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Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 6 – A Brief History, Continued

With Endgame, the future of Sonic the Hedgehog was up in the air. The comic, which had relied so heavily on the concepts of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and the Saturday morning series, could no longer fall back on the status quo of those shows. With the defeat of Robotnik and the reclaiming of Mobotropolis, the future was suddenly unsure. With the 48-page special Brave New World, it was clear that the comic felt it still had life in it even if Robotnik wasn’t the main villain. The world of Mobius was not yet safe, one victory not suddenly making everything the way it was before Julian turned on King Acorn.

With Karl Bollers taking over as the main writer for the Sonic series, Ken Penders took on a new assignment – to focus on the brand new monthly Knuckles the Echidna comic book. Brainstorming all sorts of ideas for his new series, the seeds for the future were once again planted. Unlike the last time, however, it looked as though the licensing representatives at SEGA would allow Ken to explore the future of these characters in ways never before imagined…
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Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 5 – A Brief History Of The Future

In the early 90’s, the continuity of the Saturday morning series Sonic the Hedgehog captured the hearts of numerous Sonic fans. For many, it was their very first exposure to the blue blur. For others, it was the chance to finally see their favorite hero animated on the small screen, even if it didn’t match up with the world they played in the games. Beginning with the second season, a storyline evolved that those who tuned in each week couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. They wanted to know what the future held for these characters, and if they would be able to reclaim their childhood home of Mobotropolis and defeat the evil Dr. Ivo Robotnik.

Television, much like comic books, can be a fickle medium. After two seasons the show went off the air, many thinking the comic book would follow suit. After all, how many licensed comics survived their source material? But to the surprise of many in the halls of Archie Comics, the title became more popular once the television series had unceremoniously ended, the four-color pages being the only outlet for those who felt unsatisfied with the cliffhanger ending of the cartoon. Even if the details were different, the future of these characters could be followed. Princess Sally, Antoine, Rotor, Bunnie and the rest could live on.

The idea of being able to show the “happily ever after,” though, was still something impossible. If the heroes defeated Robotnik and took back the kingdom, it would mean the end of the comic book as well. Even if the book is its own unique story, it still exists to serve as an advertisement to the games. There was no way Dr. Eggman could vanish from the book completely as long as he was the main antagonist in the video games. Sonic and Sally could not ride off into the sunset.

That didn’t mean Ken Penders wouldn’t try to show it anyway.
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Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 4 – The Mobius Girls Can’t Help It

Sonic the Hedgehog is not a superhero. Yes, Sonic is a hero in the sense that he fights evil and wants to save his friends. He has an arch nemesis, he has a sidekick, he has a friendly rival, he kinda has a love interest depending on how you look at it. Unlike the traditional American superhero archetype, however, Sonic does not fight Eggman because he feels he has to. The blue blur possesses a strong sense of justice, but at the same time lives a carefree existence based on his own rules. He did not have a tragic event in his childhood that made him realize he had to dedicate his life to fighting evil, or come to find he was the only being on the planet with a gift he had to use for the betterment of mankind. Sonic is, to quote a phrase, “just a guy who loves adventure.” His fights with Dr. Eggman are not just because the doctor put his nose in his friend’s business, but because it is something exciting to do. If Eggman had looked for the Chaos Emeralds elsewhere, or decided not to start capturing the animal friends on South Island? Sonic would never have gone looking for Eggman just because he was power hungry.

In most western-produced media, though, the idea of Sonic actually being some sort of superhero took hold, with secret origins becoming motivators for Sonic’s entire philosophy. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Ken Penders writing style doesn’t always work for what Sonic is supposed to be. Ken grew up on superhero comics. The works of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby shaped in his mind how a comic is supposed to be written. He wanted to emulate his heroes, and used the world of Sonic & Knuckles as his canvas to do so, his first real writing job. Also trying to match the trends of modern comics with long-form storylines that are really meant to be read in graphic novels and not the monthly publications they are confined to, Ken wanted to do so much more than what he could. Not just because he was using other people’s characters, but because his writing just isn’t up to par with those great iconic comic book writers. His own ideas seem to escape him, and while there are moments of brilliance, I often get the sense Ken is desperately fighting with himself to reel everything back in.

