Comic Review: “The Mighty Mascots: Byte the Dust” (Alterna, 80s August Special)
Welcome back to 80s August, The Splintering’s month-long celebration of all things related to the greatest decade. Ever.
While we typically use our 80s August event to focus on entertainment produced during the 1980s, there is also room for covering things that are inspired by the era, too. That’s why today, we’re looking at The Mighty Mascots issues 4-6, which is published by Alterna Comics.
Written by Keith Gleason and featuring artwork by Ian Waryanto and colors by Anton Bandi, The Mighty Mascots is a lighthearted superhero book intended for all ages. This second story (titled Byte the Dust) picks up after the end of the first story arc (concluding in the third issue), but it’s not critical to have read the first three books to pick up on what’s going on. To set the baseline, Professor and former child actor Manny Coleman inadvertently brings a group of cereal mascots to life in a bizarre 3D printing accident. Now, they fight crime as the “Mighty Mascots”, a team that includes Captain Honeyflakes, Boxer Bear, Mondo Martian, Brewster McPunch, and Whack, Smack & Boom.
The threat this time around comes from a mad scientist-type villainess named Dr. Baneful, who is trying to use 3D printing technology save her dying husband who is in stasis. It’s kind of like the modern origins for Batman’s Mr. Freeze, except the two genders are swapped, and there isn’t any ice, okay- so not that much like Mr. Freeze. In any case, Dr. Baneful needs a powerful energy source to keep her husband’s stasis chamber running, and she enlists the help of one Jordan Tecmo to track one down.
Tecmo sets up a makeshift HQ in an abandoned arcade, and uses Dr. Baneful’s 3D formula to create a small team of video game mascots that a designed as parodies of real-world gaming characters: Plumber Paisano (Mario), Lana Lennon the Trailblazer (Lara Croft), Inazu the Road Brawler (Ryu from Street Fighter), Snappy the Harefoot (Sonic the Hedgehog), King Kablooey (Donkey Kong), Mack Mayhem (Mega Man).
Tecmo and crew attack a local science exposition looking for a suitable power source, but both Professor Coleman and Mondo Martian are also in attendance, and naturally, a mascot showdown commences. While the rest of the story strings together iterative fights between the groups, there is also a fun subplot involving Captain Honeyflakes having nightmares about a cereal commercial from 1981. Apparently, events in past commercials “actually happened” in the memories of the mascots, and the Captain is still haunted by his inability to save his Honey Crew mates from the monstrous Sugar Serpent.
Of course, this subplot eventually pays dividends with the main conflict, and it all comes to a satisfying end with a few loose strings left to set up the next story arc.
The action throughout is fun, but there isn’t quite enough of it to really highlight all of the characters to my liking. The biggest draws for The Mighty Mascots are the irreverence and humor. I found these issues to be a bit funnier than the first arc, and there are tons of fun references – 80s and otherwise – for the Generation X and Millennial crowd. Spoilers! Many of them are cereal and gaming related.
Visually, Waryanto’s cartoony style matches the fun, lighthearted tone of the story. The character designs – both of The Mighty Mascots themselves and the villains – are similar enough to their inspiration to be immediately evident (i.e. Honeyflakes = Cap’n Crunch, Snappy = Sonic the Hedgehog, etc.), but they are also unique enough to be legitimate characters in their own right. The books are published on Alterna Comics’ trademark newsprint paper stock. Because of that, some colors pop better than others do, and it is occasionally difficult to see some finer details. For me, this was most notable on Brewster McPunch’s bluer details.
I’ll admit, I was a bit tepid on The Mighty Mascots series after the first three issues. But this second arc is better, and with the hints to where the series is headed, I’m more excited to see the next arc. If you’re open to a lighthearted superhero tale that is heavier on humor and pop culture references than it is on deep characterization or heavy meaning, The Mighty Mascots is a good bet. At $1.99 per issue, the total $6 buy-in is a low-risk bet, as well.
Thanks for reading!
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