The Blue Ink Reviews: Mega Man #32 - Hero's Price

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost." -Arthur Ashe

--------------------------------

It is a dark time for Mega Man and the world at large. Ra Moon has turned Ra Thor, Wily's last robotic build against him, leaving the team outmatched. Time is running out for the world, and for them as well... their specialized electromagnetic-protective coating won't last forever. While the Series 2 Wilybots, The Wreckers, and Break Man hold the Series 3 Robot Masters at bay, Mega Man turns his considerable array of weaponry against Ra Thor. He throws everything he can at the guy, but Ra Thor just keeps coming... and worse, Ra Moon finally makes the smart play and rescinds his protection, frying the Series 2 Wilybots. Running on rage, Mega Man finishes the job with a final salvo of his most potent special weapons.

So what can a guy do when he's all out of juice? Whatever he has to. Ra Moon isn't about to take the loss of Ra Thor lying down; he resurrects the Yellow Devil, with some significant upgrades. Great thinking, Wily, letting him take a laptop with all your robot designs. Mega Man quickly discovers that the strategy he used last time doesn't pan out: Ra Devil has some real defenses in place, which Wily discovers aren't his own: Ra Moon is using his own defensive shielding to protect his new muscle.

So Mega Man comes up with the idea so crazy, it has to work: He's going to fire both arm cannons at the same time. Wily's right to be concerned; this is never a good idea. But even though Mega Man knows he won't be walking away from this fight after pulling this stunt, he does it anyways. It's not just for Roll, he's doing it for the entire world. In an act of selflessness and true sacrifice, Mega Man turns his weapons against a weakened Ra Moon, pausing only long enough to ask one final request of Wily, a guy who's been his enemy since square one: To take his body back home afterwards.

And then everything goes quiet. The EM field felt 'round the world dissipates, Ra Moon is destroyed, and the dust settles. That is, Ra Moon is destroyed... but his legacy remains. At least now we know where the Stardroids came in from.

Days pass. The world slowly begins to pick itself back up again. Countless people have died. Civilization almost destroyed itself in the long weeks without technology. In what has Xander Payne undoubtedly punching holes in the walls wherever he is, robots are being hailed as humanity's helpers during the crisis, for their roles in disaster relief and rescue.

But the one question Roll and Dr. Light have is this: Where the heck is Mega Man? They may not like the answer.

None of us do.

-----------------------------------------

 

Mega Man has pulled a lot of crazy stunts over the 2+ years this comic has been in publication, but he's never gone for a double buster shot. Then again, he's never needed to. A double buster shot doesn't happen in the games until Mega Man X2, in the century following our original Blue Bomber's exploits, and even then it's an upgrade that doesn't come cheap. It almost always involves some level of self-destruction, and for that reason, the Third Law of Robotics prevents it.

Unless it's for a good damned reason. Like saving the lives of every human and robot on the planet.

The funny thing is, I'm familiar with this trick. Maelgrim used it years ago, back when he wrote his Rockman novella around 1998. It was a different time: AOL still reigned supreme, high speed cable internet was in its infancy, and Tripod still mattered. In the conclusion of his dark, yet inspiring seminal work, Mega Man summoned up both arm cannons to stop Wily's dreams of world domination dead in their tracks. It should have killed him. Yet somehow, his weapons systems matched their amperage evenly to keep his arms from blowing off, and the stunt caused enough of a terminal fault in his core module that it forced out the virus program that he'd gotten from Ice Man earlier in the story... saving his life. Seeing as Maelgrim inspired me to take up the wordcraft, much as I've inspired others, I remember details like that. Because of him, and because of that moment in the story, "The Legacy of Metal" exists.

This particular moment of heroic sacrifice resonated with that scene, which provided some personal nostalgia. Mega Man did what he did knowing full well it would be the end of him. He made the ultimate sacrifice to save the entire planet, to save Roll... even to save Wily. And a sacrifice like that has a significant effect on a man.

The Wily in the comics is different than the Wily I grew up writing about and thinking about. The Wily I presented in "The Legacy of Metal" was forever losing himself to a realm of paranoia, schizophrenia, and madness caused by a freak teleporter accident. The Wily here isn't going insane: He's bitter, overlooked, misguided, and believes the world should be looking to him for the answers, but he isn't crazy. So when Mega Man did what he did, made that ultimate sacrifice, it stuck with him. It stuck with Wily enough that he carried out the Blue Bomber's final wish...

And brought him home. In a way, this sets the stage for Mega Man 3's story arc. Canonically, Wily "sees the error of his ways" and begins to work with Light again to build Gamma, a super peacekeeping robot... not that it gets put towards its intended use in the end. But something happens here. Even if for just a moment, Wily has a remarkable change of heart. Like the Grinch, his heart grew three sizes that day.

Seen from afar, we know that Mega Man will get through this, and that he'll be put back into working order. But going from issue to issue, as someone who's never dealt with Mega Man before, this is heavy stuff. At least, looking at the preview, we know there's an epilogue. So, will Break Man be the key to saving Mega Man's life? Will Dr. Light be able to save his second son and reconcile with the first at the same time? And will Wily maybe, just maybe, have enough of a change of heart so that he's not causing trouble for a story arc or two?

My money is on Xander Payne seeing this world-ending incident as a reason to start up his campaign of terrorism again, and to gain fresh recruits. The story of humans and robots is usually one of conflict, and it's always our own darn fault.

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.