The 'Shroom:Issue 200/Archie Sonic Comic Shoebox
Hello, and welcome to a very special, very cursed new section presented for your reading pleasure. This section is going to be devoted to the various lore points in the long-running Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comic book, which was probably the most famous videogame comic book of all time. So, let's start with a little backstory. I had always had a passing interest in the Archie Comic book that I had read about as a kid, and I learned some of the plot points, but I had never actually read it. But that all changed this year when I stumbled upon it for free online and I started reading it. The more I read, the more I realized that the comic was full of a bunch of overly-complicated lore. Then, after a few nights of telling Rose Garden all about wild things happening in this comic book, I realized It needed to be a 'Shroom section. So here we are, a 'Shroom section about the many bananas things that happen in the comic. Now that we're here, for our first topic, I decided to go with probably the most impactful overly-complicated plot point: The Curious Case of the Two Robotniks/Eggmen.
For those of you who haven't read the Archie comic or have decided to block it out, you might be surprised to find out that, yes, the comic book features two distinct Robotniks/Eggmen as the primary villains. There actually is a pretty decent real-world reason for this (the lore is bananas), but we'll get into that a little bit later. For now, let's talk about the first Robotnik, Dr. Julian Robotnik. Based primarily (both in design and personality) on the Dr. Robotnik from the cartoon Sonic the Hedgehog, Dr. Robotnik undergoes a few personality shifts throughout the comic. In the early issues, while threatening, he's more of a comedic character, coming up with zany schemes to defeat Sonic and the Freedom Fighters, such as building robots out of Sonic's favorite comic book superheroes or challenging Sonic and friends to the Olympics.
In addition, he has a few other early comedic traits, such as his obsession with outlawing any and all fun. This leads to a pretty fun issue where his nephew Snively seeks out Sonic and the Freedom Fighters to play him and some swatbots in a game of hockey, because he's bored out of his mind. Dr. Robotnik also loves when his badniks refer to him as fat in the early comics. Now, a lot of these early comedic elements and zany schemes are present because the Sonic comic in it's first... I'd say... ten to twenty issues, is really a gag comic. There are no real serious storylines; it's just Sonic being totally radical and stopping whatever evil, evil plot Dr. Robotnik has hatched.
Now the interesting thing is, despite being somewhat comedic, the comic book also never shows Robotnik as anything but evil, and he's clearly a threat. Much like the cartoon the comic is based on, by the time of the comic's events, Robotnik has already won, but let's stop and talk about how he came to power first.
Born Julian Kintobor of House Ivo, he was born into an Overlander royal house (and, before you ask, no Overlanders are not humans! They're totally different for... uh, lore reasons!). In his early life, Julian was a weapons manufacturer for the Overlanders, and studied science under important character Nate Morgan (oh, we'll get to him!) During the great war, Julian was caught experimenting on his own people, and was sentenced, by his brother Colin, no less, to ten years in prison. Julian would eventually escape his imprisonment and, after narrowly avoiding being caught by the Overlanders, would find himself rescued by Jules and Chuck Hedgehog and brought to the Acorn Kingdom, where, using his knowledge of Overlander society, he would help the Mobians defeat the Overlanders in the great war. Secretly, though, he was plotting to take over the kingdom, a plan which he would activate along with his nephew Snively shortly after the war ended. Having been appointed Warlord of the Acorn Kingdom and having been given permission to disband the army with peace finally achieved, Julian would strike quickly, unleashing an army of robots, sending the king to the void, and turning almost every Mobian into a robot slave.
Now, by the time the comics take place, with his scheme complete, he controls 99% of the planet and has turned the vast majority of Mobians into robots. His only opposition is a handful of pockets of resistance from different Freedom Fighter groups that he is determined to stamp out. It's all but stated that, if he knew where their secret village was, he would easily be able to crush them. He's also portrayed as a cruel and tyrannical ruler. Not only has he turned almost everyone into mindless slaves, but he also destroys his own robots at the drop of the hat and he's an abusive uncle to Snively, the one living being usually in his company. Then, as the comic goes on, the comedic elements drop off and he starts to fully transform into the cartoon character, becoming a more sinister and evil character who occasionally even manages to get small victories over the Freedom Fighters (though they never last).
