DC Universe: They Might Be Giants, Chapter 1: When the Zoo Crew’s Away

by Doc Quantum, Comickook, Drivtaan and Philip-Todd Franklin

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The city of Albatross:

The skyline of the city was quiet. Wild birds flew over the tall skyscrapers in the downtown core, while civilized birds found themselves stuck in their cars in traffic jams down on the street, their subconscious minds wistfully longing for days many millennia past when their ancestors flew carelessly through the skies with nothing more to worry about than what they would scavenge upon next. Civilization being what it was, however, the evolved birds and other animals of Earth-C had long ago seemingly shed their primitive natures and traded in their wintery growths of extra feathers and fur in exchange for suits and ties, and their scavenging trips for everyday, regular work.

Albatross, like other great cities in this United Species of Animerica, had a magnificent, modern skyline with several large skyscrapers in a vaguely circular area. The city was larger than its downtown core, however, and buildings of various sizes stretched off into the horizon in each direction, broken only by a wide river.

In one of those medium-sized buildings, a laboratory called Quackum Labs, to be specific, an old-but-fit genius was working on a very remarkable experiment.

Meet Ducktor Quackum, the one-time mystery-mammal of the Weird War II era. Although he never had any super-powers of his own, his genius for invention made him a force to be reckoned with against both the Ratzis and homegrown criminals. Having spent several decades in retirement from his crime-fighting career seeking to discover the answers to the great questions of life, he now found himself at the climax of his greatest invention.

“Come on, come on…” Quackum muttered under his breath as blue waves of light reflected upon his goggles. He wore thick leather gloves over his hands, which danced upon a keyboard of his own invention, the scene resembling that of a mad composer in a white lab coat playing upon a huge organ. Yet it was not music that the good Ducktor composed — rather, he had created a vortex reaching into another world, a vortex which he was now trying to pry open by pouring more power into it.

Suddenly, the door flew open, and a young cub ran in, clutching a TV remote control. “Duck!”

“Wha–?!” Quackum yelped as he threw himself to the floor, his hands covering his head. “What is it? An explosion?”

The cub scratched his head and said, “Uh, no, Duck, I just came in to tell you somethin’…”

“Oh,” Quackum said, picking himself up and brushing the dust off of his lab coat, “of course, of course. Well, what is it, Billy? You do know I’m in the middle of a vital experiment, don’t you? What could be so blasted important as to interrupt me at such a time as this?!” He sighed as he realized that the vortex he had been working on had now disappeared altogether — several hours worth of work down the drain.

“Just lookit th’ TV, Duck!” Billy Bearowitz shouted, turning the television on with a flick of his thumb on the remote control.

“What’s all this, then?” Duck Quackum said, removing his goggles and frowning as he looked at the screen.

Several images of huge beings attacking cities all across the world were shown in succession — New Yak, Loondon, Purris, Moosecow, Peking-Duck, Roam, among others.

“My word!” Quackum exclaimed, completely astonished by what he saw. “Those aren’t… they can’t be… they couldn’t possibly…”

“They might be giants!” Billy said, his eyes like saucers. He turned to his employer/mentor and said, “Duck, is this the end of the world?”

“No, Billy,” Quackum said with a fatherly smile, “not if I can help it.”

Billy wasn’t convinced. “But what’s goin’ to happen if they can’t be stopped? What if the Zoo Crew doesn’t get back in time to stop them? What then?”

“Well, then, Billy,” Duck Quackum said with a wink, “I’m just going to have to find some powerful allies of my own to do something about it.”


Meanwhile, in a small but hardly quiet mountain town over in Cow-arado known as Northeast Walkway, a gentle-animal by the name of Broomely Palmfeathers was out on his usual walk about the small town. At first glance he seemed like just your average twenty-two-year-old anthropomorphic coo-coo bird; he was a bit chubby (but not excessively so), had a long but semi-plump beak (from his father’s side), light brown feathers (from his mother’s side), and medium-blue eyes, and he typically wore blue jeans and long-sleeved plaid shirts. He had a very good upbringing that had taught him both a great sense of humor and a strong sense of justice. He was more popularly known by the locals as Comic-coo-coo because of his comic-book obsession, both in reading them and in trying to draw them.

