Crones and Clones

It’s been a while since I’ve written a book review post (well, not counting my look back on The Patchwork Girl of Oz, which I’d read a long time ago), and I have to say that I just haven’t been finishing books as quickly as usual as of late. I did complete a few fairly recently, though, so here are some thoughts:

Aunt Maria, by Diana Wynne Jones – When looking at a list of titles that Jones wrote, I sometimes forget which ones I’ve already read until I see plot descriptions. This is one I hadn’t read until a few months ago, and it’s apparently called Black Maria in other countries. It’s about a divorced mother and her children who go to stay with her helpless-seeming aunt-in-law, who turns out to actually be a witch who has a reign of terror over the small seaside community where she lives. There’s a fairly convoluted conspiracy that I had some trouble following, where the men and women are purposely kept separate through magic, and it’s difficult for the protagonists to tell who’s on the right side. It’s well-written and includes both transformations and time travel, as well as some likeable heroes (even the mom eventually plays a major role after she gets over her initial impressions of Aunt Maria), but it just didn’t appeal to me as much as many of Jones’s other books.

The Big Sheep, by Robert Kroese – Perhaps best described as a post-apocalyptic science fiction detective story, it takes place in a future Los Angeles where the police have decided to totally ignore one section of the city, where the crime lords have full sway. Detective Erasmus Keane and his assistant Blake Fowler, who narrates the story, are hired by a genetics lab to find a genetically engineered sheep that had been stolen. Soon after, they’re also approached by a television actress who fears somewhat is out to kill her. Keane and Fowler end up uncovering a plan by a media company to use genetic modification and cloning to create perfect celebrities, with some more sinister goals as well. It’s a well-plotted mystery, where certain minor things that the detectives learn about turn out to be important later on, yet the end solutions are so bizarre that it takes someone like Keane to put it all together.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe, by Ryan North and Erica HendersonI’ve been very entertained with what’s been done with this character as of late, and this graphic novel is no exception. If you’re wondering why Squirrel Girl would want to beat up the Marvel Universe, I’ll say that the plot involves an extremist clone.

I understand the title is also a play on a Punisher story, although I haven’t read that one. The story contains a lot of humorous references to other things Marvel, some of which I got and some I didn’t. I particularly thought it was clever how the Squirrel Girl duplicate took out practically every superhero and supervillain in the world through what could be described as the Mega Man method, using the weapons and abilities she took from defeated ones to conquer others in a constant progression.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill – This 2017 Newbery Award winner concerns a town that leaves out a baby every year as a sacrifice to a witch. It turns out that the local witch is actually a friendly sort who finds homes for the cast-out children, but the town elders prefer to rule by fear. The witch ends up adopting one of the children, raising her with the assistance of a poetry-obsessed swamp monster and a tiny dragon. Meanwhile, a young man named Altain who is training to be an elder even though his true love is carpentry gets it into his head to kill the witch. It’s a little slow-moving in the middle, switching back and forth a lot between characters, but is ultimately an entertaining tale of coming of age with some more serious political themes and quite a bit of whimsy.

Posted in Authors, Book Reviews, Comics, Diana Wynne Jones, Humor, Magic, Monsters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Food

I recently received a comment on my post on the Roman goddess Anna Perenna asking whether I knew of any connection between her and the Hindu Annapurna. I have to say I don’t know of any, but the names are suspiciously similar. Annapurna is an aspect of Parvati who is particularly associated with food. In Sanskrit, anna means “food,” and purna means completeness. There’s a myth associated with Annapurna, which in the longer form I’ve found begins with Shiva and Parvati playing a game of dice.

Parvati wins Shiva’s trident, but when they play again, Shiva wins. His wife accuses him of cheating, but Vishnu shows up and informs them both that the whole game is an illusion under his control. Shiva expands this into the concept that all material things were illusory, which Parvati countered by disappearing from the world and taking all the food with her. This resulted in all nature suffering, and Shiva ended up appearing before her with his begging bowl and apologizing.

