Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia! Zook Entry

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Martian Manhunter-specific characters have been treated shabbily by DC Comics through broad omission. None appear in any major reference sources, including Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe and The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Professor Arnold Hugo got an entry in The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes Volume 1: Batman, but they got his name wrong, and Malefic received a Secret Files & Origins profile page, but that's about it. When I saw ads for the DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia!, I was happy to see both J'Onn J'Onzz and Zook in the cover collage, so I bought the book. I should be overjoyed that Zook received his own entry, as well as appearing in the table of contents, index, and "Hero Pets Size Chart!" It's just that they get virtually everything about the character wrong.

The book states that Zook is from Mars, but he's actually from another dimension. It says he has Martian Vision, X-ray vision, telescopic vision, microscopic vision, heat vision, "and much more!" In fact, Zook has no vision powers whatsoever, especially Martian Vision, because as I mentioned, he's not a Martian. The book also claims Zook can read minds, fly, and has superhuman strength, speed and invulnerability. None of this is true to continuity. In the comics, Zook only ever appeared in isolated Martian Manhunter stories, aside from a cameo in Superman/Batman (where he briefly met the Justice League,) and an apocryphal death scene in Ambush Bug: Year None. Here, his "allies" are listed as Beppo the Super-Monkey, Big Ted (Hawkman & Hawkwoman's invented red hawk,) K'uddles (property of Miss Martian) and most galling, Dusty the Tasmanian Devil, pet of The Usurper himself, Red Tornado. Only K'uddles reciprocates in these supposed friendships. There's no mention of the Idol-Head, but Zook's Super-Pet "foes" are Bizarro Krypto, Brainicat, Charcole (Trigon's mini demon,) and the only remotely appropriate one, Omegan (a small Apokoliptian parademon.) All of these bad pets have their own allies and foes, but Zook isn't singled out in either category.

I could lay much of the blame at the feet of writer Steven Korté, but even artist Art Baltazar offers an uncharacteristic cocky posture and gives Zook a body suit with a different shade of orange from his face. Zook is an otherdimensional pet, and basically just a cartoon character rendered in a super-hero universe. Why are we suddenly so concerned about his genitalia? They don't put pants on Despero!

I get that these guys created a lot of new pets for characters who've never had any (including way too many Lantern corpsmen,) but when you're presenting a preexisting character, should responsibility to those creators supersede your already generous creative license? I want to be supportive, and I appreciate the appealing art, but it all goes bitter when there's clearly not enough respect for the subject to get anything right. I'll give them red licorice as a favorite food (though I don't recall Zook ever eating, now that it's come up...)

Despite my criticisms, the DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia! is overall a fun book and quite a bargain. The full color magazine sized 128-page book is available for just $7.95 in paperback or $18.95 in hardcover from Picture Window Books, a capstone imprint.

DC Super-Pets!
  • Jumpa @ Diana Prince is the New Wonder Woman
  • Skitters @ DC Bloodlines
  • Spot @ Power of the Atom
  • Tibbar @ Justice League Detroit


will_in_chicago said...

Frank, what Martian Manhunter villain works best with spammers? Hmm, maybe Ma'alefa'ak could spend some time with spammers?

I am surprised at the shoddy research on Zook, but it sounds like the book is a good buy over all. (Zook strikes me as somewhere behind a pet and a companion. Intellectually, he is perhaps equivalent to a child. Not sure if this is normal for his species.)

Diabolu Frank said...

The Headmaster?

Since he was routinely referred to as a pet by non-English writers, my sincere hope is that Zook was a high-functioning animal with an equivalent IQ around 35-55.

will_in_chicago said...

Yes, just short of true sentience. Perhaps Zook was at the same evolutionary stage as some of our early ancestors -- on the road to sentience, but not quite there yet.

Diabolu Frank said...

For some reason, the following comment didn't publish:

"The Irredeemable Shag has left a new comment on your post "2013 DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia! Skitter...":

Hilarious entry!! Has he actually appeared in their kids books, or just in the encyclopedia? And thank goodness for the pet supply comment above. I really had no idea where I was gonna find dog food! Whew!"

To the best of my knowledge, Zook has only appeared here, as much as this is Zook. "ZINO?"

Diabolu Frank said...

Oh, wait. Wrong blog. That's why!