It’s time to look at a DC team that probably isn’t one of the more popular ones around. Captain Carrot sadly never became a household name as one of the ultimate animal mascots. It’s too bad since the comics definitely are pretty fun. I will admit that it is pretty weak relative to the other ongoing DC comics back in the day so I can’t blame people for not really buying it. Still, it holds up really well and as always the Showcase series makes sure to bring quite a lot of comics here. You’re in for a fun surprise.
The collection actually starts off with the crossover comic which is where we meet Captain Carrot. Basically he used to be an ordinary rabbit, but after eating a radioactive carrot he gains Super Strength, Speed, and Flight. The guy is also basically indestructible which is really handy. Superman ended up in this crazy alternate Earth after things started getting messy on his Earth. It’s like missing your train stop only Superman missed his whole planet. Unfortunately Superman wasn’t ready for how different this world would be and after Captain Carrot beats him up a bit Superman gets kidnapped. Fortunately Captain Carrot will have the help of other animals who gained super powers thanks to this event. Little does the team know that this will be just the beginning of their outings.
As for how well the team gets along, these guy probably bicker more than most of the others. Very rarely does the team actually really get along. Pig Iron and Captain Carrot are constantly getting at each other’s feelings with the low blows. Then you’ve got Kat and Yankee who seem to despise each other. Fastback also doesn’t get along with Yankee and Rubber Duck tends to be pretty self absorbed. It makes for a pretty interesting dynamic, but I have to say that if I was on the team I wouldn’t be able to trust the others. I’d always be watching my back.
Pig Iron is the strong guy of the group. To an extent that may almost be redundant with how powerful Captain Carrot is, but I suppose you can never have too much muscle right? He is very much like the Thing as he constantly talks about quitting the team. He tends to not be a crowd favorite in-universe because of his scary design. He slowly grows more used to being a part of the team though so by the end he is mostly done with all the quitting talk. He’s not my favorite member but ultimately he’s not bad.
As expected Captain Carrot is definitely my favorite member. He’s the voice of reason and that makes him a solid leader. He still does jump into action whenever needed and always keeps the team from splitting apart. There are times where he was fine with letting Pig Iron go though. You’ll feel bad for Carrot though since nobody really cares about his comics much. He writes a lot of comics, but the team never reads them and whenever he is close to missing a deadline they don’t bother to help him either. Ah well, the life of a leader is never easy right?
Then you’ve got Fastback whose name is pretty self explanatory in terms of his role on the team. I feel like he got less screen time than the others in general to be honest. This also makes him a little less interesting than the others. His super speed is definitely very handy in a fight of course, but in terms of personality he is pretty dry. In comparison Rubber Duck is possibly the weakest member of the group, but he’s a much more likable character. The guy is always bragging and he definitely enjoys being a rich actor. Certainly nothing wrong with that though, you should enjoy your role. What’s the point of becoming the best in your craft if you never take time out to enjoy it? He has the abilities of Mr. Fantastic which helps a lot in a support role, but when the big villains come to town he is pretty much helpless.
Then you’ve got Yankee Poodle and sometimes you may wonder why she is still on the team. None of the other members seem to like her and the feeling appears to be mutual. She’s just in it for the free publicity and to fatten her own wallet. Her ability uses stars to push people away. It’s a bit of a vague ability, but one that is very versatile even if it is lacking in power. Yankee makes for a good member because of how antagonistic she is. She’s not a hero, but just someone who happens to be on a hero team which is an interesting dynamic.
Then you’ve got Cheese who is a rat who comes in to help the others at times. He’s not a part of the original roster, but he does his best to help. The guy can shrink, but that’s really it so he won’t end up being one of the power houses. He’s a decent character, but doesn’t really add anything to the dynamic. Then you’ve got Alley Kat who is potentially one of the most powerful members. While she doesn’t have the strength or speed or the top 3, she has magical abilities which transcend dimensions. In theory her abilities don’t have a real limit. As a result she is usually written out of the scenario or put in a spot where her abilities won’t do a whole lot. She’s a pretty good character, definitely more aloof than the others, but she also tends to stay on task. When the other characters fail you can at least count on her to keep the heroes in the game.