His conclusion was that food is necessary to sustain the body that houses the soul, and hence is necessary to achieve enlightenment. So does this mean the Hindu concept holds that gods have physical forms that require sustenance? It reminds me of how some of the same people who argue that the world is so beautiful and well-organized that there must have been a creator also insist their time there is only a brief experience in their eternal lives and look forward to its being destroyed eventually. Granted, these people tend to be Christians, not Hindus, but the question of whether the physical is actually real comes up in pretty much all belief systems. The compromise often seems to be that, even if the physical is only temporary, you should still do your best to sustain it and life a good life. Annapurna is generally depicted holding a vessel of porridge and a jeweled golden ladle.

Prayers are offered to her when cooking and consuming food. She is also the patron deity of Varanasi, formerly known as Kashi. I don’t know of any connection between this place and the Eastern European grain dish kasha, but Annapurna IS associated with grain, so who knows? As for the Roman goddess, she was connected to plenty and bounty, so maybe there’s something to the similar names. How much association did the Romans have with India back in Ovid’s time?

Posted in Dice, Etymology, Food, Games, Hinduism, Mythology, Names, Philosophy, Religion, Roman | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lode Runner, Lode Runner, Going Faster Miles an Hour

In this post, I intend to address some connections between video games, many of which I haven’t actually played. I do remember playing Lode Runner on the Apple II in my elementary school days, though. You run around mazes and collect gold, all the time avoiding guards.

You can’t jump, but you can use ladders and bars to get around, and dig holes in the ground. If the guards fall into the holes, you can run over top of their heads, which always amused me. The ground will later return, and the trapped guards will respawn elsewhere. Many releases of the game included a way to make your own levels, a pretty novel idea at the time.

Dude must be pretty bad-ass if he can just casually talk about this while on the run.
So why does our protagonist have to collect all this gold? Well, according to at least some versions of the manual, the evil Bungeling Empire imposed excessive taxes on fast food, and I guess you’re pulling a Robin Hood on them. Fast food taxes probably do predominantly impact the poor, after all.

I’m not sure why the Empire decided to store their tax money in brick rooms full of ladders.

The game was originally published by Broderbund in 1983, and they’d go on to use the Bungelings as villains in later games. The helicopter rescue game Choplifter has the player saving hostages held by the Empire.

And Raid on Bungeling Bay also involves fighting the Bungeling Empire in a helicopter, only this time you’re bombing their munitions factories.

This was the first game developed by Will Wright, who went on to make SimCity and The Sims, the latter a game on which I’ve spent a lot of time.

The factories in Raid develop new technology over time, and this sense of development would later factor heavily into Wright’s simulation games. In the Super NES version of SimCity, the advisor Dr. Wright is named after Will, although he doesn’t look much like him.

When I saw this character mentioned in Nintendo Power, I assumed it was supposed to be Dr. Light from the Mega Man series, who is called Dr. Wright in the manual for the first game. He’s Dr. Light in the second, but then Dr. Right (no W) in the third. Dr. Wily’s name is also sometimes spelled “Wiley,” and bizarrely “Willy.” Anyway, I’m apparently not the only one who was confused, as it’s a plot point in Captain SNES.

Dr. Wright (the SimCity guy) was referenced in later games. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening has a Mr. Write who looks like him, and it even plays the SimCity music in his house.

And in Oracle of Seasons and The Minish Cap, there’s a scientist named Dr. Left who also looks the same.

Getting back to Lode Runner for a minute, it was ported to the Nintendo Famicom in Japan in 1984, and to the NES in North America in 1987. The company that did the port was Hudson Soft, who around the same time came out with a game called Bomberman. I haven’t played any Bomberman games, but there are apparently over one hundred of them, many of these Japan-only. The original mechanic was fairly simple, involving running around a maze and using bombs to blow up enemies and obstacles. Early versions of the game on home computers in Japan and Europe made the character a pretty generic guy in a hat.

The European name for the game was actually Eric and the Floaters, supposedly after the balloon-like enemies, but maybe also to promote the rock band the programmers were in on the side.

Anyway, for the NES port, Bomberman was redesigned as a cute little robot, a design Hudson had used before for their version of the imperial agents in Lode Runner.

The story for the NES version of Bomberman is that your character is a robot making bombs for the Bungeling Empire, who hears a rumor that he can become human if he reaches the surface of the planet. When you beat the game, it’s revealed that he’s the same as the Lode Runner hero, making the one game a prequel to the other.

