Plenty of villains would like to paint themselves as Mario's most dangerous adversary, but on the shortlist of King Koopa and Wario are less familiar names, one of which is Herman Smirch. Surely you remember Herman Smirch. He's the cranky, thieving, weak-willed salesclerk that inadvertently allows mysterious spacelord Tatanga to cross over into our reality, thereby endangering the entire planet. 4thletter takes us through Smirch's short career as lowlife tool in the old Game Boy line of comics from Valiant.
We begin with the introduction to Herman Smirch. Herman is a middle-aged electronics clerk who lives alone. The first several pages try to show us that not only is Herman a jerk, but he’s a rather unorthodox one.
Yes. Herman’s hobby is to play [Super] Mario Land to the end and allow Mario to die because it’s funny. When that homeless guy leaves him alone, Herman whispers that beggers should be shot, causing the guy to yell at him for being an asshole. Herman crumbles like a coward and tries to give the guy a quarter. Later on, he insists to his boss at the mall that he was mugged.
The onslaught continues. His boss casually mentions that one of Herman’s Game Boys was shoplifted, but we see that Herman took it himself because he deserves to be paid more. To prove his point, he steals another one to play during his shift.
I had all of these comics when I was a kid (heck, I still have 'em for the bizarre novelty value) and they're all just as terrible as you'd expect. These stories come from an era when disposable income (e.g. allowance) could and would be burned on anything sporting a Nintendo logo or Mario's smiling face. While Mario is definitely the hero in Game Boy, it seems odd that the creators chose to make Smirch the star. I bought the Nintendo Comics System books to be entertained by everyone's favorite plumber, not an easily manipulated jackass. Is it any wonder these comics failed to really catch on?