"Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them." -Niccolo Machiavelli
The world is saved, but the cost was steep. Wily and the damaged Wrecker Lightbots have turned up on Dr. Light's doorstep bringing a fragile package with them: The comatose, nearly dead Mega Man. To the stunned disbelief of Roll, Auto, and our lovable robotics genius, Wily has put aside mad ambition and done what nobody ever thought he might: He is saving his worst enemy.
Everyone has questions. What happened in the ruins? What Dr. Light will fret about, once repairs on Mega Man have started, is why Blues didn't come back too. After everything Wily has done, Roll and Auto have little sympathy for him. Only Dr. Light, who shares a past with his former friend of better times and mutual camaraderie, is willing to give Wily a chance. And some much needed ablutions.
It's touch and go with Rock for a very long time: His power systems have been rewired like an AT&T switchboard by Wily in his attempt to keep the Blue Bomber's IC chip intact, and more than once Wily has to stop the eager Light Labs repair team from doing something that might cause a systems overload. But in due time, and with lots of stress on all sides, Mega Man is pulled from critical back to a mere comatose state while his neural network tries to self-repair the damage.
The waiting to see if Rock will pull out of it is tough going for everyone, but especially Roll, who's lugging around a fair amount of survivor's guilt because of her brother's unceasing sacrifices. Meanwhile, Wily has time to get his bearings back and hang out with Light. While evasive about some things, and still bitter at Light's successes, he has nowhere else to go, and whether he admits it or not, Light's the only friend he has left.
But even the strongest friendship can't stop the tide from racing in.
While at first angry and lashing out as he sees himself being turned into the scapegoat all over, Wily is stunned to learn that Light and even Agents Stern and Krantz stuck their necks out to give him time to work. Time well spent, because at last, as he's being put into custody, Mega Man awakens from his torpor and declares that he'll speak as a witness on Wily's behalf. The threat of Ra Moon was severe, and in a time when the world needed heroes the most, Wily was willing to put grudges aside and help Mega Man. Light promises to guarantee that Wily will get a fair trial, and his day in court to defend himself.
And then, Wily realizes he has an opening.
Suddenly, Ra Moon is more than a mutual enemy he and Mega Man agreed to fight together over a brief truce. The dead robotic eye has become his scapegoat, his get out of jail free card-- that is, if he can manage the press, the courtroom, and himself in the right way. Wily sees an opportunity for a second chance, and like a drowning man next to floating debris, he grabs onto it, and grabs on tight.
But will he be able to sustain his story and win his freedom...
...when there are still those left who know the truth?
We often ask ourselves, when we find ourselves around a cafeteria table with our friends or sitting at home with a couple of glasses of wine in us, more contemplative questions. Things such as, "if the world didn't suck, would we all fall off?" Relating to this issue, we have to ask ourselves a more basic and less ludicrous one: Can a tiger change its stripes?
The theme of a villain who slowly begins to redeem himself is timeless. Whether it's the Green Ranger, Vegeta, Angel, or even Captain Korso, we like villains who have a shred of basic decency left in them. That's part of the reason why Gul Dukat from Deep Space Nine was so enjoyable to watch: He was a bad guy who was capable of good deeds... and that made his continual fall from grace all the more dramatic to watch.
Wily is the epitome of the bad guy. Yes, he's not a genocidal maniac; no, he never tried to summon a massive planet-killing comet or infect every Matrix resident to make copies of himself, but there's a reason we like him. Whatever bit of nasty business Mega Man had to deal with, Wily was behind it. Cossack? Wily. Proto Man turning evil? Wily. Mr. X? Wily. He's predictable in his evilness, at least in the games. "Ooh, I want to rule the world and prove myself the superior genius!" But he also had his good side... it wasn't seen often, but it was there. In Mega Man 10, when Mega Man defeats him and Wily gets sick, he escapes the hospital and leaves behind an enormous pile of the Roboenza cure, enough to undo every case of the disease he caused.
Or perhaps I speak too hastily. Maybe it isn't that Wily is capable of doing good things, as much as it is he's willing to try and undo some of the damage caused when his plans go out of alignment. Did he want to see the world destroyed? No. And because it all spiraled out of his control, he did the unthinkable: He saved his enemy, because his enemy spared him.
The Wily we see in this issue is one plagued by guilt over his actions, but also one who refuses to acknowledge his own role in it. He keeps the reasons for his sudden and uncharacteristic generosity to himself, and he holds to his advantage. A sudden chance to get public relations on his side? Yes, please! So the question I ask myself now is, what is Wily willing to do to keep the lie going?
And how much farther down that rabbit hole of villainy is he willing to descend to keep the truth of Ra Moon from getting out?
The comic has taken a turn into uncharted territory, and I find myself eager once more to see what will happen next. Ian Flynn and the rest of the Archie team continue to impress with their original stories. All the old stories have been told.
They reach to new horizons for Mega Man, as Inafune reached for new horizons with Mighty No. 9, because you can't go backwards; you can only keep moving forward.
And that's something worth writing about.
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.