Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man panel kicked off in style at Comic-Con International in San DIego with an 8-bit beat soundtrack playing under a trailer of things to come in the wake of the current "Worlds Collide" crossover event.
"I've been working on this story for over a year now, and I still get excited watching that trailer," said Paul Kaminski panel host and Editor of both "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Mega Man." Other panelists included "Sonic," "Sonic Universe" and "Mega Man" writer Ian Flynn, Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito and artists Ryan Jampole, Jon Gray and Evan Stanley. The main topic of discussion was, of course, the conclusion of "Worlds Collide" and what happens to all three titles in the event's fallout.
"About three months before Archie got the Mega Man license, I thought a Sonic/Mega Man crossover would never happen," Flynn said. "But I plotted one out anyway because I thought it'd be fun. Then, Capcom said they wanted to do a crossover with Sonic."
"So the crossover's great, but lets talk about the aftermath beginning this fall," Kaminski said, passing the buck to new "Sonic the Hedgehog" artist beginning with issue #252, Evan Stanley.
"The story arc's titled 'Countdown to Chaos,'" she said. "I've been following the crossover and have a great responsibility of reintroducing everyone to Sonic and it's exciting. What's important for me is, while there have been a lot of changes happening, making sure the heart and soul of the book remains -- that it's back in a new light that's refocused."
"'Chaos' is going to shock you, but issue #256 is the one that shocks the most," Kaminski stated. "Some of the most fun I have is trying to make Rotor as cool as possible -- and now he's back."
"We've been away from the Freedom Fighters for so long and leading up to the crossover they went through a whole lot -- the team was torn apart," Flynn said. "'Countdown to Chaos' is bringing back the Freedom Fighters. It's been too long and it's the right moment to bring them back and see what they've been up to.
"We started building up how Doctor Eggman's soldiers were organized leading up to the crossover," Flynn continued. "Now his army has some structure and we're introducing into the ranks a lot of new characters and robots that are far more than just your standard bad guy."
"You'll be seeing answers to questions left dangling before the crossover began," Kaminski added.
On designing and redesigning Tails Doll, Evans said, "I thought, how can I make it as horrible as possible without getting censored, but Paul never stopped me. Tails Doll has a whole new look for issue #252 for reasons you'll find out later."
"As for 'Sonic Universe,' Tracy Yardley is returning to writing Sonic comic books," Kaminski said. "He's writing a story that's a sequel to 'Treasure Team Tango' and takes place on Blaze the Cat's world. You'll also be seeing more of Bean and Bark -- it's a piratey tale with swashbuckling adventures. And Captain Metal. For those of you who think you know his origin, you are right."
"When writing Bean, I access my inner-crazy person," Flynn said. "He has to be funny."
Kaminski then pulled attention to Archie's collected editions of "Sonic" material, announcing that the "Worlds Collide" storyline will be collected in three different volumes beginning this fall. "If I get my way, we'd do a collection of all 12 chapters," he said.
"That's up to them!" Pellerito repsonded, waving toward the crowd.
Also on the way is "Sonic Super Special Magazine" #8, which containc a sticker book, and in issue #9, 20 pages of prequel material to "Sonic Lost World," the new videogame from SEGA and Nintendo. Additionally, the "Sonic Saga Series" begins to collect all of Flynn's run on the book and "Sonic Select" #8 collects the "Tails" miniseries for the first time ever.
Switching gears to "Mega Man," Flynn said, "Before the crossover, we were building up to something with Ra Moon -- now he strikes and it gets ugly. Dr. Wily experiences some technical difficulties."
"The title of the arc is 'Black Out,' featuring Robot Masters who haven't gotten the spotlight yet," Kaminski said. "Those of you who think Robot Masters are getting defeated too fast, well, I'm glad you've waited around."
"There's a whole of canvas to work with on Robot Masters," Flynn said. "There's not a whole lot of restrictive lore, which helps. With Shadow Man, there might have been some lingering rumors he's from space -- who knows? We're going to have a lot of fun with the 'Mega Man 2' and 'Mega Man 3' Robot Masters."
"My favorite Robot Master to draw isn't actually in any of the games -- it's Quake Woman," Jampole said. "I love Quake Woman. Not only is she the first female Robot Master, but she appeared in the comic book first. She's very robotic early on and has a coming of age story attached to her. It's been crazy drawing Mega Man, too."
On drawing the chibi variant cover for "Sonic the Hedgehog" #250, Jampole said, "It was very painful to do that cover. The many, many emails going back and forth, about trying to turn Sonic -- who already has a very big head -- into something with a very big head. It was a lot of fun, but hard to do. This crossover was my first time drawing Sonic ever -- it was scary, but really fun."
Two fans dressed as evil geniuses Dr. Wily and Doctor Eggman took to the mic and asked when their backstory would be expanded on in the comics.
Looking at Wily, Flynn said, "Give me time. I want to tell the story of why Wily got banned from the Robot School."