Countdown to the 12th Doctor: #2
And right out of the gate, Eggman is already hard at work showing us just how many faces he can have. Even at this early stage, several continuities have already begun to arise, each with their own stylings and personality traits. This taught us from the beginning that no two Eggmen are ever exactly alike.
First Appearance: June 23rd, 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
Noted Companions: Metal Sonic
Back in the early 90’s, gamers around the globe imprinted on this version of Eggman — although he was known as Robotnik at the time in most areas. There remains a debate to this day over whether or not he should be canonically known as “Robotnik” or “Eggman,” and it’ll probably never truly go away. The pro-Robotnik camp argues that since the game was first released in North America (which uses the name “Robotnik”), it sets the precedent for everything that follows. However, the pro-Eggman camp asserts that the character’s name has always been “Eggman” in Japan, and was only changed in the west to avoid a potential copyright issue over a Beatles song, so the new name shouldn’t override the original. (My personal opinion is that I really don’t care what name is used. I recognize both.)
In any case, this iconic piece of character art tells us all of the important things that we need to know about Robotnik: He’s confident, larger-than-life, and certainly won’t go down quietly. Surprisingly enough, he actually comes off as far less threatening than most of his counterparts in this group, with OVA Eggman standing as the only exception. It’s important to note that even at this early stage, the game-version of Robotnik isn’t particularly malevolent — or at least, not compared to some of the other variants we’d see down the road. In the beginning, most of his official art shows him grinning (provided that Sonic isn’t in his presence) rather than scowling. The only real exception to this is some of the promotional art, which doesn’t seem to quite match up with the end product version, so this could be an earlier draft all together.
Despite the fact that he wouldn’t debut for another year, Metal Sonic is unquestionably the most noteworthy companion for this incarnation. Metal Sonic has turned up time and again as second-in-command throughout the history of the series, and continues to turn up even to this day. Very few other robots in the Eggman arsenal can boast having shared such a long history, not to mention having been repaired and modified so many times when it probably would’ve been just as simple to scrap and restart.
First Appearance: 5/31/96, Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie
Noted Companions: Sera
What makes this version of Eggman so intriguing is that he’s by far the most humanized of the group. He expresses a far greater range of emotions, which even include humor, affection, and a simple desire to have fun. Additionally, he’s the least willing to do actual harm while approaching his goals, opting instead to beat around the bush and have one of his robots do the dirty work for him. If he’d wanted to, Eggman could’ve killed (or otherwise disposed of) Sonic, Tails, the President, and Sera right off the bat at the beginning, but that’s not what he wanted. What he wanted was to send Sonic and Tails on a wild goose chase and play video games with Sera. Even when he did eventually go after Sonic, it wasn’t completely for the sake of attack; it was largely because Sera wanted to go for a joyride.
All in all, this is one of the rare instances of Eggman that doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s surprisingly sociable and comes across as more of a class clown than he does an evil despot. I personally believe that he doesn’t ever really want to defeat Sonic, either. The chemistry between the two of them reads more like that of sparring partners than it does of mortal enemies. I think that if he ever did succeed and Sonic were to be killed, it probably would’ve been an accident, and Eggman almost certainly would regret it.
OVA Eggman’s interactions with Sera are also noteworthy, as this is the only time he’s ever shown an outward desire to settle down and have a family. He notes that the two of them should get married because they’d be the only people left in the world, but if that ever really became the case, whether or not they were married wouldn’t even matter, because they wouldn’t have a society to measure themselves against. Eggman wants Sera to marry him specifically because he wants a marriage, not because it’s a necessary step in the process. The only other times Eggman ever came close to marriage were in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, when Katella tried to force him, and in Sonic X the comic, where he quietly crushed on Ella.
In sharp contrast to the attitudes of the two above, Fleetway Robotnik is driven by a seemingly insatiable urge for mayhem and destruction. His face is set into an eternal scowl, and his goals only ever seem to revolve around causing as much pain as possible. Apparently his preferred method of doing so to the reader is through
eggscessive excessive use of egg puns, as they were hamfisted into a lot of Robotnik’s early dialogue.
Bad jokes aside, one thing’s for sure: He’s definitely crafty. Following his second major defeat (aka just past the parallel of Sonic 2), Robotnik decided to become a true Time Lord and took space and time into his own hands, flinging Sonic into the future by 6 months. This allowed him to take over the planet at his own pace and without interruption. Considering how well the plan worked, I’m a little surprised he didn’t try it again when Sonic turned up again and resumed giving him trouble.
*Technically this Robotnik did have Grimer appear during his tenure, but the appearance was purely for the sake of encouraging Robotnik to get a new look. Since they have no other interactions prior to that, Grimer is only listed with the second version of Fleetway Robotnik.
First Appearance: Autumn 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog Promotional Comic
Noted Companions: N/A
To help promote the release of the original video game, Sega released a 15-page comic detailing the game’s back story and highlighting some of its features. The comic book itself was relatively rare, as in most cases the story was run as a feature in other magazines instead. However, the majority of these publications only ran the first 7 pages of the story. This means that for many readers (such as myself), this version of Robotnik was literally only seen in one panel — but that one image still managed to make quite an impact. Maybe it’s the fact that his face is red, I don’t know.
What I do know is that this version of Robotnik stands out against the others because he had to be bleeped for language. On page 10 of the original comic, after having crashed his ship, Robotnik angrily hollers from his parachute, “#@!!! My first act as supreme ruler of this planet… lower all the #@&!!! mountains!” Keeping in mind that this version of Robotnik didn’t even show up until page 7, that means that he wasted no time in getting so angry that he was using language that would shatter my fragile, juvenile ears (or eyes, as it were, since it was a comic book). I don’t care what anyone says, that’s pretty badass.
Dr. Robotnik, Dr. Eggman, and whatever other forms of this character I managed to dig up for this thing are all © Sega one way or another, with lesser rights going to companies such as Archie, Fleetway, DiC, and whoever made that fan film. The inferences and summaries written throughout this piece are my own and my not be reproduced without my permission.
Posted on November 23, 2013, in Analysis, Books, Game Characters, Humor, Journalism, Retro Games, TV, Video Games and tagged Doctor Who, Doctor Who 50th Anniversary, Eggman, Fleetway, Robotnik, Sonic 1, Sonic anime, Sonic the Comic, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic: The Movie. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.