However, he also had a few things most anthro-birds didn’t. One was a special pen that could pretty much do anything Comic-coo-coo wrote down. If he wanted to create some form of matter out of thin air, all he had to do was write it down. The same rules applied if he wanted certain inanimate objects brought to life or wanted to change something into something else, or if he wanted anything else to happen. More amazingly, the ink in the pen appeared to be self-regenerating, because he had been using the pen for more than a decade, ever since he found the pen in a small cave a few miles outside of Northeast Walkway at the age of ten, and it still had more than enough ink in it to work perfectly.

The young bird also had another ability, one he had written for himself soon after he first got the pen in order to put a bit of a scare into a gang of racketeer bulls that was harassing the town. He had the ability to morph at will into a seven-foot, highly muscular anthro-bat. Fortunately, he also wrote his clothes to be elastic enough to grow as he did (to appease the Comic Commode Authority watchdogs) and to have just big enough holes in the back of his shirt to allow room for his bat wings to come out. In this form, Comic-coo-coo could fly and possessed both great physical strength and the ability to emit powerful sonic blasts from his vocal cords. With this power he had next to no trouble defeating the racketeers and even managed to take down ten of the gang’s members, including the leader, with the remaining gang members vowing to never set hoof in Northeast Walkway again.

If Broomely hadn’t been brought up knowing that it just plain wouldn’t have been right to do so, he might have used his pen to try to take over the world. Instead, inspired by the Zoo Crew and his favorite comic-book heroes — among them the Just’a Lotta Animals, Spider-Ham, and the Scavengers — he used the pen and his morphing power to try to make a positive difference in his hometown, helping out others and protecting those that couldn’t help themselves.

Comic-coo-coo saw the news explaining the worldwide crisis. Unfortunately, the trans-dimensional viewer he had written for himself years ago, following his reading about it in a Lotta Species Heroes comic, showed the Zoo Crew currently busy in space dealing with Caesar Hoot, the genetically and cybernetically enhanced grandson of the team’s most persistent enemy from some sixty years in the future.

Meanwhile, four of the giants started making their way toward Northeast Walkway, and Comic-coo-coo saw them up close. Writing fast with his special pen, Comic-coo-coo-cooked up four large blocks of ice to trap the giants, only to have them break out seconds after the ice formed around them.

By this point, however, Comic-coo-coo had already written up his next offensive, which was sixteen giant falling anvils that nailed the four monsters dead on. Though the strength of the giants was more than enough for them to free themselves of the anvils’ weight, there were holes made by the impacts, holes that Comic-coo-coo wrote into giant cannons that blasted the giants far away from the town. They all landed right into a massive patch of super-super-super-glue mixed with a strength-sapping chemical, which was, in fact, massive enough for all four giants to be trapped.


“…And as the Teenieville authorities loaded the nefarious Sparrowhawk into the back of the paddy-wagon, I looked at our savior. Most of his face was covered in a cheesecloth mask, but he is still handsome. His opera cloak was blowing in the breeze, revealing his fine, tuxedo-clad physique. He glanced in my direction, tipped his top hat, and gave me a wink. I am so proud of my grandson, as are all of the residents here at the Teenieville Old Goats Home. He’s our hero. He’s our… Plaid Porcupine.”

“Hello, Grandma,” the Teenieville Old Goats Home’s on-staff doctor said as he approached the gray-quilled porcupine. “What are you doing?”

Abby Taan looked up at her visitor. “Just writing down the particulars of your latest case.”

“Oh,” the younger porcupine said with a smile. “And what have you decided to call this one?”

“This one,” his grandmother replied, “is, The Beauty Salon of the Danged.”

Dr. I.V. Taan knelt down and gave her a hug.

“You know,” the old porcupine told him as he stood back up, “you really should consider getting a new costume.”

“What’s wrong with the one I’m wearing now?” the doctor asked. “It was good enough for Grandpa back when he fought the Ratzis alongside Ducktor Quackum and the Terrific Whatzit, and it’s good enough for me today.”

