Sonic the Hedgehog is a 15-page promotional comic produced by Sega of America to publicize the release of the original Sonic the Hedgehog video game in 1991, and works as a prequel to that game. It features most of the characters, Zones, Badniks from that game. It was written and drawn by Francis Mao.
The promotional comic derived much of its backstory from the internal Sonic Bible, particularly regarding the Kintobor origin of Dr. Ivo Robotnik. As such, it helped define the early American and European Sonic canon that was adapted into the British Sonic the Comic (although the two comics are otherwise very different).
The comic was published in the fall of 1991 as a standalone comic under the name Sonic the Hedgehog Number 1, and sold for $1.50 in the US and $1.95 in Canada. Pages were also included in various magazines, including Disney Adventures Vol. 2 No. 1 from November 1991, issue 8 of Sega Visions (May/June 1992), Superman #62, and others.
The story begins in the Green Hill Zone with Sonic the Hedgehog being chased by Dr. Ivo Robotnik (in his wrecking ball Egg-O-Matic) and a horde of Badniks. Sonic evades Robotnik (whose Egg-O-Matic crashes) and then destroys the Badniks, releasing his animal friends (Sally Acorn, Johnny Lightfoot and Chirps) who were trapped inside. His friends say that they should get Dr. Ovi Kintobor's help to fight Robotnik, but Sonic reveals that they cannot, because Kintobor is Robotnik.
Sonic then explains how he was once a brown hedgehog who discovered Kintobor's secret lab. Kintobor sought to rid planet Mobius of evil by storing it in six Chaos Emeralds by means of a machine called the Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor (ROCC). Sonic and Kintobor became friends. Kintobor allowed Sonic to train on his experimental supersonic treadmill, but it exploded when he ran faster than the speed of sound. The explosion fused Sonic's spines and turned him blue, which Kintobor referred to as the "cobalt effect". The explosion also shredded his tattered sneakers, so Kintobor gave him a pair of red-and-white frictionless shoes to wear instead.
One it was lunchtime, Kintobor asked Sonic to fetch him a soda and a boiled egg—which Sonic did, even before Kintobor finished asking the question. Sonic asked what Kintobor was doing; leading Kintobor to explain that he was forced to stabilize the Emeralds within the ROCC (until he can find a Grey Emerald that neutralizes evil). However, he became distracted and spilled his soda on the ROCC's controls. The ROCC exploded, scattering its containment rings everywhere and zapping Kintobor with "over 10,000 volts of pure evil energy"; transforming him into Dr. Robotnik.
As Sonic concludes the story, he explains he has been collecting the lost rings so as to put the ROCC back together. He then rushes off to face Robotnik.
Sometime later, Sonic comes face to face with Robotnik, but is surrounded by Newtrons and Buzz Bombers. He rushes off towards a distant mountain, knowing that there's a giant loop on the other side of a mountain. However, deciding there is no time to go around it, Sonic uses his Spin Attack to tunnel straight through the base of the mountain and out the other side, where he runs around the loop. He then spots a Giant Ring and leaps through it, and is sent to the Warp of Confusion (Special Stage). The Warp of Confusion is a bizarre place full of rings, but there is no concept of "up" or "down" and Sonic feels like he will be sick until he manages to find a Chaos Emerald, which warps him back to Mobius.
However, Sonic reappears in the Labyrinth Zone, and is plunged under water. He cannot surface for fear of flamethrowers above, and underwater he is chased by Jaws Badniks. Fortunately, a current pulls him into a tunnel opening and deposits him outside the Labyrinth. When he gets to the shore, two more friends (Tux and Joe Sushi) say that Robotnik has been dumping toxic sewage into the lake. Sonic once again spots Robotnik and races after him. (Robotnik intends to lure Sonic into a trap to recover the Chaos Emerald.)
Sonic chases Robotnik through the Starlight Zone (which is identified as an amusement park), avoiding the traps, and then bounces on a spring that sends him into Robotnik's secret lab. He finds that Porker Lewis has been trapped to a conveyor belt and is about to be sawed in half, but before Sonic can save him Robotnik jumps on him from above, making him drop the Chaos Emerald. Sonic is forced to choose between saving Porker or recovering the Emerald, and Sonic chooses to save Porker. Robotnik steals the Emerald and escapes in his Egg-O-Matic. He destroys Robotnik's Badnik transforming machine, releasing Sally Acorn, Johnny Lightfoot, Tux and Flicky, who had been trapped inside. Sonic tells his friends to stay out of Robotnik's way, because he's going to deal with the evil doctor once and for all.
- Animal Friends (first appearance)
- Badniks (first appearance)
- Dr. Ivo Robotnik/Dr. Ovi Kintobor (first appearance)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (first appearance)
- Mobius (first appearance)
- Warp of Confusion (first appearance)
- Chaos Emeralds (first appearance)
- Grey Emerald (mentioned)
- Iron ball (first appearance)
- Power Sneakers (first appearance)
- Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor (flashback)
- Rings (first appearance)
- Spring (first appearance)
- Warp Ring (first appearance)
- Spikes (first appearance)
- Shuttle loop (first appearance)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) (mentioned)
- Spin Attack (first appearance)
- Spin Jump (first appearance)
- Dr. Kintobor refers to Sonic as an Erinaceus Europaeus, which a footnote claims is Latin for hedgehog. Specifically, this is the Latin taxonomical name for the European Hedgehog species.
- Kintobor mentions to "Eggstein's theory of mass versus velocity". This is a reference to Albert Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity (commonly simplified to E = mc2). In this comic, Kintobor was loosely modeled on Einstein.
- The "cobalt effect" mentioned by Kintobor is a reference to the metal cobalt. Compounds of cobalt are used to provide a deep blue color to glass, ceramics, inks, paints and varnishes.
- In this comic, Sonic is shown as being able to swim when he is dropped in the Labyrinth Zone.
- The Star Light Zone is incorrectly spelled as the "Starlight Zone".
- The first page of the comic is similar to the first page of Sonic the Hedgehog #0 published by Archie Comics.