And a lot of those plots where she changes tend to be in different places. We've had this discussion before - you'll recall me saying that characters are not solely their personality, nor are they their abilities. Things like the events, the settings, situations, background/upbringing, and actions within also play a part in characterization. It's a chemical mix where different things lead to different results, with some being more similar or different depending on what they're thrown into.
For example, when she's in unknown or enemy territory, she's cautious and careful or in some cases desperate; she's not like Sonic, she knows she can't just burst through places since she lacks his abilities that would make one cocky like him, but she knows she has to do something for her part to help out or to escape a situation. When she's on her homefront, her attitude changes, because she knows her surroundings; when you have the home advantage you know things better than your enemy, which boosts confidence to varying degrees. And when that home advantage is rendered null and void, such as when Nicole was under control of the Iron Queen, that's when she becomes careful or desperate, because now she's in a vulnerable state that can really cause harm to both herself and other people she desires to protect.
Then there's her interactions with other characters, such as Fiona trying to tempt Tails again, showing she doesn't take betrayal lightly (really, who does?). Not really the first time this has happened, having felt emotionally betrayed by Sonic himself at times.
I get what your saying that there is some inconsistency with the characters, but you also need to realize that there are a myriad of things at play here than just the select few you're judging the whole things by. However, as I said before, we're in a new direction now. A lot of this is rendered moot thanks to the Genesis Wave changing things.
Considering this is Sonic, someone who tends to leap before he looks, I doubt forgetting is a cheap excuse. Again, if there was to be any background checks, the person you should be directing that fault on should be Khan since he was around the Iron Queen long enough to know what she could do.
Now Snively? Granted, they should have known better. We already knew he was planning something like always, but even then there's considering the resources that he uses every time he makes a move. Before the Iron Queen came, he had a small group of Dark Legionaires that were on the defensive getting tossed around by an even smaller group of Freedom Fighters and Chaotix, an insane uncle to tend to (rather than a non-existent one not to worry about) and a capital city in total ruins due to the work of a demi-god screwing up most of the technology in the area. This put him a disadvantage that had him call in the Iron Queen to begin with, something no one bar Monkey Khan at the time saw coming until he thundershocked Mina's concert raging about it.
I could have sworn they intended Hamlin as the Complainer is Always Wrong from the get go considering how much of a jerkass he is on the council.
None the less, being hostile to criticism isn't anything new, particularly when a character believes they're right. We see it in not just Sonic and Sally, but every other character in similar circumstances, such as Tails, Antoine, Geoffery, Khan, Knuckles, and so forth. But I fail to see how this connection, when the going really gets tough, ruins the drama - it looks more like it's adding onto it instead.
And when things really hit Sonic where it hurts, he's not always joking around. Most of the time when he treats things like a game, he's usually the one who has the advantage, or is at least on the offense and winning. It's the kind of confidence boost and cockiness we've known him to have when the ball is in his court. But when that advantage is taken from him, we see that he's not treating it as a game as much, such as Eggman annihilating Knothole, Antoine in a coma (where he completely wrecks his wall to show Silver his condition when the latter accuses him as a traitor), or in cases where his friends are in danger such as when Mammoth Mogul held Tails, Mina, and Mighty hostage and was forced to give him a Chaos Emerald or lose them. Or even Endgame, when Sonic was accused of killing Sally and was treated like a criminal for doing so.
These are moments among many when the situation is played straight and Sonic isn't joking and playing around anymore.
Yeah, it does. One could say it completely neuters the tension that was building.
Silliness does not mean harmless. You'd think we'd learn not to judge things by a cover like that.
You say that like everyone hates these characters for how they are now. Did you forget that this is post-Genesis Wave? Where everything is mostly different now, up to and including the characters? The point in changing them was because of the legal mess that forced them to change everything connected into a new direction, because the stuff they took out and the plot that they left dangle couldn't be finished. So considering the wide gap they made, and the plans that would have continued up to issue 300, they had to restart things and redefine things for this new world and the characters. While not everyone likes these changes, it has less to do with the characters and more to do with outside circumstances.
And do I need to point out how your overgeneralizing again? Yes, Rotor is a tough guy, but he's still a mechanic and he's not as strong as the likes of Bunnie or even Big who freaking tossed a giant Silver Sonic into the air like it wasn't a huge inconvenience. But as I already said, characters are not just their personalities, and the converse is true that characters are not their abilities. Rotor may be more confident than before, but he's still friendly towards people he cares about, and seems to be regaining some of his easy going nature thanks to regaining his memories of the old world. People like the characters for certain aspects, but not everyone is opposed to having these aspects grown out of; in this case people had to deal with it because there are reasons outside the comics that led to it in the first place.