Listening to: Take Cover by Mr. Big
In the past, I went over just about all the related media that Megaman has touched upon; the video games, the cartoon show, the Day of Sigma OVA, and even the fan-made film starring Jun Naito as the Blue Bomber. Well, it was inevitable that I would touch upon the comics since Archie only recently started making comics based on the long running Capcom franchise. I don't need to explain who Megaman is. Because well, I've talked about him numerous times before, and it's obvious that I'm a big fan of the franchise, and have enjoyed pretty much all the games (mostly the classic and X series). But as with every other long running franchise, there has been some experimentation, and there has been some ups and downs throughout the years. But there's something I haven't told you yet, long before the Megaman comics even existed, there was a manga based on the franchise titled "Rockman", which of course is what Megaman is called in Japan. The manga was written and illustrated by Shigeto Ikehara, and was based on the original Megaman series that was popular at the time. The manga was serialized in Kodansha's Comic BomBom between 1992-1996 in Japan and released in tankōbon volumes. All tankōbons from the series (excluding the 2011 re-release of Rockman 7) were also published in Taiwan by Ching Win. The manga was planned to be released on December 22, 2014 alongside Rockman: Dr. Wily no Inbou in a single book. The manga ran for 10 different story arcs, and a vast number of issues, and each of the story arcs were directly based on the games. But they were more in depth than the games they were based on. And I have to admit, that was a good way to explore the story of Megaman. In fact, I even go as far to say that Ikehara did a better job at exploring Megaman's lore than Ruby Spears ever did. And yes, this manga existed long before Archie Comics started making their own Megaman comics. Sadly, as you probably would expect, the manga is very rare and hard to find. You might be able to find it if you look hard enough, but good luck finding it at all.
There was also a manga based on the Megaman X series, which was (and still is) my favorite Megaman series by far. The title of the manga is "Irregular Hunter Rockman X", and it also was written and illustrated by Shigeto Ikehara. And it was serialized by Kodansha's Deluxe Bom Bom in between 1994 and 1995 and published in two volumes. And yes, I wouldn't be surrpised if not many of you knew that a Megaman X manga even existed since the franchise usually only had video games, and didn't have a whole merchandize like Street Fighter or TMNT. But yes, this manga came many years before Archie Comics made their own comics based on Megaman X. Needless to say, this was during the time when the Megaman X series was still relatively new. The series was based on the first three games in the X series. There was also "Rockman X5", which was based on the events of the fifth game in the X series, "Megaman X5". This manga series written and illustrated by Hup Yee. And like the other Megaman manga series, this is a rarity due to the fact that, the artist is relatively unknown, it was never released outside of China, and unlike the Japanese manga series based on the first four games of the Megaman X series published by Kodansha's in its monthly manga magazine, Comic Bom Bom, this manga lacked the backing of a well known publishing company. So we will most likely never see it any time soon.
Well, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the comics made by the famous and well-known Archie Comics. For the past 20 years now, Archie has been making comics based on the ever so popular and successful Sega franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog, which has spawned not only video games and its own TV series, but a whole merchandise of its own. Heck, it's popularity equals that of Super Mario Bros, which is probably the reason for the whole Mario and Sonic rivalry that started back in the early 90s. And well, despite some of the ups and downs the Sonic comics have had over the years, the series has withstood the test of time, Archie they still continue to make Sonic comics to this day. But it wasn't until 2011 when Archie decided to touch upon the Megaman franchise. And I'm glad they did since Capcom hasn't done jack shit with the franchise except pushing it aside, ignoring its potential, and making dumb excuses as to why they keep neglecting the franchise. And besides, the comics make up for the atrocity that was Captain N, and the mediocrity of the American Megaman cartoon that aired back in the 90s. Well, for the longest time, I didn't think there would EVER exist any Megaman comics. But alas, it did eventually happen. So anyway, the comic book series was first announced by Archie Comics during the 2010 New York Comic-Con, and the first issue was published on September 14th, 2011. As of now, the comic has spawned at least 11 different story arcs, and has a total of over 40 issues made. But since Archie Comics is still making Megaman comics, we can definitely expect there to be more. I've read some of the comics (both in print and online). And well, so far so good. I think Archie Comics has done a pretty good job exploring the Megaman universe in their own style, and some of the stories are well written. Although the artwork doesn't really stand out for me that much. While the characters, objects, and backgrounds are vibrant and colorful, the detail isn't that good. But hey, this is the same style they use for the Sonic comics as well. And besides, who am I to judge? Everybody has a different style of drawing. Not only does the comic incorporate all the characters from the games, but they also include some original characters who were not seen in either the games, or the American cartoon. Mind you, the comics are not the best ever written or drawn, but at least Archie Comics is making an effort to keep Megaman alive, which is more that can be said for what Capcom has been doing in the last few years.
