Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ultraguy’s hopes and despairs for Sonic IDW comics

So yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

A lot of us saw this coming but the constant legal troubles of Archie and their general bumbling with the Sonic license finally ended with Sega pulling the plug with them earlier this week. Luckily however Sega seemed to understand fans enjoyed and have a demand for Sonic comics so they quickly partnered up with another company named IDW to continue the media.

…..that being said it’s not yet clear how the change in management is going to affect the comic as a whole. Will we pick up where we left off? Is another reboot going to happen? What’s going to happen to all the old staff? The official press release was honestly pretty vague, with it sounding like IDW Sonic is going to be a direct continuation of the series but also mentioning Sega of America wanting to take Sonic comics in a different direction.

It Kind of makes what we’ll get a toss-up, and since everyone is speculating on what’s going to happen, I figured I may as well make my own wish list for want I’m hoping and despairing for.

Ultraguy’s despairs
1.      Another continuity reboot.
I don’t think anyone in the Sonic fandom would like this if I’m being honest. Being blunt it was hard enough when Ken’s lawsuits resulted in almost 20 years of the comic book and 100s of characters being permanently removed from the continuity. Many people had a hard time accepting it and a lot of fans still wish for the return of fan favorites like Scourge, Shard and Dr. Finitivus or for a resolution to all the suddenly dropped plotlines.

Fast forward 5 years and Ian Flynn had JUST finally started picking up the pieces of what could be salvaged from the old continuity, and incorporated it into a tightly rebuilt universe utilizing elements of not only Satam, but almost every Sega game, Aosth and some allusions to Sonic X. Things had been looking up and fans were finally starting to get attached to the new universe and move on.

Then this bombshell hits.

Trust me when I say that nobody wants to start from ground fucking zero again by wiping out the established story, just to spend another half decade building that shit up again from scatch. For a comparison it’s almost like the Spiderman movies. Say what you will about how awesome Homecoming was, but did anyone enjoy having almost 3 REBOOTS of a series in a decade!?? It’s tedious and exhausting to see the same thing start over and over again without progressing, as well as alienating when things you were a fan of get dropped suddenly for a new iteration.

I can say outright that’s exactly how most fans of the comic will feel if this is another reboot. Exhausted and feeling tedium at having to wait another several years for the comic to get into its groove again, as well as alienated due to seeing plotlines and elements from the last reboot getting potentially dropped again. Avoiding this should be a huge priority for both Sega and IDW.

..I also feel like I should mention that Sega did get their shit together and every plotline, character and story made after the post genesis era belongs to them, so they do not in fact have a legal reason to discard it like all the ken stuff. There’s no point in doing so cept to distance themselves from Archie due to all the drama, which really isn’t fair to the fans of the characters of plots themselves.

2.      Getting rid of the Satam characters
I have a couple of reasons why removing the Satam characters is a TERRIBLE idea, despite what video game character purists will tell you.

Firstly realistically speaking despite constant jokes about Sonic having a large cast of characters, he does not in fact have enough characters filling out enough niche universe roles to carry an entire action/adventure based comic book on his own. You would most likely HAVE to create tons of original characters anyway if you want to have any kind of substantial plot, and using characters that already have semi formed backstories that the comic’s fans have been invested in for decades makes way more sense than throwing them all under the bus for a new cast. Likewise on the note of fan investment. The comics have always been a sorta unofficial tie in/continuation to Satam from the get go and getting rid of those elements is only going to alienate the fans who have actively supported the book for that exact reason.

Secondly I would also say that having the Satam characters as part of the main cast (or as villains) is actually beneficial to the comics ability to tell a story as a whole. For those of you who don’t know Sega has TONS of mandates for how the Sonic game characters can be used, and have gotten stricter and stricter with these mandates after all the Ken Penders stuff.

For example the main Sonic cast
·        Can’t have love interests or go steady
·        Can have no blood family members not already introduced in canon
·        Sonic and game characters can’t show excessive emotion
·        Sonic more or less is not allowed to lose, or at least not allowed to be put in a losing position for long periods of time
·        They can’t have backstories elaborated on that are not in cannon
·        Nobody can have any character development unless approved
·        No Sega game character can die

Now don’t get me wrong it’s not impossible to write a good story with these mandates in place. Heck considering some of the shit that has gone down in the comic’s past, it’s probably a good thing to have those mandates. That being said it does make it harder to make characters more complex, to make more personal stakes in conflicts or to have any lasting character development. However there’s a loop hole many people are not aware of. The Satam characters are almost all exempt from these rules, which makes it way easier to give them personal connections or to build up the foundations of stories around them, which can then be more easily used to draw out the characterization of the Sega Sonic cast.

For example you can write an entire arch about Nicole’s creation and the tension she has with her “father” . Want some drama? Rotors has family working for Eggman. Need to raise the stakes? Sally or Antoine can go missing in action for a bit or get seriously injured. Need some love? Bunny and Antoine can actually have a relationship and get married if they want to.
It may not seem like much but it adds a lot to the dynamic of the group and allows the comic to have a sort of depth that just wouldn’t be possible if the less mandated characters were not there.

3.      Watering down the Sega cast to just Sonic, Amy, Knuckles, Tails and Eggman (and maybe shadow if they feel like it)
Ok so this is an even worse scenario of the above, where not only are the Satam characters taken out, but so are most of the Sega cast. Given the lack of characters this would probably result in a stripped down episodic format with little story progression.