I’ll bet the Runner wished he still had his bomb-making abilities during his gold-stealing adventure. This back story isn’t really used in any other Bomberman games, and the character apparently remains a robot. But then, remember that Captain N episode where Mega Man became human, then it was never mentioned again? Speaking of Mega Man, don’t confuse Bomberman with Bomb Man, even though they’re both robots who can produce bombs out of thin air.

Picture by Kyle
Bomberman ’94 establishes that the character’s homeworld is the planet Bomber in the Bomber Nebula, which makes me think the designers didn’t bother researching what a nebula actually is.

This game is also the first one that lets Bomberman ride on kangaroos, which is pretty cool.

You know who else rode on kangaroos? Wonder Woman.

And also Link.

There’s a game where Bomberman crosses over with Wario, who intends to plunder the planet Bomber for treasure.

And the character makes appearances in a few Club Nintendo comics, including one where he claims to be from Vienna.

And in their version of A Christmas Carol, Bomberman works in Wario’s bomb shop.

Posted in Animals, Captain N: The Game Master, Cartoons, Comics, Mario, Mega Man, Sims, Television, Video Games, Zelda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frustration Quest

Yesterday was L. Frank Baum’s birthday, so I figured I should write something Oz-related, but I’ve probably covered just about every possible topic when it comes to Baum’s creation. I was thinking recently, however, about how I usually say The Patchwork Girl of Oz is my favorite book, even though I find the ending kind of disappointing.

I’m going to spoil it and probably a few other Oz books as well, so maybe don’t read ahead unless you’re already familiar with them, but that’s up to you. I have to say I’ve generally never been that bothered by spoilers, I guess because the journey is more important than the destination, or something like that. I have a bad habit of reading out of order, although I do it less often now than in my younger days. Then again, it really depends on how central the spoilers are to the story. But anyway, the plot of Patchwork Girl gets underway when Dr. Pipt brings the titular character to life with a magic powder, and she accidentally knocks the Liquid of Petrifaction onto Ojo‘s Unc Nunkie and Pipt’s wife Margolotte, turning them to marble. In order to save them, Ojo sets out with the Patchwork Girl and the Glass Cat to find the five items the doctor needs to make the antidote: a six-leafed clover, the left wing of a yellow butterfly, a gill of water from a dark well, three hairs from the tip of a Woozy‘s tail, and a drop of oil from a live man’s body. With help, they obtain all the items except for the butterfly’s wing, as yellow butterflies are under the protection of the Tin Woodman, who would never let anyone harm one.

Fans have thought of possible ways this could have been solved, one of my favorites being making a butterfly out of butter, which should work in a place like Oz. But no, instead the Wizard of Oz restores the two marble people with a magic pass and word he learned from Glinda. Ozma says, “Had Ojo told me that one of the things he sought was the wing of a yellow butterfly I would have informed him, before I started out, that he could never secure it. Then you would have been saved the troubles and annoyances of your long journey.” Dorothy, who had accompanied Ojo on the second leg of his quest, replies with, “I didn’t mind the journey at all…it was fun.” Yeah, Dorothy, because you weren’t around for the part with the man-eating plants. As far as I can recall, Ojo doesn’t tell Dorothy and the Scarecrow about what he needs until the last minute, although he DOES tell the Shaggy Man who should also know Nick’s thoughts on the matter. So there was definitely some poor planning on multiple characters’ parts, but I have to say that finding four out of five ingredients and being stymied at the fifth is about the most frustrating way for such a quest to turn out. I suppose you could say that Ojo’s failure is due to his own self-defeating attitude, as he could have avoided trouble by just asking Ozma about both the butterfly wing AND the clover. On the other hand, he’s inexperienced and intimidated, so can we really blame him? The Wizard did appear about halfway through the book, but he was a minor character this time, so why should he be the one to wrap things up?

