Notes on Captain Carrot Preview from New Teen Titans #16
THE NEW TEEN TITANS No. 16
- Artists: George Perez (penciller) and Romeo Tanghal (inker; Signed); Scott Shaw and Ross Andru (pencillers) and Bob Smith (inker; Captain Carrot vignette only)
- Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
"Starfire Unleashed!" (16 pages)
- Editor: Len Wein
- Plotter, scripter: Marv Wolfman
- Penciller: George Perez
- Inker: Romeo Tanghal
- Letterer: John Costanza
- Colorist: Adrienne Roy
- The New Teen Titans
This story is fully indexed in The Official Teen Titans Index.
"This Bunny Unbound!" (16 pages, including cover splash)
- Editor: Dick Giordano
- Plotters, scripter: Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! and Gerry Conway
- Pencillers: Scott Shaw! and Ross Andru (for Superman sequences)
- Inker: Todd Klein
- Colorist: Carl Gafford
- Captain Carrot (rabbit; Roger Rodney Rabbit; middle name revealed in CAPTAIN CARROT #7; first appearance; origin revealed)
- Pig-Iron (pig; Peter Porkchops; last seen, as Peter Porkchops, in PETER PORKCHOPS #62; origin revealed in part)
- Alley-Kat-Abra (cat; Felina Furr; name based on actress Felicia Farr; first appearance; origin revealed in part)
- Fastback (turtle; Timmy Joe Terrapin; middle name revealed in CAPTAIN CARROT #3; first appearance; origin revealed in part)
- Yankee Poodle (poodle; Rova Barkitt; name based on gossip columnist Rona Barrett; first appearance; origin revealed in part)
- Rubberduck (duck; Byrd Rentals; name based on actor Burt Reynolds; first appearance; origin revealed in part; the above six characters band together as the Zoo Crew in CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW #1, where they all next appear; secret identities of all but Captain Carrot revealed in CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW #1)
- Superman (last seen in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #199; appears next in CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW #1)
- Starro the Conqueror (behind the scenes in this issue; last seen in ADVENTURE COMICS #451; this is the second of two portions of Starro which regenerated after his last appearance; the other first appeared in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #189)
- Hugo Hornspred (last seen in LEADING COMICS #?; no further appearances)
- The president of the Mammoth Motor Company, Mary (a housewife), Al (a GBC cameraman), Several unnamed citizens of Earth-1 (all of Earth-1; first and only appearance of all)
- Several unnamed United Nature delegates (first and only appearance of all)
- Super-Squirrel (squirrel), Wonder Wabbit (rabbit), Green Lambkin (sheep), the Crash (turtle), Batmouse (mouse), Aquaduck (duck) (all members of the Just'a Lotta Animals; as illustrations on posters and in comic-books)
After numerous reports arise of humans reverting to behaving like their ape-like ancestors, Superman investigates the problem and discovers the cause to be strange rays coming from the planet Pluto. He then discovers an energy barrier in space encircling the earth which strangely weakens him just as Kryptonite does. Determined to get through the barrier despite this problem, he spies a glowing meteor which passes through the barrier from the other side with no problem, so he grabs it and tosses it towards the barrier, holding onto it so that its momentum pulls him in his weakened state through it. The meteor then explodes, however, and the remaining six smaller fragments of the meteor to fall alongside him back to earth.
Superman has been weakened from the Kryptonite-like nature of the barrier, however, and his vision is blurred, causing him to see spots before his eyes. He returns to what he believes to be the Daily Planet building and changes back into his Clark Kent identity in order to recover from the episode. As he goes to sit down in a chair in what he, with his impaired vision, believes to be his office, however, he accidentally sits down on something soft. Clark Kent turns around and is surprised to see before him a talking, anthropomorphic bunny named Roger Rabbit, a cartoonist who writes and draws the Just'a Lotta Animals comic. Superman quickly realizes that he has discovered some kind of parallel Earth where cartoonish "funny animals" who walk, talk and wear clothing live as humans do on his world. After Roger gets over the initial shock of seeing such a large and strange beast, the two compare notes. Roger tells Superman that the same strange "devolution" rays have struck on this world as well. While they speak, Roger munches on his "morning carrot," which, as Superman notices too late, is glowing. This carrot has been irradiated by one of the six meteor fragments which fell to earth alongside Superman, and Roger is himself given super-powers after ingesting it; Rogers now dubs himself "Captain Carrot" (which is lucky for him, as he already owns a Halloween super-hero costume complete with a carrot insignia).
