Another monthly update of the Archie comic situation, and things have cycled around once again, with similar updates to last month.
First up, Sonic is absent from the July 2017 solicits, marking three months in a row as a no show. With Sonic Universe #95 not released for its slated April 12th release, and Sonic #291 not listed for release next week despite its previous given date of April 26th, we won’t be seeing any Sonic comics in April, and makes any May releases unlikely.
So as you may recall, Sonic Universe #82 got its official preview the start of January, and everyone figured that meant the end of the dry spell that usually happens around the time of December. As it turns out, that hasn’t been the case, and Sonic the Hedgehog #279 is now slated for release on February 24th. I guess we can’t really dance around the issue forever, so now would be a good a time as any to address the elephant in the room; there’s been delays to Sonic stuff for a good while now. Here’s just a quick summary of the situation so far;
Graphically Not Present
We start with the graphic novels, and these go a long way back in comparison to everything else. The first graphic novel series to face the music was the Knuckles Archive, albeit this one appears to have had different circumstances compared to the others. With KA#4 released in April 2013 and cover images existing for KA#5 and 6, people waited a long while to try and pre-order these books. In a very small window of opportunity, some individuals managed to do so, only for Amazon to cancel them as the publisher had cancelled the issues according to their statement. This one probably isn’t involved, as it’s clear what its fate was long beforehand.
The rest of the graphic novel books are in murkier waters. Remember when we had solicits for the Babylon Rising Sonic Universe volume, or Sonic Boom volume 1? They were lost in the server wipe, but we had them. These are just a couple of examples of the number of graphic novels that have been simply delayed constantly. The last GN releases of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Archives, Sonic Universe, Sonic Saga and Mega Man were all in January or February of last year, so we haven’t seen a regular graphic novel come out in over a year across the board! Even worse, Sonic Boom and Worlds Unite’s graphic novel series haven’t even had a foot out the door yet!
Even amongst these, some special cases came up;
Sonic Select #10 came out in January 2015 too, but unlike the others there was no hint of a continuation. Given that the GN series was meant to cover the specials and one-off issues, and pretty much all of them had been done by the time SS#10 came out, It’s easy to see why the plug was pulled on that.
Best of Sonic was originally due to have issue 3 come out, it focusing on rivals following BoS#2 focusing on villains, but it ended up as Best of Sonic: Ultimate Edition (the difference was that basically all the rival stuff was interspersed with stories from the other two volumes, and any Scourge assets made for the book weren’t included), and was a surefire end to that series.
Sonic Legacy was the black and white omnibus series, with its last physical release being Sonic Legacy #3. Sonic Legacy #4 did come out in December 2014, but only as a digital title, with the back page explicitly telling the reader that it was the last issue.
Sonic Super Special Magazine didn’t even get that much; the last physical release was SSSM#13 in January 2015, but SSSM#14 got a brief digital release before it was pulled, and it hasn’t seen the light of day since. With SSSM#15’s planned exclusive content being shifted over to Sonic Super Digest #15, it’s safe to say that’s cancelled too.
There’s been precisely two exceptions to this. Worlds Collide: The Complete Epic was originally slated for a May 2015 release. but it too seemed to suffer the terrible delays. After Archie missed the promised revised release date of December 2015, it finally hit the shops in January 2016. The Sonic Super Digest series, while facing some schedule hiccups, has been releasing at a steady rate throughout all this, and is the only trade series unaffected…at least on the surface.
To tie in with the release of the games and cartoon for the newly revealed Sonic Boom branch, Archie released a comic series that stuck true to the comedic and more episodic stylings of said branch, as opposed to the action/adventure style of the Archie-exclusive comic universe. While it didn’t set the charts on fire (it was below Sonic the Hedgehog for all of its run bar the first issue, and it was often a bit below Sonic Universe as well), it did decently in numbers, certainly enough to keep it going long after Sonic Boom had established itself. But when the eleventh issue rolled around, some solicitations indicated that this was to be the last issue all of a sudden, and this was confirmed by Archie themselves. Around this same time, Mega Man was announced to be going on an indefinite hiatus, so the fate of that comic is up in the air. And to be clear, the cancellation was not because of sales or SEGA. So, less being late and more never arriving.
