The Blue Ink: Archie’s Mega Man #7 – Beware the Cute Ones

By Erico Having come face to face with CWU-01P, Mega Man and his two companions must now put an end to it. It's a simple-minded thing; it doesn't understand that the first Robot Rebellion is over. It only knows what it's programmed to know: Protect the poop chutes, and intruder alert. In this situation, the preferred method of putting a dent into this jerk is to Guts it up and Super Arm some blocks of compacted trash into its head.

Well, Rock didn't take the power of Guts Man (or anyone) before setting out, and he rarely relies on charge shots, so we have to do this the hard way.

Even CWU-01P has a few unexpected tricks up his sleeve. Those tiny nozzles dotting its surface are actually release valves for probes... exploding probes. Who knows what they were originally designed for once upon a time? I assume they're like those Big Fish in Bubble Man's stage and the tiny shrimp: The Big Fish does the heavy lifting, and the shrimp, and these probes, were tasked with exploration and doing the field testing.

But now they explode. Joyous occasions.

Thinking on his feet, Mega Man puts his analytical positronic brain to the trial and comes up with a solution. Ice Man handles the baby CWUs, freezing them solid so they won't blow up in their faces again, and Cut Man gets down to business shredding the shield of Bubble Lead that CWU-01P hides behind.

With its barrier removed, Rock puts the hurt on the thing with his arm cannon and we are off to the races. A platform takes them back up to the surface... right where they started, in the kaleidoscopic room where they fought Mega's clone.

Okay, stage review: The guys at Archie are inferring that this fortress followed the Mega Man: Powered Up formula. Mega Man was supposed to tackle CWU-01P after the Yellow Devil, but circumvented the Second Ring entirely and moved to the boss of the Third Ring by Magnet Beaming himself over the Death(spike) Valley. Touche, salesman. Touche.

Of course, this turn of events also means that Mega Man and the jokester two did all that work just to bump into a dead end. Red herring in hand, they return to the work site where Elec Man and the rest of the Sunshine Five are still busy gettin' stuff done.

Reporting their failure, the moping of the Robot Masters is interrupted when Agent Krantz (the girl who actually thinks) shows up and reports that she discovered the note and the oily mess left behind at Light's house. Welp, the cat's out of the bag now, Mega!

Well, it appears that THE MAN isn't quite as hard-hearted as we originally thought; he let Light hang around in his office! Drink coffee! Play Game Boy! Defragment his hard drive... damn, I knew there was a catch.

Mega Man and Agent Krantz report what they found, and with what they know, Dr. Light is finally able to do his damn job and play intel officer. The presence of oil on the scene of the crime makes him think that the two "incomplete" Robot Masters he'd given Wily to finish up are related, and he gives the squad the coordinates of the workshop that Time Man and Oil Man were built in.

Gee, was that so hard? Well, no, it wasn't. Dr. Wily made it easy for them to find him. He wanted them to find him.

You ever watch the Disney movie, The Great Mouse Detective?? Rather dark Sherlock Holmes spinoff? Has Vincent Price voice acting in it, and a racy burlesque scene?

Well, I can't help but flash back to about halfway through the movie when Professor Ratigan's spazzing out over the fact that Fidget's dropped list will give Basil of Baker Street everything he needs to find his secret sewer hideout. And then, liiiiightbulb, he's suddenly smiling. And you know that Basil's going to be walking into a trap... a very big trap. A rat trap.

The same feeling was tingling my spine here as well. Why does Wily want them to come? Why does he want Rock to bring Elec Man and the Sunshine Five along with him? Because he has an evil plan! He's an evil genius, do we need to question this?!

Duh, gee, where'd everyone go? Dark warehouse, and what do they do? They split the party. What's the first rule of adventuring? Never Split the Party! I mean, sure, "Let's split up, gang" sounds like a good idea if you want the brain, the reefer addict, and the dog to do the heavy lifting while you go get some nookie time with the team's cheerleader, but this time it really bites our heroes in the tuchus! Fire Man, Cut Man, Guts Man, and Ice Man form Team One, with Mega, Bomb, Elec Man, and Agent Krantz on Team Two.

First shot out of the box, and Fire Man's taken down by Time Man, who Time Slows him for the quick kill. Ice Man and Cut Man are victim of a snatch and run by Oil Man, which leaves Guts Man wondering, "Duhhh, gee, where'd the guys go?" And that's all he has time to consider before Time Man's on top of him like me on a ham sandwich (with no mayonnaise).

Team two doesn't have any luck, either. Time Man uses his Time Slow and puts the kibosh on them all from the start; Bomb Man's frozen and helpless, while Elec Man (who's immune to the effect due to his high electromagnetic field) gets dropped hard by Oil Man on support. That just leaves Mega Man and Agent Krantz, who keep stumbling ahead, none the wiser.

They meet up with Wily who's looking rather dashing this time of year in the latest fashion for mad scientists. They trade some not so witty banter, and then Oil Man and Time Man are on the case!

