The Blue Ink Reviews Mega Man #54: Self-Chosen Identity

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." -Mahatma Gandhi

"It's bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don't have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be! You choose!" -Hogarth Hughes, The Iron Giant

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Some days, I feel like some of the great rock ballads were dedicated to the coming of Blues, in whichever form or name he operates under. "Turn The Page." "I Can See For Miles (And Miles)." "Black Hole Sun." "Walking On a Thin Line." "Separate Ways." Of course, the same songs could work for any angst-filled badass Rock Hudson-esque loner, but we're not talking about them. This is Mega Man country, pardner, and we stick to one fella, and his name is Break Man.

We open up the issue with Blues participating in his favorite pastime: contemplating his existence off alone in the wilderness. While doing so, he catches a reflection of Shadow Man in his helmet's visor, and thinking that the ninja Robot Master has come to exact revenge for the death of Dr. Wily, he goes on the offensive.

In true ninja fashion, Shadow Man ends the fight with a kunai to the red and gray antihero's throat and the timeless boast of "If I wanted you dead, you'd already be so." Then the two go for a little warp trip, as Blues learns that reports of Wily's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Big surprise there.

Wonder what Mr. X thinks of the big "X" shaped castle Wily's designing over there...

"What's that?" "Oh, er, it's... uh... part of a plot to frame Mega Man X! Yes, that's exactly it..." :Oh... okay. Carry on, then."

We're treated to an image of Wily's workshop, courtesy of Mr. X's evil underground empire, as well as bits and pieces of enemies that Mega Man will be forced to deal with in two to four games from now. A relentless barrage indeed... Wily's beginning to plan more than two moves ahead, which was always his strength in the later part of the series. I always surmised that at the time of his death, there were likely more than 50 unused Skull Castles and smaller weapons caches burrowed away around the world that he never got to using. (Mega Man 50? We should be so lucky... --Ed.)

Wily fills Blues in on his latest scheme, which is to tarnish Dr. Cossack's good name in his latest scheme... and how it depends on Blues capturing the respectable engineer's daughter. Blues, naturally, blows a gasket and attempts to wash his hands of the madman's schemes, having at last recognized which way the wind is really blowing. Ra Moon and all that, after all. Sadly, his change of heart couldn't be more poorly timed.

"I don't know, but liberating your vocal cords from your body is sounding pretty good right about now..."

"Some days, you can't get rid of a bomb!" Batman famously said back in the 1960's. Well, in Proto Man's case, thanks to the "upgrade" Wily gave him, he's presumably a walking bomb. And if Blues wants Wily to keep him from going Chernobyl, he has to be the errand boy for our wild-haired evil genius for a while longer.

With a heavy heart, Blues carries out Wily's mission, kidnapping Kalinka away from home by means of a teleport gauntlet. Apparently, warp technology is safe for humans now... or, perhaps Wily just doesn't care about any negative side effects. With Kalinka now trapped in a playroom "of doom," praying for a knight to come and rescue her, a heavy-hearted Blues takes his leave of Wily and seeks out the only robot he trusts when it comes to matters of the heart.

"As the brooding bad-boy loner of this gig, I demand more dignity than I'm shown in the last panel."

Quake Woman isn't alone at the household of Dr. Lalinde any longer, though. She now has a sister, Vesper Woman, who definitely has the bubbly, annoying little sister act down pat. But hey, what good are siblings if they can't tease you about your boyfriend?

Still seeking answers about who he is, and now with the added guilt of past actions heaped on his shoulders, Blues asks them for help. Thankfully, in spite of his past, Dr. Lalinde isn't one to hold a grudge.

She is one to give him clarity.

"I can, however, replace it with a squirrel on a hamster wheel, if you would like."

Congratulations, Blues. You're not a walking bomb like Wily said you were. Which means he lied to you, and you just dug yourself a deeper hole in the process.

Forced to carry that weight, Blues at last comes to terms with who he is. He isn't Blues. He isn't Dr. Light's son. And he isn't Break Man -- not anymore. You can't escape your past, after all, in spite of all his determination to "break" from it.

"I am no longer Break Man. From now on, you can call me... CRACK Man!" "You may want to work on that..."

Call him Proto Man. He still wears the helmet, but who needs the visor and faceplate? Not him. He's done hiding behind masks. (Sunglasses don't count!)

Proto Man has a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it in. But then, that was always the case.

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Let's face facts: Proto Man is awesome. He's got Quake Woman crushing on him, he's got a family who still cares about him in spite of all the dickish things he's done over the past 30 issues, and he doesn't have to answer to anyone but his own conscience. I mean, sure, there's that whole slowly dying thing, but a terminal illness doesn't slow him down. It just makes him even more dedicated to the work.

If Proto Man had a turning point, it was Mega Man 4. Prior to it, he was either masquerading as a mini-boss character for Dr. Wily or was selectively forgotten/didn't exist by the series characters. That was one thing I was glad for the comic books to address, 35 issues prior. "Oh, by the way, you had a brother. And I'm not sure if he's still alive or out there dead somewhere. And I miss him."

We have to remember that, in the games, Proto Man didn't exist as a character until the third game, so there's a certain amount of "oh, I just conveniently forgot to mention him before!" which we have to accept from Dr. Light in the games. Or perhaps he did discuss Blues with Rock and Roll in between the games but we never saw it because hey, old Nintendo games. Another reason the comic books are such a fantastic read. Sure, you can't play them, and the fights are understandably shorter, but hey. I love the time they can spend on character and background building.

Anyhoo, putting the virtues of different types of Mega Man media aside, back to Blues. He's basically been searching for who he was for years now. After wandering the world, almost dying, nearly killing his sister, fighting his brother in mortal combat more than once, kidnapping little girls under pain of explosive death, and changing his name twice over, he has finally settled on who he is, and that's good. In knowing yourself, all things are possible.

However, I wouldn't go so far as to take life advice from him just yet. Remember, we are talking about the same self-important idiot who advised the Game Grumps (warning: Not Safe For Work) to go into the forest and then burn it. With fire. Proto Man is the living example of "kids, don't try this at home!"

But we still love him anyways.

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.