As the battle began heating up, Captain Carrot finally made his appearance as he leaped into the fray, clad in his yellow, red, and green heroic costume. “Relax, bolt-brain,” the Captain told Pig-Iron. “I’ll have you free in a jiffy.” As he began to dig Pig-Iron out at super-speed, he shouted, “Abra! Call in Fastback and Little Cheese!”
“I’d love to, Captain, honestly, but I’ve got my paws full right now,” replied Alley-Kat-Abra, flying overhead in her dark red costume and hooded pink cloak. After all the time we’ve been in the hero business, she mused, we still don’t have personal communicators. That’s the government for you. Turning to face the flying skunk, she shouted, “You there! Stand your ground — er, airspace — and surrender now, or…”
The super-villainess known as Stinkerbelle made a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree spin, launching a gaseous cloud from her furry tail toward our favorite slinky sorceress, which hit her dead on. Abra gagged and choked as she slowly levitated back to the sand. “Geez, the doc was right about you guys,” said the skunk. “You talk way too much. Smell ya later, tuna-breath!”
By the sovereign of Sah-K’tesh! thought Abra. That skunk’s spray’s more potent than teargas — feels like I’m coughing up the mother of all hairballs. I’m blinded, and too flustered to concentrate on a soft landing.
“Thanks fer pullin’ me outta that blasted sand-trap, Cappy,” said Pig-Iron, brushing sand out of his joints.
“What are teammates for?” replied Captain Carrot. “Holy Hyzenthlay! Abra’s coming down — with gas problems! And there’s no way I can make it there in time!”
“I’m on it, Captain!” said Yankee Poodle, firing a stream of stars at Alley-Kat-Abra, which knocked her toward the water for a softer landing.
“Nice save, Yankee Poodle!” said Captain Carrot. “Only, couldn’t you have used your stripes to catch her instead?”
“Hmph!” said Yankee Poodle. “Puh-leeze, Captain! I’m a poodle, not a retriever.”
Off to the side, Doctor Hoot and Digger O’Doom were sitting out the battle. “Aw, c’mon, boss!” said Digger O’Doom. “I’m just itchin’ ta go out there and get my claws on that long-eared leapfrog!”
“Don’t move a synthetically reproduced muscle, mole!” said Doctor Hoot. “You are to serve as my personal bodyguard, should one of the Zoo Crew come too close to my work. I’m nearly done recalibrating the nullification field on my console.”
Mumbling under his breath, Digger O’Doom said, “Who’da thought an owl could be such a chicken?“
“I heard that,” said Doctor Hoot.
“Then hear this, you refugee from a potato chip bag!” Rubberduck, having snuck up behind Digger O’Doom, whomped him with a super-inflated fist to the kisser. “You’re going down! Duck down, that is.”
“O’Doom! Take care of the fowl,” shouted Doctor Hoot. “I mustn’t be stopped now, when I’m so close to completing my task!” Hoot hurriedly adjusted his instrument panel further.
Facing Rubberduck, Digger O’Doom cried, “You! You’re the guy what made me sneeze back on Earth-C Minus with your finger!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis on Earth-C-Minus,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #15 (May, 1983).]
“Aw, Diggs, old chum,” replied Rubberduck, “just be glad I didn’t have worse aim and tickle anything else. I know I was.”
Digger O’Doom disappeared beneath the sand, then leaped up to catch Rubberduck in his claws, but the malleable mallard fashioned his legs into high stilts, elevating himself far out of the maladjusted mole’s reach.
“Sorry to spoil your fun, Diggy,” said Rubberduck, “but I don’t believe in sandy claws.” (*)
[(*) Writer’s note: What, you think I’d pass up the opportunity to use such an obviously terrible pun?]
“Rubberduck, forget O’Doom! Go after Hoot!” shouted Captain Carrot. “Whatever he’s preparing to do with that gizmo can’t be any good for us.”
“Gotcha, C.C.” Rubberduck twisted his lower body into a spring and bounced over Digger O’Doom’s head.
“You’re too late, Zoo Crew!” yelled the mad scientist. “I’ve already won!” Doctor Hoot’s platform then began emitting a strange energy wave pulse that could be felt throughout the entire area.
“What the heck–?!” Rubberduck’s form twisted back to its original shape in midair. He turned to try to brace for his landing, but ended up falling badly on his arm. “Sizzlin’ sequels! I… think I broke my arm — but that’s impossible!”
“Not at all, Rubberdunce,” crowed Doctor Hoot. “My machine neutralizes cosmic radiation, which was what I theorized to have been the source of your powers — and I was right!”
“Here, Duck,” said Yankee Poodle, “a few stripes should make a decent splint for your… wing? My animal magnetism powers — they’re not working!”
“Aw, nuts,” Pig-Iron said as both he and Captain Carrot started reverting back to their original, smaller and scrawnier forms of Peter Porkchops and Rodney Rabbit.
“Leapin’ legumes!” said Captain Carrot, now wearing an oversized costume. “Pig-Iron! You’re losing weight — but fast!”
“Yer pullin’ a Richard Simians yerself there, boss bunny,” said Pig-Iron, whose metallic purple sheen had already given way to his original pink skin tone, and whose iron-blue gloves, boots, shorts, and suspenders made his small pig body look even smaller.
“Magic Wanda’s gone dry!” cried Alley-Kat-Abra, who had been grounded. “I can’t cast anything! It’s like I’ve been declawed! It must be that machine’s doing.”
With the members of the Zoo Crew powerless to stop them, the villainous members of A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C. easily captured the powerless heroes and brought them before Doctor Hoot.
