As the surprisingly long running comic series Sonic the Hedgehog reaches its 225th issue this spring, publisher Archie Comics is hoping to find the same kind of success with Mega Man.
Based on the video game of the same name, the new Mega Man ongoing comic will launch in May. Published by Archie Comics, the book will be written by Sonic writer Ian Flynn to tell the story of how a young, lovable android named Rock becomes the fighting, world-saving hero known as Mega Man.
The original Mega Man video game — known as "Rockman" in Japan — was released by Capcom in 1987, but has since spawned more than 50 other sequel and spin-off games, making it one of the more prolific video game franchises in history.
As writer of the new series, Flynn is hoping to tap into the same type of enticing "good vs. evil" stories for Mega Man that he's been telling in the Sonic series. As he launches the new series, he'll also be taking the Sonic universe into an event called "Genesis" that kicks off this spring.
Newsarama talked with Flynn about what makes these comics so popular with kids and how he hopes he can capture the essence of Mega Man, even though he's not very good at the game.
Newsarama: Ian, there have been a lot of Mega Man games over the years. How does the new comic tie into that continuity? And does it have anything to do with existing Japanese manga that featured the characters?
Ian Flynn: Mega Man will be looking strictly at the classic series for now. We’ll be telling the stories of Rock, A.K.A. Mega Man, in his never-ending battle with Dr. Wily. We’re hoping to be as faithful to the classic series as possible and including the events from more than just the main Mega Man 1-10 games.
Since Hitoshi Ariga’s Mega Man Megamix does similar, I’m sure there will be a few overlapping plot points in some of the arcs, but the two series aren’t connected in any way, aside from being about the Blue Bomber.
Nrama: Who are the characters that will star in the Mega Man comic -- both heroic and villainous?
Flynn: In the beginning we have Rock and Roll, a pair of child-like helper robots designed and cared for by the benevolent Dr. Thomas Light. Dr. Light is a robotics genius and he dreams of making a better world through advanced robotics. He’s built six revolutionary robots called the Robot Masters, but they’re stolen and reprogrammed by Dr. Light’s old friend, Dr. Albert W. Wily.Dr. Wily unleashes the Robot Masters as weapons, and there is nothing in the world able to stop them. So Rock sacrifices his peaceful ways to be turned into a super-fighting robot – Mega Man!
Nrama: You've got a lot of experience with game-turned-comics characters in Sonic the Hedgehog, which is one of the most popular all ages comics on the market. What is it about the premise of the comic and the cast of characters that makes Sonic such a draw?
Flynn: I think a lot of the draw comes from the simple premise: A cool hero fights an oppressive despot using only his wits and skill. It’s a classic tale of “good vs. evil” and it’s rounded out by colorful, likeable characters. It’s got action, it’s got adventure, and is accessible to everyone.
Nrama: What are you hoping to do for Mega Man to make it the same kind of compelling comic?
Flynn: There’s a reason Mega Man is one of the most enduring videogame franchises in the history of the industry. Like Sonic, you have a clear battle of good (Mega Man) versus evil (Dr. Wily). You have colorful, likeable characters on both sides of the fight. And like Sonic, Mega Man is readily accessible. All a new reader needs to know is the little boy robot with a heart of gold is fighting the mad scientist.
Nrama: What's been the biggest challenge of writing Mega Man?
Flynn: For me, it’s just been gathering all the information so we do this project right. The Mega Man fans out there want to see the hero they know and love have the kinds of adventures they’ve played throughout the games. But I’m terrible at Mega Man! Y’know the new, super-forgiving “Easy Mode” they introduced in Mega Man 10? I’m the type of player they introduced that for. I’ve got a great deal of respect for the franchise and the worlds within it, but I can’t beat a level to save my life!
So I’ve turned to the Internet. Between fan-run Wiki articles to video play-throughs of the games, I think I’ve gotten an accurate and rather in-depth understanding of each game as we turn it into a comic book story.
Nrama: Can you tell us about the first storyline in Mega Man?
Flynn: It’s all about firsts. It’s the first time the world sees Robot Masters. It’s the first time Dr. Wily will make his move to conquer the world. Most importantly, it’s the first time Rock will take up the Mega Buster and become Mega Man. We’re setting all these characters on a path they never saw for themselves, and the first few steps will be thrilling!
Nrama: As long as we're talking about your work on Archie's video game franchises, what's coming up in Sonic? You've got a big event coming up, don't you?
Flynn: We’ve got tons of stuff coming up for Sonic. The main title will be reaching its 225th anniversary issue in early spring. This story will have a huge impact on future events in addition to it being the lead-in for our big “Genesis” event. Meanwhile, the sister title, Sonic Universe, will reach its first milestone with issue #25. Since it’s the book’s silver anniversary, the arc will be focusing on the time-traveling Silver the Hedgehog. And in addition to the two reprint series we have going on (Sonic Archives and Sonic Selects), we’re gearing up to announce three more graphic novel collection series. It’s a good time to be a Sonic fan!
Nrama: Then to finish up, Ian, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Sonic or Mega Man?
Flynn: Sonic the Hedgehog may have been around for over 15 years, but it’s still accessible to anyone who’s never picked up the book. With “Genesis” coming up, now is as good a time as ever to hop on! As for the Mega Man fans, never fear! Your iconic hero is in good hands. Like Sonic, Mega Man is being produced by fans for the fans. You’re in for a treat!