come.
The third issue is pretty interesting since it features the debut of Omega. The plot has Eggman activate Omega to hunt down the traitor Gamma. This is also a pretty cool thing, since these two robots have been compared many times by fans. Shadow's mission is to recruit Gamma to G.U.N. His dialogue with Gamma was pretty great since we see again how Shadow relates to being a weapon and how now he sees having allies is a good thing. After Omega sends Shadow skyrocketing away, the former has a battle and chat with Gamma. Flynn can write some pretty emotional stuff despite these comics usually being on the happier side. The entire scene with Omega blowing up Gamma but the latter sending his 'soul' into the former was fantastic. (It was also a good way to get Omega on Team Dark since these comics differ from the events of Sonic Heroes.)
The fourth and final issue is most notable for one reason: the formation of Team Dark. This of course adapting a part of Sonic Heroes. Kids today reading might not know that, but for people like me it's pretty nostalgic. First, Shadow and Rouge are sent into the Special Zone to acquire a Chaos Emerald. This Zone is governed by a god-like being called Feist, who is pretty awesome I have to say. (How many god-like talking pandas have you seen?) The mission is a bust and the two are sent back to the base. Shadow goes to sulk since he believes he shouldn't lose. The next scene is pretty interesting. He is comforted by a character called Hope Kintobor, who is exclusive to the comics. It's a pretty touching scene, since Shadow thinks of Maria when talking to her. After, Omega is sent with Shadow and Rouge. Together, they form Team Dark. (And the sparring match between Shadow and Omega before was great since it established the friendship between the two.) The mission into the Special Zone is accomplished thanks to teamwork. In the end, the issue nicely sets up Team Dark for the comic world.
Overall, the first volume to Sonic Universe is an extremely fun read. It harkens back to the quality writing of the Adventure 2 days. (No offence to Colors or Generations of course, but those games' writing have nothing on any game between Adventure 2 and Unleashed.) Shadow is arguably the greatest character in the Sonic mythos aside from the Blue Blur himself. He makes for a fantastic focus and reading through this makes me want to see a Team Dark-centric series. Sonic Universe Volume 1 is a must have for longtime Sonic fans.