The Metal Virus is an object that appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by IDW Publishing. It was a synthetically concocted virus created by Dr. Eggman that transmutes organic matter into metallic matter. Its purpose was to turn people into robotic slaves in Eggman's army. Through the combined efforts of Super Sonic and Super Silver however, the entirety of the Metal Virus was sent to the sun and eradicated.
Concept and creation
It was revealed by Ian Flynn that the Metal Virus was originally conceived long before the conception of IDW Publishing's Sonic the Hedgehog comic series. It was revealed some time later that the Metal Virus was made for the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series by Archie Comics as a replacement for the original Roboticizer in the post-Super Genesis Wave world, and was going to be introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog #300 if the comic series had not been canceled.
At a microscopic level, the Metal Virus are nanobots that resemble bacteriophages. As such, they appear as spheres with the Eggman Empire decal emblazoned on them and bodies with six legs each. When observed by the naked eye the other hand, the virus looks like a gray metallic liquid.
Powers and traits
When the Metal Virus makes contact with active organic tissue, be it either in flora or fauna, the virus will spread across the cells of the subject and infect them, transmuting them into a metal-like substance on a molecular level. However, it cannot transmute processed or inorganic matter, such as food, processed wood, metal, or stone, although clothing worn by living beings appears to be an exception.
In the case of fauna fully infected by the virus, their bodies' organic matter will have been transmuted into a liquid metallic composition. This makes their bodies stronger and more durable than they were before. In addition, such subjects can manipulate their own liquid body composition, allowing them to instantly reconstitute their bodies whenever they receive a damaging blow. Also, the virus will rob the subjects of their free will and any personality traits once they are fully transformed, essentially turning them into soulless machines that are programmed to be subservient to Dr. Eggman's orders. The virus also causes the infected subjects to display aggressive tendencies without direction. Faunas that have been fully converted by the Metal Virus are referred to as "Zombots", a term originally coined by Sonic.
The virus can make slight changes to a subject's anatomy. This includes making a plant's parts more mechanical in shape and granting Zombots sharp claws, spikes, and red eyes.
Like an actual virus, the Metal Virus is contagious, and its infection can be transferred immediately to others through the slightest touch with subjects infected with the virus. The rate of which the Metal Virus spreads its infection across an organism depends on the situation though. Full saturation in the virus causes an immediate and total transmutation, while infections received through touch from infected subjects will spread at a considerable slower rate. However, repeated physical exposure to the virus through Zombots will speed up the process. As the infected subjects' bodies are converted into metal, the subjects will experience "unpleasant", or "nasty", sensations.
Owing to its virus-like nature, the Metal Virus is capable of evolving through mutations in its coding, which are brought about by spreading through exposure. Over time, these mutations caused the Zombots created from the Metal Virus to grow steadily more disobedient of Eggman's orders. Disobedient Zombots can be controlled by directly manipulating the electromagnetic signals operating them or by deploying override signals, although Eggman noted that the latter would only be a temporary solution as the virus's mutations would eventually render such signals moot. In addition, the Metal Virus could adapt to the point where otherwise potential cures for it would be rendered ineffective. If left to mutate on its own for too long however, the Metal Virus ultimately becomes unsustainable. Any infected heterotrophic eukaryote cells will eventually suffer a form of apoptosis; autotrophic cells will endure slightly longer but not by much. In other words, those infected by the virus will ultimately disintegrate after about two hundred years.
So far, no known vaccine for the Metal Virus has been created. However, speed seems to counteract it to a degree. Sonic, for example, was able to drive the virus into remission and burn it off by moving at super speeds while his infection was still underway. However, it could not cure him of it, and he would have relapses once he started to slow down again. Over time, Sonic's infection evolved further until his speed would lose its ability to counter and reverse the virus. Chaos Emerald-empowered Zetis also appear to be able to protect themselves from the Metal Virus by using their enhanced electromagnetic abilities to keep the virus from sticking to them. Also, as was the case with Super Sonic, performing a super transformation with all seven Chaos Emeralds can fully purge the Metal Virus from an infected individual's body and cure them, although whether or not others besides Sonic can perform this feat is not known.
Battle For Angel Island
After having his memory restored, Dr. Eggman began his plans to synthesize the Metal Virus, with the intention of unleashing it upon the world to make an army for himself and make everyone suffer for the indignities he endured while he was an amnesiac.