Baum was certainly no stranger to endings of this sort, where the main objective is almost completed but not quite, and someone other than the protagonists ends up saving the day. You could probably even count The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, since the Wizard turns out not to have any magic powers after all. Still, Dorothy’s companions get the symbols they want, and the Winkies get a better ruler. The ending is sort of out of nowhere in that Glinda tells Dorothy how the Silver Shoes work, but she has to get to Glinda first. In Land, the Scarecrow doesn’t get his throne back, but he and his companions are happy with the restoration of Ozma. Queen Zixi of Ix has Bud, Fluff, and Zixi recovering almost all the pieces of the wishing cloak that the queen had thrown away, but not quite. This results in their solving the problem in their own way with less powerful magic, however. I’ve seen Tin Woodman criticized for its ending, but I can’t say it bothers me. Nick no longer actually wants to marry Nimmie Amee, and there’s no reason for her to remain faithful to a man who disappeared years earlier. At least they both get closure (as does Captain Fyter), even if it’s somewhat unsettling closure. Dorothy and the Wizard has its characters almost reach the surface on their own, but not quite, then Dorothy remembers she can call on Ozma to transport them out with the Magic Belt.

The comic adaptation by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young improves this somewhat by having Dorothy mention Ozma’s watch over her earlier on; they just have to stay alive and relatively safe until the proper time. I wonder if this cop-out of sorts is part of why the next book, Road, has the Shaggy Man figure out a way to get to Oz without Ozma’s help (although it was her magic that got the adventurers to the surrounding lands to begin with). Johnny Dooit is pretty much literally a deus ex machina, but his appearance still seems a bit more satisfying than just falling back on the Belt again. Perhaps the closest to Patchwork Girl in this respect is Rinkitink, when Dorothy and the Wizard strong-arm the Nome King into giving up his prisoners instead of letting Prince Inga complete his own quest. The difference is that this wasn’t the original ending for the story (we don’t know how Baum ended it at first, although I understand there are some suggestions in the next issue of Oziana), while such wasn’t the case with Patchwork Girl.

So why do I say this book is my favorite despite the disappointing ending? I think a lot of it is just the sheer inventiveness, and the mix of old and new characters. This was Baum’s return to Oz after trying to end the series, and it seems that he pulled out all the stops. I think it’s actually the longest of Baum’s Oz books, and this is after removing a chapter. Not that longer is always better, but there’s a lot of creativity in the characters and settings encountered, as well as some quieter moments of the characters interacting. We get some historical background, with some brief mentions of Ojo and Unc Nunkie being Munchkin royalty, and the crooked magician who invented the Powder of Life becoming an actual character. Not surprisingly, there are some contradictions there, but it still shows Baum fleshing out his fairyland. Even a character from The Magical Monarch of Mo makes an appearance. Ojo himself, a sheltered and insecure boy, has some identifiable traits.

The fun-loving Scraps, vain Bungle, and amiable Woozy are nice additions to the series as well.

There’s a lot of humor, including Scraps’s nonsense verses, the corny puns on Mr. Yoop’s cage, and the Horners‘ jokes that are so bad they almost lead to war.

But this is also the book that gives us plants that try to suck the life out of the characters, and the rather unsettling incident with the disembodied voice. It also gives us the Tottenhots, based on some unfortunate racial stereotypes of the day, but even a generally progressive author like Baum was the product of his time. That’s also why the Horners have radium-lined houses and the characters complain about ragtime music.

So anyway, even if I’m not entirely happy with the ending, I very much appreciate the journey.

Posted in Book Reviews, Characters, Eric Shanower, Humor, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Magic Items, Music, Oz, Oz Authors, Prejudice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planet and Son Reunion

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 – I loved the first movie, and I was definitely looking forward to this one, expecting humor, space travel, music from the seventies and eighties, and family dynamics among the team. And yes, it delivered. The main question remaining at the end of the first one was who Peter Quill’s father was. In the comics, it’s J’son, the humanoid and rather cruel king of the planet Spartax. The screenwriter made it clear that they were going with a different dad in the Cinematic Universe, however. It turns out to be Ego the Living Planet, who’s not only a fully conscious planet but is also capable of changing its landscape and devouring other beings.

The film does question how a planet can impregnate a human woman, and the answer is that Ego is able to manifest his consciousness in the form of Kurt Russell.

Apparently Ego in the comics is capable of creating humanoid extensions of himself, so there’s precedent for that. I believe I have read at least one comic story in which Ego made an appearance, but I didn’t get much of a sense of who he was. The Guardians encounter Ego after killing a monster that’s trying to devour some super-powerful batteries belonging to a species of arrogant gold-skinned humanoids known as the Sovereign, only to have Rocket Raccoon steal the batteries himself.

