Looking at the comic book as a whole, it’s pretty clear that the entire staff – not just Ken Penders – had some trouble transitioning to the Sonic Adventure era of the franchise. After all, Sonic the Hedgehog was based primarily on the Saturday morning series, which featured characters and settings far removed from the video games. Even characters like Dr. Robotnik were extremely different, his visual appearance and chilling vocals as far removed from the Dr. Eggman design as one could get. Even though Robotnik had been briefly retired, when word came from the licensing department that the newest game was to be adapted in the pages of the series, the staff was given a tremendous challenge. How would one reconcile the anthropomorphic world of a polluted and corrupted Mobius with the human-friendly, pristine world of Sonic Adventure?
The answer? Not very well. Having Station Square be a human city hidden in a mountain and protected from the gene bomb that wiped out most of humanity millennia before, there was already an ominous cloud over everything. Intent on adapting the game as closely as possible, the most ridiculous plot devices were used. Alternate robot bodies, magic rings aging characters, and Super Emeralds somehow able to create buckles on shoes that didn’t already have them…
The hardest hit, though, had to be Ken. Here was a man who, regardless of how you feel about his work, had spent years creating this entire world for Knuckles the Echidna from scratch. Then one day, you’re told that your carefully crafted history has to be pushed aside to include the backstory for Knuckles as introduced in Adventure. The story of Pachacamac, Tikal and Chaos contradicted Ken’s take on the creation of Angel Island at every turn. Coupled with the cancellation of Knuckles’ solo series, it comes through that Ken was writing something his heart wasn’t in. His long-term plans for characters that weren’t even his had to be changed, and pet projects like the original Knuckles: 20 Years Later were put on indefinite hold. Having grown a garden in one place and then being told that you’re actually supposed to be making taffy? That has to take a toll on anyone.
It wouldn’t surprise me if, in some regard, Ken resents Sonic Adventure and the elements he was forced to play with.