Infection and Reflections
After making his first Metal Virus batch, Eggman began experimenting with it to see the full extent of its abilities. The first test subject was a flower, which it successfully transmuted. The second test was with vertebrate specimens. Eggman covered a Pocky with the Metal Virus, causing an instant transmutation. For the next test, Eggman had the Zombot Pocky touch a Picky, causing the virus' infection to gradual transmute the Picky. After observing the behavior of the Zombot Pocky, Eggman moved onto test four, which involved having a Ricky pick up the transmuted flower and make it touch various objects. The Metal Virus showed no signs of transmuting the objects, but having touched the flower, the Ricky was infected with the virus as well. Deeming the Metal Virus a success, Eggman began implementing it into the next phase of his plan. However, Eggman soon noticed how slow the Metal Virus was to transmute subjects who had been infected with it through touch with infected subjects, which made Eggman worry that the Metal Virus could not be spread very far. As a test to see if greater exposure to the virus could move things along, Eggman had the Zombot Pocky touch the partially-infected Ricky repeatedly. As expected, this caused the infection of the Ricky to spread faster, which Eggman noted was beneficial and began planning to administer the Metal Virus in different locations. When Rough and Tumble then came to Eggman to demand new weapons to use for their revenge against Sonic, Eggman got an idea and told them that "his latest weapon just got out of beta".
Secretly plotting to turn the skunk brothers into Zombots when they faced Sonic, Eggman prepared backpacks loaded with the Metal Virus which he told Rough and Tumble were back-ups they should open if Sonic got the upper hand. Facing Sonic and Amy Rose in Echo Mine soon after, Rough and Tumble would open their backpacks, causing the Metal Virus to gush over them and turn them into Zombots. Although Sonic got rid of Rough and Tumble by knocking them into a refuse pit, he got infected with the Metal Virus in the process. Meanwhile, Eggman got ready to share the Metal Virus with the world. While on the Faceship, Metal Sonic dipped his finger in a vat of Metal Virus to see the effects for himself. As he was not organic, the virus had no effct on him. Sonic soon discovered that he could burn off the virus and keep it in check with his speed. In the meantime, Eggman, Starline, Orbot, and Cubot took off in the Faceship. On the Faceship, Eggman had a room dedicated to creating the Metal Virus en masse. He had also dedicated a large hatch in the Faceship to distribute the Metal Virus from a high altitude. Soon, the Faceship arrived at Windmill Village. There, the Faceship doused the villagers in the Metal Virus, quickly turning the population in Zombots. Following up on this, Eggman sent the infected villagers and animals off to infect other people with the Metal Virus.
Eggman next went to Seaside City where he spilled the Metal Virus into the city with his Faceship, transforming many of the residents into Zombots. However, a small part of the population was saved by the Chaotix and escaped aboard a Rescue Shuttle with Vector and Espio. Charmy, on the other hand, tried to save one of the survivors who had been partially infected with the Metal Virus. However, he was caught by Zombots, who overwhelmed him with their numbers and infected him with the Metal Virus. Continuing onward, Eggman went to Floral Forest Village where he created another Zombot outbreak by pouring the Metal Virus agent into the village from his Faceship. However, when the new Zombots ignored Eggman's orders, Orbot revealed that there had been a steady decline in Zombot obedience. This made Eggman theorize that the Metal Virus's coding had begun mutating due to the virus spreading through exposure. While Starline got worried, Eggman remained certain he could regain control of the virus. Meanwhile, the Metal Virus steadily spread across the village. While keeping the Zombots at bay, Sonic's own Metal Virus infection grew stronger due to his exposure to the Zombots. Meanwhile, Cheese and Chocola got infected with the Metal Virus while trying to protect their family from Zombots, and quickly became Zombots themselves. Regardless, Sonic and Gemerl managed to get villagers like Cream and Vanilla to safety.
The next location to receive a batch of the Metal Virus from Eggman's Faceship was Sunset City, which created a colossal Zombot outbreak. While helping the survivors, Sonic fought through the Zombots, which only made his Metal Virus infection grow worse. Shadow later engaged the Zombots. While Shadow proved more resilient to the Metal Virus (presumably due to his "Ultimate Lifeform" physiology), it ultimately infected him too after he touched too many Zombots. In the end, Shadow was overwhelmed by Zombots, allowing the Metal Virus to turn him into one too. The Zombot Shadow began to rampage and fight against Sonic and his growing infection. After Rouge took off with the uninfected civilians, Omega stayed behind to fight more Zombots. Soon, Sonic and Omega found themselves at the mercy of the Sunset City Zombots but they were saved by Tails and Silver. Sonic then ran back to Restoration HQ, thereby burning off a massive Metal Virus infection that nearly turned him into a Zombot.
