This past week, we had the chance to catch up with Archie Comics’ Mega Man (as well as Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe, and The New Crusaders) scribe Ian Flynn to talk about the upcoming story arc which delves into the origin of everyone’s favorite whistling red robot, Proto Man! And we got some exclusive line art of the covers for the respective issues, #17 and #18, too!
So, without further ado…
The Mega Man Network: What does it feel like to be handling the origin story of a fan favorite character who is over 20 years old, and whose backstory has only been touched on lightly in resource materials? Any pressure?
Ian Flynn: Pressure? Why would I feel pressure for delving into the history of one of the franchise’s most beloved characters? The one story that, if I bungle it, may sour everyone to the series for… forever? No! No pressure at all! (cue panicked, “confident” laughter)
IF: It was a little easier, to be honest. With Mega Man’s origin, we had to establish the world and Rock so that his sacrifice meant something. And where Rock’s story is heroic with a touch of tragedy, Blues’s story is pretty tragic throughout, and that’s instantly more engaging.
MMN: How in-depth are you going with the origin of Proto Man? Will we see his creation/activation, or will it pick up a little later than that?
IF: We will see him the moment he’s first activated and his days as Blues. We’re going back to the days where Light Labs wasn’t a household name, Dr. Wily was a little friendlier, and Dr. Light was a little thinner.
MMN: How difficult is it to write whistling into the comic, particularly when the character is so well known for his signature tune?
IF: I stressed over this – a lot (haha). I managed to get a copy of the basic sheet music for the whistle and copy-pasted it into the script. The whistle will be in there.
MMN: Two words: “Break Man.” Any plans to include something regarding that mysterious, short-lived part of his character?
IF: Most definitely. I want to play with his identity – Blues vs. Break Man vs. Proto Man – and this story will tie in neatly with events we’ll be seeing in the current arc, “Spiritus ex Machina.” That isn’t to say we’re going full-blown superhero alter ego here, but one of Blues’s major themes is his identity. Sure, we know the self-assured and somewhat distant Proto Man now, but who was he before that? How did he get there?
MMN: We see Mega Man’s “inner robot,” Rock, when he’s not fighting evil in the comic. Will we see another, similar side to Proto Man? A “Blues” to Mega Man’s Rock, as seemingly alluded to in the first arc?
IF: Like I was saying a moment ago, we’ll be looking at who Blues was upon activation and how he becomes the character we know him as today. It’s not an easy road, or a short one. This origin story will get things started and we’ll be able to flesh him out over time just like the other cast members.
MMN: Over the course of the games, we see Proto Man utilize a number of tools and attacks, such as his own Weapon Copy System and the powerful “Proto Strike.” We’ve seen that Mega Man can already charge his Mega Buster; will Proto Man have some tricks besides his Buster and Proto Shield up his sleeve when he appears?
IF: Keep in mind that this is his origin story, and Dr. Light wasn’t out to make a weapon. Dr. Wily is really the one to thank for truly weaponizing him. Blues will have some tricks up his sleeve, but we’ll be saving stuff for later adventures too.
IF: The fun of prequel stories is being able to allude to things that have already happened or things that are to come. I think fans of the series will pick up on some of my word choices.
MMN: Switching gears, the solicitation for issue #17 reveals that Concrete Man from Mega Man 9 will be putting in an appearance about seven games ahead of when people were probably expecting, much as Pharaoh Man and Dr. Cossack appeared well ahead of Mega Man 4. Is it safe to assume we’ll be seeing more Robot Masters and characters ahead of their “scheduled” game appearances?
IF: Yes, although the list is fairly short. The story behind the Mega Man 9 Robot Masters was that they were too old to remain in service. If that’s going to make sense in the book, we need to be seeing them sooner rather than later.
MMN: The first three arcs knocked out Mega Man, Mega Man Powered Up, and Mega Man 2 in a year’s time. Now things have shifted to more original stories. When might we expect to see Dr. Wily’s Revenge or Mega Man 3?
IF: I wouldn’t go so far as to call Volume Two the “Powered Up Arc,” since it was largely an original story, but I see what you’re getting at. We’re going to take some time to explore the world and characters a bit before we get back into the game adaptations. Then we need to look into that Ra Moon thing that showed up in “Spiritus Ex Machina” (MM#13-16).
I know some Mega Man purists are questioning the order we’re tackling things, but let me assure you, the way we’ve got things figured out is wonderfully elegant. As for the Game Boy series, I’m planning on tackling that set a little differently. I’d like it if we could give the Mega Man Killers, and Quint, a real moment to shine.
MMN: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for us!
IF: Always a pleasure!
Also, special thanks to Alex Segura of Archie Comics for setting up the interview!