Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zook Gets No Love




Zook gets no love.

Krypto, the original dog with cape, gets boatloads of love. Ace the Bathound and Bat-Mite are still cult faves. Proty the Martyr and Proty II have legions of fans. Even Itty the Plasmid is thought of fondly.

But not Zook. Zook gets no love.

Really, it's not Zook's fault. As a character, Zook was never anything but helpful, respectful, thrifty, and clean. Except for the time he had amnesia and worked with crooks and almost killed J'onn. But that sort of thing happens to everyone in comics.

But then again, it's not our fault, either. Something there is that doesn't love a Zook. It could be the Space Monkey Perseverative Phenomenon. Human beings naturally hate space-monkeys, like Debbie or Gleek. It's not a frontal-lobe thing, it goes right to the basal ganglia, and you see one of these things and your body just autonomically reaches for the nearest club-like object and you start swinging your arm down again and again, like George Segal in Terminal Man. Only television producers are immune to the Space Monkey Perseverative Phenomenon, contributing to the theory that they are only partially human.

[The Space Monkey Perseverative Phenomenon, to be clear, does not apply to monkeys-in-space, like Blip. People like monkeys-in-space, but we hate space-monkeys.]

But Zook isn't even a real Space Monkey, because he's got no ears, has the wrong number of fingers, and has a cleft palate like a teddy bear. Zook is always addressed as a "he" but has no visible genitalia. Zook is some sort of hideous hybrid, the illegitimate offspring of a three-way between a teletubby, a Care Bear, and Bill Keane. Compared to Zook, Space Monkeys are beautiful butterflies and Zook is a monstrous hairy tarantula of "cuteness".

Yet, as if Zook's mere appearance weren't enough to make you doubt the existence of God, they saddle him with DC's characteristic baby-talk, all confused pronoun cases, omitted articles, conjugational oversimplification, and intermittent copulative verbs. It's maddening.

Zook obviously hasn't gotten to my letter yet.


Zook wasn't drawn consistently (the palate, for example, comes and goes) and even his baby talk was inconsistent, too. Inconsistency? In a Martian Manhunter character? Unacceptable!

And his power set. Also maddening. Zook could radiate intense heat or cold. Radiating cold. Forget about perverting the minds our youngsters toward toward crime, drugs, and sex; comics should be sued for inculcating young minds with the idea that "cold" is some sort of indepedent energy that can be "radiated". And, of course, it was always described with terms like "10,000 degrees below zero". Yeah? On what scale is THAT?

Zook was also sort of ... elastic. He wasn't a shape-changer, but he could, er, change his shape. Mostly he used that power to squeeze through the mail-slot that was the only opening to J'onn's secret mountain hideout. And, no, I didn't make that up.

Oh, and his antennae allowed him to 'remember' and identify anyone who he'd been near, making him like a bloodhound when crooks fled or were in disguise. But this power was applied --you guessed it-- inconsistently, because sometimes Zook could recognize J'onn in disguise and many other times, J'onn would fool him, just as a joke. Wacky Martian sense of humor.

So, criminals, whose only chance against J'onn was fire or escape, now had to deal with a sidekick who could put out fires by 'radiating cold' and could track them down when they escaped. Sigh. Just what J'onn needed; more powers at his disposal.

His appearance, his speech, his powers; no wonder Zook got no love. But you know who would love Zook...?

The Japanese; he's got 'mangaverse' written all over him.

16 comments:

Will Emmons said...

Scipio,

You are a champion.

That is all.

-Will

Ray said...

So Zook is to Martian Manhunter like Ebony is to The Spirit? ---RAY

John said...

Sigh. And then Ostrander turned him into a metamorphic underwear tree. Which, actually, dovetails nicely with your manga idea.

But yes. Zook is basically the entire list of things that executives think kids like without ever noticing that kids don't actually like them.

He does have a cool haircut, though.

Wait. The police send the Martian Manhunter (and Zook) fan mail? That's messed up.

Jon K said...

Maybe I'm biased (because I named my white boxer Krypto), but I feel Krypto the Superdog deserves all the love he gets!

But I don't know that I'd put Zook in the same category as super-pets... I'd more put him into the "annoying character with odd abilities that hangs around a DC character" category that would include Bat-Mite, Qwisp, etc... and that would include that pink thing that hung around with Space Ranger, whose name escapes me at the moment!

Diamondrock said...

The Japanese; he's got 'mangaverse' written all over him.

Thank God the only manga/anime I care about involve either giant robots or combat butlers...

SallyP said...

Man, I just HATE baby-talking Space Monkeys! Even more than I hate Snapper Carr...and that's a lot.

Michael Xavier said...

Wait. The police send the Martian Manhunter (and Zook) fan mail? That's messed up.

You mean you don't write fan letters to people who do the hard part of your job for you? Shameful!

I wonder why Zook wasn't invited to J'onn's funeral.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I always assumed Zook went back to wherever he came from, like that odd little guy that hung out with the Challengers in SHOWCASE vol. 2. For those not reading the insanity that is MM v. 2, J'onn takes on the guise of Marco Xavier in order to infiltrate the HQ of Vulture. Every few issues, MM would go back to Apex City (to read his fan mail, evidently) and run into Zook. Marvel is doing that Pet Avengers thing, but frankly, DC has them beat hands down. Zook & the Space Canine Patrol, I say.

Citizen Scribbler said...

This is a triumph of a post, and it gave me my first real good laugh in several days. It was the following which got my funnybone especially:

"Zook obviously hasn't gotten to MY letter yet."

So funny. But for all the glorious venom in this post, you do leave one thinking about possibilities for such a problematic character.

Also, doesn't Polar Boy from the Legion Of Substitute Heroes have the power to radiate cold? I know there are serveral experts on the subject of the Legion out there, not to mention our host, who happens to be a published author in the field of Legionology.

-Citizen Scribbler

Frank Lee Delano said...

I love Zook. Just me, but still.

TotalToyz said...

Also, doesn't Polar Boy from the Legion Of Substitute Heroes have the power to radiate cold? I know there are serveral experts on the subject of the Legion out there, not to mention our host, who happens to be a published author in the field of Legionology.

Then maybe one of them can unriddle this for me. As seen in his first appearance, Polar Boy's "costume" was standard wearing apparel on his home planet of Tharr. But if the people of that planet evolved the ability to "radiate cold" to combat the extremely high temperatures on their planet, why the frick would they wear fur-trimmed outerwear???

GL2814E said...

People from Thar like fur because they had to slaughter the original natives, Zook's people. Takes alot of baby sounding, space-monkey-monster-thing hair to make fur trimmed clothing.

Didn't Zook come back annoying as ever in Superman Batman not too long ago?

Jake said...

He did briefly reappear, assuming that book remains even remotely rooted in continuity, having been driven to a life of villainy. Partly from the telepathic effects of alien invaders, but mostly because he realised that humans were a bunch of jerks who made fun of the way he talked and didn't take him seriously.

Sarah said...

This is interesting. In addition, for fun, I think you would like researcher cartoons on VADLO search engine.

Anonymous said...

"His appearance, his speech, his powers; no wonder Zook got no love. But you know who would love Zook...?

The Japanese; he's got 'mangaverse' written all over him."

Im sure zook was one of the characters that inspiered the toons of the prot-mangaverse.

Arnold said...

There's no doubt, the dude is absolutely right.
free games for all | download full games | pacman pc games | new game server | best free games