365 Reasons to Love Comics #158
Alright, we went over the ducks. Let’s take a look at the rabbits. There are four of ‘em on my list (it looks like Anthropomorphism Fortnight, now), and the first appears below. We all know that Ducks and Rabbits are really the royalty of funny animals (yeah, I’m dissin’ the Mice), and today’s star is no exception. He’s totally cool, and he’s brought some friends. It’s the one you’ve all been waiting for.
158. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew
Oh Captain Carrot, my Captain Carrot.
Captain Carrot was DC’s last hurrah into the funny animal genre, and they chose to go with a superhero theme. And by God, it was charming as hell. Created by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! (of Oddball Comics, formerly of CBR), the Zoo Crew were anthropomorphic animal denizens of Earth-C, a world populated by puns and funny animals. The president of the US was Mallard Fillmore– but not the one we’ve got in the comic strip these days, thank goodness.
“The world’s twelfth-greatest comics magazine!” according to the cover of issue six, the series had a trial issue as an extra in New Teen Titans before launching into a twenty-issue run. The star, naturally, was Captain Carrot, a.k.a. Roger Rabbit, later changed to Rodney Rabbit, ’cause of one of the greatest films of all time. He was a comic book writer/artist who ate a radioactive carrot and was granted super-powers.
The good Captain was joined in his superheroic ventures by the Zoo Crew, which consisted of Pig-Iron, formerly Peter Porkchops, a character who debuted in 1947; Fastback, a turtle with super-speed who was no relation to the New God Fastbak but was the nephew of McSnurtle the Turtle, a.k.a. the Terrific Whatzit, a Jay-Garrick-inspired speedster (Roy Thomas loved his continuity, by God); Rubberduck, a stretchy hero whose secret identity was a parody of Burt Reynolds, “Byrd Rentals”; Yankee Poodle, with powers of patriotic animal magnetism; Alley Kat-Abra, the
kung fu Kat-Fu sorceress; and Little Cheese, who was given shrinking powers by cheese from the moon.
And they did encounter the Just’A Lotta Animals, who were comprised of Justice League parodies, as seen here:
That’s a lot of funny animals. Together, they fought marvelous villains like Dr. Hoot, ACROSTIC, Frogzilla, and Armordillo.
The series was wacky, light-hearted, and charming as hell. In fact, you could call it “cute, charismatic, and funny.” Naturally, it was canceled. DC promised to return to it in the future, but only put out one three-issue mini-series, The Oz-Wonderland War, before Captain Carrot and friends vanished into limbo.
That is, until now. Geoff Johns, scourge of comics (hee hee), brought the group back, once again in Teen Titans, as a parody of grim and gritty storytelling. And this autumn, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew will be returning to their own title in a mini-series by Bill Morrison and Scott Shaw! That’s not all, though– there’s also going to be a Showcase volume of the original series! Hurray! They’re spoiling us. Honestly.
In a world where even Captain Carrot needs to be dark and modern, is the concept of fun truly safe? I dunno. I do know that the old series was a hoot and a half, and that the new, upcoming mini looks promising. In the end, all we can hope for are good comics. Captain Carrot is immensely silly, but if there’s one lesson I want this column to teach, it’s that silliness is not a bad thing. Long live Captain Carrot.
Be sure to visit The Annotated Captain Carrot, an immensely detailed (but still unfinished) labor of love. And take a look at Gail Simone’s classic You’ll All Be Sorry column, which gave us the greatest crossover of all: Aliens vs. the Zoo Crew.