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Zoo Crew Returns.

Kitsune

Fox of Ages
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Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew are returning.

http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=102830
by Vaneta Rogers

As announced at New York Comic Con, DC's best known superpowered rabbit will return this year in Captain Carrot and the Final Arc, a three-issue limited series written by Bill Morrison.

Artist Scott Shaw! will return to the characters he helped create with Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway in 1982, when the character first appeared in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, a free 16-page insert in DC'S New Teen Titans #16. Captain Carrot's Crew then debuted in their own title a month after that insert, featuring characters like a speedster turtle named Fastback, the metallic-skinned Pig Iron, a dog with patriotic powers named Yankee Poodle, and martial arts expert Alley-Kat-Abra -- all fighting beside Captain Carrot with his powerful cosmic carrots.

Although readers only got 20 issues of the series at the time, the '80s characters returned recently in Teen Titans Issues #30-31 when the Geoff Johns-penned title featured excerpts from "Whatever Happened to Captain Carrot?," a comic book that was being read by Titans character Eddie Bloomberg, better known as Kid Devil.

In a publishing atmosphere at DC Comics where funny animals aren't exactly the norm anymore, Newsarama talked to Morrison to find out why Captain Carrot has returned, where he and his Zoo Crew fit into DCU continuity (believe it or not, they do!), what readers can expect from the new mini-series, and most importantly -- who is Quail Simone?

Newsarama: How did you get this gig? Did DC approach you?

Bill Morrison: Yes, I believe Paul Dini was in a meeting at DC where they discussed the idea of bringing Captain Carrot back. Paul stuck his neck out and suggested they call me to write it.

NRAMA: Why do you think you're suited for Captain Carrot?

BM: Well, I didn’t really know if I was suited for it at first. Other than Itchy and Scratchy, I haven’t had much experience writing funny animal comics, but I think my experience writing and editing Radioactive Man and Heroes Anonymous at Bongo prepared me for this. Because the Zoo Crew, like Radioactive Man, are super heroes, you have to start with a really solid action/adventure story. You can’t just string together a bunch of gags with a thin plot and expect readers to stick with it. You need to have a strong, engaging story first, and then add the gags and funny dialogue to sweeten it. Lucky for me, Dan DiDio and Joey Cavalieri gave me some terrific story beats that they wanted me to hit, so it was just a matter of building the rest of the story around those.

Also, Scott and I are good friends and we work really well together. This series is going to be so much better for the fact that I’ve had his input during the writing process. He knows these characters so well, and a lot of his ideas and jokes have ended up in the script.

NRAMA: Captain Carrot only stuck around for about 20 issues in the '80s. Why do you think it's time to bring him back in full force?

BM: I think the characters and concepts as created by Roy and Gerry and Scott are strong, and still relevant today. One of the unique things about Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew is the fact that they aren’t just literal parodies of existing DCU characters. Some of them were inspired by human counterparts, like Fastback, who has powers similar to The Flash, but they’re very unique and have their own characteristics as well.

However, because they never made it out of the 1980s, they haven’t had the chance to evolve the way other DC characters have. This series will give longtime fans a long overdue chance to visit with some of their favorite characters, and also allow us to update and reinvigorate the Zoo Crew for a new generation of readers.

NRAMA: Do you think the return of Captain Carrot has anything to do with the reaction to their appearance in Teen Titans last year?

BM: I’m sure it must have. I know that Geoff Johns is a fan of Captain Carrot from back in the day, and his decision to work the Zoo Crew into those two issues of Teen Titans probably reminded people how much fun these characters are. Plus Geoff and Scott’s interpretation of them gave us a nice glimpse of their 21st century potential.

NRAMA: Is the comic going to pick up where that Teen Titans story left off -- with Little Cheese dead, Alley-Kat-Abra in jail for his murder and the new character American Eagle joining the team?

BM: Well, we don’t pick up exactly where that story left off, but we have kept the continuity intact. I was tempted to ignore it though. Scott told me that a lot of fans were outraged at the idea that Alley-Kat-Abra was a murderer. In the Teen Titans story, Kid Flash is reading an issue of Captain Carrot, and we see the story unfold as he reads it. It would have been easy to just explain it all away as a comic book story within the DC Universe and unrelated to the “real” universe version of Captain Carrot. But I figured if we’re updating these characters, why not have stories that deal with contemporary themes like heroes turning bad.

So yes, Alley is still in prison, Little Cheese is still dead, and American Eagle is the newest member of the Zoo Crew. But other developments have occurred that hinder the group’s ability to function. President Mallard Fillmore has resigned from office because the press discovered that he bribed Felina Furr (A.K.A. Alley-Kat-Abra) to give up the Zoo Crew’s secrets. The new administration is hostile toward capes, so the Zoo Crew is forced to operate more covertly, and without government funding. That means no Z-Building headquarters and all the cool, convenient stuff that goes with it.

There’s also a war brewing in the United Species of America between land and sea animals. It’s a war of words until a little goldfish girl dies from exposure to toxic waste and amphibian terrorists begin blowing things up.

NRAMA: Terrorists? This is one intense funny animal comic.

BM: Captain Carrot’s world is definitely a darker place than it was in the ‘80s, but not so dark that we won’t be able to have some laughs.

