Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
To conclude the Anthropomorphism Retrospective, I bring you a group of characters you’ve probably never even heard of. And no, it isn’t Brute Force. (Don’t forget to peruse the archive! I actually keep it updated, now. *gasp*)
167. Conservation Corps
Here’s an obscure one. As far as I can tell, The Conservation Corps, created by Dan Nakrosis and Paul Castiglia, only had four appearances. I own three of ‘em. Their debut was in a crossover special with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All of their adventures were published by Archie in the early ’90s. And, to answer your question, yes– they were as awesome as they look.
The team consisted of animals that were mutated by aliens into anthropomorphic super-heroes tasked with saving the environment. It sounds cheesy, and it was– gloriously so. You had Stone Hedgehog, with earth powers; Water Buffalo, with, naturally, aqua-powers; Firefly, with flame-y abilities; and Greenhorn, a rhino with plant power! In the second issue of their mini-series, they met their sister, Skyshark, who had dominion over the air and winds. Together, they taught about protecting the Earth’s ecology, and fought robots and evil aliens who wanted to mine and pollute, and also a giant oil-covered duck monster that was also a cyborg. Also? Radioactive living dinosaur skeletons. No foolin.’ That story ended on a cliffhanger, enticing readers to write in to demand a conclusion, but I don’t think anything ever came of it. Shame.
My favorite aspect of this comic was how kid-friendly it was. Sure, the stories were easy and fun and “safe” and the art was delightfully cartoony, but that wasn’t all. The back pages were filled with fun extras, including letter pages and contests and special offers and gorgeous pin-ups from comic greats like Stan Sakai, Scott Shaw!, Kevin Eastman, Joe Staton, Fred Hembeck, and Eric Shanower. But the greatest part was the Fan Art page, where the kids got to submit their own pieces for publication. The story and characters must’ve captured their hearts well enough for them to draw their own material! Feast on some cool kid art (as always, click to enlarge):
Another great fact? The book was printed on 100% recycled paper with soy ink! Haha! Saving the environment, one comic at a time.
And that’s all I have, really. The series was short-lived and simple, but it had a good message and was made with a lot of love, and that’s what counts. Anyone else remember these characters?
So– what have the funny animals taught us? If anything, they’ve shown the world that animals are people too, and deserve our love and respect. Putting animals in humanoid form has lead to some really cute, fun comics material, and produced some fantastic ideas and exciting merchandise. They can be used to comment on the human experience, satirize social situations, or simply entertain children and adults. God bless anthropomorphism.
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