A chat with writer Ian Flynn and editor Paul Kaminski
While Capcom continues to laze on announcing any proper plans for Mega Man, Archie Comics has been propping up the Blue Bomber as an important pillar of its comic book empire. Now with the arrival of issue #25 on newsstands today, Archie's Mega Man celebrates two successful years of publication. Amazing how time flies!
And what a milestone it is, smack dab in the middle of a massive crossover starring the boy robot and SEGA's Sonic the Hedgehog. Following that, Mega will resume an already in-progress arc leading to long-awaited adaptations of Super Adventure Rockman and Mega Man 3. It's been too long since we've last seen the Blue Bomber in such top form.
None of this would have been possible without the support of the "Light Brigade," the endearing moniker the Archie staff applies to MM readers. Well, that's what editor Paul Kaminski says, but I think he's selling his own contributions short. Then there's writer Ian Flynn, who has expertly brought Mega's tech-driven universe to life. If anyone should be celebrating, it's these two gents!
"No time to party," Ian exclaims. "For me, rolling on straight to Mega Man #50 is how I celebrate!"
Conversely, Paul says, "We've been partying since the series began!" Which is it, guys? You haven't been partying, or you party every day? Or has Ian been doing all the heavy lifting while Paul attends penthouse shindigs with champagne waterfalls and cheeses of the world?
Ribbing aside, this tower of power couldn't have been built without hard work and effort, as well as some smart re-organization to appease fans and accommodate new developments. For the first year, story arcs followed a four-part structure, which some readers noted as having a negative effect on pacing. They have since become more flexible.
"The biggest change was switching from ONLY four-part story arcs to a mix of different lengths," Paul explains of the change in direction. "The switch was made to keep things fresh and interesting, and to expand character development where we felt we needed to. We're also looking to court new fans for the series, and it's much easier for new readers to jump aboard with a self-contained issue that leads into something bigger."
The "Worlds Collide" announcement also had a significant impact on plot progression. As Ian notes, "When the crossover deal came up, we shifted gears a little to tell some smaller, intimate stories instead of launching into another major arc." Such intimate stories included a girls-only rescue mission, a time-skipping 25th anniversary celebration, and the infamous Valentine's Day issue -- infamous to me, at least!
MM #25 is the fourth part of "Worlds Collide," which has introduced us to the Roboticized Masters, transformed versions of Sonic's friends born of the combined might of Eggman and Wily. However, Wily's habit of adding "Man" to the end of his creations' names has resulted in the roboticized Shadow the Hedgehog's being dubbed "Shadow Man." But there already is a "Shadow Man" in the Mega Man universe, so what's the deal?
Paul tempers my anxiety: "That has got to be the single most asked-about element of the story I've seen so far! There WILL be resolution to that -- it was added in by Ian as an Easter egg for the true fans." It wouldn't be the first time Ian has joked around with the readers. The comic has dropped references to everything from "Can't Beat Air Man" to the Green Biker Dude from Mega Man X2. All in good fun!
Know what else would be in good fun? If Sonic and Mega Man actually did star in a game together! Both Ian and Paul suggest that "Worlds Collide" ought to be incorporated in any such dream title, gently urging fans to harass SEGA and Capcom day and night until it becomes a reality (please don't literally harass anybody).
For his dream game, Ian shares, "I'd love to see a game that went primarily side-scroller, with stages that mixed Sonic and Mega Man elements (e.g. run through the loop-de-loop or climb the ladder over it). Each Roboticized Master defeated would give Mega Man the weapons you see in the comics and unlock summonable buddies for Sonic, like in the Sonic Generations side-missions."
Paul's money is on a Marvel vs. Capcom-style fighter style. I mean, they've already got the character select screen on lock!
Considering the Sonic comics often feature tie-ins with newly released games, I had assumed SEGA gives Archie advance notice regarding such titles. "SEGA gives us a heads-up of whatever new game they'd like us to promote and tells us which elements they'd like us to focus on," Ian replies. So should Capcom likewise let Archie in on a secret unannounced Mega Man project...
"I can't confirm or deny anything! I know nothing!"
Oh yeah? How about I interpret your words as indirect confirmation that you do know something?
With a bucket of ice water in hand, Paul adds, "For the record, we're just as eagerly awaiting a new game release as everyone else! SEGA gives us enough time prior to the release to plan the time slot for where the story is going to go, assets and the like are sent to us after an official announcement has been made."
I assume that extends towards relations with Capcom as well, erasing any hope that Ian or Paul would slip me some big, juicy secret. Hey! You can't blame me for asking!
But forget the games for now. There is a ton of Archie Mega Man goodness to look forward to in the near future. The comic has already lasted longer than the Ruby-Spears cartoon's run, so that's a good sign! And as long as the readership stays strong, it might run even hit Sonic numbers -- 250 and still going strong!