See all reviews of Sonic the Hedgehog (4)

“Worlds Collide”, Archie’s epic-length crossover between Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog and Capcom’s Mega Man comes to a conclusion. Sadly, solicitation summaries and cover previews released by Archie basically spoiled exactly how this storyline was going to end MONTHS ago, so I can’t say there were any surprises to be had in this concluding chapter. But even if I’d somehow managed to dodge all the hype material Archie’s been flooding the comic news sites with since April, c’mon… we all knew this thing was gonna end with Sonic and Mega Man going Super and trashing the doomsday device. It’s just a given.


Sonic the Hedgehog #251 (Archie Comics)


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In this, the 12th chapter of “Worlds Collide”, Sonic and Mega Man face off against the Egg-Wily Machine-X as Doctors Robotnik and Wily use the Super Genesis Wave to completely rewrite both their universes. Super Sonic and Super Mega Man attempt to use Chaos Control to keep their universes from being reshaped in the images of their arch foes, but things don’t work out so well. At least for one of them, anyway.

As I’ve gone on at length in the last bunch of “Worlds Collide” reviews, Ian Flynn’s story hasn’t been especially innovative. It’s been a lot of fun watching these two characters interact, but so far its hit every crossover cliche along the way. This final chapter is no exception.

And yet, thanks in large part to the superb artwork of Ben Bates… It just doesn’t seem so annoying, anymore. “Worlds Collide” really dragged during its middle act, and while I can’t say the third act sprang any surprises on us, it has definitely felt like a surge in the right direction. Lots of action, lots of fun and who cares anymore that the whole thing has been predictable every step of the way? Super Mega Man just loaded Super Sonic into his Mega Buster and fired him at Doctor Robotnik and Doctor Wily to save the day. I got everything I needed from this arc.

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But there was another agenda behind “Worlds Collide” beyond just seeing two blue video game protagonists team up, and it’s the bitter fruit of a long legal battle between Archie and one of their former Sonic scribes, Ken Penders. Essentially, a recent lawsuit ended in favor of Penders, granting him ownership of all original characters and concepts he created during his multi-year run on Sonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles the Echidna. Before “Worlds Collide”, Archie attempted a crude form of clean-up to remove all Penders characters during their tedious, disjointed “Endangered Species” arc, but apparently those efforts just weren’t enough. While Mega Man’s universe is restored at the end of “Worlds Collide” to be precisely the same as where we left it before the “Worlds Collide” crossover began, Sonic’s universe is left in a more precarious position.

Archie’s already released solicit summaries and cover art for the next Sonic the Hedgehog issues and it looks like we’ll be entering reboot territory. The conclusion of “Worlds Collide” sets up the new situation well-enough, but it nevertheless reeked of “editorial/legal mandate” and was the only part of the arc to rub off as insincere.

Still, if you’ve been ignorant of all the Ken Penders/Archie drama, you may read the end of “Worlds Collide” completely differently than I did. And if so, then that’s a good thing.

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9.5

  • Wily telling Robotnik to take defeat with a grace and dignity. Now THAT’S a laugh.
  • The predictable doublecross between Robotnik and Wily wasn’t the eye-rolling scheme-foil I thought it would be.
  • Dat Ben Bates art.
  • The arrival of the MM1 Robot Masters was neat, but they came too late in the game to feel like a big deal.
  • Fuckin’ Ken Penders, man…

Is it Good?

So, looking over this entire 12-part epic, how does “Worlds Collide” hold together? Well, rereading my reviews of the first act, the joy of seeing Sonic and Mega Man together was enough to make me overlook the Crossover 101 cliches. The afterglow began to wear off during the second act and like I said before, the story really starts to drag around there. But then the third act picks up steam at a breakneck pace and where the script lacks, Ben Bates’s artwork picks up the slack and then some. In the end, “Worlds Collide” didn’t break new ground in the storytelling department, but it gave us everything it promised. It was a lot of fun and I hope Archie does it again, some day. Just, you know. Maybe go for a little less than 12 issues and 3 months, next time.

