Shadow: The Black Mirror
Written by Ryan Brown.
In-universe, Shadow the Hedgehog is a hot mess.
He was co-created by humanity in an effort to bring them one step closer to the unattainable dream of immortality, a dream that was never meant to be achieved. He ended up nearly dooming mankind twice over. He does not like them as a whole, and this sentiment is, to a point, mutual.
He was co-created by Professor Gerald Robotnik in an effort to cure his beloved granddaughter, Maria. In the end, that creation killed her, and Shadow knows it.
He was co-created by the Black Arms to assist in their domination of the Earth and its resources. He ended up killing them all.
He wields unimaginable power that fears and troubles him.
He was blessed with the heart and soul of his “sister”, Maria, so that he would not fight. He now possesses a ruthless demeanor and killer instinct.
He was created to be the Ultimate Lifeform, a perfect, flawless, invincible being. He is none of those things.
Out of his universe, Shadow the Hedgehog is a hot mess.
He was created to be an evil version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega’s main mascot and face of the company. He ended up eclipsing Sonic in popularity for an extremely short time.
He was meant to appear in one game and one game only. He became so popular and beloved that Sonic Team revived him to appear in multiple games since, to the joy and disappointment of all.
His first game is noted to be one of the best of the Sonic series. It is also said to be one of the worst, and completely inferior to almost everything that came before it. His debut is part of the reason for these views.
His subsequent appearances have brought hype and ire in equal measure, with the gaming public shouting for either his continued inclusion in future games or his elimination from the franchise as a whole.
He has been used for video games, numerous pieces of merchandise, music videos, art, videos, articles, and numerous other things, both to the benefit and detriment of his native franchise and he himself as a character.
Shadow the Hedgehog is a flawed, misunderstood, imperfect, polarizing, violent, hated, brooding, strong, driven, vicious, angry, protective, beloved, lonely, ruthless, honest, solitary, broken, powerful, mean, feared, brave, sacrificial, edgy, gloomy, regretful, popular, antiheroic, unwanted, egotistical, testy, sad, stubborn, wry, unappreciated, and dark character whose existence has both advanced the gaming landscape by leaps and bounds and held it back just as much. Gaming would not be the same without him, for better or for worse.
All in all, he is a hot mess.
This is why I relate to him. I see my own flaws. My own conflict and struggle. My strengths and weaknesses. Someone loved by those who have gotten to know him, and either ignored, hated, or excommunicated by those who disliked him from the outset or got rubbed the wrong way. I see a character whose creation and existence is a point of contention by many, but he’s still around, in spite of everything. I see someone who, for what he believes in, is willing to fight against the entire damn world if he has to; no matter how much pain it brings him.
When I look at Shadow the Hedgehog, I see a hot mess. I see myself.