To be fair, he never did make Sonic adopt a secret identity and wear a mask to fight crime. That was all Karl Bollers. But that’s a story for another day.
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Mobius: 25 Years Later, The Review: Part 3 – The Adventures of Lara-Su and Old Rotor

Hello and welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, to the world of Mobius: 25 Years Later. I am your host, David the Lurker, and I know you can’t wait to jump right into part three of this exciting series. After all, so much has happened up to this point, how could you not want to know what exciting twists and turns are around the corner? Ok, it’s more of the same, but remember, back when this came out, people had to wait a month at a time before they got their next six page fix, longing with anticipation the continuation of a storyline the readers had been waiting for since 1999. With the first part not seeing print until the end of 2003, the Archie devout waited four years to see the future of their favorite characters. You, the readers of Sonic Retro, only have to wait a week at a time before you deal with the longest review in the world about anything Ken Penders has ever put to paper.
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Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 2 – Of Frightened and Dancing Crocs

When looking at Mobius: 25 Years Later as a whole, it is pretty clear just how important Ken Penders wanted this story to be for the readers. Running in the comic for over a year, coupled with its promise of wrapping up numerous storylines that had been running through his Knuckles narrative since nearly the beginning of his time writing for the title, it was meant to be this grand finale for a medium whose very nature would prevent an ending from coming about. If the series were to ever end, there might not be enough warning to give the comic any sort of closure, as has been the case for numerous titles throughout the industry, not just at Archie Comics. The publication of a licensed comic going for as long as Sonic the Hedgehog has is still unprecedented, and only in recent years have Archie and SEGA really begun to comprehend this. It’s been said more than once that SEGA’s input in the series currently far surpasses anything they did during Ken’s tenure, quite possibly wanting to avoid a situation where the interior of the comic book is in stark contrast with how the franchise is being portrayed in the games.

Though it’s uncertain if Ken ever thought about the possibility of his work being collected into a trade paperback, Mobius: 25 Years Later certainly feels like something that was meant to be released as a single volume at some point down the line, similar to how Archie have recently been collecting the Sonic the Hedgehog comics in its Archive and Selects books. While the issues 25 Years Later appeared in are still a ways away from being considered for inclusion, it wasn’t that long ago that almost the entirety of the storyline was published together in Issue #4 of the Sonic Super Special Magazine, a quarterly publication whose goal seems a bit all over the place, collecting random arcs of various quality.

For anyone who owns a copy of Issue #4, those in the know may have noticed two parts of the story missing: “Prologue,” which was covered in detail in our previous installment, and “Father’s Day,” the penultimate chapter which we’ll get to in due time. So for those who have only experienced the saga in magazine format, we’re reaching territory you are now familiar with as we once again journey into the world of Mobius: 25 Years Later
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Mobius: 25 Years Later: The Review, Part 1 – What’s Future Is Prologue

The American Superhero Comic Book. A strange enigma in the creative world that attempts to be the small, self-contained tales of yesteryear while also being a sprawling epic that will leave people talking for years to come. While many have attempted to find a balance, few have truly succeeded. Now, you could say that Ian Flynn‘s work on the Sonic the Hedgehog comic by Archie has attempted this formula, having smaller arcs and stand alone issues that build upon what he’s been doing with the comic since cleaning up all the various threads left by his predecessors. Even Archie has acknowledged this by compiling his work for the Sonic Saga line of graphic novels that are slowly being released. Discussing just how well he’s done could make an interesting article, but would be lacking until his tenure on the comic is over.

However, Ian wasn’t the first to use the Sonic comic book as a canvas to tell a much larger story. No, the first man to truly try and tackle this feat in the pages of the licensed series was Ken Penders. The name should not be unfamiliar to people who have read my previous articles on the front page, or even those who can’t help but watch the slowest moving trainwreak of our times. But there was a point not all that long ago when he was considered the architect of Sonic, even though he wasn’t the main writer for the flagship title during much of his time working under Archie. Still, many of his concepts and characters that he came up with became integral parts of what the other writers played with during the 90’s and early 2000’s. He would be the one fans turned to for sneak peaks and explanations of what was happening in the monthly adventures of everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog.

Though he clearly had a passion for Sonic in his writing as evidenced in the originally intended finale Endgame, Ken’s true baby was his Knuckles the Echidna line of comics. Starting with specials and mini-series, Knuckles was spun off into his own comic book that lasted for thirty-two issues before being unceremoniously canceled right before the Sonic Adventure adaptation (something I’ll get to eventually – I haven’t given up on the game adaptation reviews). Ken’s work did continue as back-up tales in the main Sonic series, and while he reveled in the continued adventures of the Floating Island, there was one arc that stood out in his mind. What he wanted to be his legacy and wrap up the Sonic series once and for all. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the first in the multi-part feature to look into Ken Penders’ “crown jewel” of storytelling: Mobius: 25 Years Later.
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Sonic the Hedgehog Archie Comic Book Series Cancelled After 24 Years

After 24 long years with plenty of ups and downs, the Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter confirmed today that the Archie Sonic series has finally been put to rest. This comes after months of silence from both parties as the series was put on hiatus after 290 at the end of 2016. The comic has run alongside Sonic since 1992 and featured characters from both the video games and the Saturday Morning Cartoon.
For those wanting to reminisce on Archie’s take of the games, check out “How Archie Played the Games”  and “Mobius: 25 Years Later,” by our very own David the Lurker.


