In comic books, fans are used to "retcons" and "reboots." In an effort to keep characters young and stories fresh, publishers find creative ways to erase or revise years of continuity to give their universes a new start.
But who would have thought Sonic the Hedgehog would be in need of a reboot?
Beginning this June, "Sonic: Genesis," a four-part storyline in the main Sonic the Hedgehog title, is being touted as a possible reboot for the Sonic universe and its characters. The solicitation for the first issue, Sonic #226, surprised fans by stating, "It's an all new beginning!"
And that surprise came right after a variant cover for issue #225 revealed that a Sonic cast member will apparently die.
It may sound a little ominous for an all-ages title. But as readers of the comic know, Sonic the Hedgehog is more serious and complex than its whimsical covers imply.And after more than 200 issues of material — the comic is in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest running comic book series based on a video game — Sonic's publisher, Archie Comics, has years of confusing history to contend with, and fans are longing for a simpler version of Sonic.
"As with any long-running series, you’re going to generate a lot of continuity," said Ian Flynn, who's writing the "Genesis" storyline. "On top of that, the Sonic comics were created back when there was a stark division between the Western and Eastern marketing campaigns, only for them to be unified in 1999, which created drastic shifts in the property’s tone and art direction. The Sonic books have weathered all these changes and incorporated a little bit of everything, but despite the best efforts of all the creatives over the years, not everything has perfectly meshed.
"There’s always that temptation to start over, take the best of what we have, and move forward in a new, more cohesive direction. Sonic: Genesis is an experiment in that direction," said series writer Ian Flynn. “That, and SEGA was interested in us doing something special to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the franchise."
That 20th anniversary is echoed by the storyline's title, "Genesis," which harkens back to the original games featured on the old SEGA Genesis. "It was a simpler time when it was just Sonic fighting Dr. Eggman, bopping badniks and saving little animals," Flynn explained. "Like those early games, 'Sonic: Genesis' is going back to a simpler premise than what’s running in the main series."Flynn also pointed out that, because it's acting as a reboot, "Genesis" is a great point for new readers to check out Sonic.
"If you’ve never picked up a Sonic book before, now would be a great time to jump in. You don’t need to know anything about Sonic to pick up and enjoy the arc," he said. "Long-time readers will want to pick it up as well, to pick up on clues on how the characters return to their old selves."
Fan-favorite artist Patrick “Spaz” Spaziante will be contributing to the interior art on "Genesis," which begins in Sonic the Hedgehog #226. "Genesis" will not involve the spin-off title, Sonic Universe, which will be following a story about Scourge the Hedgehog in an interdimensional prison. "It'll be removed from the event in its own self-contained arc," Flynn said.
The "Genesis" event will continue in the main Sonic title through the summer, ending with Issue #229."After that, we'll be picking up where we left off in Sonic the Hedgehog #225," Flynn said, hinting that the premise of "Genesis" will not completely alter the main title's universe. "But there will some serious ramifications, namely the life of one character will hang in the balance."
Flynn didn't want to indicate what characters might be affected after "Genesis" ends. "Since this is a reboot," he said, "seeing who comes back and how is part of the surprise."