Worlds Unite Weekly Reviews: FCBD's Worlds Unite Prelude

by Mighty No. X

Despite originating in games with some of the simpler stories out there, the Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man comics have a deep continuity and lore. It’s interesting to see what writer Ian Flynn thought was necessary to show to new readers coming into the crossover-- it might be enough to get new readers get up to speed, but whether the book will make readers want to read Worlds Unite is another story.

The comic is presented in a “flipbook” style, where one half of the book is dedicated to Mega Man, and one half is dedicated to Sonic. I’ll be focusing on the Sonic side first before moving to look at Mega Man.

Going into the last crossover, Worlds Collide, the Sonic comic had a rich history with almost twenty years of comics under its belt. Unfortunately for Flynn, former writer Ken Penders and Archie Comics engaged in a brutal lawsuit that forced Flynn to stop using elements created during Penders’ run, which included some of the most integral characters and plotlines in the comic. Consequently, the Sonic comics were completely rebooted following Worlds Collide.

Although Sonic almost successfully reset his universe at the end of Worlds Collide using Chaos Control, Eggman interfered and led their reality to collapse and reform. Many comic characters no longer existed, and characters like the Freedom Fighters received dramatic redesigns. Most significantly, almost the entire line of Sonic games had become literal canon to the comics world. It’s quite common in the newest Sonic comics to see a footnote along the lines of “play Sonic Heroes to learn about the backstory!” Although this is fine and even gratifying for hardcore Sonic fans, it makes entry into the comic for new fans harder.

Mirroring the plot of Sonic Unleashed, Sonic’s planet split into chunks in the aftermath of the reboot; the last few years of the book have been focused on collecting the Chaos Emeralds so as to put the world back in order. Flynn has rushed to introduce new characters and integrate previously game-exclusive characters, such as the ruthlessly pragmatic Honey the Cat.

The Sonic section of the Free Comic Book Day issue opens as Sonic and Eggman engage in a fight as the latter is trying to find someone who might know how to bring the world back together. Before anything decisive can happen, however, a giant portal opens and unleashed the Ifrit, an obscure villain who was defeated in an old Sonic game. Given that Tails and several other heroes have left for an arc in the Sonic Universe companion book, Sonic has to fight the Ifrit alone.

The task proves to be too much for Sonic to handle, until the time-traveling Silver the Hedgehog steps in to help him. Silver describes to Sonic the existence of “Genesis Portals,” which run through time and space.

Rather than defeat the Ifrit, Sonic succeeds in luring it through the portal, escaping, and having Silver close the portal.

In a flashback, Silver remembers discussing the portals with a professor from the future. As it turns out, the portals were created as a consequence of the botched Chaos Control at the end of Worlds Collide, essentially ripping the fabric of space-time. The final scene of the story shows Eggman conniving to take over the worlds that are linked through the Genesis Portals, having listened to Sonic and Silver’s conversation. Unlike in Worlds Collide, it seems like Eggman has no knowledge of what is to happen, let alone control over the situation.

The next two pages of the book give a simple summary of Worlds Collide and Sonic’s goal of collecting all the Emeralds to unite the world, closing out the Sonic side of the book. There is an ad for the Sonic Boom comic, but no explanation given as to what Sonic Boom is-- an odd move, since Sonic Boom is included in the crossover.

On to the Mega Man side. The book jumps into talking about Xander Payne; rather than having an entirely new story, like for the Sonic side, this side is simply a collection of panels from previous Mega Man books. The only “new” content is a series of text boxes consisting of commentary from Rock himself.

After starting with the page of Payne discussing Worlds Unite in his cell at the end of Dawn of X, Rock remembers the first time he met Payne, during the very first arc of the comic (one of the soldiers from the first arc of the book had been retconned into being Xander Payne).

The next few pages hail from the Spiritus Ex Machina arc, detailing Payne’s ascension to the leadership of the Emerald Spears, his escape from the convention center, and subsequent reappearance at the New Year’s Eve celebration. Rock then moves onto the events of Dawn of X, thinking that whatever Payne saw while time traveling drove him completely insane. The final two pages detail the Mega Man and Mega Man X stories in very brief detail, with an emphasis on the Dawn of X arc.

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Ian Flynn is doing a ridiculous amount of comic writing these days: The main Sonic the Hedgehog book, Sonic Universe, Sonic Boom, and Mega Man, plus occasional spinoff Sonic stories for different comic anthologies. It’s not surprising, then, that the FCBD Sonic story feels a little rushed and hastily thrown together. The dialogue flows poorly-- in particular, a series of painfully lame time-based puns on Sonic’s behalf seem to have slipped by any sort of editing process.

At the same time, however, the story also shows the comic’s intimidating continuity. In just a few pages the story throws in a villain from a Sonic game almost no one played or remembers and references events in both the Sonic and Sonic Universe books. Given that Flynn will be including the Freedom Fighters and other comic-exclusive characters in the crossover, it’s disappointing that they are nowhere to be found here, especially since the FCBD book is designed to bring newcomers up to speed. The story’s pencil work is reasonable but isn’t of the quality usually seen in the main books themselves.

I love Flynn’s work with the Mega Man book and think that it is usually better than any of the Sonic titles. Unfortunately, the Mega Man side of the FCBD issue is a mess. People who have already read the series will have little interest in revisiting things about Payne they already know, and just focusing on Payne does little to familiarize new readers with the wider Mega Man world. Much of what makes Payne an effective character is his interplay with classic characters like Dr. Light; his story isn’t particularly enjoyable to read when taken out of context.

Although the last pages do introduce X, they come after the story itself; new readers will have no idea who X is when Payne encounters him towards the end of the flashbacks. Although the solicitations have already shown Payne to have a massive role in Worlds Unite, I just don’t think this was the right way to get people to enter the crossover.

I am hopeful for the crossover itself; it seems like an incredibly ambitious plan that will be a lot of fun to read if successful, or at least a novelty if it ends up being a mess. Although the FCBD issue leaves much to desire, it should hopefully have no bearing on the arc itself.

Easter Egg Watch:

  • Sonic and Eggman fight in Blue Coast Zone, which hails from Sonic Rivals 2 for the PlayStation Portable, the same game in which the Ifrit appeared. Blue Coast Zone is listed as being in Apatos, tying it with the geography established in Sonic Unleashed.

  • Xander Payne was originally just a one-off cameo reference to the Player 1 "Unknown Soldier" character from an old Capcom game called Forgotten Worlds. Flynn admitted in a recent Q and A session online that the character was retroactively tied into Payne.

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Mighty No. X is a member of The Mega Man Network's User Content Submission System, and the views expressed here reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mega Man Network.