Sonic and Mega Man have some obvious similarities. They’re both iconic blue video game heroes that battle robots created by mustachioed evil scientists. They started their careers on the opposite sides of the track, with Mega Man exclusively on Nintendo systems and Sonic on Sega’s hardware. Over the years those barriers collapsed, and the two eventually graced the same systems.
Sonic’s modern video game exploits may be polarizing, but Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comic series has been thriving for over 20 years. It’s the longest-running game-based comic series ever. It even spawned a successful offshoot called Sonic Universe. Capcom joined the Archie family in 2011 with a new Mega Man series that became a fast favorite of new and lifelong Blue Bomber fans. Now Archie is making history by crossing the streams of these legendary video game franchises. I chatted with Archie Comics writer Ian Flynn and executive director of editorial Paul Kaminski about the exciting collaboration.
Unlike Archie’s history with Sonic, Capcom actually approached the publisher to start work on the Mega Man comic, which Flynn describes as “something you dream of.” Capcom was so impressed with Archie’s work on the Sonic the Hedgehog series that the company wanted something for its iconic hero.
Flynn even got a head start on the Mega Man series before Capcom contacted Archie. “It was certainly in the back of Ian’s mind because when I called to tell him that I had gotten this call from Capcom he had bombarded me, I think that same night, with how the story’s going to work like this, and here’s all the breakdowns, and here’s this fight sequence,” Kaminski says. “And I’m like, ‘Have you been writing this in your spare time?’ Usually when you ask something like that of Ian the answer is always, ‘Yes, do you want 12 more packets?’”
From the start, the Sonic the Hedgehog comic introduced new characters like the Freedom Fighter’s fearless leader Princess Sally and the cowardly Antoine. Mega Man closely follows the flow of the original NES games, but injects new characters and plot points that facilitate character development and make the overall story more engaging. The narrative of early Mega Man games is practically non-existent, so Flynn injects interesting story elements like Dr. Light and Dr. Wily’s history as partners or a radical anti-robotics group rigging a convention center with explosives.
I asked what it was like fleshing out Mega Man’s sparse story, and quickly learned Flynn approaches the simple premise with surprising reverence.
Flynn says that the story of Mega Man “…becomes this deeply moving, heartbreaking scenario because here you have this eight-year-old boy who was designed only to help in a lab, and when the entire world is falling apart he says, ‘Weaponize me, I want to help.’ That degree of selflessness and self-sacrifice is – it gets you right here, man.”
“Capcom had already laid the groundwork for us, I just had to figure out how to make all the dots connect in a way that made sense, so writing is a breeze for the most part,” Flynn says.
Video game publishers can be very protective about how their properties – especially their mascots – are handled by third parties. Surprisingly, Sega and Capcom were both on board with the cross-over from the beginning.
“It was kind of like a dream come true,” Flynn says. “You would think getting two companies to come together with these long and revered franchises, it would be hard to get them to play ball with one another. But Capcom who initiated, Sega was immediately cool with it, and we just ran with it.”
The 12-issue Sonic & Mega Man: Worlds Collide crossover runs are already underway and it runs through August. It takes place across the Sonic the Hedgehog (#248, #249, #250, #251), Sonic Universe (#51, #52, #53, #54), and Mega Man (#24, #25, #26, #27) comic lines. Flynn and Kaminski promise fans are in for a wild ride even if they haven’t been keeping up with the blue heroes’ comic exploits.
“If all you know about Sonic and Mega Man are the games, you’ll be able to pick up and jump into this story no problem whatsoever,” Flynn says. “Hopefully you will enjoy how we tell those stories and you’ll stick around for when we get back to the regular continuity when the crossover is finished. “
Archie is teasing a grand battle between Mega Man and Mecha Sonic on one cover, and say Wily and Robotnik will be riding a tandem bicycle sipping non-alcoholic mimosas on another.