This new no-nonsense, results-driven nature of Dr. Robotnik is best exemplified in the last eleven issues of his run. Starting in issue 39, where he actually captures Sonic (well, actually, it was Nack the Weasel who captured him), Dr. Robotnik doesn't gloat. Instead, he simply turns Sonic into a robot and then sends him to not only give him the location of Knothole Village, but also to destroy the Freedom Fighters. Now this plan fails thanks to Metal Knuckles (don't ask), but Dr. Robotnik turns defeat into nearly ultimate victory. The final arc of the original Dr. Robotnik is a masterclass showing by the portly villain. Beginning in issue 46, Dr. Robotnik skillfully manipulates his foes en route to nearly achieving ultimate victory. It starts in issue 46, when the Freedom Fighters link up with a separate group called the wolf pack (who originate in the cartoons). In issue 47, Robotnik turns everyone against Sonic by tricking them into thinking that Sonic betrayed the Freedom Fighters, cutting Sally's (one of the group's leaders) rope when she was in trouble, leading her to fall to her "death". It was actually Hershey the Cat, thinking she was murdering Snively by cutting the rope (we'll cover this in more detail at some point), but nobody knows this. This leads to Sonic being sentenced to life imprisonment in the Devil's Gulag.
Of course, Sonic escapes, but, to be honest, that's really not a hindrance to Robotnik's plan (initially). You see, Robotnik had discovered the location of Knothole Village, then had kidnapped the family of Dr. Quack, the king's personal physician. With his leverage over Dr. Quack, Robotnic forced him to say the king had made a recovery from the effects of his void imprisonment, but in reality this king was a robot duplicate built by Robotnik to undermine the Freedom Fighters.
With Knothole Village captured and the few remaining obstacles at war with each other (Sonic and Dulcy fighting against Geoffrey St. John and the king's secret force), Robotnik can continue with his true plan, his ULTIMATE ANNIHILATION machine, a machine that will destroy all organic life but his own (and Snively's, I'd assume)! Of course, Sonic and company end up stopping Robotnik, blowing up the Ultimate Annihilator. With the machine damaged, Sonic and Robotnik faced off one last time as the machine exploded. The machine explodes fully, and Robotnik is killed in the blast, because Snively switched the machine to only target Robotnik's DNA. With that, the first Dr. Robotnik is dead!
He's actually dead, by the way. This isn't a fakeout, and he wasn't sent to the void or any other dimension. Nope, he's dead, and he's never coming back! So where does the comic go from here? Well, funnily enough, the original answer was "nowhere". Issue 50 was originally planned as the final issue, with the writers thinking they were going to be cancelled. But sales were still high, so they were just never cancelled! And so the comic just continued without Robotnik. Instead, the comic introduced new villains, like, a lot of them!
Here is a list of villains Sonic and friends fight in the absence of Robotnik:
- Snively Robotnik
- Mammoth Mogul (my personal favorite)
- Ixis Naugus
- Kodos and Uma Archnis
- The Iron Dominion (who I was honestly shocked showed up this early)
- The Sand Blaster Freedom Fighters.
So, as you can see, there were plenty of new OCs to fight Sonic, plus Ixis, who was from the cartoon! But sadly, all good things must come to an end, and, one day, somebody from Sega actually read one of these comic books and no doubt went "why is our main bad guy not in our Sonic comic?" And thus the writers were forced to reintroduce Robotnik! "But how did they do it," you ask? Did they take the classic comic book route and just bring the old one back to life? Nope! Instead they went with something a lot more convoluted!
So this next chapter, like all great chapters, begins in space! In issue 62, a mysterious spooky satellite floats around before coming online. This satellite would appear in a few issues, even causing a giant space squid to appear during a fight between a group of villains and the Freedom Fighters (they're fighting over important character Nate Morgan) in Issue 70. The satellite then reveals its connection to Dr. Robotnik in issue 72, when it hijacks a transmission and broadcasts a biography film about Dr. Robotnik in place of King Acorn's announcement. Then, at the end of the issue, we get the debut of our new Robotnik, Robo-Robotnik.
