12 May 2011

Cover To Cover: MEGA MAN #1

Writer: Ian Flynn
Art: Patrick ‘Spaz’ Spaziante and Matt Herms
Archie Comics $2.99

Stewart R: It’s been 24 years since Capcom launched a hopeful platform-shooter on the brick-like NES video game system. The star of said game a little running, pixelated, two-tone-blue bundle of energy. Today the blasting hero - named Rockman in Japan and Mega Man in the West - has become one of the most recognisable video game characters in the world, gracing no less than 50 game titles, selling in excess of 28 million copies in the process and also starring in various cartoon television series and several comic books. Admittedly with that volume of exposure there has been a fair amount of crap amongst the many gems and that can especially be applied to the comic book efforts which have rather disappointing on the whole.

Archie Comics have been given the honour of publishing this latest title and they in turn have bestowed writing duties upon Ian Flynn who, in my opinion, has tackled this in the best way possible. Despite the age of that initial video game, the story is still as simple and effective today as it was then and Flynn has appears to have recognised that by following it as closely as possible in this debut. The year 200X sees mankind and robots on the brink of a potential Utopian society as two of the greatest thinkers and robot builders, Dr Light and Dr Wily, plan to unveil their greatest AI constructions, the six Robot Masters who will have the power to shape a ‘perfect tomorrow’. But wouldn’t you know it, the cannily monikered Dr Wily is something of a shady fellow with nefarious plans of his own and before you can say ‘thought so’ buildings are burning, citizens sent screaming and all hell is breaking loose as the Robot Masters run riot.

The simple ideas about peace and prosperity and the corruption of power are there to see but are also fleshed out by poignant and efficient dialogue that quickly establishes the former partnership between Light and Wily and adds an extra dimension to the back story. That said, this is aimed at a younger market so we’re not getting deep analysis on the state of society or the implications of robots and humans living together here, but just enough material to ensure that this isn’t your standard black and white, good vs evil story. Rock, the young robot boy who eventually becomes the titular hero, is cast as the beacon of bravery and though his scenes are a little on the sugary side in terms of portraying his helpfulness and compassion it thankfully fails to become sickly as he’s soon undergoing a transformation into the mega-busting robot we all know and love.

The art from Patrick ‘Spaz’ Spaziante is exceptional as he captures that retro manga feel associated with the franchise perfectly and, most importantly, maintains a brilliant sense of proportion throughout. While these characters follow the ‘super-deformed’ mould for the most part, previous artists have struggled to keep the uniform ‘roundness’ which this world is known for and have leaned towards a spikier, less-friendly and ultimately less successful style. Spaziante nails it first time and the initial action pages really capture the feeling of colourful fun that should accompany any Mega Man comic.

This is by far the best Mega Man adaptation I have read to date and it promises good things for the rest of this four-issue arc and the series beyond. Archie seem to be a perfect fit for the Mega Man property and in terms of writing and art I’d say it’s definitely in the right hands. It may be a little too cartoony for some and the youth-oriented focus may put off some older readers but there’s a decent 22-page comic adventure and origin story here and you might be mega-impressed - I certainly am! 8/10

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