Writer: Ian Flynn
Artist: Jamal Peppers & Jim Amash
Publisher: Archie Comics
Release Date: April 10, 2013
Mega Man hasn’t had a videogame in a while, but his comic book is entering its second year. Who knew? Mega Man #24 kicks off a crossover with the also improbably successful game-based comic Sonic the Hedgehog, which has been running so long that you could excuse kids for thinking the comic came first. I mean, they’re kids. They don’t even know what a Genesis is, much less that it did what Ninten adamantly refused to do.
Mega Man #24 jumps right into ticking every box off the crossover checklist. Our blue heroes fight on the very first page, with an in media res splash pitting robot vs. hedgehog on the verdant slopes of the Green Hill Zone. Expect a chiptune mash-up in your head as chucklehead memories kick in reflexively.
Most of the issue flashes back to how evil geniuses Dr. Wily and Dr. Eggman (who I totally thought was called Dr. Robotnik) team up through the interdimensional magic of the Chaos Emerald. The villains’ kid-friendly banter is less funny than pleasant, but I can see tykes yukking it up as they squabble over top billing on each of their schemes. Their plan is an obvious result that merges the most recognizable elements of each franchise: The two doctors turn all of Sonic’s friends into the nefarious Robot Masters that vex Mega Man at the end of each level in his digital escapades. Yes, that means Tails Man and Knuckles Man now exist. Writer Ian Flynn will miss out on a golden (if obvious) opportunity if Mega Man doesn’t wind up with Tails’ helicopter spin before these twelve issues wrap.
The heroes themselves barely appear after that opening flash-forward. Clearly this isn’t the best jumping-on point for prospective Mega Man readers, but if you’re already familiar with the source material, you’ll have no problem getting the jokes and understanding the references to the games’ mythology. And although it’s probably not the most exciting assignment for artist Jamal Peppers, as he has to stick closely to the character models familiar from the games, his clean lines and playful action still find the characters within these corporate mascots. Slick but not soulless, Mega Man #24 makes me wonder what sort of awesome all-ages superhero comics Archie could put out if Marvel or DC ever let them take their characters for a spin.