Star-Lord is initially excited to meet his father and learn of the powers he’s inherited, but later learns Ego’s plan to turn the entire universe into himself. As is typical of superhero movies, the plan doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Ego’s whole thing is that he’s lonely because he’s the only one of his kind, so his solution is to destroy all living things that aren’t him? But then, nobody said Ego, despite his powerful brain, was totally rational. And I’m sure we’ve all learned by now that few things are much dangerous than a bored immortal. He calls himself a Celestial, which he’s actually not in the comics, but the classification of god-level entities in the Marvel Universe is so complicated that I think the filmmakers can be forgiven for taking liberties with it. The last straw for Peter is when he finds out Ego killed his mother because he thought she was distracting him from his grand plan. Meanwhile, Peter’s surrogate father figure Yondu Udonta is charged by the Sovereign with hunting down the Guardians. When he corners Rocket and Groot, his crew thinks he’s gone soft and mutinies, with a guy named Taserface becoming their new leader.

The name comes from an alien character whose race developed a civilization around creations of Tony Stark’s, but none of that is mentioned in the movie.

Instead, the recurring gag with him is characters (mostly Rocket) laughing at his name. Yondu, his first mate Kraglin, Rocket, and Groot escape and help Peter and the other Guardians destroy Ego.

The film has family as a major theme, and purports that sometimes the family you make is more important than blood relatives. Peter learns that Yondu, for all his criminal activity and tough-guy posturing, was much more of a father to him than Ego ever was. Gamora also reunites with her sister Nebula, and they manage to bond over the trauma from being raised by a self-proclaimed death god.

Peter continues to have a thing for Gamora, but she doesn’t seem interested. While I don’t blame him for being attracted to her, I think the family theme makes it clear she sees him as more of a brother. I suppose Peter’s romance with Kitty Pryde won’t be in any future films as Fox owns the movie rights to her. Groot, who is still growing after the events of the last movie, is a baby throughout except in a mid-credits scene.

I’ve heard there were articles criticizing Baby Groot, but I didn’t really think he was featured enough to get annoying. Besides, the scene where he kept bringing the wrong items to Rocket and Yondu was funny. We’re also introduced to Mantis, a naive insect-like empath whom Ego is keeping like a pet.

Although Mantis in the film is fully alien instead of a human who was given power by aliens, there’s a nod to the comic version being German and Vietnamese in that the actress cast in the role, Pom Klementieff, is French, Russian, and Korean. Yeah, not exactly the same, but still of European and Asian descent. Her performance reminded me of Bjork, or maybe more of other people’s impressions of Bjork. I hadn’t realized Sylvester Stallone was going to be in the movie, nor did I know upon seeing him that his character was the same as Starhawk, one of the original Guardians of the Galaxy.

Well, they were original in terms of when they were introduced, not in the fictional chronology, as they actually operated in the thirty-first century. Several other members of this team appear as well. Howard the Duck makes another cameo, and Stan Lee is seen talking to some seemingly indifferent Watchers. I believe Adam Warlock was a popular guess for Star-Lord’s father before this movie came out, and while he wasn’t, he will apparently play a role in later films.

Posted in Comics, Families, Relationships, VoVat Goes to the Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Being a Jerk a Pre-Existing Condition?

You’ve probably heard by now about how the latest Republican health care bill has passed the House of Representatives, and Donald Trump and his cronies had a big celebration over taking health care away from a bunch of Americans. I saw a lot of criticism on Twitter not just of that, but of how CNN used the headline, “Finally, a Victory for Trump.” Unless they were trying to be sarcastic, why are they kissing his ass like that? Also, why “finally”? Are they forgetting that he won the presidential election, or we wouldn’t have been in this mess in the first place? But then, remember how much Trump talked in his campaign speeches about “winning”?

What was always absent from this, at least from what I remember, was WHAT we’d be winning. Shouldn’t the concern be keeping as many people people as possible happy and healthy, not simply being a winner instead of a loser? Not to Trump, obviously.

