STOP! COVER TIME!
"This Bunny Unbound" by Roy Thomas, Scott Shaw!, Gerry Conway (story), Scott Shaw! (pencils), Ross Andru (pencils on the Superman portions), Todd Klein (inks), and Carl Gafford (colorist).
Our story starts off on Earth-1 with WGBS-TV reporter, Clark Kent, informing the television audience about a recent press conference during which the President of Mammoth Motor Company leaped over his podium and started to act as if he were an ape or a monkey. We soon find out that this is just the latest in a long line of similar occurrences all over the world. For some unknown reason, people are exhibiting signs of simian behavior and to date, nobody has recovered from the mysterious ailment.
After finishing his report, Clark decides he needs to investigate as his alter-ego, Superman. Pulling open his shirt in the classic "Look at me, I wear my longjohns under my street clothes" action reveal pose thingy that Superman always does, our hero takes to the skies. While flying over Metropolis, he sees a strange ray of light shoot down from the sky and hit a man walking on the street. The man starts acting like a monkey and jumps in front of a car. Superman, of course, saves him. Realizing that nobody else saw the light beam, Superman determines that the beam originated from the planet Pluto. Deciding to head there to investigate, Superman discovers he can't leave the Earth. GREAT KRYPTON! There is some sort of energy barrier encircling the entire planet and it is weakening Supes, almost as if it were partly made of Kryptonite.
Suddenly a meteor appears. It had no problem getting through the barrier, so Superman grabs it and hurls it back towards space. Holding on for dear life, he manages to ride the meteor through the barrier. The barrier continues to make him feel strange and as they pass through the barrier, the meteor begins to glow. And then this happens.
Superman is nearly blinded by the sudden explosion. Spots dancing before his eyes, he can barely make out five fragments of the exploded meteor as they make their way back down towards the Earth. He tries to follow them back down to the planet, which, according to Superman's innermost thoughts "looks different somehow--even through these blasted spots!" But luckily, his senses are SO keen that Superman just has to use his Super Automatic Pilot power to zero back in on the Daily Planet building. Realizing he has a sixth chunk of the meteorite in his hand, he throws it away, because apparently having it in his hand as Clark Kent would reveal his secret identity to the world or something like that.
Making his way into the Daily Planet, he changes back into Clark Kent, revealing that all his civilian clothes are kept in a handy pocket in his cape. Nice! I'll have to ask Michael Bailey if this is the first time this fact was shown in comics. Anyway, Clark stumbles around for a bit, still having problems with his vision, and feeling a bit dizzy. He also realizes that the hallways and doors he is stumbling through seem smaller than they should be, causing him to wonder if he has turned into a giant. "Lord knows, it's happened before!" he thinks to himself, which is a reference to Superman #38's "Seven-Foot-Two...and Still Growing!" by Elliot S! Maggin (August, 1978). He decides to sit down and nearly crushes a...RABBIT! And not just any rabbit, but a talking rabbit! With glasses, to boot!
The next page reveals that Clark isn't in Kansas anymore. And also not in the Daily Planet. Or in Metropolis. (Guess his Super Autopilot Power doesn't work so well after all.) He is on Earth-C, a planet inhabited by funny animal people. Spying a newspaper outside on the street with his super-vision, he figures out he is in the city of Gnu York (later changed to New Yak, I believe, in the Captain Carrot series proper) and is currently in the Wombat Communications building. (Check out the cameo on this page by Hugo Hornspred, the "muscular marvel from Moon Mountain". He's the moose on the bottom of panel one of this page, and is a character that used to appear in old issues of DC's Leading Comics.)
The rabbit, a comic book writer/artist named Roger Rabbit (this would be changed later to Rodney, to avoid confusion with that other Roger Rabbit), is rather bothered by having a huge, pink gorilla in his office. Clark relates his story to Roger, and the rabbit reveals to Clark that the same strange things have been happening in Gnu York. Munching on a strange, glowing carrot, Roger tells Clark about how, just that morning, he saw a guy walking down Bark Avenue. This guy, a human-like dog, was hit by a strange glowing light from the sky, and promptly began acting like "a throwback to his prehistoric canine ancestors." Clark, once again in his guise of Superman, decides it's time to investigate further. As he heads to the window, his x-ray vision spies one of the meteor chunks in Roger's window box. The window box that Roger keeps his carrots in, one of which he is currently crunching away on. Superman swats the glowing carrot out of a startled Roger's hand and tells him not to eat any more of it. He accidentally knocks Roger off his feet, which makes the rabbit angry. Roger coldcocks Superman, and to the surprise of everybody, sends our intrepid hero crashing through a series of walls. The meteor-infused carrot has given Roger super-powers.
Suddenly, Roger, with his new super-hearing, hears sounds of distress coming from the U.N. Building (that stands for 'United Nature' on Earth-C). Supermac, as Roger calls Superman, decides that even though Roger now has powers, it would be better for all involved if he went to help by himself. Superman flies out the window in the direction of the U.N. Building, leaving a slightly ticked off Roger behind. The rabbit quickly decides he's not having it, and donning an old super-hero costume he had worn once to an office Halloween party, Roger stands revealed as...CAPTAIN CARROT!!!!
Captain Carrot bounds out the window after Superman. Quickly catching up to Supes, and after some more witty banter, the two arrive at the U.N. Building and discover that everybody inside are acting like...well, animals. Our two heroes quickly round up all the afflicted folk, in the process revealing to the audience a bunch of Captain Carrot's newly acquired super-powers. Afterwards, Superman hears a report on the television about five more super-powered heroes that have suddenly cropped up around the United Species of America (that's one for each of the other five meteorite fragments, in case you weren't paying attention). The second to last page of the story shows all the future members of our beloved Zoo Crew, although the coloring on Alley-Kat-Abra is way off.
As you can see from the above page, Superman deduces that the other heroes were all located in areas of the US that are 'precisely' where he saw the other five fragments of the meteor land. I don't know how he saw this happen so 'precisely', considering he was practically blind at the time and could barely see, but whatever. It's a comic book, right?
Anyway, the story ends with Superman and Captain Carrot deciding to head (finally) to Pluto to figure out the source of the mysterious devolution ray. We are treated to an image of the Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew #1, "The Pluto Syndrome", on sale December 24th, 1982. Don't know how I'm going to survive having to wait for this issue! I WANT IT NOW!! Oh, hold on. Riiiight. It's out already. Forgot it isn't 1982 any more.
Overall, a fun story and a great introduction to Captain Carrot. There's not much I can say about it, as I had NO problems with anything in the story. Art was great, story was great, everything about it was great! I can remember reading this for the first time, and loving it just as much back then as I still do today. I had picked up the comic because, frankly, I had been picking up The New Teen Titans on a regular basis at the time. And thus began my love affair with a rabbit.
So that's the review. Again, FINALLY! And the first post of 2014! Wow! I hope it convinces at least one person to go rooting through the back-issue bins to find some Captain Carrot comics.
One last thing. If you want an even more in-depth look at this story, I highly recommend that you go here:
I wish I could take credit for all the hard work and research that obviously went into those annotations, but I can't. It's just a page that I stumbled across a long time ago. I'm not even sure WHOSE page it is. The author, I believe, refers to himself as Doc Quantum. If anybody has any information about him, please let me know.
That's it for this time. Be sure to tune in January 2015 for the review of issue one of Captain Carrot! Oh, all right. I'll try not to take that long.
No promises, though. :)