Most early Nintendo games don’t have much going on in the way of plot, but that didn’t stop Valiant Comics, the home of ’90s comic shop mainstays like X-O Manowar and Harbinger, from publishing a series of comics known collectively as the Nintendo Comics System. Two of Valiant’s Nintendo comics, Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, were hokey spin-offs of the games’ animated series. Game Boy was a weird, psychedelic reimagining of Super Mario Land in which characters from the Game Boy game invaded the real-world and caused absolute (and not at all child-friendly) havoc.
In terms of tone, Valiant’s Captain N adaptation was somewhere in between. On one hand, the comic has the same silly premise as the television show, and it’s filled with groan-worthy puns. On the other, it doesn’t have much to do with the cartoon. The stories are much more faithful to Captain N’s source material, the action scenes are remarkably well-drawn, and the characters gain some much needed depth in the transition from screen to page. The cast is different, too. While Captain N the cartoon featured a number of characters owned by non-Nintendo companies, Valiant only had the rights to Nintendo’s own characters. That meant that Mega Man — a Capcom character — and Simon Belmont — a Konami creation — were gone. The N Team needed some fleshing out.
So, Valiant introduced Samus, Metroid’s hero and Mother Brain’s arch-nemesis, into the mix. She changes everything. As a rowdy, confident, and extremely capable warrior, Samus interjects Captain N with some much-needed energy. Even better, Samus is presented as Kevin’s second love interest, transforming the dull romance between Captain N and Princess Lana (an original character) into a vibrant and compelling triangle.
It works really, really well. So, why didn’t Samus show up in the main series? As writer Jeffrey Scott explains, “Never heard of her. That could by why.” Wellp.