When I was at the Mall of America, I noticed they had signed copies of the ninth Captain Underpants book. I had no idea this book was finally written, so I purchased it and read it. Did I like it?
Well, before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story.
Book #8 was a solid book, in which our heroes visited the Evil Universe, where everything is the opposite of what it normally is. They faced off and defeated their evil twins. The first part of the book was good, but the second half was kind of...off.
It turns out there was a behind-the-scenes power struggle, or something along those lines. The author was forced to completely redo the second half of the book, which was deemed "too violent". The author had said two character would die in this book; all deaths were completely written out. That explains why the second half of the book kind of feels different from the first half; they were done separately.
The rewrite of the eighth book caused it to be delayed a lot. Instead of being released a year after Book 7, it was released three years later. And now, six years later, we have Book 9. Again, I have to think this book is completely different from what the author originally intended. That's almost inevitably the case, given that the title was first announced over ten years ago.
Captain Underpants #9 starts out rather interesting. It makes you think that the book is going to be a wacky time-travel adventure, starring Captain Underpants and the villain from Book #4. But then the story slows down a bit, before making a complete U-turn. The titular plotline gets tossed to the side, only to be picked up again at the very end to create a cliffhanger.
The majority of the book is a prequel story that takes place four years before the first book. It's 150 pages about how George and Harold first met, then defeated some bullies. It's a good story, and the illustrations are particularly well-done. But it just feels kind of off to me. Fun story? Yes. A Captain Underpants story? No. The Captain only appears for a half-chapter, tops, in this book. Maybe they should have released the prequel story as a separate book, rather than part of the main series. Or maybe they could have done a better job of framing it as "this book is just a prequel story, not part of the current plotline".