How Archie Comics Lost the Rights to Sonic the Hedgehog Characters

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Sonic the Hedgehog is best known for its games, but there’s also another medium it’s quickly conquered: comic books. In the 1990s, the Blue Blur made the leap from Genesis to the magazine rack, receiving a monthly comic strip from Archie Comics. The series was beloved by fans, introducing tons of characters and concepts from outside the games. Unfortunately, some of these characters may never be seen again.

The beginning of the end for Sonic at Archie began after a gruesome lawsuit, the legal ramifications of which involved the elimination of over 200 original characters! These”Sonic“The characters now belong to a man who has become hated by the show’s fandom, despite having his own plans with them that don’t involve Sega or Archie. Here’s how Sonic lost many of his friends to a far greater threat than Robotnik.

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What was the impact of Ken Penders on Sonic the Hedgehog Comics?


Sonic and Metal Sonic

When the series began in 1993, the Archie Comics sonic the hedgehog was a fairly simplistic and silly book, much like the The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon of the time. That would start to change, however, once Kenneth Penders, Jr. began his title run, starting with issue #11. sonic the hedgehog video games, especially because Penders hadn’t really played them. He will also write the entire spin-off Knuckles the echidna comic book, where he would really impact the continuity of the books.


Instead of making Knuckles the only surviving echidna, Penders introduced a whole mythology behind his actually surviving people, which was very obviously based on DC Comics’ Superman and other Kryptonians. Knuckles was reimagined as a Chosen One whose greatness had been told to his father years before in a dream, causing Knuckles’ father, Locke, to irradiate Knuckles’ egg and give him superpowers. The role of the echidnas, namely father and Knuckles’ girlfriend/wife, Julie-Su, was far more important to Ken Penders than anything that actually involved Sonic. Sonic’s intelligent characterization at the time was likely a reason behind this, which is why so many otherwise questionable adults are written off as wise and deserving of respect over the brash speedster.


Several controversial scenarios would be used, including the arguably abusive origin story of Knuckles, the apparent death of Sally Acorn, as well as the actual death of the original Dr. Robotnik/Eggman. A story was given explaining that a gene bomb was responsible for the rise of anthropomorphic animals on the planet Mobius, which was generally believed to be a future version of Earth. All of these concepts contradicted the games, especially since Sega moved to 3D Sonic Adventure time. Penders’ interest in what he could use the franchise as a vehicle would soon come to a head, but Archie Comics wouldn’t come out unscathed.


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Lara-Su-Chronicles (1)

Penders left the main book with sonic the hedgehog #159, though he has particular feelings about how his characters should be used. Of course, many of those rules were ignored, and the vitriol it caused is likely what prompted him to sue Archie and Sega for the rights to the Sonic characters he created for the first. Another reason was that the characters in spin-off video games Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood were apparently reminiscent of the Black Legion echidnas that Penders created, drawing his legal ire. Archie intended to quickly win the court battle by showing Ken’s original employment contract, but they were unable to produce it beyond a supposedly “doctored” copy. Thus, Ken Penders now legally owned 227 characters once linked to the sonic the hedgehog franchise, despite the fact that many, like Locke and Julie-Su, were heavily tied to characters that Sega legally owned.


Sega and Archie could legally use the characters afterward, but only in a capacity approved by Penders, in which he would also receive royalties. Instead of going with this option, Archie Comics instead took a page from the same DC Comics that Penders ripped off, sparking a line-wide continuity reboot. This erased all references or history involving the Penders characters, who were never used again during the remaining term of Archie’s possession of the Sonic comic license.

Ken Penders’ current plans with his “Sonic“characters include a rather dubious graphic novel original series called The Lara-Su Chronicles. This would feature Knuckles’ Sega-owned daughter, the Echidna, though their species is now the alien Echyd’nya. So far, nothing has come out of the book, though the fact that Penders owns his character stable has certainly put a damper on Archie’s popularity. Sonic comic. Comic rights to the property now belong to IDW, with strict mandates given by Sega to prevent another Ken Penders situation from happening again.



Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog

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