Superman and Captain Carrot race off to the U.N. (United Nature) building, where an emergency session is being held to deal with all the animals who have been devolving, but they discover that the entire assembly of the U.N. has been devolved and are now attacking each other like their primitive animal ancestors. Despite Superman's condescending attitude towards the new hero, Captain Carrot proves his worth as the two round up all the assembly delegates to keep them from harming each other. A newsfeed from several TV monitors in the building then alert them that five other super-powered animals have suddenly appeared in the very places in which the other five meteor fragments fell as Superman had seen, despite his failing vision at the time. To stop the devolution rays first, however, Superman resolves to go to Pluto, the source of the rays, and Captain Carrot follows after him. (Story continues in issue #1.)
PAGE 1: The Preview "cover" introduces the main players: Captain Carrot, Pig-Iron, Yankee Poodle, Rubberduck, Alley-Kat Abra, Fastback, and Superman (for this story only).
Title, "THIS BUNNY UNBOUND!" is probably a reference to Percy Bysshe Shelley's 1820 play, Prometheus Unbound: a lyrical drama in four acts (which was, in turn, inspired by Aeschylus's lost play Prometheus Unbound), as well as bringing to mind many of the grandstanding titles which have appeared in comics since Stan Lee and his proteges (Roy Thomas among them) began using them in the Marvel Comics of the Silver Age.
"Leapin' Lettuce!" would become Captain Carrot's main interjection.
It's interesting to point out that Cap had never seen a human being before (he was most surprised at the extra finger on Superman's hand), considering that a few DC funny animals shared their comic strips with cartoonish, human-like beings, such as Nutsy Squirrel, who interacted with barefooted, four fingered scientists, as well as several five-fingered (albeit same-sized) human characters from storybooks in various sequences; and Peter Panda, who regularly shared adventures with human, five-fingered children and other human characters. The post-Golden Age version of the Three Mouseketeers (who may or may not have existed on Earth-C) were actually tiny mice living among humans, although they were probably Earth-12 (the world of the Inferior Five and host to DC's other humor comics) versions of the original Three Mouseketeer characters, who were in turn funny animal versions of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers.
Another interesting point to note is that, according to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, the Golden-Age Superman made a cameo in "The Dodo and the Frog" feature in Funny Stuff #22 (June 1947), and may thus have been one of the first to actually travel to Earth-C in the 1940's. In the story, Superman appears as a mysterious robed figure somewhat bigger than the funny animals, and when he is finally unmasked, he is recognized by both Dunbar Dodo and J. Fenimore Frog (see the relevant panels here). Roy Thomas also mentions in the text piece in CCAHAZC #1 that the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, may have visited Earth-C in All-Star Comics #30 (August-September, 1946), "The Dreams of Madness," when the Brain Wave manipulated the JSAers' dreams in order to drive them mad; however, the sequence seems less like any kind of hard reality and more like a feverish dream-world.
The globe below Superman and Captain Carrot looks like a man-made globe, complete with lines of latitude and longitude, as well as clouds. "United Species of America," Earth-C's version of the U.S.A., can be seen written on the North American continent. The stars on the Earth-C side of the space barrier are five-pointed, and Saturn is quite larger, cartoonier, and more visible than normal. Strangely enough, on the Earth-1 side where Superman is, the Moon is orange, as if it is truly made of cheese.
PAGE 2: Panel 1: "Mammoth Motor Company" is a presumably fictional Earth-1 car company's name with an animal theme, appropriate for this story.
