Thursday, December 3, 2009
SUPER FIGHTING ROBOT: MEGA MAN.
I'm not usually one to be a corporate shill, but I, personally, am super excited about UDON's release of MEGAMAN MEGAMIX... I have a really old tankubon of Hitoshi Ariga's first REMIX, which I believe is a seperate series from his new MEGAMIX, which is a lot slicker and more polished.
UDON is a company I can really get behind, beyond personally knowing some of the people that work there, it's a company that produces almost exclusively books that I want to buy, and unlike other companies that deal mostly with licensed properties (*cough cough* IDW, DYNAMITE, BOOM! *cough cough*) and put no effort or care into their products, UDON is run by Fans, employing Fans, skilled and professional though they may be, to work on projects they truly care about and have a personal stake in.
This tender loving care shines through on every book I've purchased by UDON. Their products have a slick, glossy, hip and consummately professional sheen. Colorful, well drawn, and well written books by some of the industries best upcoming artists that bring out all the elements of beloved franchises from my youth which have somehow endured through time and have mass appeal to both old and new generations.
That care and effort extends to reprinted work licensed from the original Japanese publishers as well, with re-mastered and redesigned covers and interior art, and excellent print quality; possibly some of the best printed books in the industry.
As a life-long fan of the Blue Bomber, I can assure anyone else that might be a fan of my favorite side-scrolling shooter about the Little Blue Robot that Could (fight Robot Terrorists and Mechanical Monsters), that Hitoshi Ariga is the best artist/writer to ever put pen to paper with anything dealing with Mega Man (or Rock Man, if you want to get culturally accurate). His art is perfectly on model, but with it's own flare; loose, gestural, and with perfectly cartooned expression, capturing not only the grim, gritty, and fast paced action associated with the story of a child-like battle Robot, who courageously volunteers to be re-purposed to fight against his abused and manipulated brethren, who have been reprogrammed for evil by the sinister scientist Dr. Wily, but also the childish fun and excitement of a shonen action series with appeal to both the young and young at heart. He also did the manga adaptation of one of my favorite anime, THE BIG O (published by VIZ and long out of print), which was slick and polished, with a dark North American influence that showcased his range and versatility with storytelling.
Mega Man finds his roots in another popular Robot from my childhood, with obvious influences coming from Astro Boy, my other mechanical childhood hero, but with a more fast paced story that skews toward a slightly older shonen manga audience, filled with action and drama, and less social commentary than that set Astro Boy apart from other series.
Still, that's not to say that Mega Man is without an intelligent and engaging plot; an allegory for the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the helplessness of technology in how it is used by humans. Rock is the hero who sacrifices his innocence to become a weapon of peace, while his six robot brothers, construction robots built to help humanity, are helpless to resist their new, destructive programming, the dark influence of Dr. Wily, an insane but brilliant scientist who uses his genius in a bid for world domination.
MEGA MAN MEGAMIX takes the Mega Man mythos to a new level, giving personality and backstory to previously literally 2-Dimensional characters, expanding on their relationships and motivations after and beyond their defeats in the video games that spawned them.
The original six Robot Masters; built by Mega Man's creator and mentor, Doctor Light; Cut-Man, Guts Man, Bomb Man, Ice Man, Elec Man, and finally Fire Man, have their evil programming broken, and join their brother in his battle to defend humanity from Doctor Wily's new and improved Robot Masters, 48 powerful robots built for combat. Also on the Blue Bomber's side are his adorable and precocious sister, Roll, his mysterious prototype Brother, Blues AKA Proto Man, his Scooby-Doo-esque mechanical canine companion, Rush, and the Robot Masters of Mega Man 4, built by the misguided but repentant Doctor Cossack, and his cute daughter, Kalinka. It's a huge cast of characters, each getting their chance to shine in the spotlight, alongside the franchise star, Rock, aka the Blue Bomber, Mega Man. I'll admit, though, as much as I love Mega Man, my other favorite character from the series, and the one I'm most excited about seeing showcased in this manga, has to be Forte AKA Bass, Mega Man's Bizarro counterpart. He's just so cool looking!
I'm truly excited about this; Thanks Erik and Jim! I know the dizzying amount of effort and work that goes into hunting down the license for something like this. Blood, sweat, and tears are spent to bring something that brings warmth to my cold robot heart, and I appreciate the efforts spent; I hope this does well, because I'd love to see more and more Mega Man content in North America... especially an actually worthwhile animated effort; the 90's cartoon stopped being good at the end of the opening animation. -_-
I'd also like to point out UDON's two other upcoming MEGA MAN themed releases; MEGA MAN and MEGA MAN X Complete Art Works; the much anticipated (at least by me) collections of all Mega Man related design and promotional art. The learning curve on both series was steep and the Osamu Tezuka influence is obvious. Some brilliant, slick and stylish, cartooning from CAPCOM's art department that I've been desperate to see collected and available for purchase since I got into art.
Lots to look forward too in the New Year now!