How Archie Played The Games, Part 8: Of Abandoned Bases and Obscure Characters

Long before Sonic the Hedgehog was their mascot, SEGA was known the world over for their fantastic arcade outings. Space Harrier. Hang On. Out Run. Each game compelled whatever young mind was near to slide quarter after quarter into the cabinet, keeping the company relevant even while their home content, featured on the Sega Master System, was overtly eclipsed by the competition. Finally finding success in the console market in 1991 didn’t slow the videogame maker from producing titles for the arcade circuit, but it did raise the question of whether or not SEGA would deliver Sonic outside of the Mega Drive, making those crazy about The Most Famous Hedgehog In The World to venture outside the home and hunch over a static arcade cabinet.
Wanting to exploit the character that was to define them, SEGA was immediately aware of the demand. In 1991, they released a pair of early games exclusive to arcades, Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car and its spiritual successor, SegaSonic Cosmo Fighter Galaxy Patrol, two early attempts that were geared directly at a younger demographic. The first two 16-bit titles would also be retooled for arcade consumption, released on the Mega Play platform where players were given the same levels as the home version but with far shorter time limits.
It wasn’t until 1993 that the first dedicated arcade experience featuring the hedgehog was released, the aptly titled SegaSonic the Hedgehog. One look at the title screen made it clear it wasn’t just a rehash of home content, featuring two brand new characters joining Sonic in an isometric world where players had to use a trackball to get Sonic and his friends out of the never-ending trouble following them. Released at the height of Sonic’s popularity, the game was virtually ignored, in part because it was almost exclusively a Japanese title. Those few that were exported to the west came with Japanese vocals and text intact, and as such was overlooked by the writers of both Sonic comic books being published at the time.
In 1999, that all changed.
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How Archie Played The Games, Part 7: Of FLiCKIES and Remote Atolls

SonicBlastCoverBlue is Back!
Or at least, that’s how Sega of America wanted you to think back in 1996. Five years after the release of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, the western branches of the company were scrambling to celebrate Sonic’s first semi-prominent anniversary. The original plan was to release Sonic X-treme, the first true 3D game featuring everyone’s favorite hedgehog. The story behind that title’s cancellation has become the stuff of legend, not just infamous in this here part of the world but in the general gaming community. Without that title, Sega decided to heavily promote Sonic’s swan song on the Mega DriveSonic 3D: Flickies’ Island, also known as Sonic 3D Blast in the United States. With a port of the game hastily developed for the Sega Saturn, along with a similarly titled Game Gear game that was otherwise unrelated, the marketing blitz began.
It was only natural for Archie Comics to craft a comic adaptation of the newest game in the franchise. Not since issue thirteen’s “This Island Hedgehog” had Archie released a comic at around the same time as the source material it was promoting, SEGA’s huge push filtering into the otherwise left alone plotlines of Archie. Did this unique timing help the 48-page special become a masterpiece? Well, that would be giving it away, wouldn’t it? Either way, let’s strap ourselves in and experience the very last of Archie’s stand-alone specials. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I present to you our seventh piece of evidence…Sonic Blast.
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Comics, Community, Fan Works, Game News, Game Secrets, Sega Retro, Site News

Monday Links: Inaguration Dream Edition


Here in America, it’s Martin Luther King Jr’s Day. It’s also Inauguration Day for President Obama. If you’re a Fox Newscaster, today is probably the worst day of your life. But for everyone else, t’s an action packed day to let you guys know the up and up on whats been going on in today’s Monday Links. Oh man, whats that?


Retro News

  • The Sonic Hacking Contest for 2013 is underway! Deadline for submission is July 31st 2013. [Sonic Hacking Contest]
  • The Sonic 2 Beta Pirate Carts have been obtained by forum user egel [Sonic 2 Pirate Carts Found]
  • Sonic Fan Remix creator has been working on The 90’s Arcade Racer which is reminiscent of Daytona USA and has a Kickstarter [The 90’s Arcade Racer]
  • The Sonic inspired game Freedom Planet  also has it’s own Kickstarter page. You can download the demo to play it if you haven’t already. [Freedom Planet]
  • David continues his trek through Mobius – 25 Years Later. [Ken Penders]

Sonic & SEGA News

  • Sonic fan site Shadow of a Hedgehog is no longer which was popular for Sonic downloads. Pour one out for them, won’t you? [Goodbye to SoaH City]
  • Project X Zone, the Sega/Capcom/Namco crossover game is slated for release in North America and Europe [Project X Zone]
  • NiGHTS into Dreams, Jet Set Radio and House of the Dead OVERKILL: Extended Cut on sale for Sony’s 13 for ’13 Promotion [PSN’s 13 for ’13]
  • Ikaruga now available for Android devices. [Google Play]
  • The Cave from Ron Gilbert is out this week. [Double Fiiiiine]
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is out on 3DS this Feburary [Late Finish]
  • It also has exclusive characters for the PC version. [Shoguns, Football Managers and Team Fortress]

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