When faced with eight Robot Masters all at once, you have a few choices: Run away, set off a bomb designed to level small cities, or play it smart and pick them apart a piece at a time.
For the sake of pacing (and also because we didn't bring along a nuke in a suitcase), Mega Man, Sonic, and their pals go with what's behind door number three. The stress of the situation is alleviated somewhat because Wily and Robotnik are once again fluffing up their own egos in self-congratulatory prattle.
Sonic, getting headlocked by the roboticized Vector, complains it's making him sick. Then Mega Man has a brilliant idea: He demands answers from the two mad scientists about what exactly they've been up to. Why is this important? Because then they start monologuing.
Anybody who's watched The Incredibles knows there's one surefire way to buy yourself some time to get your bearings for a comeback: You make the villains start monologuing. Twenty-five hundred years later and the Greek theatrical format is alive and well!
Blues takes the opportunity to shield bash his way out of the mess and make a break for it. But it isn't cowardice, not in the least. Proto Man is an infiltration expert: In the Game Boy games, he'd sneak into enemy territory and drop off items for Mega Man in secret rooms. Hell, he even passed out an Energy Balancer once. He's dead-set on making his way into the Wily Egg and finding Dr. Light... and the funny thing, he's done this before.
Naturally, his departure alters the gameplan slightly, and we're spared a full eight Roboticized Master slugfest: Acknowledging that Dr. Light's a threat that needs to be kept off the board, Robotnik orders the first five of their shared flunkies to stop Blues, which leaving EWN-006 through 008, which is Team Chaotix, to fight with the remaining good guys. So, let's think about this for a moment: Robotnik just dropped the odds against the good guys from a 2 to 1 ratio to a 1 to 1 ratio. What do you suppose is going to happen?
Well, if you said "Tails is going to do a mod on the Mega Buster," congratulations, you win the jar of jelly beans. This plan surprised me, as I was expecting Sonic and Mega Man to use their old one-two punch a few more times, and that's certainly Mega Man's plan, but it's one the bad guys aren't exactly going to stand by and let happen. Going with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, Tails gets to tug on his super genius and refit the Mega Buster to mimic Sonic's spin dash.
There's precedent for Mega Man getting a refit to his main weapon. If you really sucked in Mega Man IV, Dr. Light powered your Mega Buster to fire with a speedier oomph, and who can forget the Mega Arm when he went up against the Stardroids? This time, he instead gets a charged shot which tumbles in a Sonic-shaped blast... and even more strangely, it does more than render the Roboticized Masters unconscious, it's enough to completely knock them loose without doing a Weapons Copy touch.
Vector's the first to be freed from the new move, and his power gets turned into a bouncing green superball which Sonic passes over. Charmy follows, and in a moment where Rush gets to show off his super sniffer, Espio is the last of Team Chaotix to be liberated.
With Team Chaotix back on Team Hero, Mega Man dispatches the thankful detectives to track down his bro and make sure that the other Roboticized Masters don't go and tug on his yellow scarf. For a change, it's Robotnik who's more upset about the turning wheels of fortune than the more pragmatic Wily. Of course, the coffee-drinking villain of Mega City has reason to be cheerful: He has an entire host of Robot Masters to fall back on, they're sending Shadow Man (and the real Shadow Man) to slow down Sonic and Mega, and best of all, they still have their ace in the hole.
There may be more good guys now, but Mega Man is still missing the most vital teammate he ever had in his corner. The guy who could engineer his way out of a deathtrap with a paper clip, a stick of chewing gum, and a roll of duct tape in true MacGuyver fashion...
No, I wasn't talking about Snively. Although seeing the disgruntled and imprisoned crony of Dr. Robotnik so close to Dr. Light gives me reason to suspect we may be seeing him doing something devious, self-motivated, and entirely destructive soon enough.
The art style done by Yardley is getting better: He seems to be getting a feel for the proportions of Mega Man, which are far more regulated than the squishy biology he's used to doing in the Sonic universe. Of course, there are still moments when I cringe, the main instance of that in this issue being when Mega Man fires his Spinshot for the first time: I swear to God, Mega Man looks constipated as he squeezes it off.
And while we're on the Spinshot: I understand needing to combine Sonic's spin dash and Mega Man's supershot into something more practical, but what I don't get is the justification for that new upgrade to also "Weapons Get" the Roboticized Masters back to normal. It seems more like a hand-waved plot device put in to speed up the pacing than anything reasonable. Sure, I understand Tails is super smart. He's routinely referred to as having an intellect on par (Or maybe a smidge less) than Robotnik's, but somehow he was able to, in the span of two pages, turn Mega Man into the all-purpose Roboticized Master killer? If there's a chink in the story's armor so far, the all-consuming powers of the Spinshot are the definite whoopsie.
What makes it even more ludicrous is this: If Mega Man no longer requires Sonic to put down the Roboticized Masters (aside from having a punching bag for the bad guys to focus on when he's charging his shot), have they effectively made Sonic a moot character at this point? If they intend on proving that these two are still equals, and that Mega Man isn't rocking the biggest piece of equipment on the field, then Sonic is going to have to get some kind of incredible OOFDA move here real quick which balances the scales. Otherwise, my earlier posturing about Mega Man being the superior hero no longer applies in only the moral sense, but the physical as well.
Team Hero is slowly building up steam, and thinking they're capable of pulling off a win here, but Robotnik and Wily are still way too confident in their chances of success for my liking. There's a reason for their strutting: Like Tails freaked out about, they've already collected all seven Chaos Emeralds (and gloated about it), they have an army of Robot Masters at their beck and call, and Dr. Light's getting Gitmo'd. These are all things that need to be remedied for condition green.
Halfway done, folks. Time to bust out the Chaos Emeralds, drop the Disco Ball of Doom, and get psychedelic.
For 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.