Friday, April 2, 2010

Comic Review: The Oz-Wonderland War

Since a certain bunny-themed holiday is just around the corner, figured I'd do a review of the very first comic book crossover with Wizard Of Oz and Alice In Wonderland. This was done by DC Comics in the mid-80s featuring Captain Carrot and his amazing Zoo Crew. It was originally going to be a 6-issue series, but was instead made into three double-length issues.

The Captain and Co. are "funny animal" superheroes from universe parallel to the regular DC Universe where Superman hangs. In their world, Captain Carrot in his secret identity is the creator of a comic that is basically a furry version of the Justice League, which is later revealed to exist in another reality. He and the other Zoo Crewers are recruited by Cheshire Cat to come to Wonderland which is being threatened by Roquat, the Nome King. He has taken over Oz with his Magic Belt, and turned all of its heroes into ornaments that he's hidden throughout Oz. Once in Wonderland, they team up with some of their mad posse, including their Lion and Unicorn, plus Wogglebug and Hungry Tiger to rescue Cowardly Lion. The Zoo Crew's resident magic user, Abra-Kat-Abra, sends them to Gillikei to find that its under attack from two of the monsters from The Magical Monarch Of Mo, the Purple Dragon and Gigiboo. After taking care of those maruaders, they search for Lion as an ornament in a field of catnip, which makes all the feline heroes go a little nutty. But Lion is saved, and gang heads back to Wonderland. After recieving news from Jellia Jamb who is enslaved by Roquat, General Jinjur lets them know that Scarecrow hidden in the Poppy Fields. Along with Dorothy, they go to search for him, but have to take down some Kalidahs first. Thanks to some help from the Mouse Queen(who falls for the Zoo Crew's hero, Little Cheese)they restore Scarecrow. Tin Man is reported to be in the Wicked Witch's old castle, so the Crew and some Ozians head there to find its overrun with flying monkeys. They find Nick Chopper and turn him back to normal, but the Nome King transports his iron giant from Ev to finish them off. Fortunately, Tik-Tok and the White Knight help bring the colossus down. Next, Captain Carrot tries to sneak into the Emerald City as a regular rabbit-person-thingie, so he has Abra-Kat-Abra siphon off the power of his "cosmic carrots" to turn him back to his secret identity. Once there, he finds out Roquat had summoned rabbits from other neighboring dimensions in order to weed out Carrot, including White Rabbit, March Hare, and the Easter Bunny. Two other super-bunnies are Hoppy the Marvel Bunny(of the Shazam Family)and Wonder Wabbit who is from the Just'a Lotta Animals, that is the basis for the comic Carrot does. They all team up to fight the Nome King's super-powered Frenetic Five team of nomes, but in the end Roquat accidently wishes that everything just before Carrot snuck into Emerald City. Thanks to the Red Queen's magic, the team then goes to the Quadling Country to rescue the North and South Witches, only to have to contend with the mighty Jabberwock. Glinda sends it back to Looking-Glass Land, and the Crew returns to Wonderland. Planning for a final assault, Little Cheese sneaks into Emerald City and gets the Golden Cap of the flying monkies from the Nome King. Tin Man uses it to round up the monkies and have them take all the other nomes out of the city while Roquat is busy being a couch potato with the Magic Mirror watching Captain Carrot looking for the ornament-ized Wizard of Oz in the middle of the Deadly Desert. Once the Wizard is back on their side, the entire Oz gang along with the Zoo Crew go to confront Roquat direclty, and use their secret weapon of Humpty Dumpty from Wonderland to scare him out of the Magic Belt(because nomes are allergic to eggs!). Ozma is restored, and the Nome King is sent packing. Glinda then sends the Zoo Crew back to their dimension, where Carrot still needs to finish his comic book deadline.

I personally think that this made for a pretty good series altogether, and you don't need to have been really familiar with the Zoo Crew too much to enjoy it. Although it seemed to focus more on the Ozcharacters than the Wonderland ones, even to the point that Alice herself is not even in it, much less even mentioned. It was more like it was a Oz-based story which borrowed a little from the Wonderland universe. Despite a recent comeback by the funny animal heroes in the pages of DC Comics, the original series has as yet to be put into a collected edition or trade paperback of some kind. The series is over 25 years old, but still not too hard to find all 3 issues of from various comics dealers. I'd say its major selling point was the artwork by Carol Lay was very close to the way that the illustrations in the Oz and Wonderland books appeared. As I'm a huge fan of furry heroes like TMNT and Hong Kong Phooey, I really dug this somewhat original superhero group, and its clashing with fairy tale characters. I doubt we'll ever see a Teen Titans/Peter Pan crossover though.

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