Sunday, October 10, 2010

Archie Comics Snags Mega Man!

It's finally happening...again! The rights to Mega Man are being whored out to the highest bidder, this time it's Archie Comics: home of the most successful (or at least the longest) run of video game to comic book series in North America, Sonic the Hedgehog. Here's a look at the first cover:

The first issue is slated to be drawn by Patrick Spaziante and written by Ian Flynn. Both are veterans at Archie Comics, working mostly on the aformentioned Sonic the Hedgehog series. Sorces say that the story line will be following the original Mega Man series, so we're talking the old 8-bit Mega Man (released in 1987) up to the most current installment, Mega Man 10 (released in 2010). Rumors are bubbling already that if this title is a success then future titles maybe be in the works: Mega Man X, Mega Man Legends, and maybe even Mega Man Battle Network. Let's hope that Flynn remembers what made these games so endearing in the first place: great character design and a massive amount of sweet bad guys all with the last name MAN! This seems fairly obvious to anybody whose ever played a Mega Man game before, but you'd be surprized. Below is a preview page of the first issue, so far it looks like Spaz and Flynn know what they're doing.
There has been attempted Mega Man comics before in North America, that missed the mark by so far that it seemed like they were shooting at a different frickin' target. That's right, remember these guys...?

DreamWave comics, an aspiring company out of Cananda that went belly up after about a year or two of production (2003-2004). This company had rights to some of the most successful franchises of the late 80s and early 90s: Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, as well as some popluar gaming titles: Mega Man, Metroid, Kill Zone and Devil May Cry, not to mention a handful of original titles. It's a wonder why they went bankrupt, with such a steller -take-your-money-out-of-your-wallet-and-give-it-to-me line up, but I'm not here to speculate on the mishaps that happened at DreamWave in the early 2000's, I'm here to tell you about how bad they fucked up their Mega Man comic.
Yep, here it is. All four issues, they even collected it in a pocket size so that you could carry it around with you every where to read a poorly plotted out story where Dr. Light decides that Rocky (Mega Man) has to go to school as a civilian child to learn just what it is to be a human. The first three issues deal with Rocky having a crush on a human girl, trying to deal with his feelings on that, and the whole while being bullied by three bullies who just so happen to be Dr. Wily's nephews. I mean, come ON! We're talking about Mega Man here, the Blue Bomber! He has a frickin' arm cannon instead of a hand! He's not gonna take any shit from three snot nosed bullies at a middle school in Japan. He'd blow their frickin' heads off with his P-Buster, just like in the games. Was there ever anything in any Mega Man game that you didn't blast into oblivion once it made its way on the screen? Nope, never.
The fault seems to lie with writer for this series Brian Augustyn. It seemed like he'd never played a Mega Man game in his life, and if he did, he couldn't put his pen on what made it so great. Don't let these covers fool you, this is mostly like reading a bad episode of Saved By The Bell, with a do-gooder whiny-assed robot playing the lead of Zak Morse. They spend more time in this series in the teen drama romance than they do having Mega Man fight bad robots. And when he does fight bad robots, they aren't any from the game. In fact, the designs are so different from any Mega Man game, it might as well have been in a totally different universe, where robots go to high school and date human chicks. They could have called it Saved By the Robot, or Zak Man. I would have scanned in some images of these great comic sequences, but I've locked all four issues in a box that says "Do not open ever. Seriously." and mailed it to the restricted section in the library at Hogwarts.
To top it all off, the last issue totally disreguards any previous story in the first three issues (thank GAWD) and ends rather abruptly with Mega Man X swooping in (from the future, mind you) to gather up Rocky to help him fight a giant Robot War in the future...hey wait a minute, when is Rocky gonna kiss Chelsea? And spend time studying with his buddy Alan when schools out, and teach those good for nothing Wily bullies what for?
As you can tell from that ranting, this series wasn't what most Mega Man fans were expecting. The reason I dwell on it so much, is that Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante, the very same penciler who is drawing the first issue in the new Archie Comics Mega Man line, drew the fourth and final issue in the DreamWave series. Though that entire series, the DreamWave one, sucked, there is still hope. The last issue, was Spazzified, if you will, with meticulous details in the backgrounds. He added in Robot Masters from the games where ever he could and even many little baddies to boot. It was great to see his effort, and each panel looked as though it were official Capcom licensed artwork. Spaz, from what we've seen so far, looks like a mega choice for this series. If only Flynn will learn from the mistakes Augustyn made and not just rewrite his favorite 90210 episodes with Mega Man as Brendan and Rush as Steve, we'll be okay. Udon Press has recently been bringing Mega Man comics to North America that have been printed ages ago in Japan. They've been drawing about Mega Man over there forever and not fucking it up with delusions of teen romance. Hitoshi Ariga is the author of the MegaMix title. You can tell by reading this book that Ariga has totally submerged himself in the Mega Man world. He probably has played these games so much that he could beat them without dying once. This dedication is instantly picked up on by the reader. The first volume is mostly action sequences of frickin' robots fighting each other, with small, fun, plot lines tying the events together. There's a lot of heart in these stories, but they never get preachy or self indulgent. An author who respects the enjoys the source material. Imagine that. Not once does Mega Man sit down for a soda and hamburgers at the Peach Pit, he's too busy saving the world from evil frickin' robots!
The first two volumes are out now, and the third should be released sometime early in 2011. If you need a Mega Man comic fix before Spring in 2011, these should tide you over nicely. This also might be a nice time to plug my own comic endeavor of Mega Man. I'm getting together a nice assortment of dedicated cartoonist to have their hand in the Mega Man universe. The book is called Mega Manthology and is due out in early Spring 2011. It's a fanzine (please don't sue Capcom) with all profits being donated to a charity as of yet unchosen. You can find out the details here: if you're interested.
I'll leave you off with some more sketches from the Spaz. I'll say these are looking really great. Until next time: Fight on, True Believers, for everlasting peace!

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