From the Library: Megaman Megamix vol. 2 Review
- Published on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 01:00
- Written by Andrenn
Megaman Megamix Volume 1 was a great start for the series but it was a bit uneven and had some issues. Volume 2 is where things great really good. Where Megamix hits it stride, starts running and doesn't even come close to stopping. What adventures awaits Megaman and friends as Dr. Wily schemes to take over the world again? Lets find out.
Writer and Artist: Hitoshi Ariga
Story Rating: 9 Skull Men out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Skull Men out of 10
Overall Rating: 9.5 Skull men out of 10
Synopsis: After the events of Megaman 4, Dr. Cossack has a best selling book about how Humans and Robots can live in peace. But a ghost from his past returns as Dr. Wily uses Skull Man to try and destroy Cossack and Megaman.
After the events of Megaman 5, the Light Numbers get free passes to an Amusement Park. The day they go they discover that the Wily Numbers from 5 all work there. A peaceful day goes bad when Bass shows up wanting to destroy Megaman, endangering the Amusement park. After a defeat at the Amusement park, Bass kidnaps Roll and its up to Megaman to save her.
The Good: Megamix Volume 2 is an excellent read. The problems Ariga had in Volume 1 are shed and Volume 2 is where the big story Ariga tells really gets kicking. With the introduction of Bass, Megaman's long time rival and Protoman. While Volume 1 had its problems, Volume 2 is a near perfect read and makes up for the faults of the early volume.
The best of the three chapters is Chapter 1 which takes place after Megaman 4. I mentioned in my review of Volume 1 that Ariga chooses to have his stories take place after the main games which is the trend that started in Chapter 3 of Volume 1. This is the brilliance of Megamix. It is free to do what it wants, not confined to the basic plots of the original games, and free to go places that it would never be able to if it adapted the game stories themselves.
In this case, we get introduced to the Cossack Numbers as well as Cossack's daughter, Kalinka. The Cossack family are a great cast from the Robocist Kalinka (that's Robot Racist for those unaware) to the timidly Bright Man. Ariga does a great job fleshing out the majority of the Cossack Numbers. Some of them do not get to do much, sadly, but honestly how much personality could Drill Man have?
The main character is Skull Man. Ariga took one of the worst Robot Master's from Megaman 4, who got stuck as being the generic Shield Enemy of the game, and made him a fascinating and tragic character. Skull Man being born just as a combat robot, locked away by Cossack as he was ashamed of him. It is easy to see why Skull Man is working with Wily and why he has gone insane.
Skull Man's character is easily sympathetic and as we follow his tragic tail Ariga really makes us feel for this wicked robot that only exists to fight. Its a brilliantly written story and while it is easily the most dramatic and intense of the three chapters, lacking much comedy its still a well executed story. It may be my favorite chapter of Megamix, maybe. It definitely steals the show for Volume 2 and gets things rolling perfectly.
Megaman himself does not get much out of this story, but Ariga does a good job of retaining Megaman's young boy character. Megaman believes in redemption for anyone, even Skull Man and the way it shows through the story is a great emotional scene.
Kalinka was the second most interesting character through the story next to Skull Man. Her sub-plot about learning to respect Robots is nicely handled. Ariga also gives us a good reason for why Kalinka is a Robocist, since her father spends all of his time making robots and is not really there for her. The character arc she has is a perfect parallel alongside Skull Man.
There are so many reasons to love this story but to list them all would spoil it which would be cruel of me. All you need to know is that it is a brilliantly executed and highly emotional story that Ariga pulls of perfectly.
Chapter 2 is more comedic compared to Chapter 1 but unlike in Volume 1 this is not really jarring since there is still plenty of tension and action. Just the situation of having our heroes in an Amusement park lends to some really funny moments especially for Elec Man. Ariga does a good job of balancing the humor though since after that really intense emotional story its a nice breather to get some more comedy.
The comedy mostly relies on the Light Numbers and the Wily Numbers. For one, that splash page of seeing all the Wily Numbers working jobs had me in stitches. I had to put the book down my first time reading I was laughing so hard. Just the image of Napalm Man, this Robot Master whose specialty is explosives, working as a receptionist is hilarious.
This is also a great introduction to Bass. (Bass as in music, not Bass as in the fish) Bass is Megaman's main rival in the classic series. He is basically a crazy robot that thinks he is the strongest but has to kill Megaman to prove it. Ariga captures that nutcase personality well and he also shows that sort of sad side to Bass. There's nothing directly sad we see about him but I've always seen Bass as a rather sad character, his whole existence is just to kill this one person and he canot even do that. That is pretty pathetic. Ariga shows Bass' total obsession with wanting to kill Megaman perfectly as he is willing to threaten innocent life in order to fight Megaman.