…….So why this is a bad thing

I talk to a lot of the people who read Archie comics, and surprisingly a large majority of them tell me they do not in fact read the comics for Sonic himself. Frankly ever since the “Sonic cast is to large please nerf” meme that started back during Sonic Unleashed, Sonic has  almost been the only character to get any significant screen time in the main games, to the point where people have started to become bored of the lack of varity. Sure the other characters may show up from time to time, but they mostly just play the part of being cheerleaders in the background.

If you want to see Shadow have his own standalone story, you’re not going to see it in the games. If you want to see Silver do something substantial, it won’t be in the games. If you want to see Knuckles, Amy,Blaze, Rouge, Omega, or the chaotix actually do something besides cheer Sonic on you are not going to get it there. Heck going even further some lesser known Sega characters like Nack, Mighty, Ray, Honey the cat, ect are probably NEVER going to be acknowledged in canon EVER again.

You know where you can see these characters actually do shit and have standalone stories.

In Archie you can see shadow lead GUN to fight a goddam alien invasion and fight an evil alien monster called Eclipse. You can see Silver travel to a bad future and try to fight off a dictatorship ruled by a demigod. The Chaotix can have a detective mystery plot spanning several issues. Knuckles and Amy can have their own side plot where they hunt down pieces of a shattered master emeralds. Many of these smaller time characters can actually be recurring antagonists or supporting characters in the main series archs.

You see archie was important because it gives an outlet to actually see stories or focus around characters that Sega really just doesn’t want to touch that much anymore. You take that away and again you’ll be alienating a lot of the fans who have been reading these comics specifically to see their favorite character in action.

4.  Just making straight up adaptions of the games
Ok so this is a complaint I hear from time to time. “The Archie comics stories were weird. Why not just have straight up adaptions of the main Sonic games as they come out or of the old ones starting from the beginning?”

Ok well tbh outside the fact most of the plots of the games had been worked into the larger continuity of post genesis anyway and the fact they had an expanded adaption of Sonic Unleashed that had ended fairly recently, I really don’t see the point of doing something like on a consistent basis. Most of the plots of the current Sonic games have become intentionally simplistic and aren’t well suited for being drawn out over the course of months or years. The fact games often have years in-between releases is also an issue, given even if you did do direct adaptions from the beginning eventually you’re going to catch up to the main material anyway (a common problem in shohen actually).

Making one to one adaptions of past Sonic games is also I dunno redundant in some cases? Archie never consistently made adaptions and instead focused more on original stories, but it still had smaller archs or special issues based on certain games. The series already tackled Sonic and Knuckles, Triple Trouble, Sonic Blast, Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic the Fighters, and the previously mentioned Sonic unleashed in ways I would call substantial. There’s also the fact that Sonic X had adaptions of Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 as well, along with Sonic Battle. Overall Most of the big plot heavy games have already been done before in multiple media, so what’s the point of doing them all again? This isn’t even talking about the elephant in the room that well frankly if you want to experience to the story of a certain Sonic game, you can just play those games again to get that experience.

Now do I want some elements of current sonic games worked into the comic? Well sure that would only make sense, but Archie was interesting to read because it had original plotlines and content you normally wouldn’t see in games. It wasn’t just a copy and paste job. Heck I would say most adaptions of most franchises that have bled out into multiple incarnations are like that. Each batman cartoon is different. Each Spiderman or avengers cartoon is different. Just doing the same thing you’ve already seen again in a different media is just uninspired, and the most popular adaptions always have their own unique identity while respecting their source material.

Ultraguy’s Hopes
1. Please try to retain some of the old comic talent
I love Ian Flynn. He’s basically the guy who streamlined the comic and got it back on track after years of furry drama and convoluted side stories. It would be a huge shame to have him leave when he’s basically been the creative direction of the book for over a decade now, so I REALLY HOPE IDW can get him to work for them.

Granted I’m not sure how Ian’s allegiances will play into this. I’m pretty sure he’s currently writing some stuff for actual Archie titles now , but he’s also written some stuff for Sega directly as of late, which I would think would make going following the Sonic comic more enticing given Sega is the larger company. Additionally I’m pretty sure the only reason why he got his job in the first place was because he was a talented sonic fanboy to begin with, so I’d like to think he’d be willing to work on IDW’s comic even if it meant potentially being blacklisted from Archie. Take all that into account, plus his fairly positive response on twitter and Aron webber’s hoping that some familiar names will be re-appearing (not sure if this is characters or creators or both though), and I don’t think him coming back is impossible. He also has apparently written some stories for IDW in the past, so it’s not like he would have issue getting a job with them.

Likewise while I’ll admit I don’t know the names of every current Sonic comic staff member, I would greatly love if as many of them as possible came on board. Many of them are freelancers and some like Tracy Yardly has pretty much said they’ll gladly work on the new comic if asked.
But on a whole a similar creative team with at least some of the old members would be great, since it would allow the comic to stay consistent with what we expect from the art and story.

4.      More crossovers I guess?
Ok this isn’t really a hard want, but IDW does license a lot of other properties as well. I would be down for MLP, TMNT, transformers or whatever in one off crossovers. Just as long as they don’t go overboard with the storylines like the second megaman/sonic world’s unite arch.

I think in general what I and most Sonic fans are hoping for are is basically just for the current comic to more or less go to IDW and pick up again from where it left off without skipping much of a beat. Either that or AT LEAST keeping most of the characters and elements from post gen Archie/Satam, even if the setting and plot gets a major retool.

So what did you guys think? What do you want to see in the Sonic IDW comics? Leave your ideas in the comics.


  1. Why does Sega have these stupid mandates on what can be done in the comic?

  2. I disagree on #2 to get rid of the SatAM characters - but keep Sally Acorn!