Comic books and video games have been swapping spit for as long as anyone could remember. They worked hand in hand to help market one another, such as the Marvel’s Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage and its video game counterpart. In the years since the early 90’s, comic books based on video game entities have decidedly been less about advertising and more about providing truly great adaptive work. The Sonic The Hedgehog comics have certainly outpaced the games in terms of their popularity, with longtime franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Halo, Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda receiving long running publication histories that set out to expand on their original universes with stories focused entirely on their own stories. Even gaming’s biggest plumbers had their time to shine with Super Mario Adventures.
Originally serialized within the pages of Nintendo Power from January through to December of 1992, this series was crafted by author Kentaro Takekuma and artist Nozawa. While it was received with fanfare and love, there is no explaining just how fantastically weird this book is. Hence this panel that makes just enough sense out of context as it does in context:
For starters, the plot to this book is zany and at times borderline illogical. There has yet to be a version of the Mushroom Kingdom quite as neurotic as the one seen in the pages of this comic. Mario and Luigi are more unhinged yet charming heroes, bumbling their way through a world containing travelling make-up artists, agoraphobic ghosts, doomsday machines made of cake, song numbers, and so many more surrealist ideals piled on top of a source material already fantastical world of anthropomorphic lizards and mutative mushrooms. The art here is a super expressive form of chibi art that isn’t quite as sterile as more modern attempts at it have become.
The comic follows the classic Mario story of our hero trailing behind Princess Peach in a grand adventure to save her from the Koopa King Bowser, at times changing up the formula and series lore to have some stupid fun. The series focuses less on the adventure and more so on the wacky scenario’s this journey brings about, such as Mario and Luigi having to play therapist for King Boo, or Peach’s continuously surreal attempts at escaping the Koopalings who are holding her hostage.
Bowser in this series is portrayed as a maniacal sweetheart, which isn’t too far off from how he’s been treated in fan circles here in the modern day. He’s evil to a Saturday morning effect, reading more so as a lovesick Skeletor than the serial abductor he is in the games.
With just how divergent it is from the source material, it’s not a surprise that Nintendo kept this series buried up until it was reprinted by Viz Media back in 2016. It gives wacky voices to the characters within this world, most of which are deeply rooted in surrealist comedy. As what may be a tonal blueprint for the upcoming Super Mario Bros. film from Illumination Studios, it is never too late to check out this often forgotten piece of video game and comic book history.
Remembering Nintendo’s Forgotten Super Mario Comic
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