Friday, August 13, 2010

Inexplicable (Comic) Book Review: Super Mario Brothers and Super Mario Land comics rule

While I've written at length about The Wizard here and here, and everyone is in agreement that the Super Mario Brothers movie sucked, there is one Mario-themed production that was shockingly good: The comic book series.

Besides the example to the right, you can find a bunch of page scans on this website. (Note: Clicking on any of the images will make them full-size, so that you can actually read them.) I'm not actually sure how I ever came across them. I dimly recall an aunt buying me the big red "Best Of" book that I still have to this day, but I'm not sure how I got an additional copy of it, or several other issues, or the four Game Boy issues that were about Super Mario Land.

However, the key thing about all of them is their surprising sophistication. Like some of the better cartoons to follow - SpongeBob Squarepants, Shrek - there was a lot of references in there that would fly over the head of a kid. You know, like how all the flowers in the king's garden are named Bud. There were pop culture references that you wouldn't get as a kid, along with puns that required a somewhat-advanced vocabulary.

As part of the moving into a new apartment, I was re-reading the "Best Of" book I had and chuckling to myself here and there. Most of the humor still holds up. Also worth noting is the artwork, which is what appealed to me most as a kid. The characters and backgrounds are vivid and bright, even more so than the Super Mario Brothers cartoon that was also pretty solid. The comic book series comes the best at recapturing the artwork of the second and third games of the Super Mario Brothers series.

So, if you see a copy lingering around a used book store, by all means pick it up. It's the perfect sort of odd purchase that you'll probably like, or it makes a great unique gift for someone who's into video games. (My other recommendations on this front: Game Over, an incredible biography by David Sheff about the rise of Nintendo, and The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steven Kent, an exhaustive look at the video game industry shortly before the launch of the PS2 and X-Box.) It also might make for a good investment, since they go for $10 to $40 online, it seems.

As I said at the start of this entry, all the comic images are coming from this website, which has a ton of archived comics related to the whole series. Really, really good stuff! And, I haven't forgotten that I owe y'all a Baggage review - I'm at work now, so I'll check my DVR and have it up after I get home.


  1. My roommates and I have a somewhat unhealthy love for Mario. (Okay, actually more so for Pokemon. Nerds.) Whether she likes it or not, my roommate is getting an 8-bit Mario birthday cake this year.

    This comic book is amazing. I literally lol-ed at Koopa-Kola. When did Peach start using her first name instead of being Princess Toadstool?

  2. @ Alison - I offer full-fledged support for your unhealthy love, and for this cake idea. When I was a little kid, my parents got me a cake with Mario decorated on it, and it was awesome, and I still remember it to this day, so obviously, it's a good idea for you to get it for your roommate. (And breathe! That was a long sentence.) There are far worse things to be into, although personally, I was always more of a Luigi guy.

    According to Wiki, Toadstool switched to Peach in the states in 1993, in the obscure game Yoshi's Safari for the SNES's Super Scope, which was this big bazooka thing. She was back to Toadstool for Super Mario RPG, and went to Peach for good starting with Super Mario 64. She's always been Peach in Japan.

  3. A friend of mine had a book of mario, though I'm not sure if it's the same.

    So are you saying you didn't like the cartoon? Catchy Theme...

    "Swing your arms from side to side. Come on, it's time to go. Do the Mario..."

  4. @ TS - It probably is, provided that it has comic-style graphics in it. The only other comparable thing that I know of is the Mario cartoon that was in Nintendo Power for a bit, which was also good, but not quite as witty.

    heh, The cartoon was still pretty solid! But the animation was all messed up, if I remember correctly. The Super Mario Brothers Super Show with Captain Lou Albano was awesome, though.

  5. Speak of the devil!

  6. @ Alison - haha, Nice find! There is also a really good, funny, tongue-in-cheek article about why Princess Peach is the most horrible person in the Mario universe:

  7. The list doesn't even mention how much she sucks at brawl. She throws turnips for chrissake! I can't win if Peach can only throw turnips. (Okay, I can't win at all!)


    And College Humor kind of rocks the Mario situation:

    For your viewing pleasure, the index:

    But more specifically, Mario and Peach's sex tape:

  8. @ Alison - Wow... You need help :D teehee.

  9. Mario is awesome, and TS when I was much younger I actually met Captain Lou, Star of the Super Mario Bros. super show, he used to live nearby so used to occasionally run into him at the supermarket.

  10. @ Nippy - Nice! I know him from wrestling as well. He used to manage the Bushwhackers, who I got to meet backstage once at a wrestling show.


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