The Last Minute and The Catalyst
Another Zombot outbreak occurred at Central City after Dr. Eggman used the Faceship to distribute a batch of Metal Virus there. One hour later, Zombots freely roamed the streets. The Metal Virus had also reached Ice Paradise, casting the city into chaos and Zombots. Meahwile, Tails researched the Metal Virus in secret in his lab using the data gathered from Sonic's biometrics via his bio-scanner in an attempt to develop a cure for the Metal Virus. Just as he found the cure however, the Zombots destroyed his lab and the data he had collected. Regardless, Tails and his allies managed to escape the Metal Virus in Central City uninfected. Meanhile, in Restoration HQ, a person infected with the Metal Virus managed to sneak himself in with the survivors because he did not want to be alone. However, the Metal VIrus soon took hold and he became a Zombot, thus causing panick among the survivors. Meanwhile, Zombot Charmy joined the fray when he broke out of his Containment Bubble after Vector and Espio had brought him to Restoration HQ. In the end, most of the survivors got infected by the Metal Virus during the chaos, including Vanilla. When Zombot Charmy then tried to get to the Rescue Shuttle, Vector restrained him, causing the Metal Virus to infect him as well. In order not to endanger his friends when he became a Zombot, Vector had himself get sealed off from the survivors. With the fall of Restoration HQ, Tails realized that he had lost all the data that might have enabled him to invent a cure for the Metal Virus, and that Sonic was the last hope. At the same time, the Metal Virus had reached Barricade Town and turned all the inhabitants into Zombots. There, Dr. Eggman and Dr. Starline tried taking control of the Zombots with different override signals. When Sonic found the two and engaged Eggman, Sonic tried to infect Eggman with the Metal Virus to give him an incentive to make a cure for it. During the fight, Starline found an override signal that gave Eggman control over the Zombots again. However, Sonic destroyed Starline's discovery before he could save it or upload it to the Faceship, although this also destroyed Tails' bio-scanner. As the villains fled, Sonic was almost overtaken by the Metal Virus, but he managed to gather his resolve and escaped, running his infection down to a low level again.
On the way to Spiral Hill Village, Eggman distributed Metal Virus at Spiral Hill farms twice. This resulted in the majority of the members of the Sonic Fan Club turning into Zombots. After the first wave, the president and vice president of the club touched the virus without knowing what it was, and following the second wave they unintentionally infected Jewel the Beetle in the process. Afterwards, the Faceship flew directly over Spiral Hill Village and dumped more Metal Virus down into it. As a result, several citizens were turned into Zombots. When Tangle later arrived in the Mineral Museum, a fully-transformed Zombot Jeweled infected Tangle with the Metal Virus. While the survivors of the village were evacuated by the Restoration, Gemerl performed a scan of Sonic when he arrived and noticed that Sonic's speed was starting to lose its ability to counter the Metal Virus. Soon after, Tangle would fight the Zombots in her village alone to allow the Restoration to escape. However, she soon succumbed to the Metal Virus and became a Zombot.
Big's Big Adventure
Big and Froggy eventually came across Zombots. While Big fought them, Froggy jumped on the head of one of them, unintentionally infecting himself. After tying the Zombots up, Big went back to the Mystic Ruins with Froggy. As he recounted his long adventure to his friend, Froggy became a Zombot and began to infect the cat and the surround flora around them, with Big woefully unaware of what was happening.
All or Nothing
Upon arriving at Angel Island, Sonic was already mostly covered by the Metal Virus, so he had go on a quick run around the island while avoiding touching and infecting the flora along the way. Later, Sonic received a treadmill to keep himself running in place. Meanwhile, the Deadly Six took over the Faceship and its Metal Virus production plant. They also empowered themselves with the Chaos Emeralds to control thousands of Zombots around the world with their electromagnetic powers. Forced to flee from the Faceship to Angel Island, Dr. Eggman and Dr. Starline met up with Sonic and his crew. There, Eggman explained, after they others pressed him for a cure on the Metal Virus, that in about 200 years, the Zombots and all else infected by the Metal Virus would be gone, as the virus would eventually become unstable. The heroes and villains alike then brainstormed for a solution, and eventually devised a plan to combine Super Sonic's power with the Warp Topaz to warp all of the Metal Virus away in one fell swoop. Meanwhile, the Deadly Six took off to the farthest corners of the world and began using the Zombots to infect everything they came across with the Metal Virus.
