He’s one of the most recognizable characters in video games, a boyish blue robot who’s starred in ten platform action games for home consoles as well as spawning numerous spinoffs. And in April, Archie Comics brings the Blue Bomber back to comics in a new ongoing “Mega Man” series by “Sonic the Hedgehog” scribe Ian Flynn and artist Pat Spaziante. The Capcom game series, a hit on everything from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Playstation Network and X-Box Live, has enjoyed a renaissance in the last few years with the release of two new games in the original series sporting classic 8-bit graphics, and two well-regarded manga series are now available in translation for the first time. CBR News spoke with Flynn about his own plans for the “Mega Man” comic and the hazards of equipping the Mega Buster.
Regarding his own history with Capcom’s famous Blue Bomber, Flynn said that challenging platformers tend to get the best of him. “I’ve always had a great deal of respect for the franchise and its characters, but I can’t play the games for the life of me,” he confessed. “Y’know that super-easy mode they introduced in ‘Mega Man 10?’ I’m the type of player that mode was made for.”
With the original “Mega Man” debuting on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987, the character has a long history in video games, and players have met a number of memorable characters along the way. But there have also been animated series and “Mega Man” stories in other media. Asked what his sources his own take would draw upon, Flynn said that the “Mega Man” comic would hew close to the core game series. “Where most North American renditions have tried to make Mega Man a super hero or adapt him for western audiences, we’re going to stick much closer to the games. We’ll have our own original characters and plots from time to time, but we’re approaching the source material with an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality,” he told CBR.
From this perspective, it is perhaps not surprising that this series will take Mega Man back to his roots. “We’re starting from the very beginning. Back when Mega Man was just ‘Rock,’ Dr. Light had only created six Robot Masters and nobody expected Dr. Wily to attack,” Flynn said.
“The first arc is, essentially, the first game of the Mega Man Classic series. It’s the story of Rock and his transformation into Mega Man, his first battles with the Robot Masters and his first confrontation with Dr. Wily.”
Aside from Mega Man himself, readers will meet the friends and rivals who appear in our hero’s early adventures. “Dr. Light is Rock/Mega Man’s creator, mentor and (eventually) father-figure. Roll is Rock’s sister who both loves him and nags him, and helps remind him who he is sometimes,” Flynn said. “And of course there’s Dr. Wily, Dr. Light’s old college buddy and partner at Light Labs who forces Rock into taking up the Mega Buster. Again, we’re not straying very far from the source material, but that in and of itself might be a surprise for some fans.”
Part of the fun of the “Mega Man” series of games involves deciding in which order to tackle the bosses and their levels, a device that may be difficult to reproduce in comics. “When approaching how to lay out the arc, I tried to take two things into consideration: the order for passing the Robot Masters with the least hassle, and how the stages might be linked up in a reasonable way,” Flynn said. “For the first arc, we’re leaning more heavily towards the former.
“The main draw of the games is learning the levels, their myriads of traps and enemies and which boss beats which. Obviously, in a printed medium, we take that option away entirely,” the writer continued. “The challenge for us is to recreate the thrill of Mega Man’s adventures as he navigates each area, inject a bit of character into the Robot Masters and tell it as the cohesive narrative we all made up in our heads as we played through the games. (Or, in my case, watched others play.)”
Flynn has been working on “Sonic the Hedgehog” and his associated titles for several years, but says there are few similarities between writing for that video game property and “Mega Man.” “They’re like night and day,” he said. “‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ and ‘Sonic Universe’ have incredibly rich, deep mythos unique to the books to call upon and a staggering cast of characters to fill almost any role. With ‘Sonic,’ the games are more of a general guideline; a component to the greater whole.
“With ‘Mega Man,’ the stories are already laid out before us. Between the main series, the Gameboy games and the many other games on the side, our path is clear. There’s room for interpretation and invention, but its plotline is much more concrete,” Flynn continued. “Additionally, the title characters are completely different to write for. Sonic is cool, confident and a bit of a jerk sometimes. He’s all about motion, fluidity and being stylish. Mega Man is the other side of that coin: sweet, polite and empathetic. He’s a bit clunkier in his action, and he’s more about big, explosive moments spread between periods of exploration. They’re both noble, heroic characters but they approach their world, friends and enemies in completely different ways.”