NRAMA: So you would still describe the title as a "humor" comic?

BM: Yes, absolutely, but I hope adult readers won’t dismiss it for that reason. I think the line between “humor” and “serious” in comics is getting blurred. These days you’ll find a lot of funny writing in superhero books. Likewise, even though Captain Carrot and the Final Arc is a funny story, it also has elements of drama and action that I think any super hero fan will relate to.

NRAMA: Let's talk about the Zoo Crew -- let's run through the roster and talk about each one for Newsarama readers who don't know them.

Sure. Well, first, of course, there’s Captain Carrot who is secretly Rodney Rabbit, comic book writer and artist. Rodney is best known to his fans as the creator of the JLA, which stands for Justa Lotta Animals. The JLA are comic book heroes on Rodney’s world, Earth C. But on Earth C-minus, they’re real. By the way, unlike the Zoo Crew, the JLA members are direct parodies of DC Universe characters. Members include Batmouse, Super Squirrel, Wonder Wabbit, The Crash, Martian Anteater, etc. Rodney gets his power from eating special carrots charged with cosmic energy.

Next, there's big, grumpy, loveable Pig-Iron. He was formerly Peter Porkchop, star of his own DC funny animal book back in the Golden Age and early Silver Age. An accident at a factory turned his body into metal and made him big and super strong.

Rubberduck is secretly movie star Byrd Rentals (based on Burt Reynolds, whose movie career was in high gear when the Zoo Crew was created). As you might expect, Rubberduck has a Plastic Man-like ability to stretch his body.

Yankee Poodle is also known as Rova Barkitt, gossip columnist (based on famous Hollywood columnist Rona Barrett, another early 1980s entertainment icon). In this new series, Rova has the biggest daytime talk show on TV. As Yankee Poodle, she can shoot electromagnetic stars and stripes from her hands. The stars repel matter and the stripes attract it. When she combines the two, watch out!

Fastback is a country bumpkin turtle who’s secret identity is Timmy Joe Terrapin. As I mentioned earlier, he has the power of super speed. And, he talks like Jack Davis.

Finally, there’s American Eagle who was created for the Teen Titans story. He was portrayed as a patriotic super-soldier, but not much else was known about him. I decided to give him the secret identity of Johnny Jingo, famed right-wing radio talk show host.

Oh, and of course there’s magical Alley-Kat-Abra, but we don’t need to talk about her. She’s rots in prison throughout this story…or does she?!!

NRAMA: Are you adding any new members to the Zoo Crew or to the comic's mythos?

BM: I’m not adding any new members to the Zoo Crew, but there will be a cameo appearance by the New Dogs of Abarkolips. Originally I was calling them the No Gods of Aporkalips, but Scott suggested “New Dogs” and I liked that much better.

There’s also a big scene in the first issue that takes place at the Sandy Eggo Comic Convention. Some DC superstars are appearing there, Paul Dinisaur, Quail Simone, and Sergio Antelopes to name a few.

NRAMA: Any other characters appearing in the comic that you can tell us about? There's got to be a villain, right?

BM: We’re bringing back a few of the old villains from the original series. The Salamandroid plays a big role as the amphibian terrorist leader, and another big amphibian makes a comeback too. But there are other villains that I’d rather not reveal. I don’t want to be my own spoiler.

NRAMA: What does it feel like to work with Scott on the characters he helped create?

BM: I’m very excited to be working with the legendary Scott Shaw! on this project! Scott co-created Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew with Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, so I know that fans are gonna be thrilled to see him drawing this series.

NRAMA: You mentioned Earth C and Earth C-minus. At the end of the '85 crisis, it was implied that Captain Carrot was in another "dimension" as opposed to a parallel earth, so the world of the Zoo Crew still existed. Is that still true? Or is this a Johnny DC title that is outside continuity?

BM: Yes, that’s true. Earth C and Earth C-minus were not destroyed in the Crisis because they exist in alternate dimensions. And this is definitely not a Johnny DC title. From the very beginning of the original series with Superman as guest star and Starro as the villain, to issue 20 with an appearance by The Changeling, fans have probably argued over whether the Captain Carrot characters were really part of the main DC continuity or not. By the end of this series, the debate will definitely be over.

NRAMA: OK, that sounds like we might see an interesting cameo. But since you won't share spoilers, what would you say to people who aren't sure they want to pick up this comic that might convince them to do so?

BM: I think fans will be really sorry if they miss this series. What we have planned is entertaining on multiple levels. It’s funny, it’s exciting, it has some great twists, maybe a tear or two, and it has a killer ending that you won’t believe. I’m serious! Plus, Scott’s art has never been better. You’re not going to find this one in the quarter boxes.

Oh, and did I mention animal puns? If you like animal puns, we got those too!
If it were me writing, I would keep the continuity from the Teen Titans episodes, but I would come up with a better explication for Ali-Cat-Abra's turn to villainy. I would bring her character back, but without her magic "wanda" and thus without powers. She'd end up using her martial arts, and probably be in disguise. Not sure what I'd do with the rest of the Crew.
 
is this for real? last time it was a joke.
 
This is great news! I have the entire original zoo crew run(yes i'm that old) and loved them. I didn't see CC in the more recent teen titans story, but will buy this series again.

Hoepfully the amphibian they refer to will be Frogzilla
 

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