Soon after, the heroes and their allies set off to get the Chaos Emeralds from the Deadly Six. While facing the heroes, Zeena and Zomom lost their Chaos Emeralds and thus lost control of all their Zombots. Zeena in particular ended up getting infected by the Metal Virus. Cream, who helped fight Zeena, also got hit by the Metal Virus during the fight, but Gemerl promised to stay by her side until she was well again. In the meantime, Master Zik, Zazz and Zor had their Emeralds taken as well, and were thus left at the mercy of the Zombots they could no longer command. Lastly, Rouge caused the Faceship to crash when she stole the Chaos Emerald powering it, thereby destroying its Metal Virus production plant as well.
Assuming his giant form, Zavok threw his Zombot army up to Angel Island to spread the Metal Virus around the island. In addition, Sonic's infection, having now developed an almost complete resistance to his speed, slowly began to overtake him. In an attempt to buy Sonic time and protect his island, the Master Emerald and the survivors, Knuckles started fighting Zombot Shadow, but became infected himself. Still, Knuckles persisted until he succumbed to the Metal Virus and became a Zombot. Meanwhile, Tails got infected while escaping from Zombot Cheese and Chocola. Amy also got infected when Eggman pushed her into Zombot Big. While escaping however, Eggman himself tripped over Zombot Froggy, who tried to infect him. Ultimately though, Sonic managed to snatch the last Chaos Emerald from Zavok, just as he was almost completely overrun by the Metal Virus. Immediately after, Sonic got rid of his infection when he transformed into Super Sonic, while Silver became Super Silver, with the Chaos Emeralds. Sonic then opened a Super Warp Portal to the sun using the Warp Topaz, and Super Silver began removing the Metal Virus from its victims with his psychokinesis and dragging it into the Super Warp Portal. Noticing that the Warp Topaz was not reacting well to all that power though, Super Sonic and Super Silver circled the entire planet several times, removing every trace of Metal Virus from it along the way. After the Metal Virus was eradicated, everything living on Sonic's world was returned to normal. However, Sonic himself disappeared in an explosion created by an overloaded Warp Topaz.
- The transmutation that the virus causes is similar to roboticization, a reoccurring process seen in the mainline Sonic the Hedgehog video games, the previous Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comics, the Sonic the Hedgehog television series and Sonic Underground.
- Ian Flynn has explained that the reason why autotrophic cells would endure the deterioration of the Metal Virus longer than heterotropic cells is because botanical cell structure is more rigid in nature. This would imply that trophism has little do with survivability, as Eggman's explanation suggests.
- Flynn has stated that the reason Silver had not been affected by the Metal Virus when he visited his future after the war is because the Metal Virus had mutated to a state where it was not as effective anymore. It was also due to Silver's psychokinetic powers inconsistently being able to counteract electronics.
- Sonic the Hedgehog #13, "Calling Card"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #29, "All or Nothing, Part 4"
- BumbleKast #95 - Spider-Man: Far From Home. YouTube (8 July 2019). Retrieved on 16 July 2019.
- Sonic the Hedgehog #25, "A Sudden Shift"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #16, "Infection"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #15, "Patient Zero"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #17, "Plague"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #14, "Misdirection"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #24, "The Last One Out"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #18, "Victims"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #23, "The Last Minute, Part 3"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #28, "All or Nothing, Part 3"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #12, "The Cost of the Battle for Angel Island"
- Sonic the Hedgehog Annual 2020, "Reflections"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #19, "Crisis City, Part 1"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #20, "Crisis City, Part 2"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #21, "The Last Minute, Part 1"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #22, "The Last Minute, Part 2"
- Sonic the Hedgehog Annual 2020, "The Catalyst"
- Sonic the Hedgehog Annual 2020, "Big's Big Adventure"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #26, "All or Nothing, Part 1"
- Sonic the Hedgehog #27, "All or Nothing, Part 2"
- BumbleKast Q&A for August 10th, 2020. YouTube. BumbleKing Videos (10 August 2020). Retrieved on 16 August 2020.