A Google search brought up a few articles about how saying the new bill would make rape a pre-existing condition was an exaggeration. From what I can tell, this is technically true, but it does allow individual states and insurance companies to make such calls for themselves, and you’ll forgive me if I don’t think they have our best interests at heart. In fact, insurance companies make money by NOT having people’s best interests at heart. Health insurance in general is a dehumanizing concept, but at least getting rid of the pre-existing condition crap was a step in the right direction, and the Trump administration is really eager to bring it back.

Sure, some of them have pre-existing conditions, but this bill wouldn’t affect THEIR health care. At this point, it’s really difficult to be optimistic. Sure, it’s possible that this bill won’t pass the Senate. Yes, states might not apply for the waivers that allow them to deny people health care for whatever pre-existing conditions they want to. But the people and media outlets saying this are often the same ones who said that Trump would never win the election, and that Ivanka would be a moderating influence on her father. Well, Donald won, and Ivanka is so complicit that I’m not even sure she has an identity outside being a Trump.

Remember what George W. Bush said: “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me–you can’t get fooled again.” And if Trump voters really cared about rape, that “grab ’em by the pussy” tape would have bothered them a lot more.

One thing I’ve noticed about Republicans in general, and this is something I’m sure I’ve addressed before but I couldn’t find any specific posts on it, is their tendency to assume people always deserve their current situations. I don’t know if they actually believe it, or just defend it in order to remain in power. Probably a little of both, with the people who aren’t actually rich but think they will be someday more in the former category. The corollary of that is that, if your situation sucks, you can do something on your own to change it. Just work hard and you’ll get rich. Yeah, that was never true for the vast majority of people. Even those who really do manage to get out of terrible situations generally have some kind of help; it’s not just rugged individualism. Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama recently suggested that people who “lead good lives” don’t get sick, echoing what the CEO of Whole Foods said in 2009. So if you’re born with a health problem, that’s somehow your fault? I guess it could be something you did in a past life, but this generally seems to come from people who profess belief in Christianity, in which reincarnation isn’t a thing (well, in what became the orthodox variety, anyway). Yes, good lifestyle choices, diet, and exercise are certainly factors; but they’re far from the only factors. Two people can have the same health habits and vastly different health histories. Or they can work the same amount, but one will get rich and one won’t. We have Dr. Ben Carson arguing that low-income housing shouldn’t be too comfortable because then people won’t work to improve themselves, as if they can just magically get jobs if they so choose. Even the able-bodied ones can’t always do that. A lot of it is simply chance, although I guess a president who owned casinos wouldn’t have a problem with that being the case. He’s also someone who’s rich WITHOUT having worked hard, but simply because of his circumstances at birth. What’s the case for why he deserves his cushy position in society? What’s more, even in the cases where people’s conditions ARE ostensibly their own fault, if they’ve squandered opportunities or had crappy diets or started doing drugs or whatever, should we not be at least somewhat understanding? Should we not be allowed to bounce back after bad decisions? Besides, when you’re trying to get by in a stressful world, maybe you should be allowed some vices.

Posted in Current Events, Economics, Health, Politics, Prejudice, Snobbery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super Mario Apocrypha

Nintendo kind of seems to be steering away from Mario-related media as of late, as least in North America. I’ve heard that Archie Comics wanted to do a Mario title, but couldn’t get permission. In my younger days, however, there was plenty of it, and it shaped the way I looked at the franchise. Milo, who did a lot of scans and translations of the German Club Nintendo comics, made a post in March 2016 adding outside media to the Zelda timeline, presumably tongue-in-cheek but still quite well researched.

I was wondering if I could do something similar with Mario, despite the lack of an official timeline for that series. The licensed but now presumably now disregarded media I’ve been exposed to were:

If we’re looking at the timeline in order, I guess the first point of note is that the first Mario vs. Wario comic has Wario flashing back twenty years to when he and Mario used to play together as kids in the Mushroom Kingdom.

This is presumably after the past part of Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time, as they’re older than babies. To make this work with some of these other media, this would presumably be before Mario and Luigi’s parents took them to Brooklyn. It’s often mentioned that the Super Show flashback episode “Plummers’ Academy” shows people who look like Wario and Waluigi before these characters were actually introduced, so this could be an (unintentional) indication that these two also lived in or near Brooklyn for a while.

