Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew: The Dark Side of the Crew, Prologue: The Nasty Menagerie

by Comickook and T Campbell

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In the universe of Earth-Reverse-C, a dimension that resembled a dark mirror version of Earth-C’s dimension, existed an ominous-looking building in the middle of that world’s Follywood, Califurnia. More specifically, in that ominous place was a laboratory where a green-feathered male duck was lurking over a monitor that was shooting out a print-out in a slot below. This duck wore a black bodysuit emblazoned with a blood-red letter F on the chest.

“Hmmm. It seems my new dimension-vision has uncovered the existence of another universe, and the readings I get from this world are quite fascinating,” the duck said to himself as he read the detailed print-out.

What is so fascinating, Fantastidrake? My super-hearing detected you saying something was fascinating, so what is it?” a voice shouted out behind the duck, who turned around to see a brown-furred, very well-muscled rabbit in a black bodysuit with a silver bunny skull and a blood-red letters UR emblazoned on the chest. This rabbit was also wearing a silver cape and a black cowl, as well as a silver belt with two carrots attached to it.

“Well, Ultra-Rabbit,” the duck nervously began, “my dimension-vision has uncovered a universe very similar to ours, but at the same time very different. Actually, it would be better if you saw the monitor for yourself.” He showed the rabbit the monitor screen. On said screen, Ultra-Rabbit and Fantastidrake viewed the world of Earth-C and, more specifically, that world’s greatest team of heroes — the Zoo Crew.

“According to this readout, this world has just experienced a noticeable number of comings and goings from other universes in recent times, much as ours has had. And this world even has counterparts of us and our allies, except that the Zoo Crew, as my dimension-vision’s print-out assures me our counterparts are called, opt to use their powers to serve the populace instead of lord over them. Given the number of comings and goings from their universe and the fact that this Zoo Crew leans toward more altruistic ends than our Nasty Menagerie, it would therefore be logical to assume that these animals will get us unless we get them first.”

Ultra-Rabbit knew only too well about the potential of interdimensional travel; after all, it was a being from another universe that was responsible for the creation of the Nasty Menagerie in the first place. He stood there are began to stare into space as a flashback began to an earlier time.

***

The Kryptonian creep known as Ultraman had just found a way to escape from the prison bubble in Limbo that had kept the members of Earth-Three’s Crime Syndicate locked up (don’t ask — even we don’t know how he managed it). To celebrate, he was kicking up mayhem, just tossing asteroids around at the direction of Earth-Three for the sheer heck of it, when one of those asteroids ended up hitting a mysterious energy barrier and disappeared. While investigating what was ruining his fun, Ultraman gazed through the barrier with his super-vision, only to discover that it was a portal to a completely different universe, which he could see was much like his own Earth-Three but had no super-beings and was populated completely by sentient animals instead of humans.

Fresh meat, Ultraman had thought to himself as he cracked the dimensional barrier and set out to conquer this world. But little did Ultraman suspect that the freak energy barrier that stopped one of his thrown asteroids had super-charged the asteroid particles and sent them to this alternate universe.

One of the first beings Ultraman encountered in this newly discovered world was a scrawny rabbit that he tried to strong-arm. Terrified in the presence of this evil super-being from Earth-Three, the rabbit reached — as he always did when he got especially nervous — for one of the carrots on his windowsill garden and chomped on it, unaware that a chunk of super-charged asteroid had already fallen into the soil. The super-charged carrot the rabbit ate ended up allowing him to transform into a more powerful and more confident form, and the rabbit cackled, “OK, you cosmic bully, let’s see how you fare against… errr… Ultra-Rabbit!” And the battle raged on.

Sure, Ultraman was still technically the more powerful of the two, but Ultra-Rabbit’s new super-agility and near-flight leaps allowed him to give the villain a good fight — not good enough to emerge as the victor, but enough to last long enough to gather allies while being chased by Ultraman. Eventually, Ultra-Rabbit and the five allies he gathered, who came to be called Iron Pig, Katastrophe, Slashback, Fantastidrake, and Swanky Poodle, proved to be enough to finally drive Ultraman back to Earth-Three with his tail between his legs (if the strange, furless creature had a tail).

It was the realization of how much more powerful the six animals were as a group than he and the other five would have been working alone that convinced Ultra-Rabbit to propose that they combine their efforts permanently. He had said that it would be in everybody’s mutual self-interest to work as a team, to which none of the others could disagree (well, Iron Pig did at first, but a seemingly endless stream of “with us or against us” battles eventually wore him down).

During one point in the battle, Ultraman had quipped, “You think you and this… this nasty menagerie… can defeat me?” It was this quote that had inspired Ultra-Rabbit to name the group the Nasty Menagerie.

But that wasn’t the end of the Menagerie’s other-dimensional experiences; not long after establishing their headquarters in the middle of a massive Los Antelopes building they called the Menagerie Cage, they also had a run-in with the Crime Critters from a universe that was known as Earth-Reverse-C-Minus. At first, the Critters proved to be powerful enough to pose a more-than-worthy challenge for the Menagerie, until Fantastidrake invented a device that — enhanced by Katastrophe’s magic — had allowed the Menagerie to drain off the powers of Johnny Quickshell, Ultra-Squirrel, Superbunny, and the Owlrat and transfer those powers to Slashback, Ultra-Rabbit, Katastrophe and Fantastidrake, respectively. And even though Power Ram destroyed the device with a power ring blast, Swanky Poodle managed to snatch his ring with her bio-magnetic powers, giving her the power of the ring combined with her pre-existing powers. To this day, however, Ultra-Rabbit still didn’t know if the powers he drained off Ultra-Squirrel were permanent or if he would lose them, along with his pre-existing powers, when he reverted to his other form — and he was too paranoid to find out.

True, the Doctor Hoot from the Nasty Menagerie’s world — a sickeningly goody-two-shoes scientist who, thanks to a self-created super-suit, operated as Earth-Reverse-C’s only super-hero (OK, in all fairness, there were other super-heroes at one point, but the Menagerie had killed all of them in battle) — teleported the Crime Critters back to their own world before the Nasty Menagerie could kill them. The Earth-Reverse-C Doctor Hoot was much too goody-goody to allow anybody to be killed if he could help it, even if that somebody was a villain. But the Menagerie still won the battle.

***

Back in the present, Ultra-Rabbit shook his head as the flashback replaying in his mind came to an end. “We’d better call the rest of the Menagerie,” he growled as he and Fantastidrake left the lab.

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