“Crossover Clashes” is a new feature from me that focus on, well, various major crossovers and my opinion on them. Whether it’s an episode of a TV show, a film, comic series or otherwise, if it’s two or more major properties interacting I’ll be seeking it out!
For the inaugural edition, we’ll be looking at the first meeting between video game icons Mega Man (better known as Rockman in Japan) and Sonic the Hedgehog, in a funny yet action packed, surprisingly intense and dramatic miniseries from Archie Comics that pits them against their mad scientist archrivals.
“Worlds Collide” is part of a lead-in to a retcon of Archie’s Sonic universe. Due to a series of legal complications (which is a long story in itself), starting with issue #252 the editors unfortunately had to axe a number of original characters that had been created for the series over the years (poor, poor Elias Acorn). So as of now, the focus is on Sonic, a bulk of the SEGA cast, the Freedom Fighters from Sonic’s acclaimed ABC show, and a few post-Genesis Wave characters. Still a pretty big lineup to be fair, and Mega Man’s allies and enemies are also along for the ride.
The situation is kickstarted by Dr. Wily discovering a blue Chaos Emerald in his realm, hurled there by the effects of a prior Genesis Wave. After hooking up with Dr. Robotnik (better known as “Eggman” to some fans, or “Buttnik” by our azure hero), the two spark up a fast friendship. One can easily tell they’re both trying to keep their egos in check, but initially, they’re both in awe by the other’s genius and capability for evil. It doesn’t take long for their teamwork to put a toll on the teenage hedgehog and robot, as they plot to use the Wave to take over their respective worlds.
Through an insidious combination of their engineering skills. Eggman and Wily manage to transform a number of Sonic’s pals into not just simple Badniks, but full fledged “Robot Masters” in the vein of the bosses Mega Man battles at the end of his levels. (Even as a deadly killing machine, Tails still manages to stay adorable.)
Unsurprisingly, Sonic quickly assumes the Blue Bomber to be another one of Robotnik’s creations when he first lays eyes on him. And to be fair, if you spent nearly your entire life battling mechanical monsters and practically everything technological has tried to kill you, wouldn’t you be suspicious too? Nevertheless, once the two heroes have battled to a stalemate, along with Mega Man’s mentor Doctor Light they figure out the two scientists’ evil plan and get to work saving the day.
The plot of Worlds Collide is pure action, deliberately designed to feel as if Sonic and Mega Man are gradually progressing through levels. But throughout the mayhem, writer Ian Flynn gives a good amount of heart to both characters, with Sonic of course having the larger ego of the two. In one of the funniest moments, Tails can’t help but comment on Sonic’s vanity in comparison to Mega Man’s more straight-arrow nature. Still, the Archie version of Sonic is far warmer than, say, his more prickly Fleetway incarnation, and Mega Man is an appealing boy hero who has both his badass and empathetic moments. A number of side characters get some focus, most notably Blues/Proto Man having to deal with the goofy Chaotix, but the focus is mostly on the main hero and villain pairings.
Fight scenes always feel cohesive and well structured in Worlds Collide. Ben Bates’s art direction is well suited for both action scenes and character development, and both his Sonic and Mega Man cast are rendered cleanly with good expressions. His Sonic particularly stands out by how lively he feels- a deceptively difficult character to draw properly, but the payoff is worth it. The visual style of the Archie Sonic comic to be fair has become more strictly SEGA-influenced (extending even to the Freedom Fighters, who looked fairly Disney-esque in SatAM), but Bates works within it well enough to make Worlds Collide visually pop.
Overall, Worlds Collide has a rather simplistic story, but it serves as a jumping point for some interesting developments, and is also just a fun first meeting between two figures crucial to many people’s childhoods. If you can find a copy of the collections, I can easily recommend it if you’re looking for a diversely entertaining all-ages comic book!