The live-action Super Show segments would have taken place after this flashback, and presumably also after the games that have Mario and sometimes Luigi doing odd jobs other than plumbing, although it’s possible that they occasionally did these jobs to pick up some extra money even after they took up plumbing as their main profession. They don’t seem to make that much for people who frequently have celebrity customers.

The cartoon introduction showed the brothers being sucked into a bathtub drain that took them to the Mushroom Kingdom, which is confirmed in the SMB3 episode “Toddler Terrors of Time Travel.” I don’t know if it should count as official that they emerged from the pipe and automatically knocked out a bunch of Koopa Troopas and scared Bowser away, but it’s possible. The cartoons presumably took place after the events of the first SMB game, and likely SMB2 as well. The anime was basically a retelling of the first game, and while it has elements that now seem off, like the Marios owning a grocery store, Luigi being greedy, and Princess Peach having a fiancé, we can perhaps accept some of the basic elements of the plot. Hey, maybe Peach WAS engaged back at this point, but it was later called off for some reason. I suppose the 1993 film was supposed to take place BEFORE the first game, but its world is so off from everything else that it’s near impossible to incorporate even by my liberal standards.

One oddity of the cartoon is that it included pretty much every enemy from SMB2 (aside from Wart himself, I think the only other one that never put in even a token appearance was the Panser), even though that game was apparently a dream. But then, the actual games followed suit after that, with Bob-ombs in SMB3, Pokeys and Ninjis in SMW, and Birdo eventually becoming a significant recurring character. The Yoshi games make it clear that the Koopas were employing Shy Guys back when Mario and Bowser were still babies. So either Mario dreamed about creatures that actually existed, or there was some way to get from the dream world to the waking one. One weird theory I came up with involves the Valiant story “A Mouser in the Houser,” which has a tribe of mice reveal that Mouser was their king before he teamed up with Bowser.

These same mice developed the warp pipe system, so maybe they also had a way of accessing Subcon that Mouser used, taking a job working for Wart as a bomber of good dreams like the SMB2 manual indicates. After Wart’s defeat, he returned to the Mushroom Kingdom and became Bowser’s right-hand mouse for a while. I remember seeing a letters page in one of the Valiant comics asking why King Koopa was controlling Wart’s troops, and the answer was that he had a higher rank.

There’s no indication as to what order the cartoons take place in, although “Mario and the Red Baron Koopa” has to take place after “The Pied Koopa,” and “Flatbush Koopa” after “Brooklyn Bound.” The first one aired, “The Bird! The Bird!”, is Plumber’s Log number 101 and has the Princess explain Fire Flowers to Mario, but there’s no consistency to the log numbers and Mario later suggests he already knew about the flowers. Many of the cartoons start with some narration about Mario’s team trying to free the people of the Mushroom Kingdom from King Koopa, and in “Flatbush Koopa” they appear to have succeeded, and they also find a warp pipe to Brooklyn. It turns out that Bowser has invaded Brooklyn, so Mario and company lure him back to the Mushroom Kingdom and destroy the pipe. He leaves his troops behind, though, so this could be the beginning of his downfall. The writers’ bible for the SMB3 cartoon says that Bowser was trapped in a Banishment Zone in between the two series, but he eventually escaped. Mario and Luigi returned to Brooklyn until after he attacked again. I like to think this is when the Super Mario Land games took place, or at least the first two. While Luigi was fine with returning to plumbing, Mario craved adventure, and took to ruling over a fiefdom granted to him by Peach, or perhaps an island he saved from Bowser. Travel between the Mushroom World and what the cartoon calls the Real World had presumably become much easier, with the characters frequently warping back and forth. I don’t know whether these new warp pipes were newly created or the heroes just hadn’t come across them previously.

Salvador Drainado is sure that the warp he finds is the only way back to our world, but we know from “Flatbush Koopa” that this isn’t actually true.

At the time of the cartoon, the Koopalings were still considered to be Bowser’s kids, and he had a paternal relationship with them in the show. If we want to make this fit with the current concept, we could say that he adopted them, or perhaps that they were illegitimate and unable to inherit the throne (in which case they’d still be his kids, but it might explain why Bowser Jr. would become his favorite). If they’re adopted, then it’s possible he did so right before the events of the game. Otherwise, the kids must have been somewhere else before this. Perhaps they were staying with Bowser’s mother, who appeared in a Super Show cartoon.