And also, Arc #9 touched upon the Megaman X series, and how the story began. It focuses on further development of the Megaman X storyline in the comics. Megaman, Pharaohman and Brightman are tricked by Dr. Wily into battling an old robot called the Wily Walker. Meanwhile, the leader of the Emerald Spears, Xander Payne uses a prototype Time Skimmer to travel forewards in time to the world of Megaman X, where X and the Maverick Hunters also have to deal with the Wily Walker. And to tell you the truth, I was shocked when I found that Archie Comics were also touching upon Megaman X. And again, so far so good. I like how Archie Comics has explored the story of the X series in their own way. Again, it's not the best I've ever seen, but it's still pretty good. In fact, its' a hell of a lot better than that miserable catastrophe that was the Mega X episode from the Ruby Spears cartoon. And what I love best about Archie Comics' take on the story is that they don't shove X aside in favor of Zero like Capcom has been doing. And they actually make an effort to give both characters equal attention and development. That's the way it should be done. In fact, I even go as far to say that Archie Comics has done more justice to the X series than either Capcom or Ruby Spears has ever done. And believe me, that's saying something. But to be fair, the credit goes to Capcom for granting Archie the permission to make comics based on their franchise. Because I doubt Archie would have been able to make the comics without Capcom's permission.
In 2013, Archie Comics made the first Sonic and Megaman crossover saga; “Sonic & Mega Man: When Worlds Collide”. It was a 12-part storyline between the Megaman and Sonic the Hedgehog universes. And it was announced on the San Diego Comic-Con International on July 10, 2012, published in March of 2013. I saw the comics online. And I have to say, it was quite an interesting crossover to say the least. It was quite fascinating to see characters from both universes interacting with each other. Never in a million years would I ever expect there to be a crossover between Sonic and Megaman. But much to my surprise, it did happen. And once again, so far so good. I think it was pretty well handled, and the story was pretty engaging to say the least. However, that's not where it ends. Oh no. Because more recently, I heard that Archie Comics will soon be publishing yet another crossover story arc titled "Worlds Unite", which will cross over not only Megaman and Sonic, but other Capcom and Sega franchises. Yes, you heard correctly. They're going to do a massive crossover like never before. And well, I sort of figured that something like this would happen. I mean heck, Capcom started their crossover series with X-Men vs. Street Fighter in 1996 before finally making Marvel Superheroes vs Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom. So I figured another crossover project was on the horizon. It will be the second crossover between the Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man comic series. And much to my surprise, it has been confirmed that the Megaman X and Sonic Boom universes will be involved in this project in addition to the classic Megaman and mainstream Sonic universes. And characters from other Capcom and Sega properties will make cameos. It is scheduled to start in May of 2015. Just like the first crossover, Worlds Unite will be divided into twelve parts, and split into three arcs. And as with the Sonic comics, Megaman comics, and the previous crossover series, Worlds Unite will be written by Archie Comics' current writer, Ian Flynn.