“What’s your scheme, Hoot?” demanded Captain Carrot, who in his powerless state wasn’t very imposing at all.
“Since you’re completely helpless, and these scheme-revealing lectures make for such a classic plot point, I can afford to tell you,” said Doctor Hoot. “You see, a while ago I was at an observatory watching the stars when I witnessed six meteorite fragments plummet toward the earth. Not long afterward, six super-powered fools stopped my first attempt at raking in some loot with my giant robot. (*) Coincidence? Hardly! It was just a matter of putting whoo and whoo together. Granted, it’s taken me a few failed schemes until it finally dawned on me, but when you’re in prison, whoo’s counting? Anyway, I just needed to keep you occupied in one place long enough to figure out the exact frequency required to put a damper on your super-abilities. And now that Brother Hood and I have joined forces and humbled you halfwit heroes, we will conquer the world unopposed! But first comes the matter of ending your miserable plan thwarting lives! Finish them!“
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Secret of Easter Bunny Island,” Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #5 (July, 1982).]
“The only thing that’s finished around here is you, booger-beak!” shouted a disembodied voice.
“What?!” cried Doctor Hoot, looking around. “Whoo said that?”
“For someone as smart as yourself, it’s hard to believe that you can’t count past six,” continued the taunting voice. “Ya forgot about the seventh member of the Zoo Crew — Little Cheese — and it’s gonna cost ya big time!”
“Don’t just stand around looking dumbfounded, you dolts!” yelled Doctor Hoot. “Find out where that voice is coming from!”
“I’ll give ya a hint: I’m right… here!” A panel burst open from Doctor Hoot’s nullification equipment, and a miniaturized Little Cheese sprang outward. In the machine, the wiring had been visibly crossed, and the entire platform started sputtering and smoking.
“Egad! It’s going to blow!” The evil doctor leaped from the platform, just as the controls exploded.
A moment later, the red-haired mouse called Little Cheese regained his full size, wearing his red and white costume emblazoned with a glowing green cheese insignia. “Unlike my teammates, I didn’t get my powers from cosmic radiation, which is how I was able to sneak around you unnoticed and crawl into your thingamabob so that I could disable it. And it looks like it did the trick.”
“Way to go, Little Cheese!” shouted Rubberduck, raising one slowly elongating arm in triumph. Next to him, Captain Carrot and Pig-Iron also started to regain their fighting forms.
“I can sense my powers returning to me!” cried Alley-Kat-Abra, holding her now-glowing Magic Wanda.
“Looks like we’re all back to normal now,” said Captain Carrot, “and look who’s here!”
Fastback suddenly appeared on the scene, wearing his blue costume. “Howdy, guys. Sorry ’bout not comin’ to rescue y’all, but if’n ah did, ah wouldn’a been able to do nuthin’, neither. Best ah could do wuz race Little Cheese ovah heah faster ‘n the Zoo Cruiser could’a dunnit.”
“Don’t be sorry, li’l buddy,” said Pig-Iron. “Your leavin’ us earlier mighta just saved our necks!”
The Squawker squawked and said, “Oh, this doesn’t look good!”
“We can take ’em, pardners, if’n we all stick t’gether!” yelled Armordillo.
“Terribly sorry, mates,” said the Cheshire Cheetah, backing off. “A fair fight’s just not my cup of tea. Run away! Run away!“
“Next time, Carrot!” vowed Digger O’Doom.
“Sorry, Tex,” said Stinkerbelle. “Looks like you’re flying solo.” At that, the Squawker, Cheshire Cheetah, Digger O’Doom, and Stinkerbelle all teleported out of sight.
“Aw, shoot!” said Armordillo. “Don’t think this’s over, Zoo Crew. We’ll be seein’ y’all real soon. Count on it!” And he, too, faded away.
“Awk!” cried Doctor Hoot. “Wouldn’t you know it — I installed my teleportation device into my platform’s circuitry! What delicious irony.”
Picking up the platform, Pig-Iron began to devour it. “Mmm! ‘Delicious iron-y’ is right! I tell ya, Hoot, you may be as crummy as they come, but you sure make a tasty little appetizer!”
“Funny you should mention that, Pig-Iron, dahling, because that’s exactly what the good Doctor’s cellmates will be saying,” drawled Yankee Poodle.
Captain Carrot grabbed hold of Doctor Hoot’s collar and throttled him. “Have your cowardly cohorts teleported to Earth-C-Minus? Have they? Answer me, you little–!”
“Awk, no!” replied Doctor Hoot, startled at the hero’s ferocity. “J-j-just b-b-back to Brother Hood’s secret b-b-base. Even I d-d-don’t know w-w-where it is, honest!”
“Easy, Cap!” said Pig-Iron. “Yer rattlin’ him senseless!”
“Oops,” said Captain Carrot, releasing Hoot. “Sorry. Just wanted to know, was all.” Clearing his throat, he added, “Come on, Crew — let’s get this bird in a cage.”
Whispering out of the corner of her mouth to Alley-Kat-Abra, Yankee Poodle said, “You wouldn’t happen to know of any particular reason why the Captain might want to know about Earth-C-Minus, would you?” She punctuated her question with a wink.
“Oh, Rova, what am I going to do?” said Alley-Kat-Abra. “He’s got Wonder Wabbit on the brain again. How can I compete?”
Yankee Poodle wrapped an arm around Alley-Kat-Abra’s shoulders. “Just leave everything to me, dahling.”
Abra thought to herself, Why do I get the feeling that I should be very, very afraid?