The King Is a Drip!

It’s March 10, which means that it’s Mario (MAR10) Day, at least in this country. I guess elsewhere it’s Iomar Day. I write a lot about the Mario universe anyway, of course. I’m really not that good at the games, but I love the world in which they take place. It’s whimsical, colorful, and funny, often in a corny way like my own attempts at humor. I’ve recently been playing Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, and I think I’m pretty near the end, although I’ve heard it gets really hard towards the end. I just beat Commander Shroob on Star Hill.

It’s interesting that Mario and Luigi automatically get along with their young selves, while Bowser doesn’t much like his younger self.

Source: Broken Teapot
Still, they team up, and you have to fight them inside Thwomp Volcano. The baby Mario Brothers had already started appearing in Mario Kart games alongside their adult selves by the time this game came out, but I suspects PiT was the first time they canonically met themselves. My wife recently finished Yoshi’s New Island, and after you defeat Baby Bowser in that one, adult Bowser shows up, “warping through time and space” for no apparent reason.

I believe time travel is actually part of the plot of Yoshi’s Island DS, though, so I guess it’s a callback even though New Island seems to take place earlier in time than YIDS.

What’s particularly weird is that Kamek doesn’t seem to have any problem with a grown version of his young charge suddenly showing up. I guess Mario’s Time Machine is the first Mario game with a time travel plot, but not only is that game not generally considered canonical, but it has Mario and Bowser going in the past of our world rather than their own past.

Bowser, stop ripping off Carmen Sandiego!

I might as well post the latest version of my Mushroom Kingdom map, including the locations from Partners in Time.

I do want to add in the places from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, but I’d like to play more of the game first. I’d also like to add some places from the Super Show, but maybe I should do another map that includes non-canonical locations. And since I’m finished with my Super Show reviews (although I haven’t done the Zelda episodes yet), I might as well get back to looking at the Nintendo Comics System.

Mutiny on the Fungi – This ten-pager focuses on King Koopa, or rather CAPTAIN Koopa, commanding an airship full of stolen treasure with a crew of Toads. The ship is coin-operated, which was Bowser’s own idea despite his being the one who pays. He throws one annoying Toad who’s obsessed with polishing a coin off the ship, where he lands on Mario, who’s trying to find a magic wand to break the spell that turned the Mushroom King into a collie. It turns out Luigi is also on board, searching for the wand as well, and has found it’s down the chimney chute with the treasure.

The coin-polishing Toad, who talks in a sort of stereotypical Asian broken English (at least, I think that’s what they’re going for) and has an obsession with honor, beats up Bowser upon learning he doesn’t care about honor.

While Mario looks for the wand, Koopa blasts a cannon down to chute to take out Mario, which empties out his money and crashes the ship. Mario and Luigi, much as in Super Mario Bros. 3, fall right into the castle and change the King back to his regular form. Considering the title, a play on “Mutiny on the Bounty,” it’s strange that there really isn’t any mutiny, the closest we get being the Toad attacking the Captain, but that isn’t to challenge his command.

Piranha-Round Sue – Once again, the King has been transformed, this time into a chameleon by Bowser. It’s not like these comics originally appeared in the same issue, but still, it’s not like there are that many of these stories. Mario suspects that the Piranha Plants are planning a resolution, and unfortunately, the wand he needs to change back the King is being kept at the Piranha Plant Headquarters in World 1. The King gives Mario the Green Gecko Gem, which creates a force field that only really strong enemies can break through, but it won’t work if the bearer is touching someone else. How did the King get this in the first place, and why is he only revealing it now? Mario and Toad set out to the Headquarters, but Mario arrogantly runs ahead with the gem.

A Piranha Plant named Sue convinces Toad to pretend he’s drowning so Mario will drop the gem to save him, promising that she’ll give it to Toad after that, but actually planning on making the plants invincible so they can revolt against Bowser. We get an interesting panel of Toad imagining he’s King, with a queen beside him and other Toads groveling to him.

I initially thought the woman was supposed to be Princess Toadstool, but she isn’t drawn like that anywhere else. It does suggest Toad is interested in human women rather than Toad ones, though. Sue takes the gem, but just then Koopa shows up. Apparently Sue wasn’t aware of the limits of the Gecko Gem’s power, because the Koopa King easily breaks through the force field and throws out the gem, dismissing it as useless. It’s an okay story in and of itself, and I like the picture of the Piranha Plants conspiring.

As another review points out, what doesn’t work is that we see Mario and Toad making a plan at the beginning, then Mario saying after everything goes down that the plan worked perfectly. So the plan was to have Mario act like a jerk, Toad pretend to go along with Sue’s plan, and Koopa show up just in time? This is BEFORE Toad even talks to Sue, by the way; and it’s not like he had any way of knowing Koopa was around. Why even include this part, when it doesn’t make sense? They could have had Toad pretend to betray Mario and Mario drop the fake wand without the story insisting that EVERYTHING that happened was part of the plan.

