Mega Man: Let the Games Begin! It’s an impressive proclamation. This is a series that is directly covering the first game in the Mega Man’s amazing history. As it turns out, Capcom approached Archie Comics with the idea of making a Mega Man comic book ongoing series. This is probably due to their success with the Sonic the Hedgehog series. That being said, Archie Comics provides an amazingly detailed and truthful adaptation of the video game series.
Writer: Ian Flynn
Publisher: Archie Comics
Age: All Ages
About the artwork: one would not be mistaken to think that this is sourced from a manga. It’s classic Mega Man style, with wide-eyed characters, simple lines that portray explosive action, with good old fashioned American comic book sensibility. Artists on the series change pretty much issue to issue, but Archie Comics has to be lauded for keeping the style very much the same throughout.
One thing that really impressed me was the treatment of Dr. Wily, and specifically his relationship with Rock/Mega Man. In the game series Dr. Wily is an mad scientist with an inborn desire to fail and that’s about it, but the comic book plumbs the depths of his misery. Wily really is a character who, like many of us, feels jealousy and rage at being left out of something that he feels he deserves. His motivations are totally understandable, but the crazy occupation he has chosen and his unique set of skills means that he reacts like a nutjob genius (which is what he is). Mega Man and Dr. Light know how he feels and they don’t blame him for his responses, which teaches a valuable lesson to the target audience of this book: children.
The storyline of this first volume deals with something that I feel has been the domain of Spider-Man for the last half-century. Mega Man comes into a great deal of power early on in the series, as his copy chip allows him to steal the powers of his adversaries. Imagine if every time you faced a conflict, you walked away upgraded and more powerful, specifically in a way that gave you weapons. The rush of control and violence is a lot to handle, but the creative staff on Mega Man never let the reader forget that this power comes at a cost. It’s well done and not skimmed over, which would have been very easy to do with an adaptation of a video game from 1987 appearing in a comic book series.
There is a point, as a video game fan, where we forget the roots of Mega Man as a character. He is a pacifistic servant type of robot that happens to be his creator’s favourite construction who answers a call to duty that no one asked him to answer. Rock, and his sister Roll, should have spent their days helping Dr. Light around the lab. Due to the unforeseen actions of Dr. Wily, Rock has to take action. It isn’t with glee or joy that he begins to commit actions of violence against other robots, but with deep regret. Violence truly is the last resort for Mega Man, and this is well conveyed in the comic. Roll plays the part of his conscience because she never moves past the domestication phase herself, she is forced to observe a horrifying transformation in her brother and it pains her.
This series pays tribute to the video games and expands on it in a meaningful way. I think that as a long-term fan of the series, I had always interpreted significant motivation behind the characters actions, but it was because I was a fan of the series. And to be honest, it’s one of the things that makes Mega Man such a successful franchise. What this comic does well is pull back the veil of ambiguity and give a definitive version of the events that I’ve known for over twenty years as a fan. It’s truly a pleasure to read. Not to mention the fact that it’s littered with enough video game references to make me openly cry for joy! There is a lot of potential with this series, and in the following issues we see how that potential pays off, something that we will be examining with more Mega Man reviews in the future.