PAGE 3: Panel 2: The man reverted by the de-evolution beam is yelling, "KREE-GAAH!" This is Tarzan's traditional "ape" yell in the Edgar Rice Burroughs series.
Panel 6: Clyde the orangutan appeared in Every Which Way But Loose with Clint Eastwood in 1978 but died in 1980.
PAGE 4: Panel 1: Pluto is, of course, not only the name of the outermost planet in Earth's solar system, but also the name of Mickey Mouse's famous pet dog.
PAGE 5: Panel 1: The exploding meteor makes the sound "POP!" indicating via a cartoonish sound that Superman is now in the Earth-C universe.
Panel 4: The earth seen again here again looks like a man-made globe. "United Species of America" is written there in capital letters, as on a map.
Panel 5: Superman thinks he sees the Daily Planet building through the spots which plague his eyes.
PAGE 6: Panel 6: Clark's mention of having been turned into a giant before is a reference to Superman #38's "Seven-Foot-Two...and Still Growing!" by Elliot S! Maggin (August, 1978), as well as other stories.
Panel 9: Roger Rabbit calls Clark Kent an "overgrown gorilla."
PAGE 7: Panel 2: On Roger's bookshelf three book-titles can be seen. "Mike Bear, Private Eye" is most likely a reference to the hardboiled private eye character Mike Hammer, created by Mickey Spillane, beginning with I, the Jury in 1947. "Teddy Bears I Have Known" is probably a reference to the illustrated nature story-book, Wild Animals I Have Known, written by Ernest Thompson Seton (a leader of the Boy Scout movement in America from its inception in 1910 until 1915) in 1898. "The Complete Barks" is also seen; Carl Barks was the preeminent "Duck artist" for Walt Disney's comics and drew some of the best known and best-loved Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stories.
A poster of "Supersquirrel" (Earth-C's fictional version of Superman) adorns the wall next to Roger's art desk.
A note saying, "Where is it? —D.G." is taped to Roger's desk. In the real world, Dick Giordano was the editor of the Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew series, and the Earth-C version of himself makes a cameo appearance later in the series. An accompanying note says, "Due yesterday."
Roger Rabbit is also the name of the title character in the 1981 book Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf, which was later loosely adapted into the 1988 Disney film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. [In issue #7 Roger is given the middle name of Rodney, which quickly becomes used as the principal name he goes by, thereby differentiating him from Wolf's Roger Rabbit.]
"Just'a Lotta Animals" is the comic-book for which Roger is the artist and writer, and is an Earth-C version of the Justice League of America.
Roger calls Clark a big ox.
Panel 3: Roger calls Clark a "giant pink monster!"
Panel 4: A "Wonder Wabbit" (Wonder Woman) poster is seen on the wall behind Roger.
A Just'a Lotta Animals comic book is seen on a desk in Roger's office, with the figure of Supersquirrel on the cover, along with the heads of Batmouse (Batman) and what looks like Green Lambkin (Green Lantern).
Clark finally realizes this isn't the Daily Planet building, although it may be possible that this building exists in relatively the same space on Earth-C as the Daily Planet building does on Earth-1.
PAGE 8: Panel 1: The building Clark Kent and Roger Rabbit are in can be seen as the "Wombat Communications" building, an analogue for Warner Communications, or Warner Bros.
An ad for Koala Kola (with the slogan "Get the Eucalyptus Habit!") and a picture of a koala can be seen on a billboard on the building next to the Wombat Communications building. This is probably a pun on the soft drink company Coca-Cola.
The newspaper seen is called the "Daily Gnus", and the headline says, "Emergency U.N. Session Called by Prez!"
The stylized moose in the foreground on the street immediately caught my eye. Scott Shaw, co-creator of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, led me in the right direction when he pointed out, "That stylized moose was indeed from a 1940's DC funny animal strip; I forget the comic he appeared in, but he was called 'Hugo of the North Woods,' I believe..." In fact, the character is called "Hugo Hornspred, muscular marvel from Moon Mountain," and he appeared in issues of Leading Comics from #15 on, when the content switched from superheroes to funny animals. See two panels from Leading Comics #22 here and here.