Agent Krantz deals with Time Man, who's staying with Time Arrows and brute force for the human fight, which leaves Oil Man to rassle with Mega Man. He has the upper hand for a bit, but Mega Man is nothing if not adaptable, and he quickly turns the tables on Oil Man, using the fella's own oil slicks to slide around, stay mobile, and blast the crap out of him. Just a tool-using robot, huh? Well, who's the tool now?!

Of course, his momentary victory is for naught, because it's time for Wily's big dramatic reveal. Pleased to meet you, won't you guess my name? It seems he's recaptured Elec Man and the Sunshine Five, and reprogrammed them all with some control chips. Ain't that a kick in the head.

Terrific. And no teleport chambers? No health drops between them? Didn't we just do this? Well, roll up the sleeves, Mega Man. Time to get moving.

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You know, I enjoy the subtle allusions to the level design within games. It's like the ultimate inside joke. It takes a dyed-in-the-wool Mega Man gamer to understand the gag behind fighting CWU-01P and then being brought right back up where you started. What makes this one even more delicious is that only somebody who's played both the original Mega Man and its remake gets the full extent of the red herring gag this time around with the Stage 2/Stage 3 interplay.

Is this a bad thing? Hardly, kid's movies make a habit out of these hidden jokes. It was six years after Beauty and The Beast hit theaters in the early 90's before I discovered Gaston was actually proud of his spitting ability, which was a bit of a letdown. And who can forget much less subtly implied fart joke from Timon and Pumbaa? Or the oh so delectable sexual lust of Frolo towards Esmerelda?

So, there's a storied tradition behind gags that only the adults get. Love them or hate them, they aren't going away. So I prefer to love them, because they keep me coming back for more.

Something else to examine here, again, is the cover. Issue 6, as you might recall, had a terrific and dynamic cover on it. Issue 7, this time around, looks decent. We see the hero coming face to face with Time Man and Oil Man, looking a little beat up but still full of fight. But something about it was unsettling me. Oh, yes, that-- the speech bubble on it.

Now, this may be me nitpicking over a singular detail, but it's my understanding that critics get to nitpick from time to time. I found the speech bubble above Rock's head to be distracting. I didn't NEED it to understand what he was thinking. Instead, all it did for me was break up a rather good looking picture with some unnecessary fluff.

I can't complain that they're trying something new: Comic books have occasionally whipped out speech bubbles on the front cover over the years for much larger and well-known heroes, like Spider-Man, Wolverine, etc., so this is nothing new. But, I thought Mega Man was better than that. He's the strong, silent type most of the time. He's good at it, he doesn't need it, and for him to use one seems to weaken his awesomeness.

Now, I have three guiding principles. I've had them for years, and yes, I had them before Kung Fu Panda came out. The first is, "Love, peace, and doughnuts." The second is something I came up with twelve years ago: "Life is a story. You are a chapter. Fill in the pages." And the third, which is relevant here, is the Law of Awesome:

"The success of an idea, plan, or scheme is directly proportional to how ludicrous, ridiculous, or bat**** insane it sounds upon explanation."

I've since discovered that my Law of Awesome is strikingly similar to something else called the Rule of Cool, but I'll stick with mine, thanks. The Law of Awesome just sounds more dramatically imposing. Using it, I've insta-killed Mind Flayers with flocks of trained Corollax dive-bombing them, convinced trolls to open up gift shops instead of attacking bridge travelers, and more recently, impersonated a god to make a priest of theirs crack and tell us everything they knew. So how does the Law of Awesome apply here?

For one, Mega Man sliding around on Oil Man's oil slicks to take him down? That's a Law of Awesome moment. A couple of issues back, Mega Man used the Super Arm to leap on top of Wily's Wilymachine and crack the canopy housing almost clean off. That's another Law of Awesome moment, and also a bit of foreshadowing for what happens to Gamma, the peace-keeping robot.

But Elec Man and the Sunshine Five being taken down without a fight? And having Rock on the cover saying something as lame as "Bring it on?" Oh man, that just sucks all the mojo out of the room.

Long story short, Issue 7 was about the tables turning on the good guys, rather quickly and rather poorly. The conversion of Elec Man and the Sunshine Five, and the rapid victories of Oil Man and Time Man do give us the impression that these two are rather dangerous. The only problem is... I know better. Elec Man is by far the most dangerous of the original Robot Masters. He's strong enough to overpower Time Man's one "instant victory" ability. They should have been able to scrap it up a little bit.

But, this is a weakness of the comic book format. Having only so many pages in an issue to use, and with as much as they had going on, the writer and artist had to lead into Issue 8, where Rock has to take on all eight Robot Masters at once with a minimum of fuss. So, cheap victories all around for Time Man and Oil Man.

So, how do I rate this issue? Well, no themes here to speak of, which isn't always a bad thing; even Aesop tended to run dry on occasion. The cover? Well, that speech bubble ruined it for me. The events inside? Ugh. Elec Man, you're better than this. Agent Krantz put up more of a fight than you did, and she's a human! This is why I hated the Transformers movies up until #3: The humans should never be better than the robots!

Long story short: Issue 7 disappointed me. It's a transition piece between the awesomeness of Issue 6, and hopefully the awesomeness of Issue 8. And to me, that's madness.

This isn't madness. This. Is. Mega Maaaaan!

For the Blue Ink.

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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.