The Issue With Issues
Finally, we get onto the most recent chapter in the story, and the one that’s visibly affecting coverage here. Everything was absolutely fine for release schedules, aside from Sonic the Hedgehog slipping a single week but running with it. Then, out of nowhere, both Sonic Universe #82 and Sonic the Hedgehog #279 became complete no-shows for their slated release dates (back in November/December). December delays are nothing new, but in those cases the delay happened for a month at most for the issue in December, and then January picked it right up. Here, Sonic Universe #82 was supposed to be released at the end of November, but didn’t come until mid-January (and even then, it seems a lot of people haven’t got it, still). Sonic the Hedgehog #279 was due out early to mid -December, and is now currently slated for the end of February, which for the record is over two months apart (and there’s whispers in the wind of subscribers being warned of another delay on top of that, although that’s not confirmed).
Now then, this brings us to the obvious question one can ask; Do we know of any potential causes for this? Well, we can only speculate at this point, but we do have a pretty solid idea of which possibilities are most likely. For the sake of thoroughness, I’ll go through every vein I can find.
The lawsuit; You know the drill, Archie went to court over the copyrights of a portion of the characters they were using, that reached a settlement point and Archie made sure they wouldn’t cross that bridge again by excising everyone not by their current staff from the comic. But given that these characters were also appearing in stories in the graphic novels, how much of an impact would they be hit with? Probably not as much as you think. Ironically, the most affected appears to have been the still-running Digests. They used to cover the entire span of the comic up to SSD#8 (released in August 2014). SSD#9 (October 2014) reduced this to comics only made since Ian took over writing duties, and we haven’t seen any stories that have been pre-reboot and featured characters removed in the reboot since SSD#10 (December 2014) (The pre-reboot stories we have seen since have been from Treasure Team Tango, the Sonic Generations tie-in and Babylon Rising part 1, all of which only feature game characters). Aside from this, the only time the lawsuit has come into play was when shipments of KA#3 were attempted to be halted.
Archie themselves; It’s no secret that Archie haven’t exactly had a smooth time in past few years. Behind the scenes, it’s been littered with conflicts between staff, but the biggest event has to have been the Archie reboot Kickstarter. In May 2015, Archie (the publisher) announced that they wanted to reboot Archie (the franchise and character), so they were trying to raise $350,000 on Kickstarter for it. Because of their still prevalent name, some wondered why they couldn’t just fund it themselves. Things became even worse when it was revealed that the Kickstarter came about because they had the chance to get rack space at big supermarkets like Target and Wal-Mart, since this was essentially a snub to smaller comic sellers. Just five days after the start, Archie cancelled the Kickstarter due to the controversy. The reboot still went ahead, but funded out of pocket. Naturally, this much financial strain would have a very wide-feeling effect. Sonic Boom’s cancellation and Mega-Man’s hiatus are suspected to be direct repercussions for the Kickstarter fiasco, but it would hardly be surprising if it was affecting their ability to manage their graphic novel releases. As for the actual running series? Possibly, although there have also been storms around the East Coast that would not help in the slightest bit.
No matter what the cause turns out to be, we’re not going to be done with waiting for a good while yet, as all of the currently slated release dates for the delayed volumes are at least July 2016.
Time Will Tell
So, what’s going to happen regarding all this in the upcoming months? Well, for Sonic Boom, that’s going to stay gone, but Archie have said that they want to do new Boom stories in Digest, so we might be able to see that in future volumes. There’s no set date for Mega Man’s return, but with the announced cartoon series they might want to use that as an opportunity for a relaunch. The running Sonic series may be delayed longer than usual, but I doubt it’s stopping anytime soon, we’re just going to have to put up with missing a quarter (third potentially) of the year, which is going to make things like the Valentines variant funny when it comes out three months late. As for the graphic novels? We have the Sonic Comics Spectacular coming next week, but otherwise Arche haven’t said a word on the delays, so we’ll just have to be wary.
No matter what happens, it’s always our priority to make sure you guys are informed as quickly as possible about upcoming releases or sudden news bulletins, so keep an eye out and you’ll be the first to know about any progression made.
TheFatPanda and Ryannumber1gamer – I may know what’s transpired, but their combined efforts have been invaluable on keeping up to date with updates on the graphic novels as they happen, and the timeline of events regarding them.
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