The magic wands are also an issue, as the game has them stealing them from kings who get them back, while in the cartoon they pretty much always had the wands. There actually were two episodes where they stole wands from kings, who got them back by the end. Later games also give them wands, however, and Bowser occasionally used a scepter-wand in the SMBSS.

The Valiant Super Mario comics and the first six Nintendo Adventure Books, the latter of which have Mario and Luigi traveling back and forth between Brooklyn and the Mushroom World, would presumably take place around this period as well. They give the Koopalings somewhat different personalities; and use the character of the Mushroom King, Peach’s father. He’s so ineffectual that his presence doesn’t make a whole lot of difference, but if we’re fitting everything together, it does the raise the question as to what he was doing while his daughter was off traveling with the Marios to find a way to get rid of Bowser. Maybe he was transformed into fungus like in the live-action movie. In one of the books, Luigi mentions that the Koopalings’ wands were stolen from the Mushroom Kingdom, but doesn’t elaborate on this. Some of the comics might actually take place before King Koopa’s banishment, like “It’s Always Fair Weather,” in which Mario first discovers the power of the Super Leaf.

One tricky thing about Super Mario World as far as outside media go is that everyone seemed to depict Yoshi differently. The flashback in the cartoon “Mama Luigi” has Luigi tell Yoshi how he, Mario, and the Princess came to Dinosaur Land for a vacation after banishing Bowser from the Mushroom Kingdom (again). This fits with the little in-game story we get, although it does raise the question as to how King Koopa was banished this time. Considering the crashed airship that became the sunken ghost ship, maybe the Koopas were on that and then settled in Dinosaur Land, which Bowser would presumably have remembered as the place he spent much of his childhood. In the cartoon, he captures both Mario and the Princess, but Mario escapes without finding out where Peach is being held. He tracks down Luigi, who has teamed with the newborn baby Yoshi.

They rescue the Princess and decide to remain in Dinosaur Land to help the native cave people and thwart Koopa schemes. The Chancellor from Super Mario RPG, who seems pretty competent, is probably holding things together in the Mushroom Kingdom at this point. Still, the Marios and Peach do eventually return, possibly taking Yoshi with them. While Dinosaur Dilemma starts out in Dinosaur Land, the last three Adventure Books to feature Mario have Yoshi living in the Mushroom Kingdom with the other main characters. This Yoshi doesn’t speak English, but since he’s portrayed as a child, he’s probably the same one from the cartoon. In Flown the Koopa, Bowser is still in his valley in Dinosaur Land. And even Super Mario 64 has Yoshi hanging out on the roof of Peach’s castle.

My thought is that Super Mario Adventures also takes place around this time, as it has the heroes start in the Mushroom Kingdom while Bowser is still dwelling in his Dinosaur Land castle. During this adventure, Mario and Luigi meet another Yoshi who’s chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, and he takes them to Yoshi Village to meet some of his compatriots.

Bowser has also captured a lot of Yoshis, but the protagonists rescue them along with the Princess. It’s tempting to think these Yoshis might include some of the ones who accompanied Mario when he was a baby, and maybe the parents of the young Yoshi from the cartoon, but that’s still up in the air as far as I’m concerned.

Some of the Club Nintendo comics have Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Yoshi all living in or near Brooklyn, which I guess isn’t too far-fetched. There are, however, other Nintendo characters there who don’t have the same connections to New York. Actually, I think the Ruby-Spears cartoon did have Dr. Light, Dr. Wily, and Mega Man living in New York, but in the future. In one story that doesn’t use Mario, “Kirby’s Biggest Case,” a mad scientist has a giant Game Boy that he can use to draw characters into and out of games. It’s kind of funny when Kirby asks Lolo whether he’s seen any video game characters, when of course both of them ARE such characters but presumably don’t know it.

Maybe they’d been transferred into our world by the scientist’s device or some other means. Regardless, most of these comics were published in the time between SMW and SM64, and presumably took place then as well. And that’s pretty much it, although I’d also like to propose that the part in Donkey Kong ’94 when DK overdoses on Super Mushrooms and becomes gigantic could be linked to the Captain N cartoons, in which he was always huge.

This could also be around when he started taking up potion-mixing.

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