There aren’t any real main villains. A few of them do appear more than once though like the Godzilla homage and the Armadillo. Both of these villains are pretty solid. In general with the writing being so good it’s not surprising in the slightest. When you’ve got writing that is really good then everything tends to fall in place with the character cast. Of course the actual story is still important, but a good cast can carry just about any story if you think about it. Superman may seem to be a bit condescending throughout his appearance, but you have to cut him a bit of slack here. How can you not see a bunch of little animals running around and not at least try to get them to stand down. Superman knows he is strong enough to handle these situations and just wants to make sure that nobody gets hurt.
Most of the comics are stand alones although there is enough continuity to bring them all together. For example for a few comics the heroes plan to go on vacation, but things keep happening that prevents them from doing this. It actually felt pretty tragic by the end because it felt like they would never make any progress. The heroes get kidnapped quite a bit and venture into different worlds more than once. One comic that was especially solid was when a time patrolling villain kidnapped the team. He was a pretty op threat since he can manipulate time. This is one example where Alley Kat was the only one who could match him.
Then towards the end there is a mini series about the Carrot Crew heading over to Oz in Wonderland. It brings in a lot of the classic characters from that series along with a lot of old foes as the heroes must save this world. I’m thinking this comic came out a while after the original ones as it feels more modern. In some ways the team has regressed in this arc though as Pig Iron is back to thinking about quitting and he bickers with Captain Carrot more than usual. It also brings back the romance plot with Alley Kat which happened quite a bit in the old comics, but naturally it didn’t go anywhere.
Still, the romance does need to be mentioned and it’s definitely the weaker part of the dynamic. It definitely seems like Alley Cat is doomed from the start since Carrot fell in love with one of the characters he drew in a comic. She turned out to actually be real in an alternate world and they teamed up at one point. Things got dicey for Super Squirrel since in the comics he likes that heroine. So, the romance may have all been a bit much here, but regardless I did like the crossover with the Justice League parody. It was pretty crazy and a bit one sided, but it was nice to see the Carrot Crew show them up. It’s sort of like the writers way of saying that the Carrot Crew could hold their own against the Justice League.
The heroes are actually pretty overpowered even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Carrot is on par with Superman as they fought to a draw and if anything Carrot seemed more impressive. Then you’ve got Pig Iron who is every bit as strong as Carrot and may even have the slight edge. Then you’ve got Fastback who says he is faster than light and Alley Cat who can warp through dimensions and do just about anything with her spells. That’s a really good roster. At the same time, they still get knocked out by random villains every other comic so you do have to wonder about all of this. Either the villains are that powerful in which case the power creep is crazy or the heroes just tend to exaggerate their abilities a bit. It’s likely the later, but it’s still pretty fun to see them being acknowledged as such a threat.
I think another aspect of the comic that makes it so solid is the fact that we see a lot of the heroes’ human identities as well. It can always be hard to hit a good balance for that, but it’s something that I’ve always liked to see. I understand the logic of just showing the superhero in his powered up form 24/7 but seeing both sides of the story helps a lot for character development. Take a look at the classic Superman animated series, the Clark Kent scenes are essential. Without the human scenes you’re only seeing half a story and with Captain Carrot you get to see everyone’s day to day life in addition to their superhero fights. It’s also done pretty gradually so it all flows well.
Naturally the art is pretty good here. The comics are consistent and all of the character models are on point. It’s pretty easy to read through. It won’t look quite as awesome as it should since the art is printed in black and white for this collection, but it’s definitely solid all the same. I like the facial expressions here and in particular Captain Carrot steals the show whenever he is on screen. He really was the right pick for the leader of this outfit and proves it constantly. The fights are on point as well and the writing is dynamite throughout. The puns and clever lines here just never stop.
Overall, Captain Carrot and his Zoo Crew is definitely a collection that I would recommend. There’s a whole lot of issues here so you don’t need to be worried about the value. It’s got all the classic strengths of the DC comics while also throwing in a whole new set of characters to root for. It may not be the next Justice League, but I think you’ll end up liking this collection a lot more than you may dare expect. The comic only really has the one big crossover so it’s nice to see that the characters can hold their own adventures. I checked on Comicvine to see what happened to them after these issues and it definitely looks like things got dark for the crew so enjoy these happy stories while you can folks.