Cloud Nine – This story is the first appearance in the comics of Wart, who features as the main villain instead of Bowser. While Koopa’s design already included some of Wart’s features, it looks to have worked the other way ’round as well, as the frog has a crocodilian snout and a spiked tail and armbands. I thought the armbands might have been a mistake, as they’re first seen in a panel where you can only see his arms; but he has them again in the final panel where you can see his whole body. Wart does wear armbands in concept art, but they don’t have spikes.

In the rare comic “Tanooki Suits Me,” which I haven’t read, he’s closer to his in-game appearance, perhaps to contrast him with Bowser, who also shows up in that one.

The tale starts with the King waking under feeling groggy and uncomfortable, and attacking his sentient alarm clock Stopwatch.

I’m pretty sure that’s the only appearance of this character. Did he quit after this?
The King complains that his mattress is too lumpy, so Mario and Luigi accompany him to a mattress store, where he turns down every mattress he comes across. There’s a cameo from the Quaker Oats mascot, or rather a royalty-free equivalent, commenting that a lumpy mattress looks okay to him.

Wart, dressed in a tacky suit, captures the King in a bag; and a Pidgit gets the Mario Brothers out of the way by announcing a sale on plumbing fixtures, even though that makes no sense at a bedding store.

Wart then takes the King in an elevator to the sky and has him try out a cloud bed, which flies over the Mushroom Kingdom and rains on everyone and everything.

Mario eventually figures out what’s up, and implies that Wart has kidnapped the King before. Apparently nobody noticed that the sign outside the store says right on it that it’s “a division of Wart Enterprises.”

The Marios fly a biplane into the sky, and Mario fixes the drip in the cloud and has the plane drag Wart to the middle of the Fungus Forest, one of the few named places mentioned in the comics. The King arrives back home and assumes the whole thing was a dream. Does he keep the newly repaired cloud bed after this? That seems to be what the later panels imply.

Magic Carpet Madness – The King finally gets some character development beyond simply being an idiot, as we learn that he loves gardening. When his telephone rings, he tracks mud into the castle while going to answer it, only to find that it’s a prank call from Bowser.

The idea that Koopa would make prank calls to his rival monarch is amusing in and of itself, but he apparently did it specifically so the carpets would need cleaning. Hey, maybe the Mushroom King’s love of gardening is also why he has muddy feet in “Cloud Nine.” Mario, Luigi, and the King himself mistake the muddy prints for dance steps, which is beyond stupid. The Princess calls carpet cleaners, who turn out to be Pidgits, and Koopa adds a special liquid to the rug cleaning solution to make the castle carpets fly. The Princess ascends into the sky on one of them, and the Pidgits brainwash her into becoming a reckless punk. It’s kind of similar to the plot of “Cloud Nine,” actually, except more entertaining due to the Princess’ personality and style change.

In both cases, the villain is just trying to cause chaos, presumably without a real end goal. Without thinking, Mario sits on a bag of fertilizer that empties into a bean patch, causing a beanstalk to grow. He and Luigi climb it, but the Princess runs her carpet into it without their doing anything. In fact, the only intentionally useful thing either of the brothers do in this one is when Mario vacuums up a different carpet. This is an early appearance of products by the Apook Corporation, who tend to sell shoddy products. At the beginning, we see a box of dirt from Apook labeled, “Instant mud, just add water.” The Pidgits work for Apok Carpet Cleaners (possibly a mistake), in association with Wart Enterprises. And the fertilizer is specifically said NOT to be an Apook product. Koopa’s blimp is labeled “Bad-Year,” the joke being obvious; but it’s interesting in that there was a syndicated cartoon called Stunt Dawgs where Harvey Atkin voices a character who sounds pretty much exactly like Koopa on the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, and he’s named Badyear. This comic also shows us that the King’s flowers are sentient.

The Kingdom Enquirer – Toad gets a press pass from the Apook Correspondence School of Journalism, Hotel Management and Transmission Repair, with Wooster reminding him that the entire curriculum consisted of sending them a check. He accompanies Mario on a secret mission to World 1-3, annoying him along the way. While Mario goes to collect coins for the King, who’s short on cash, Toad tells a bunch of Koopas that he’s a reporter, and they promptly tell him a bunch of their secrets, mostly dumb things they’ve done and pranks they’ve pulled.

Toad writes up what they tell him into a story and gives it to a Koopa Paratroopa to fly it to the Kingdom Enquirer offices. When the other Koopas find out what’s in the story, they immediately run after the Paratroopa, leaving Mario and Toad alone. The secrets the Troopas tell are pretty amusing, although I have to wonder how a Bullet Bill could eat King Koopa’s chocolates.

The comic is pretty SMB3-centered, as it has note blocks and Boomerang Brothers.

It’s interesting that, of the comic stories I’ve written about so far, three of them have Mario and Toad going on a mission without Luigi, who’s often given short shrift in these despite being taller than the other two. And when he does appear, he’s not characterized all that differently from Mario. We’ll see if that continues in other stories.

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