Clark notices that the city's name is "Gnu York" (New York) according to the newspaper below. [Later on, Gnu York is used only for the state of New York, and "New Yak" is used for the name of the city.]
Panel 3: There's a poster behind Roger of "Green Lambkin" (Green Lantern).
PAGE 9: Panel 1: A poster of "The Crash" (The Flash) is on the wall above a filing cabinet.
Roger says the Captain Carrot costume hanging on his coat rack is left over from a costume party last Halloween. Given the fact that it's hanging up in plain view in his office, and that he wore it the previous Halloween, it is a wonder that none of his co-workers ever made the connection between Roger and Captain Carrot.
Panel 2: Roger remarks that Superman is "a big pink version of my Super-Squirrel character! Not as handsome, of course."
Panel 4: "Bark Avenue" (New York City's Park Avenue) is mentioned; a dog in a business suit walks along it.
Panel 6: "Good Gravy-Train!" is referencing both the exclamation "Good Gravy!" with the term "gravy-train." Gravy-Train was also a brand of dog food made by Purina.
PAGE 10: Panel 9: "Mr. Wombat" is the name of the head of Earth-C's Wombat Communications.
PAGE 11: Panel 3: The U.N. stands for "United Nature" (United Nations).
Panel 4: Roger calls Superman "Supermac."
Panel 6: The upper left panel from Earth-C's Justice League of America #200 can be seen. It's a close-up headshot of "Batmouse," with a word balloon saying, "Don't mess with Batmouse!"
Panel 7: A poster of "Aquaduck" (Aquaman) adorns the wall above Roger's art desk.
The "Mystery-Mammals" is a reference to "Mystery Men," an early name for super-heroes and costumed crimefighters, especially those who wore masks.
Roger notices that, as soon as he dons the Captain Carrot costume, he suddenly has bulging muscles. This seems to be a one-off joke; later in the series Roger's muscles grow as soon as he eats one of his irradiated carrots, by which time he is usally already in costume.
PAGE 12: Panel 1: Roger calls Superman "Supersam."
Panel 3: If Roger's comment can be taken seriously, it is the winter season, which makes sense since this issue was published during the near-winter month of November 1981.
Roger first calls himself "Captain Carrot," both for the carrot and the letter "C" on his costume, and for the irradiated carrot which gave him his powers.
Panel 4: "Last one there is a rotten Easter-egg!" is apparently Earth-C's version of the expression, "Last one there is a rotten egg."
PAGE 13: Panel 2: The "United Nature" logo on the wall is a globe with a four-fingered paw reaching from the north, a three-pincered talon reaching from the south, a hoof reaching from the east, and a claw reaching from the west. A different U.N. logo that looks more like its real-world counterpart appears in issue #15.
The kangaroo in the foreground is from Earth-C's Australia [Aukstralia]. An Arabic-looking bird is seen in the background.
Capt. Carrot's expression, "Caperin' Cabbage!" is shouted in exclamation.
"You're not just whistling 'Dixiecat'!" is a reference to "Dixie," slang for "Dixieland," which is a type of jazz music originating in the Southern states of the U.S. ("You're not just whistling Dixie."); it's also a pun on the word "Dixiecrat," which was a dissident Southern Democrat who opposed the civil rights movement.
PAGE 14: Panel 3: All of the animals rushing at Superman (a cheetah, donkey, giraffe, elephant, and an ox) are those which are native to Africa.
PAGE 15: Panel 3: Pig-Iron can be seen lifting a truck that says, "Acme Moving." The "Acme" name was and is often used in several Warner Bros cartoons, in the past and present, as the fictional Acme Corporation. The Acme Corporation reappears several times in the artwork of this series as well.