  • Arun

    Actually, it’s not completely true that things were ruled in Penders’s favor; both cases from Archie and Penders were dismissed. According to Penders (though who knows what’s wrapped up in NDA’s we’ll never know the details of), Archie is free to use his characters and he has no say at this point. He can also work on his attempt at reliving his glory days and riding the coattails of a franchise that was successful without him. But I do hear you on the whole “reeking of editorial/legal mandate.”

    At any rate, there is some vague hope that we could see the characters again, but we won’t know for a long while (Flynn had the good sense to not outright kill them, just in case). It’s not a total reboot, but it’s certainly a refresh that, odds are, would not have had to happen had Penders left things alone and stretched his creative wings on more original works (though if “The Lost Ones” is any indication, they’d probably crash and burn too). I am interested in seeing what comes of all this, as solicits point to shifts in the status quo without completely eliminating the past 250+ issues of continuity. Well, that’s the hope anyway.

    Any chance you’re going to continue with the Sonic reviews, Mark?

    • Mark Pellegrini

      Thanks for the clarification. I saw Penders’s “teasers” for his Julie-Su Chronicles (as embarrassing as that looks) and got the impression he won his characters back. I guess regardless of the ruling, Archie/Sega finds it more practical to just excise the growth entirely rather than try to dress it up. I can’t blame them.

      At first I feared the proposed reboot (still not sure if it’s “soft” or “hard”) would eliminate all non-Sega characters and make for a very boring Sonic Universe, but the recent solicits and cover previews have proven that the classic Freedom Fighters will be sticking around. Hopefully that’ll mean they’ll become relevant again, as Antoine, Bunnie and Rotor had all basically fallen to the wayside in the past few years.

      I do wonder how many of the dangling storylines from before “Worlds Collide” will be resolved in the wake of this reboot, or if all the suspense will be undercut when things start over from scratch or wherever? We gonna see Team Freedom battle the Tails Doll-monster? Resolution on Antoine’s coma? All that crap with Ixis taking over Geoffrey’s body? Knuckles’s angst over all his people being banished to an unknown dimension? Mecha Sally…?

      I guess all those threads will be “resolved” via the reset button, but that’s just a tad on the cheap side.

      Ah well, Archie’s Sonic was sort of getting crushed under the weight of its own continuity, anyway (I remember the first time someone tried to explain the history of the two Robotniks to me). It’s probably for the best that this reboot is happening.

      And I might continue the Sonic reviews post “Worlds Collide”. Probably not Mega Man, though (but I’ll keep buying it; that title needs all the financial support it can get).

      • Arun

        No prob!

        I like to think (and man do I hope!) that Archie/Flynn won’t take the easy way out just because of the whole stupid legal saga. Solicits seem to point to things picking up from before the crossover but not quite, with a lot of shifts and characters being tossed about (Amy ending up in Blaze’s world for the upcoming Sonic Universe, for example). At the least, we’ll see Sonic and Tails trying to piece together what’s going on, and there may be something going on with Naugus as well as the conclusions to the battles with Mecha-Sally and Tails Doll.

        I’m definitely curious to see how it’s all going to be handled and I really want to give Archie/Flynn the benefit of the doubt on this one. There are still a lot of dangling plot threads, and I like to think it’s not all going to be swept aside. At the least, Knuckles needed “Endangered Species” for his resolution (from the “Enerjak Reborn” storyline), so it’s a real shame that things turned out the way they did, so hopefully they manage to do something about that in the upcoming storylines.

        I’m with you on how problematic Archie’s Sonic continuity has been in the past. Hell, I dropped the book for a few years because of it! Just too much going on, too many characters that aren’t important, too many retcons and contradictions between writers (dammit Penders and Bollers!), and just not enough pages per month to justify most of it (wasn’t the book split into two or three completely different stories for a long while?). Flynn’s writing, though still continuity heavy, is easier to digest and follow, and he seems to do a good job of cleaning up the messes of the people who worked on the book in the past.

        Ah well, here’s hoping things get back on track for the Sonic comic, that whole legal saga really mucked things up the last year or so.