Ooh, look on the cover! It's that thing! That Mega-Thing! Oh, and also that floating robot in a bubble! CWU-01P! Looks like the Archie team found a way to include this missing fortress guardian in after all!
When last we left our intrepid hero and his good-natured creator, they were getting the riot act read to them by Federal Agent Stern, A.K.A. "The Man." Yes, Wily has made good his escape, and somebody has to pay the piper. Stern believes it was all a setup, and that Light is in on it.
Showing his faith in the system, Light voluntarily surrenders himself as a hostage, confident that in time, the truth of what happened will come to... light. Ugh. He tells Mega Man to go home and wait with Roll. Everything will be fine, and they'll all be together again.
Of course, when Mega Man arrives home, he finds what's left of the scuffle which took place at the end of Issue 5. You know, when Oil Man showed up and kidnapped Roll. And look! There's a note on the door! One of those notes...
Well, bugger it. That's never good. Rock spends about ten seconds wondering what he's supposed to do now, slumped on his knees defeated. Of course, for a super-advanced robot like Mega Man, ten seconds is a very long time to think about something.
It gives us time to bounce back over to the evil guys for a while.
We rejoin Dr. Wily, still in prison orange looking out over a small warehouse from the gangway. Time Man presents him with his usual "Mad Scientist Casual" duds, and by the time Oil Man shows up dragging Roll behind him, the villain is feeling pretty darn perky.
We learn that, in spite of their particular skill set and talents, Oil Man and Time Man don't exactly get along. They mix like... oil and... you know, I'm not gonna say it, everyone knows this analogy. After a brief scuffle in which Wily gets to play the disappointed daddy, Time Man and Oil Man get back to work.
And I slap my head, because despite the wardrobe change, the writer is bound and determined to stereotype Oil Man anyhow. Really? You don't think he deserves better? Oh well... Roll is confused about where they came from, and Dr. Wily is more than happy to start monologuing about his superior genius, about how they're better than anything Light ever made, and how thanks to them, The World Will Soon Be His™!
Well, enough of that. Let's get back to the real action, shall we? We rejoin Elec Man and the Sunshine Five hard at... work, play, something... back in the deconstruction zone. Their game of girder beam baseball is rudely interrupted when Mega Man blasts their ball, a chunk of squished rubble, to pieces. I'm pretty sure that destroying the ball gets you thrown out of the stadium by the umps.
Having gotten their attention, Mega Man explains the situation. They can't go to the authorities, and Roll's in danger. Caught between their commitment to the cleanup project and their desire to help Mega Man, a Scooby-Doo-styled compromise is reached: Cut Man and Ice Man shall tag along with Mega as support, while the other four finish up their assignment.
Yes, and I'm sure that Ice Man doesn't have his own agenda for wanting to keep her safe. Don't you try to hide it, you little Eskimo, I know what you do with those ice sculptures in the basement when no one else is home! This brought a chuckle to my heart, as it's long been a tradition in the manga and elsewhere that Ice Man carries a frozen torch for the blond-haired housekeeping robot.
Following logic, which is a rare trait for this mischievous bunch, they return to the scene of the crime: Wily's first fortress. Yup, it's still a mess. In their explorations of this empty tomb, they stumble across a hole in the wall of the kaleidoscopic room where they faced off against Mega Man's evil clone. Well, neither of the Robot Masters know anything about it, so Mega Man suggests that they have a look. Down the rabbit hole, fellas...
In the depths, they find it empty, save for some Suzy robots in hibernation mode, and... oh, crap. They just woke up. Welp, run away! And in the process of running away, the low rushing rumble of water draws their attention. Well, whaddya know! It's Stage 3 from the first Wily Fortress, after all! Only in this interpretation, it's not the underground sewer passages he needs to bypass the Third Ring's defenses, it's a sub-basement waste processing facility that Wily had tucked away for a rainy day!
Naturally, the three get washed down the poop tubes, and into a room that looks very, very familiar to knowledgeable gamers...
They're stuck in a room with no clear way out, and the water rushing in from all sides to keep them pinned down. Rather inconvenient. Well, I'm positive that something is supposed to happen in this underwater cistern. Wasn't there supposed to be some kind of trap, or lurking threat, or...
Oh, why hello there, CWU-01P. You seem a little angry. Are you mad that you got left out of the first four issues? Back for a little revenge? Wanna doughnut? No?
Nuts. This won't go well at all.
Now, I could spend this section of critiquing focused on the unfortunate vocabulary choices of Oil Man after all the hard work they did in redesigning him to not be a racial stereotype, but that's just too darn easy a thing to pick on. After all, I'm a writer, right? After ten years, reading my prose doesn't cause headaches. I know the traditions used by cinema, television, comic books and soap operas to advance the plot and keep things fresh. There's even a page on TVTropes dedicated to my stuff, if I ever felt like checking to see all the stunts that I and the other "Legacy of Metal" authors have used over the years. I should be able to wheedle and whine with about a third of the talent that Andy Rooney routinely possessed in his Sunday night diatribes.
What is it about this issue that tickled me the right way? Something seemed... different. Better. And you have no farther to look than the cover.
Seriously, scroll up to the top of this article and look at it. We see Mega Man and pals in the thick of it, fighting against CWU-01P in the frothy, bubbly depths. The cover is colorful. It is dynamic. There is action taking place, and instead of a stock photo of the hero like you'd expect on a movie poster, the comic cover seems alive, as though a snapshot had been taken of them in the middle of the fight. I love all the bubbles around them, especially the stream coming from the firing port of his Buster where the plasma is vaporizing the water as soon as it reaches the charging shot.
This issue is meant for the heroes, even if they are just reacting to the trouble that Wily and his two misfit Robot Masters have caused. Finally, we get a really heroic, really well designed cover to set the stage. The other covers up to this point were... well, just there. This is one cover that I'm proud to have in my collection. Wouldn't mind a wall poster of it.
So what's there to complain about? I gotta complain about something, right? Part of the job of a reviewer is to find some small fault, something that they can nitpick and tear away at. It's rare that we can find something so flawless that nobody dares to offer a sour word on it. Perfection scares us. Well, if I can't talk about Oil Man, then let's focus on Light.
At the start of this story, he just gives himself up. While a well-intentioned move, it has the undesired consequence of removing him as an ally and adviser. It is definitely naive of him; any other brilliant guy would acknowledge he can do more good outside of a jail cell than inside of it. That's a common plot in murder thrillers... you have a fugitive running from the law, trying to find the person really responsible for the crime he was blamed for. Hell, it's bread and butter stuff. It's about as commonplace as "Never surrender your weapon, even if they do have a hostage" and "if you're a villain, never have a daughter because she'll always be seduced by the good guy."
The consequence of this risky move of Light's is simple: It means that, for the first time, Rock is on his own. He has to figure out what to do without any input from his maker. That's the major reason he goes back and enlists the help of Elec Man and the Sunshine Five; he does it more to bounce his concerns off of them than anything else. He needs to be where his people are, where troubles are all the same. He needs to be where everybody knows his name.
This is a real test for him. Does Mega Man have the chutzpah to take on this challenge with minimal support? Can he save his sister from the clutches of Dr. Wily? Can he defeat these two new Robot Masters?
All questions to be answered next time, in The Blue Ink.
When he isn't writing "The Blue Ink" reviews for The Mega Man Network, Erico (The Super Bard) spends his days keeping track of the "Legacy of Metal" fanon, dabbling in cooking and tea-brewing, and exploring the human condition from his Iowa stomping grounds.
The views expressed here reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mega Man Network.