OR SO YOU WOULD THINK! Robo-Robotnik actually made his debut all the back in issue 22... or was it 19? Let me back up. In issue 19, a Robotnik from another dimension appears, chasing after the Sonic from his dimension. This Robotnik would then plot to conquer this Mobius (later known as Mobius Prime) as well, forcing an unlikely alliance between Robotnik Prime and Sonic as well as a bunch of other dimensions' Sonics. Then, in Issue 22, another interdimensional Robotnik appears, this one reduced to a program on a space satellite. Having been defeated by his universe's Sonic, this Robotnik is content to accept his loss and wait out the rest of his life until the satellite programming fails. That's the case, at least, until, one day, Robotnik Prime ends up temporarily displaced in this dimension and convinces Robo-Robotnik that it's never over and to keep fighting. Robo-Robotnik then manages to create another body and uses the leftover pieces from his giant mech to destroy all living beings on Mobius. Is the Robotnik in issue 22 the same as the one in issue 19? Ken Penders, who wrote both stories, says (and issue 75 confirms) that the Robo-Robotnik that appears in issue 19 is the same Robotnik that appears in issue 22, but Ian Flynn would later say that they weren't the same character. Not that it particularly matters, but I would lean more towards Ken Penders' side of this debate? Can you call it a debate? I mean, he wrote the damn thing, and the two being one-in-the-same is directly confirmed in the comic!
Anyways, Robo-Robotnik having killed everyone, found himself bored, left with nothing to destroy and nothing to rule. So, upon finding out about Robotnik Prime's death, he made his way to Mobius Prime to "fill the void". Initially, he retains the same appearance as the original Dr. Robotnik, but shortly after he appears in issue 75, his original body is destroyed in an explosion. He then uploads himself into a new body, now sporting the familiar look that he would have in the games and now calling himself Dr. Eggman.
Initially, Dr. Eggman kept his robotic form and even gained the ability to roboticize with a single touch. He wouldn't stay that way for long, though, as, in issue 118, he would be unroboticized by the Bem much to Eggman's displeasure. And before you ask no he cannot just roboticize himself again. The Bem made all Mobians immune to being Roboticized because science or something!
As a character, Dr. Eggman is more similar to his games counterpart than his predecessor, being a more whimsical and humorous character as opposed to the strict and humorless Julian Robotnik. Despite his more humorous qualities, Dr. Eggman is described (and shown to be) much crueler then Dr. Robotnik ever was. As opposed to Dr. Robotnik, who wanted to crush and rule over his enemies, Dr. Eggman treats his fights with Sonic and the Freedom Fighters as if it was a game, and just something to pass the time. Because of this, he oftentimes toys with his foes rather than outright crushes them. A great example of this is in issue 175, where, after kicking Sonic's ass with his Sonic-proof robot, he lets Sonic live so that he can live with his failure while he tortures his friends to death in his Egg Grapes (we'll get to them, oh, we'll get to them). Dr. Robotnik would have simply killed Sonic right then and there, but not Dr. Eggman! Naturally, this backfires on Dr. Eggman, and Sonic and friends end up defeating him and saving everyone, because... it's a Sonic comic. Dr. Eggman even, for the most part, laughs off the betrayals of subordinates such as Snively and Lien-Da, even rebuilding and upgrading Lien-Da after she attempts to betray him, telling her that her betrayal, much like Snively's, is "all part of the game" (issue 220).
That's really the basis for everything Dr. Eggman does; it's all a game to him to amuse him, and that amusement just so happens to be torturing people and destroying things. He even builds some robots that have the ability to feel fear just so he can torture them.
But yeah, Robo-Robotnik AKA Dr. Eggman, replaces the original Dr. Robotnik for the rest of the comic. He has an identical backstory and the fact that he's not the original Dr. Robotnik isn't mentioned very much later in the comic. Why? Because it's stupid and confusing! The original Dr. Robotnik does make one final appearance though, in issue 108, where he's brought back to life thanks to the effects of Chaos Knuckles (oh god, Chaos Knuckles!).
This is honestly probably one of my least favorite issues, because the big plot these two geniuses come up with is to trick the Freedom Fighters into thinking Dr. Eggman brought Dr. Robotnik back to life for his memories and is trying to kill him. As part of the plan, Dr. Robotnik comes to the Freedom Fighters for help. I don't know why they would think the Freedom Fighters would buy this? And they don't buy it! They know it's a trap and only follow it so they can destroy the machine keeping the original Dr. Robotnik alive. That would be the final appearance of the original Dr. Robotnik, but he was actually supposed to play a role in the Anonymous storyline, where it was going to be revealed he had come back to life and was now attempting to regain control of the Eggman Empire. But that never came to pass and the rest of the story follows Dr. Eggman fighting Sonic and controlling his Eggman Empire! So Dr. Robotnik comes back once and then never appears again, and Dr. Eggman keeps fighting Sonic. Even that alone sounds bananas, but as you can see now, the full story is even more bananas! Because the Archie Sonic comics do whatever they want! We've barely scratched the surface, so look out in the future because I might come back with more stories to tell!