Since I’m about to review the Archie run of Sonic comics, including re-reviewing comics I reviewed back when they first came out in the early days of BW Media Spotlight to see how they hold up, this seems like the right video to get into.

Ken Penders has not been a good match for Sonic and his cast. While he did admittedly create a great extended universe his actions in more recent years have scrapped the whole thing, and frankly you’ll be seeing a bunch of issues I had with the Archie comics at some point because Penders would go in a direction that actually caused me to drop the title for years. However, it’s the various legal battles he’s held against Archie and Sonic’s creators at Sega that have earned him the scorn of the Sonic fandom and it just keeps getting worse.

In the following video by Comic Drake, the host goes over the history of Ken Penders, his strange obsession with the characters he created for Sonic The Hedgehog and other Archie Sonic titles, and the legal battles that caused Archie to pull a major reboot of the Sonic universe they created. I of course have my own thoughts on the matter. Note there’s a bit more swearing than you’re used to in a BW post but it’s all in the video and Penders is kind of deserving of it.

I think Drake just wanted to show off his manly physique in that intro. 😀 I’m not sure how hoodie pajamas are less hot than the vest suit but my vests were usually sweater vests. They actually worked for me. Seriously, I looked pretty good.

Anyway all this is part of the reason I can’t get into the Sonic series from Archie anymore, though there are a few standalone tales I may actually keep in my comic library post-review…like stories involving Tails because he’s my favorite character in the franchise. The problem is that some of this stuff got too weird even for me. The comic also lost its appeal for me once Robotnik was finally defeated. It all became more teen drama stuff, focusing on romance and character while a few remaining threats would trouble our heroes. The biggest issue was that the King turned out to be a real jerk. Penders didn’t create King Acorn; he came from the Saturday morning show Sonic The Hedgehog. The Archie run actually started as a merger like we saw in today’s comic review: the characters and concept came more from the “SatAM” show but the tone was closer to the more comedic syndicated run, Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog, though over time the SatAM tone took over and the comic was better for it. There would even be a crossover years later with the third Sonic cartoon Sonic Underground. The merged tone never worked for me but at least it was the good guys fighting the bad guys.

I won’t go over every problem that niggled me here because that’s the reviews are for, and frankly they only bother me more as my comic collection has gotten way too large and I seriously need to cut it down. Plus at the time there were more things I liked than didn’t like, but eventually I game up on the series. I came back when Ian Flynn took over but if you look through the “This Week’s Reviews” and “Today’s Comic” reviews I did when they came out that had flaws too. They took way too long with the Mecha Sally plot and I’m not even sure that was resolved after the Mega Man crossover (Archie had been doing an adaptation of the Mega Man games at the time), which is when I dropped Archie Sonic altogether. I have seen a few of his stories for the IDW run thanks to Free Comic Book Day offerings so I am curious to see what the main story is like. I’ve heard good things.

I’m kind of curious what I’m going to think about the Knuckles solo stories in this re-read because I remember enjoying them at the time. When the series ended the story continued as a back-up in Sonic’s comic. There were some good ideas in there, and this is what inspired Penders to pull it out of the Archie Sonicverse because he really wanted to have control over this. This is where I have to disagree with Drake.

While I also normally support creator’s rights, as a creator myself, Penders’ actions really screwed over the readers. He didn’t just want to get royalties on his characters, which would have had a negative impact on Archie’s profits in the various titles (they’ve had anywhere from one to three Sonic titles at the same time, though one of these was the unrelated tie-in to Sonic X, plus numerous one-shot specials and game adaptations somehow set in the Archie continuity), he wanted the characters themselves for the project that never began. Using a Sonic Super Special as the comics version of a backdoor pilot to The Lost Ones was one thing and the story was an Image crossover (Image being the company that published The Lost Ones), but taking all of the Knuckles supporting cast, and even making a knock-off Knuckles, hurt the comics for the readers, and screwing over fans will come back to bite you. It’s one of the reasons they don’t like him.

So while comics publishers have been screwing over their creators since almost the beginning of original comic books long before Archie Comics Publications (and yes, what they did to Dan DeCarlo is apprehensible) Penders actually gave them incentive and a defense to continue doing so “for the readers”. Penders himself noted that these should be owned by Sega and still decided he wanted them and took advantage of Archie’s screw-ups. Compare it to Marvel wanting to keep Circuit Breaker with them rather than Hasbro and so had her first appearance not in the pages of The Transformers but in Secret Wars II as a blatant cameo to keep the character a Marvel property, meaning even the heroine of The Lost Ones and the X-Files knockoffs used in the Image crossover could be considered Sega property in the same was Circuit Breaker would have been for Hasbro . Law of unintended consequences may have led to Archie and other publishers learning from this in a way that will hurt creators in the future. So I’m not with Archie on this one but I am with the fans of the comic. Either way I’m not with Penders.

By the way, if you’re curious about The Lost Ones, Linkara did a review recently. He even references the Comic Drake video you possibly just watched.

And yes, the title from this article did come from that line by Drake in the outro.

We’ll be taking a closer look at the issues of Archie’s Sonic run I have. There are huge chunks and huge gaps but none of it matters anymore. It’s sad when the guy arguably responsible for its ascent is also responsible for it’s fall.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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