Mega Man #3, November 2003, Dreamwave Productions
writer: Brian Augustyn
artist: Mic Fong
backgrounds: Pak Lok & Ching
colorists: Stuart Ng & Susan Luo
letterer: Paul Villafuerte
Blogger's Note: Entry for Sunday, April 13, 2008.
Mega Man was the first video game that ever made me forsake the open air of a beautiful summer day and shut myself up indoors to fiddle my thumbs over a handheld controller and mutate my eyes into the radiated pools of barely functioning optical sensors that they are today. Actually, I take that back. Berserk for my Atari 2600 was the first, and though I haven’t researched it on-line, I’m certain that Berserk was a game that had no end. Like the robotic apocalypse itself, Berserk was a perpetual onslaught of 8-bit eternal adventure -- during which the only hope was a deceptively dangerous bouncing happy face. No, Mega Man was the first multi-level “boss”-driven video game that captured my attention, complete with transitional story sequences and a subconscious sense of fledgling identity founded on overwhelming daddy issues. What adolescent child of a single mom wouldn’t dig it?
So, I picked up Dreamwave’s Mega Man #3 with both enthusiasm and caution. See, as much as I fondly remember “the Blue Bomber,” I haven’t indulged in his latest incarnations, thanks in large part to my impatience for and inability to operate today’s newfangled gaming systems, and frankly I was afraid that reading this issue would have been like watching somebody play a current Mega Man over his shoulder. In other words, I was afraid that it would be confusing, and even if I got a turn I wouldn’t know what I was doing. Fortunately, this issue boasts fluid, linear storytelling and crisp, manga-inspired art, so while it boasts a very definitive genre, it isn’t mired in continuity (yet) to forsake old school fans looking for a graphic Mega Man fix. It’s a comic book first, then a video game adaptation. Thank goodness.
This issue’s inside front cover “previously” blurb must have been a misprint, because, rather than explain what had happened in the first issues, it summarized the story to follow. I guess I didn’t mind -- it was like an instruction manual for this different kind of interactive experience. (The arcade game design was much appreciated, too.) In this version, Mega Man is in high school, and after an intense battle with Multiple Man, his highly anticipated night at the dance is interrupted by some boom box bot that may or may not be from a Mega Man game I haven’t played yet. Unfortunately, the attack was a distraction, as the Blue Bomber discovers when he goes home, and Dr. Light is gone. It’s actually very much the Splinter-is-kidnapped moment from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arc (a series also adapted by Dreamwave at one point), and the emotional connection elevates Mega Man’s plight from multi-level cosmic adventure to multi-dimensional personal quest.
Interestingly, though Mega Man’s purpose has always been to conquer Dr. Wiley’s evil “men,” becoming a man is this little hero’s greatest challenge. Like all of us, the ultimate boss at the game is Who-Will-I-Be Man. Yeah, and you though Shadow Man was tough. Fortunately, if I remember correctly, the greater the villain, the greater reward.