With IDW’s new book poised to release in just a few months, perhaps the biggest question among fans is: Will the Freedom Fighters be returning? The answer is pivotal to many fan who grew up enamored with SatAM and the Archie comic series. The lovable cast of rebels are near and dear to many, including myself, and after their inauspicious cancellation right after their greatest victory against Dr. Eggman yet, their fate seems dubious at best! Nevertheless, it has sparked avid debate amongst the community as to whether the Freedom Fighters will ever be seen again, and if so, what form will they take?
Who are the Freedom Fighters?
Much like the Avengers or the Justice League, the Freedom Fighters are a rotating cast of characters originally formed as a rebel group against Dr. Eggman aka Robotnik. While the roster is somewhat expansive and ever changing with the needs of the story, when people wonder if the Freedom Fighters will grace the pages of IDW, they tend to mean a specific subset of characters, namely the non-game characters featured in SatAM and Archie:
- Sally Acorn – Princess and Leader of the Freedom Fighters
Sally was the only member of the royal family to escape Robotnik’s overthrow of the Acorn Kingdom. From the secret Knotthole Village, she lead the survivors in the fight against Robotnik. A strong leader and brilliant strategist assisted by her AI NICOLE, Sally represents hope to her remaining loyal subjects.
- Rotor the Walrus aka Boomer – Mechanical Genius
Rotor is a mechanical genius who is able to match wits against Robotnik’s technological genius. Rotor is affable and practical, always willing to help solve the problems at hand.
- Bunny the Rabbot – Half-Robotized Rabbit
Bunny was subjected to robotization, but saved by Sonic before the process was completed leaving her legs and left arm robotized. Overflowing with southern charm, she turns her formidable new arsenal against Robotnik.
- Antoine D’Coolette – Anxious but Brave Soldier
Antoine is a proud and outspoken individual, but often succumbs to his anxiety when the rubber meets the road. However, despite his issues, he is loyal and brave, usually coming through for his friends in the end.
- NICOLE the Holo-Lynx – Artificial Intelligence
NICOLE was artificial intelligence housed in a handheld computer who would support Sally in her strategic efforts. Later, she would appear in a holographic form as a lynx.
While this group might be considered the “core” Freedom Fighters team along with Sonic and Tails, many others have joined the team along the way, usually haling from the video games, such as Amy Rose, Big the Cat, and Cream the Rabbit.
Can they Return?
SEGA currently retains the rights to all of the characters that debuted in the SatAM cartoon. That means that it is possible that the “core” Freedom Fighters could appear in the IDW book. While Archie and SEGA’s relationship was rife with legal troubles over intellectual property and ownership of character rights that caused Archie to redesign or erase characters from the continuity all together, that does not mean that these classic characters are gone forever. However, any Freedom Fighters, or characters in general, that were created by the Archie team will likely remain there, including those introduced by Ian Flynn, despite being on board with the new project. Beyond that, any character from the games is fair game as well.
Will they Return?
Now we come to the big question: Will they return? My answer, in short, is…I seriously doubt it. SEGA and IDW are poised to start fresh with this new book, despite some fan’s desire to see their old favorites return to their former glory. Yet, I still have confidence that we may see them in some capacity in the future, but functionally, I do not think we will see the Freedom Fighters as we knew them ever again. What I can confirm, is that according to his statements in Bumblekast episode 59, Ian Flynn’s characters will not be carried over. That means newer characters like those from Meropis: Razor, Pearly, Coral, etc and the Egg Bosses: Conquering Storm, Thunderbolt, Cassia, and Clove etc. will unfortunately not be returning. The safest bet is that characters who originated within the video games like Knuckles and the Chaotix are the most likely candidates, Sonic Adventures Era characters like Big, Cream, and Blaze, as well as villains from newer games like Infinite from Forces and the Deadly Six from Lost World will likely be the showing up at one point or another.
Do we really want them to?
It is pretty clear that both SEGA and IDW are looking for a fresh start and a new direction for this book. It is truly unfortunate, tragic even, that the Archie series having just wrapped up its epic Gaia story line, and begun shifting gears to launch a brand new world in earnest after the Super Genesis Wave, the book was inauspiciously cancelled, forever leaving our heroes in limbo. Moreover, it is a shame we will not see anymore of complex and intriguing characters that were emerging like the Egg Bosses, but that is not IDW’s fault. If anything they are securing the future of Sonic comics, and bringing in fan favorite, Ian Flynn, to helm the new book is a great step in building confidence with the community. I think given a blank slate, Sonic has a lot of opportunities in front of him without many of those old roadblocks that might have slow him down (And you know how Sonic feels about being slowed down!). IDW has a stellar track record with licensed properties and I do not think Sonic will be any different. Look, I love the Freedom Fighters, and will always be nostalgic for those early days, but a new era for the Blue Blur is dawning and I think it is going to be way past cool.