Animal Crackers

I’ve got a lot of reviews to catch up on this week, but we’ll start off fairly slow with just one.


Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #1

I’ve really been looking forward to this comic, because I was a big, big fan of “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew” back in the day. I think a lot of folks were. It’s gotten a real cult following over the years, even though DC has generally thought of it as the ugly stepkid they hid in the attic. Funny animals weren’t cool. Well, Marvel didn’t act particularly embarrassed by Howard the Duck or Spider-Ham, but DC couldn’t stand to be reminded about their moderately popular and well-received funny-animal superhero comic.

Then it seems DC changed its mind overnight a couple years ago. The Zoo Crew made a guest appearance in a “Teen Titans” comic a while back, DC announced they were going to release the old series as a nice, fat anthology (which then got cancelled, blast the luck), and they announced this new miniseries on the team. And they’ve made it a tie-in with (yeeech!) “Countdown,” and have even designated it as “Earth-26,” which means the Zoo Crew is now officially in-continuity for the first time since “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”

So, here’s what happens: The Zoo Crew are back in costume, but it’s still illegal on their earth to be a superhero, so they’re just making a promotional appearance at the Sandy-Eggo (that’s “San Diego” for the pun-impaired) Comic Convention. There’s also a great deal of tension between the land-dwelling animals and those that live in the ocean due to an incident where a young goldfish was killed by toxic waste. Alley-Kat-Abra is still in prison for killing Little Cheese and framing Captain Carrot, and American Eagle has joined the team. President Mallard Fillmore resigned in disgrace, only to be replaced by the equally shady Beneduck Arnold.

And yeah, believe it or not, that’s all just background.

As for the story itself, while the Zoo Crew are at the comic convention, they’re attacked by the Salamandroid, a heat-generating cyborg who they end up completely unable to catch. Later, the Salamandroid appears on TV to make a terroristic threat against Gnu York City. The heroes try to track down the threat, but are surprised when the monstrous Frogzilla makes an appearance on the beach at Corny Island.

Okay, on the bright side, Scott Shaw!’s artwork is as great as it ever was, and the puns are of the same wonderfully low quality as they were in the original series. I’m not too overjoyed with the thin plot — sure, they had a lot of backstory to go through. But really, that backstory is another problem. Basically, they’re tying the Zoo Crew into the grim-and-gritty DC vision of comics, where cartoon cats kill cartoon mice and aquatic species are an oppressed racial minority. It’s a fine background for a normal comic, but the Zoo Crew should be a more lighthearted book.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still a big fan of the Zoo Crew, and what we have in this issue is still a lot of fun to read. I’ll go ahead and pick up the other two books in the series…

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