The action here is great and there is a particular page that just shows Bass jumping through the air with several panels behind him showing the destruction caused by his assault on the park. Bass is a heavy hitter and seeing how he easily disregards human life, breaking the rule of robotics and proving to be the antithesis of Megaman who cherishes all life, Human and Robot.
The comedy gets even better when the Wily Numbers intervene to save the Park. I cannot say much more without giving it away but Ariga does a very tongue and cheek poking fun of Sentai and Dragon Ball Z sort of with how the Robot Masters handle fighting Bass. It is hilarious.
Chapter 3 is the shortest of the three chapters and is mostly just Bass vs. Megaman along with Protoman making his full debut into the story, only previously making a cameo in Chapter 2. The opening with Roll, Auto and Rush shopping is very funny and is the comedy for this one. This is also our introduction to the Dark Man brothers. For those that didn't play Megaman 5, the main enemies of the fist castle were the Four Dark Men. I call them brothers just because it sounds better.
These four are the main humor of the storyline and they are absolutely hilarious. They play up more stereotypical robot jokes, but I was laughing hard at them. They have a lot of fun personality that adds a lot to Chapter 3.
Chapter 3 is mostly about the rematch with Bass. Only difference being that Protoman is around and it is just Megaman vs. Bass. It is a more straight forward and simple read but the action is awesome and Ariga does a lot with the characters. Especially Protoman who is introduced perfectly to the audience as the near Psychic entity that knows everything thats going to happen.
It all leads to a rather disappointing battle which is the only problem with this entire volume. More on that later. Still even with that it is a good chapter that builds well on what came before in the previous chapter. Bass is great again and Protoman's introduction is handled perfectly.
There is one scene early on I want to talk about where Bass saves Roll from the Dark Man Brothers. Now Bass is evil, and I mean evil. He is a wicked and cruel guy most of the time. But the games have spotlighted that when there is something in it for him he can do good and this is shown nicely as we see that Bass isn't fond of cowardly acts like Kidnapping. He does it anyway but Ariga gave Bass some depth there and it was nicely handled.
Chapter 3 is a good closing point for Volume 2 as it wraps up nicely but leaves us excited for Volume 3 where everything comes to a head.
You probably noticed that big 10 there in the art score. Ariga had some issues in Volume 1 but by Volume 2 that is a thing of the past. Something Ariga does in Volume 2 is that a few scenes with certain characters that are supposed to be heavily dramatic or intense he adds a lot of lines and detail to the pages. Compared to his very smooth animated art style it sticks out nicely and adds a lot of weight to some of the intense scenes and it looks damn good.
Ariga's artwork is simply gorgeous this time around. There is not a single thing wrong with it. Every page looks great and every character design has a lot of depth and personality to it. Ariga's ability to draw big exciting action along with great emotion makes this some of the best art out there.
Finally, we come to the bonus material. Last volume it was just profiles and the interview between Inafune and Ariga. Very cool but not a ton of extra value for your buck. Here literally about one-third of this book is extras. We get the character profiles and more of the interview but even better are the comics. Ariga made several comic strips for a series called Megaman Maniax which are great riffs on the series and are full of hilarious jokes.
Even better is the Megaman Soccer comic strips. I canot even begin to describe how funny these are. Seeing the Robot Master's dream fields, the Regular Enemies beating the Robot Masters at soccer and all the Megaman characters play hilarious and fun games of soccer. It is a real treat and a ton of fun adding a lot of value to an already well worth it purchase.
The Bad: The one complaint with Volume 2, and what keeps its score from being just one point higher, is how the battle with Bass is resolved at the end. Normally, I would not want to spoil this but there is really nothing to spoil. Megaman and Bass face each other in a city on fire, it is a big scene that looks to be epic annnnnnd... We stop. They literally glare at each other then we are done. A huge waste of potential for what would have been a perfect way to end Volume 2 with a big bloody brawl between these two.
Overall: Megamix Volume 2 is an absolute must have. Even if you only mildly enjoyed Volume 1 or are unsure after reading it, you have to get Volume 2. It takes all that was great in the introduction and makes it better. Its a near perfect read that any longtime fans of Megaman are going to love and anyone just getting into the series will find an exciting take on the great world of Megaman.