Humans and hedgehogs, racing together, mass hysteria
I thought I was done with kart racers, but after playing Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed at E3, I think I’m up for at least one more rodeo. It’s extremely fun, easy to control, and more colorful than a bag of Jelly Bellies. Not to mention that there are a bunch of Sega cameos like Gilius Thunderhead and Joe Musashi, in addition to special third-party guests like Wreck-It Ralph.
One such special guest is NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, who will be representing the Blue Blue in the upcoming Texas Motor Speedway. It’s certainly weird for an actual human to rub shoulders with a wide cast of animated characters, but it’s not exactly uncharted territory. What is even weirder is that Danica will not only be guest starring in the new Sega racer but also in Archie’s Sonic Universe #45, a full-on adaptation of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
Save for a brief one-panel appearance of athlete Carl Lewis (and a much more shameful appearance by Jaleel White as “Wolvurkel“) early in the comic’s life, there hasn’t been a real-world celebrity in the Sonic comic’s two-decade history. I had to ask Archie editor Paul Kaminski what was up with all that!
Considering that the Archie Sonic universe is set thousands of years in Earth’s future, it’s hard to fathom how a contemporary human could wind up in that era. The solution? Make it non-canon, of course! “The approach is to begin the story with ‘Another time, another place,'” Paul says, “so these stories are a break from the regular continuity but still have that fun Sonic comic feel.”
Many Sonic game-to-comic stories in recent years have been relegated to short stories in that month’s issue, but with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, this will be a return to full-issue adaptations. “Schedules really synced-up here, and Sonic Universe #45 was a good place to go with this story because we had a gap of time between the “Secret Freedom” and “Chaotix Quest” story arcs. This is also the first stand-alone issue Sonic Universe has ever had (which is usually presented in four-part story arcs), and I can’t think of a better way to commemorate this great game than with an ‘in-comic first’!”
Danica isn’t the only special guest on the roster, as some notable Sega icons will be represented as well. “We’ve got Vyse (Skies of Arcadia), Beat (Jet Set Radio), Ai Ai (Super Monkey Ball), AND racing superstar Danica Patrick tearing it up in this issue! This story takes place directly before the Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed game begins, so it’s a primer for the game and a chance for us to play with some of the other characters in the Sega toy box, which I know was a thrill for Ian Flynn while writing this issue (rumor has it he’s a HUGE Skies of Arcadia fan in particular!).”
This isn’t the only game adaptation in the comic’s future. In the main Sonic the Hedgehog comic, there will be a special Olympics-themed event for issue #242. It’s loosely based on Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, of course, except minus Mario (boo!). But aren’t the Olympics over? Archie marketing coordinator Steven Scott says, “I just chalk it up to Mobius working on their own timetable! Ha ha!”