Ian Flynn, writer of Sonic the Hedgehog and its spinoffs first for Archie Comics and now for IDW, revealed in a Twitter thread that he had the chance to pitch Nintendo America a Super Mario Bros. series. Here’s what he wrote about the subject:
The springboard was for a 4-part mini that would hopefully turn into an on-going. It had the same approach as [Archie’s Sonic & Mega Man comics] at the time: narrative-driven adaptations of the games with stories bridging the canon. It would adapt the original Mario Bros. game
It started off with Mario & Luigi being summoned to Peach’s castle for a plumbing job. Luigi was excited about the career-defining contract, Mario less enthused – a job’s a job & he’s bored of their career. They arrive just after Bowser has ransacked the Mushroom Kingdom.
With literally no one left to save the princess, Mario jumps at the call to adventure. Luigi less so. They stock up on what power-ups are left after the invasion and embark on a journey through Worlds 1-8, burning through their provisions since they’re novice heroes
They reach Bowser’s Castle in W8-4 and Luigi calls it quits. This is suicide. They’re PLUMBERS, not heroes. Mario refuses to give up – too many are counting on them. They part ways, Mario storming the castle.
Mario makes his way past the traps and firebars to his first showdown with Bowser. The King of Koopas wants to know who’s been causing so much trouble for his troops and it’s…this pudgy guy? Oh well. Anyone who challenges him meets the same fate.
It’s a knock-down, drag-out fight on the bridge over a magma moat. Mario is too nimble for Bowser to land a solid hit, but Bowser is too tough for Mario to actually hurt. They’re at a stalemate when a scream is heard, building from deep in the hall…
It’s Luigi, screaming in blind terror, running thru the castle as fast as he can. Over the bridge. Past the baffled combatants. Into a wall. Which knocks loose the decorative ax. Which cuts the bridge.
Mario bounces off the falling Bowser to safety. Mario and Luigi reconcile – yeah, Mario may have gotten in over his head, but Luigi could never abandon his brother. Together they rescue Peach who shares a bashful love-at-first-sight moment with Mario.
The trio returns to the Mushroom Kingdom and begins to rebuild. Peach names Mario & Luigi royal plumbers. Luigi is overjoyed – they’re set for life now! No more adventures! Cut to the stinger ending of Bowser crawling out of the magma moat.
From what I heard thru the grapevine it was well-received at Nintendo America, but stalled out at Nintendo of Japan. Looking back on it now it’s not how I’d approach a Mario project today – too much drama, not enough whimsy. Still, I thought some of y’all might get a kick out of it.
Even though it sounds like a pretty safe pitch, Nintendo Japan prevented the book from happening. As covered in my feature about Dark Horse’s video game licenses, Nintendo is notoriously protective of its IP, which is why we haven’t seen Nintendo stories written for American audiences in decades.