The only thing all-ages comics are usually missing is gratuitous violence. If, instead of littered wires and metal, there was flesh and blood, this issue of Mega Man would be worse than a plucking Garth Ennis comic. Thankfully writer Ian Flynn understands that a Mega Man comic needs some Mega Buster blasting, so issue #2 is wall-to-wall action. The previous issue was mostly setup, a solid introduction to newbies to the universe but with enough pace and skill to maintain a familiar reader’s interest. This month’s story jumps right into the fray with the apt title of “Weapons Get!”
Mega Man initially tries to avoid destroying Dr. Wily’s rogue robots attackers, remarking that they’re his brethren, but Dr. Light reminds him that it is kill or be killed. It’s a minor touch, but it demonstrates a true understanding of the character. Once they’ve diffused the moral quandary, Flynn and penciller Patrick Spaziante orchestrate action sequences worth of any title in the Mega Man universe. Mega Man bangs it out with Bomb Man, Guts Man and Cutman, acquiring powers through his sweet, sweet soul-stealing. Flynn has a handle on keeping exposition to a minimum, and so we briefly learn what we need to know when it’s necessary — how Mega Man’s power absorption works, for example — and then move on in favor of more storytelling and characterization.
Flynn writes Mega Man through a unique lens, one the games rarely touch. While in those he’s portrayed as an expert soldier, here he’s written as a young kid in body armor who doesn’t know himself or his potential for damage. Moments in which Dr. Light explains how he can only use one power at a time or how to activate those powers ring with a sense of concern from the character, as well as tight, informative dialogue. It’s a tough rope to cross, especially when considering this is based on an existing property known for its Engrish and stuff-blowing-up, not its emotional depths. The book also has a sense of humor to keep it from being too straightforward — Cut Man speaks in terrible puns, and Mega Man embraces his power by telling Guts Man that he “punches lasers from his fist.”
Flynn’s writing is engaging yet easy to follow, but the star of the show is the boss battles. Always an integral part of the games, they flow with an energy and an immediacy that can be difficult to capture in panel-to-panel breakdowns. Spaziante’s pencils are clean and tight, accurately capturing the famous look of the video game, with its kinetic, manga-inspired stylings. He draws action quite well, too — huge scenes of bombs blowing up and weapons being engaged feel dangerous and look pretty, in no small part due to Rick Bryant’s thin, accentuated inks and Matt Herms’ bright, 16-bit color palette.
As a huge fan of the series, it seems odd that Mega Man hasn’t not made a bigger splash in mainstream comics before, but now it’s clear that the time is right. Archie can use this title to highlight its variety of publications for readers coming in just for the robots, and we as readers get to share what’s sure to be one of the most fun and reliably engaging all-ages comics on the market. Mega Man is a series that can be read by anyone and will be enjoyed by everyone — the bright colors and the explosions will satiate even the bloodlustiest child’s imagination.