"Fastback" is also the name of a type of automobile which has a roof with a long curving downward slope to the rear, somewhat like a turtle's shell, thus providing the name of this character who is a turtle (or terrapin).
"Piggsburgh" is a pun, referencing Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the population of anthromorphic pigs who live there.
"Pig-Iron" is a pun, referencing the term "pig iron," a crude iron which is left by a blast furnace, and the fact that the character is an actual pig.
"Mew Orleans" is a pun, referencing New Orleans, Louisiana and the "mewing" sound of a cat.
"Alley-Kat Abra" is a pun, referencing the magician's incantation, "abracadabra" and the character's being an actual cat.
It should be noted that Alley-Kat-Abra is colored here and on the cover for issue #1 in different colors from those in her appearances in the interior of issue #1 and all subsequent appearances. She was originally colored to have a primarily blue costume, with a green mask, a yellow cape, and yellow boots. Her fur is also black and white in this issue only.
"Follywood" is a pun, parodying Hollywood, California and the excesses of that famous locale. This slang term predates this comic-book series, but I have not yet been able to find the etymology of "Follywood."
"Yankee Poodle" is a pun, using the popular American Revolution-era song, Yankee Doodle, and the character's being an actual poodle.
"Bel-Airedale" is a pun, referencing Bel-Air, California, a suburb of Los Angeles where several Hollywood actors live, and the Airedale Terrier, a terrier dog breed.
"Rubberduck" is, of course, also the name of a child's toy and fits the character's powers and species (duck). I don't know the etymology of the term "rubber duck," although Wikipedia's entry on the rubber duck states that:The history of the first rubber duck is not known, however the history of the rubber duck is inevitably linked to that of rubber manufacturing, the development of early rubber (and later synthetic rubber) toys including cars and dolls, and the advent of squeak toys which dates to at least the late 1800s. Although squeak toys are often thought of as dog toys many people still enjoy the squeaking rubber duck.PAGE 16: Panel 4: Credits:
Co-Creators: Roy Thomas, writer. Scott Shaw!, penciller, (with Gerry Conway).
Bob Smith, inker. Ross Andru, penciller, Superman sequence.
The cover of Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew #1 is seen. "On sale December 24" (1981).
This preview (along with the first issue) has the look and feel of an early '80s issue of DC Comics Presents, the team-up book in which Superman was paired with a different DC hero or villain each issue. As explained in the text pieces of issues #1 and #2 (which have been reproduced in their entirety in the annotations for those issues), the original idea was to begin a funny-animal super-hero series with a lead-in in an issue of DC Comics Presents. However, that funny-animal super-hero series was NOT supposed to have been Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew at all, but a series entitled Super-Squirrel and the Super-Animal Squad. Licensing problems arose, however, and the funny-animal versions of DC characters were shelved in favor of creating all-new characters. Thus this series was born. Well, there's more to it than that, of course, but you'll have to read the text pieces from #1 and #2 which are linked from the annotations for those issues. In any case, the DCCP "feel" of this preview and issue #1 was kept intact even though The-Powers-That-Be decided to intro the team in an issue of The New Teen Titans instead (which always seemed strange to me; the NTT readers are not a natural target group for a funny animal book, unless perhaps The-Powers-That-Be were counting on the fans of Changeling—the shape-shifting teen hero whose many forms were always that of an animal of some type—to be interested). Would the book's intro being in DCCP have made a difference? We'll never really know...
Thanks to Scott Shaw! and Dr. Omega for information and/or comments provided on this page.
Relevant Web Sites
Superman Through the Ages! - My favorite Superman fan site, this site has the distinction of holding original novels by Elliot S! Maggin on-line for your reading pleasure.
Superman Homepage - A good website with information on many incarnations of the Man of Steel.
Superman Super Site.com - Another great Superman site.
Don Markstein's Toonopedia - A site which will definitely get you in the mood for more of Earth-C.
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The annotations, however, are mine and mine alone. This means that permission is required in order to reproduce, in full or in part, any part of these annotations.
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