Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew

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Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew issue #1.

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew is a DC Comics comic book property about a team of funny animal superheroes called the Zoo Crew. It was published from 1982 to 1983, and was created by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw!.

Although the series, which was the last original funny animal property created by DC Comics, proved shortlived, lasting only 20 issues, it is still fondly remembered in furry fandom, and the characters still appear occasionally in cameos in the DC Universe.

Location[edit]

The various members of the Zoo Crew lived on a parallel Earth that, in DC's pre-Crisis days, was named "Earth-C." Earth-C consisted of a world where various anthropomorized talking animals existed; the series featured a lot of pun names for real-world aspects. For instance, the Zoo Crew operated out of "Los Antelopes, Califurnia," a parody of Los Angeles, California. Similar puns included places with names such as "Gnu York" (New York City), "Tallahatchee" (Tallahassee, Florida), "Cornada" (Canada), and the "United Species of America" (United States of America).

The president of Earth-C's version of the U.S. was "Mallard Fillmore" (a reference to 19th century U.S. president Millard Fillmore); other famous figures of Earth-C included "Liz Whaler" (Elizabeth Taylor), "Marlin Brando" (Marlon Brando), and "Byrd Rentals" (Burt Reynolds), the latter of whom became a member of the Zoo Crew.

Historical figures and events on Earth-C included the "Second Weird War" (World War II; Earth-C's version featured the U.S. and the Allies fighting the "Ratzis"), and President "Abraham Linkidd" (a goat, Earth-C's version of Abraham Lincoln), who was immortalized in the nation's capital ("Waspington, D.C.") at the "Linkidd Memorial".

Earth-C's population also consisted of the various "funny animal" characters that appeared in DC Comics over the years, particularly those in such Golden Age and Silver Age DC titles as Funny Stuff, The Dodo and the Frog, Real Screen Comics, and so forth. Indeed, several characters from these series made cameos during the run of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew.

Eventually, readers (and the Zoo Crew) were introduced to the parallel Earth of "Earth-C-Minus," which turned out to be the home of the "Justa Lotta Animals" (a parody of the Justice League of America) and whose world was an all-animal reflection of the mainstream DC Universe. (Captain Carrot, in his secret identity of Rodney Rabbit, is the writer/artist for the Earth-C Justa Lotta Animals comic.)

After the 1985 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was stated that Earth-C and Earth-C-Minus were actually "alternate dimensions" rather than parallel Earths, and thus were spared from the effects of Crisis. More recently, the miniseries The Kingdom presented Earth-C as a Hypertime reality.

In 1986, the Zoo Crew crossed into the realm of classic literature when they were caught in the middle of the "Oz-Wonderland Wars" (DC Comics). At the end of that adventure, the Inferior Five appeared and it can be assumed the Zoo Crew went off to help them, though their published exploits end at that point.


Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

In Teen Titans #30-31 (December 2005-January 2006), the Zoo Crew made their first return appearance in some time, in stories presented as excerpts from a comic book story, "Whatever Happened To Captain Carrot?", that a character in the "real" DC Comics universe is reading in #30. In these stories, we see that the Zoo Crew has mostly disbanded and live in a somewhat "darker" world than the one of their prior adventures. Little Cheese has been killed, Fastback has disappeared, Captain Carrot is in self-imposed retirement after the death of a former partner, the secret identities of Alley-Kat-Abra and Yankee Poodle are now public knowledge, and Pig-Iron and Rubberduck are operating as costumed heroes in secret. The story is a parody of the "grim and gritty" trend most often identified with late 1980s to 1990s superhero comics,including references to several of DC's own series (such as The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, including the "cover" of the Captain Carrot comic bearing a distinct resemblance to the cover of Watchmen #1). In the end, after sending Alley-Kat-Abra to jail for murdering Little Cheese (her motive being that cats hate mice), Captain Carrot and the remaining Zoo Crew return to action with a new member, the last American Eagle, on their way to retrieve Fastback from the future (where Alley-Kat-Abra had banished him).

It is unknown as of yet whether the events of Infinite Crisis will have any effect on Earth-C or the Zoo Crew.

Origin[edit]

The origin of the team came about when Superman was investigating a strange phenomenon causing the citizens of Metropolis to begin acting like their primate ancestors. He soon found a ray streaking at him from a strange barrier surrounding the Earth, which prompted him to use a meteorite as protection. When the ray struck the meteorite, Superman and the meteor's fragments were sent from Superman's native dimension into Earth-C. There, Superman met several of the world's residents, who had gained superpowers when they were struck by the various meteor fragments.

The animals and Superman soon teamed up to stop the source of the ray (which was also causing the denizens of Earth-C to behave like their non-anthropomorized animal ancestors), which turned out to be the old Justice League villain Starro, a sentient starfish, who was launching his de-evolution assault from the Earth-C universe's Pluto. After defeating the villain, the animals decided to stick together and form the Zoo Crew, and Superman returned home.

