Fans of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man comics were in for a treat during the publisher's Sonic and Mega Man panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego 2012 as the news broke that the two fan-favorite franchises will join forces up for a monumental crossover event.
As Archie Comics president Mike Pellerito shared his joy about the news, he recalled his days as former "Sonic the Hedgehog" editor ten years ago when he and artist Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante dreamed of doing a Sonic/Mega Man crossover -- but back then, it was a huge long shot the two properties would ever come together.
"'It'll never happen, don't get your hopes up. Could you imagine what would happen if we put these two characters together?,'" Pellerito recalled saying to Spaziante. "Then years later, I hand off the book to Paul [Kaminski] and he gets to live my greatest dream ever."
Sonic and Mega Man editor Kaminski said Capcom and Sega contacted him and asked if Archie Comics was interested in publishing a crossover between the two titles. Kaminski said, "Yes."
The fans in attendance at the morning panel, many of whom were cosplaying in Sonic or Mega Man inspired outfits, were generally enthusiastic about the news and promotional images showed, which depicted elements from both franchises teasing the event, slated to kick off in "Mega Man" #24 in March 2013.
"The way that these two universes come together is going to be a big part of the story and it's going to tie in to some familiar elements," said Kaminski, who added that a lot of the story will stem from the pages of the Sonic titles. "The way these two universes collide is going to be spectacular and it's not going to be all rosy."
According to Kaminski, exploring the interaction between Sonic and Mega Man will be something to look forward to -- if only because each hero approaches every situation differently than the other.
"[Sonic and Mega Man] together is this weird combination; it's like this Superman and Flash sort of thing," Kaminski said. "It's interesting and a lot of fun to read from Ian [Flynn's] synopsis." He then held up the actual script for everyone to see. "I've got it right here and none of you can have it yet."
The 12-issue event spans across three titles beginning with "Mega Man," then "Sonic Universe," followed by "Sonic the Hedgehog" with one book released each week.
Kaminski added that if readers only read one title they will not be left out in the dark with the story, but they do encourage everyone to pick up the whole event.
Sonic artist Evan Stanley said both universes have a lot in common and that she is looking forward to series writer Ian Flynn's scripts. "I trust Ian's writing 100 percent and I am so excited to see what he has planned," said Stanley, who wore a Sonic hat during the panel.
Kaminski also stated the team was excited to explore the relationship between Dr. Wily and Eggman, the two franchise villains, seeing as their plans are constantly foiled by a blue protagonist.
"The Wily/Eggman situation is awesome," said Sonic artist Jon Gray. "You've got two bald guys with two mustaches -- both mad scientists. You can't go wrong with that."
Kaminski joked that he wants to see an image of Wiley and Eggman riding "a bicycle built for two," which prompted the audience to shout out what they would like to see the two mad professors doing.
In addition to the Sonic/Mega Man crossover, there were other developments announced for both the Sonic family of titles and the "Mega Man" ongoing series.
The quarterly magazine "Sonic Super Special" will include posters, which many fans have long been asking for. Issue #5 will be on sale in November and will come with 24 pull-out posters, including the popular "Sonic the Hedgehog" #225 double gatefold cover. "Sonic Super Special" #4 is available now and features the complete "Mobius: 25 Years Later" storyline.
Images were shown of upcoming variant covers for "Sonic the Hedgehog" issues #240 and #241, which Kaminski said will be a really key issue for Sonic fans. The issue, releasing October 16, is the culmination of many key plot threads for the series.
Archie also announced "Sonic Saga Series" for September, which allows fans and new readers to experience the beginning of current story arcs starting with "Darkest Storm." The second installment in the series will be titled "Order From Chaos," available spring 2013. According to Kaminski, "Sonic Saga Series" is a great starting point for new fans to get onboard with the comic with a clear jumping-on point to catch up with modern Sonic story arcs.
One of the biggest announcements of the panel was the "Complete Sonic Encyclopedia," a massive guide to all things Sonic hitting stores this fall.
"Throughout the years we've done data profile pages of all the various characters for a book that's been running for almost 250 issues," said Gray. "We've got a lot of characters and a lot of settings and all that kind of stuff so the encyclopedia is a companion book that showcases pretty much every body."
The encyclopedia boasts accurate data files of all the robots, characters, heroes, villains, cities, countries and more -- everything die-hard Sonic fans could want. "It's going to be great, especially for those who like to have the little minute details right there on hand," said Gray.
The panel also discussed current issue story arcs, including the new "Sonic Universe" arc that begins in issue #41. A Ben Bates variant cover was available exclusively at CCI to launch the "Secret Freedom Fighters" storyline in "Sonic Universe."
"It's also a secret agent story and you're going to see a lot of awesome fire wizard action and spy stuff," said Kaminski. The story line will break the characters into different teams that will complete individual missions.
Meanwhile, the new "Mega Man" story arc will be introduce a few new villains to the series, and antagonist Protoman will get an origin story in "Mega Man" #17 and #18, which will carry over into the crossover. Kaminski took the opportunity to thank fans for supporting the book.
"The Mega Man title has been going really strong," he said. "We went through the first two games roughly in the timeline, touched up on some powered up elements, and introduced some original characters."
Pellerito also announced that Mega Man now has a digital comics app, which includes some free content for the launch. A Sonic comics app is already available for download.
"The digital stuff is really important because Archie's main goal is to be available to everyone, anywhere, and that includes Sonic and Mega Man," said Pellerito, who noted the publisher wants to make its books as accessible as possible.
As the panel ended, Archie's recent "New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes" by Red Circle Comics was handed as a freebie to panel attendees. The digital-first comic series debuted its first print issue at the CCI Red Circle Comics panel at CCI 2012. The first issue is currently available for download from the Red Circle Comics app. Kaminski wrapped the panel by saying fans of the Sonic and Mega Man franchises would most likely be interested in the superhero team-driven series.