The Blue Ink Reviews Mega Man #41 – A Boy and His Dog

"I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids and that DOG of yours!"  --Random Scooby-Doo villain underneath the rubber mask

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The time-traveling bidness is done with, Xander Payne's back in prison and crazier than ever, and Wily's walkin' on that thin line between 'reformed' misguided scientist supposedly controlled by an alien AI and the self-serving bastitch we all know he is. Oh, and then there's that whole business with Gamma, the eight energy elements, and the third set of Robot Masters basically holding the world hostage from their orbiting mining asteroids.

I'd ask how Earth suddenly has orbiting mining asteroids when we've yet to harness one in real life, but at least it makes more sense than Mega Man "Bwoo-Wipping" his way to eight different planets (Wait, you just finished talking about time travel and alien AI in a story about a world filled with advanced humanoid robots, and asteroid mining is where you draw the line against what we have in "real life"? --Ed.). Especially considering that we don't have that many planets with solid surfaces, much less lucid pink skies and ferromagnetic terrain.

Riding the Rush "Space Mode" Jet, a mechanism formerly relegated to the Game Boy games alone (and only playable in Mega Man V, now available on Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console), Mega makes his way for the first of the asteroids, controlled by Top Man.

Ah, Top Man. You know, looking back on it, he was usually the first or second Robot Master I went for, too-- him and Snake Man. And apparently, so did the boys at Archie Comics, because our orange spinning hot mess is first up in the queue.

Some Robot Masters in the past have preferred to attack Mega Man head-on, giving little attention to their "lairs" as a whole. Not so with Top Man! He's a guy who enjoys style and finesse. Oh, and the patterns... the lovely, lovely patterns. Yes, arrays of enemies! An enormous death chasm that requires the hero to jump from spinning top to spinning top! It's a glorious setup, and... and...

Admittedly, we've never gone through the stage this way... have you?

And that stupid Blue Bomber's just... messing with the formula! Why, it's... it's inconceivable, to quote a certain Sicilian villain! Of course, how could Top Man have conceived of Mega Man having access to the Rush Jet? Why, he doesn't even have the necessary Robot Master weapons to get access to the Rush Jet through his Menu glitch! Chuckle all you like, folks. I sure as heck did.

Of course, all of this has Top Man well and thoroughly vexed by the time that Mega Man walks through those shutters. But he's not alone, either. For a change, his dog's come with him. In the games, Rush only shows up when Mega whistles, he does his thing, and then he poofs off. In the comics, he's a much more cooperative entity, just like a real, loyal, super-powered robotic dog should be.

Though Top Man keeps Mega Man off-axis with his wild, lemon-deflecting spin attacks, the Robot Master again can't anticipate the effect that having a fully cooperative animal companion has in combat. Rush grabs hold of his leg, keeping him from going off in a wild spin, and that's all the time Mega needs to get in close and fry his biscuits.

"Like using a giant blue club to swat a fly..."

One Robot Master down, and Rush is a definite asset. Even as he fades, Top Man finally understands that even though it looked like Mega Man had no style, he really did. A simple elegance? Absolutely.

Mega Man calls it in, gains himself the Top Spin, and then snags the energy element and Top Man's I.C. Chip. Wily insists that Mega Man send both with the portable one-shot teleporting units he brought along with him, but Mega Man deflects the order with a little common sense; he'd hate to have the I.C. chips ended up scrambled or worse if the units, only programmed to handle the energy elements, mucked them up. So for now, the energy elements return home. Mega Man keeps the disembodied souls of his fallen enemies in Rush's storage compartment.

Roll practices for her debut as the super fighting robot, Smug Girl.

And again, Wily is foiled. Sorry, you don't get access to Gamma. So much for moving ahead with your evil, fiendish plot in the background. For now, the wild-haired Wily will need to play along and pretend to be a part of Team Blue right and proper. Roll hasn't lost her suspicious side, in spite of Auto's urging. And she has reason to be suspicious.

Moving on to the next asteroid, Mega Man appears in the domain of Snake Man. Whereas Top Man was all about creating a wild ride that required precise attention to detail (to his detriment after a little wall-breaking mayhem), Snake Man is a predator through and through. His domain is dark, and his Search Snakes are an army of attackers and watchers both. Like the hunter he believes himself to be, Snake Man keeps pace with Mega Man as the Blue Bomber makes his way through the maze of traps and enemies, just waiting... waiting for the right time to strike.

"Waiting, waiting, waiting... waiting for Blue..."

And when he does finally strike, it's Rush that comes to Mega Man's aid once again. Tag-teaming the Robot Master, and using his newfound Top Spin to clear himself of Snake Man's burrowing drone helpers, Mega Man administers the final blow.

"The Snake... just got searched. Wait, no, that's terrible."

Two Robot Masters down, and Mega Man has proven himself to be a better hunter and a better, simpler strategist.

He also now has the two weapons that Gamma is weak to. And isn't that just a kick in the head (More like a spinning knee, in one case. --Ed.)?

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It's easy to forget about Rush, especially if you've played the games and have fallen victim to stereotyping the robotic mutt as "utility helper." Oh, yeah, sure, we use Rush to fly through stages and over spike pits. We use his Rush Coil to jump over high walls, his Rush Marine to... well, actually the Rush Marine's only really useful in two stages. But suffice to say, yeah: After a while, Rush tends to fall into the background, especially when you've also got the Wire Adapter, the Balloon Adapter, and the Super Arrow to play with.

Once again, Archie Comics' crew busts through our expectations. This is a Rush worth his weight in electronic Scooby Snacks. He's as much of a target now as he was in Mega Man 7 when enemy shots caused him to flinch and disappear from the battlefield, but he's also twice as awesome.

This is a Rush that's more than his gadgets. This is a Rush who's a loyal hunting dog. And no, I'm not talking the Saint Bernaid with the cask of brandy around his neck who goes marching up mountains to dig out avalanche victims, I'm talking a police-trained German Shepherd who will rip a bad guy's arm off if his supporting officer gives the order. He's tearing Search Snakes apart with his teeth, he's jumping headfirst into the fray and catching Robot Masters off guard, and he refuses to stay on the sidelines, even when Mega Man asks him, begs him to. Sorry, Mega; this Rush is more independent than you might like, but he is loyal to a fault. Stop fighting against it... and use it.

The change in this dynamic of Mega Man and his pet dog is absolutely outstanding to watch unfold. We had hints, glimpses of what Rush was capable of in past issues, but it was never driven home, made perfectly clear as it is in this issue. Maybe it's because we're finally in the Mega Man 3 story arc, and have something to compare it to: The original game. And yes, if I had my choice, I'd definitely want a helper dog like this instead of the appearing/disappearing version you get to play with.

God only knows what he'll come up with next. Or what Ian Flynn and the gang will come up with next.

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.