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 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.