Team Members[edit]

The members of the Zoo Crew include:

  • Captain Carrot: Roger Rodney Rabbit (later comics dropped the "Roger", to avoid confusion with the title character of Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit), of "Gnu York"; a rabbit. The leader of the team. By eating one of his "cosmic carrots" (as Rodney called them), Rodney would gain superpowers for roughly 24 hours, although major exertion could exhaust the powers sooner. These include super strength, endurance, heightened hearing and vision senses and a super-powerful leap. As such, he is the only member who has to constantly replenish his powers and keeps a a pair of carrots holstered on his person for such a need in emergencies. The source of these carrots was initially a windowbox which he grew carrots in, which one of the meteor fragments had struck. Later he arranged a "grow-op" at the team headquarters to ensure an adequate continuous supply.
  • Alley-Kat-Abra: Felina Furr of "Mew Orleans" (a parody of New Orleans, Louisiana); a cat. A martial arts instructor and student of the mystical arts, Felina uses her "Magic Wanda" to cast various types of spells.
  • Pig-Iron: Peter Porkchops of "Piggsburgh" (a parody of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania); a pig. Struck by a meteor fragment, the diminutive Peter fell (along with the meteorite) into a vat of molten metal in the steel mill where he worked. The consequent chemical reaction transformed his now-enormous body into a form of steel, with strength and invulnerability to match. Peter was originally a character from an earlier series of DC "funny animal" comics. Pig-Iron, nicknamed the "Swine of Steel" and "Porcine Powerhouse", was perhaps inspired by the Gilbert Sheldon character Wonder Wart-Hog, known as "the Hog of Steel".
  • Rubberduck: Byrd Rentals of "Follywood, Califurnia" (a parody of Hollywood, California); a duck. Byrd, a movie star, was given the power to stretch his body into any shape and length when a meteor fragment struck his hot tub. Rubberduck was also nicknamed the "Malleable Mallard."
  • Yankee Poodle: Rova Barkitt, also of "Follywood"; a poodle. Rova, who worked as a gossip columnist, was interviewing Byrd when they were both struck by meteor fragments. Rova gained the ability to project a repelling force (in the form of blue stars) with one hand and an attraction force (in the form of red-and-white stripes) with the other. Rova Barkitt's name is a parody of gossip columnist Rona Barrett. A DC Comics character introduced in the 1990s, Stargirl, wears a costume that resembles Yankee Poodle's; Stargirl's creator, Geoff Johns, is said to be an avid fan of the Zoo Crew.
  • Fastback: Timmy Joe Terrapin of the fictional "Okey-Dokey" (a parody of the Okefenokee Swamp) in the American south; a turtle. While trying to catch a bus to "Kornsas City" (Kansas City, Missouri), Timmy was struck by a meteor fragment and gained the ability to move at superchelonian speed. Fastback was also nicknamed the "Reptilian Rocket." In addition, Timmy was the nephew of Golden Age DC character McSnurtle the Turtle, also a speedster. Wearing a a superhero uniform nigh-identical to that of Jay "Flash" Garrick, McSnurtle saw action in the Second Weird War under the name "The Terrific Whatzit".
  • Little Cheese: Chester Cheese, a student at Follywood High School; a mouse. Chester had the ability to shrink from the comparable size of his teammates to a size of only a few centimeters, and was the only team member to not gain his powers from a meteor fragment (rather, he gained them from eating a piece of experimental cheese brought back from Earth-C's moon).

In the story in Teen Titans (current series) #30-31, other deceased Earth-C meta-animals named include Carrie Carrot (a rabbit presumably with Captain Carrot's superpowers), Giant Giraffe, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, Ballistic Baboon, Snurtle McTurtle, Amazing Ant, and Power Panda. These may or may not have been former Zoo Crew teammates in that story's version of Earth-C.

Villains[edit]

Enemies of the Zoo Crew included:

  • Dr. Hoot: an owl who used various scientific gadgets to commit crimes.
  • A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C.: a secretive organization that plotted to over throw the American government.
  • Jailhouse Roc: a giant flying vulture who had been in jail since the late 1950s until he was released to work for A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C.
  • Digger O'Doom: a mole who gained tremendous strength after eating one of Rodney's carrots.
  • Frogzilla: formerly Fennimore Frog, who was turned into a giant frog by A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C. as a means of seeking revenge against his old foe, Dunbar Dodo. Both Fennimore and Dunbar originally appeared in DC's "funny animal" title The Dodo and the Frog.
  • Feline Faust: a cat sorcerer from Earth-C-Minus, and a counterpart of DC Comics villain Felix Faust.
  • Kongaroo: A massive marsupial from down under, who liked to play with traffic. This kangaroo was changed into a giant by A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C.

External links[edit]

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