Abby shook her head. “But back then, all of the newsreels were in black and white; nobody could tell that your grandfather was dressed in green plaid. Today, you’re seen worldwide on colored television by millions.”

“And speaking of television,” Johansson McTiger said as he hobbled in on his cane, “you better turn yours on.”

Abby grabbed her remote and hit the power button. As the screen flared to life, a news reporter and camera crew was doing a live report from Gnuwark, Gnu Jersey.

“This is Wudchuck Kudchuck coming to you live. Behind me, a giant penguin has been seen waddling back and forth through the city, doing damage in the hundreds of thousands. Apparently, this is not an isolated incident. Reports are coming in from all over the country, and indeed the world, of gigantic incursions, and all this reporter can ask is — where is the Zoo Crew?”

Dr. Taan took the remote and flipped over to channel twelve. The scene was the same in Albatross.

“Grandma, I’ve got to go into the city,” the doctor said as he ran from the room. “My help might be needed.”

“Go get ’em, Plaid Porcupine!” Johansson called out.

To which Abby added, “And pick me up a gallon of milk on your way back!”


The Ovum Office at the White House, Waspington, D.C.:

Sitting behind a big wooden desk in a bright blue, three-piece suit was the president of the United Species of Animerica, Mallard Fillmore. On either side of the president stood two rather large Secret Service squirrels who were both dressed in black suits with dark shades. Mallard Fillmore was quickly leafing through a large stack of papers on his desk; there were many different requests and proposed bills that Congress had brought before him. He even had a few offers to be the guest speaker at the swearing-in of a few national leaders, along with a meeting or two at the United Nature building.

Without any warning, the double doors flew open, causing the papers upon the president’s desk to scatter all over the floor as General “Storming” Norman Swatscat, an orange-and-black-striped cat, barged quickly into the Ovum Office.

“Mr. President, have you seen what is happening outside, sir?” the general asked as he walked up to the desk, not even noticing the piles of papers he was stepping on.

The president turned to one of the Secret Service squirrels and then quickly pointed at the scattered papers before turning back to the general. “Norman, what can be of such major importance that you have to scatter all of my work around?” he said, waving his arms around to emphasize the mess that the Secret Service bear was now picking up.

General Swatscat glanced around the room then, as if just noticing the mess. Stooping down, he picked up the pile of papers at his feet, accidentally ripping the ones at the bottom, before handing them to the now-frustrated president. “Mr. President, sir, we have an emergency of grave importance. Giant things have begun stomping on many of the major cities of the world, and we’ve now heard some reports of more than one within our own borders!”

Quickly walking over to a large TV set sitting against the corner, the general turned it on, and everyone in the Ovum Office quickly stopped what they were doing as the screen flared to life. A news reporter and a crew were doing a live report from Gnuwark, Gnu Jersey.

“This is Wudchuck Kudchuck coming to you live. Behind me, a giant penguin has been seen waddling back and forth through the city, doing damage in the hundreds of thousands. Apparently, this is not an isolated incident. Reports are coming in from all over the country, and indeed the world, of gigantic incursions, and all this reporter can ask is — where is the Zoo Crew?”

President Fillmore looked from the TV to General Swatscat and then quickly reached for a bright red phone sitting on his desk under a glass case. Lifting up the case in one hand, he picked up the receiver with the other. After a few moments, the phone began to flash. The president sat there holding the receiver to his ear, and after a few moments a voice could be heard on the other end.

“You have reached the headquarters of the Zoo Crew. We’re unable to come to the phone right now, but if you will leave a message, we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks.”

Mallard Fillmore dropped the receiver in disgust as he returned the cover over the phone and looked at the general. “What can we do now, Norman? Without the Zoo Crew, we may have no hope!”

“Sir, I do have an idea,” said Norman Swatscat, slowly turning to face the president. “I might know of someone who can be of help, an eagle by the name of Steve Allstrung…”

The president interrupted Swatscat, “Alias Commander Fowl, the bionic eagle! I remember him well! Wasn’t he a pilot with NASA?” Norman just nodded as Mallard continued, slowly scratching his chin in thought, “As I recall, he was in that last rocket crash before they’d switched over to shuttles, but didn’t he also work for the CIA at one time?”

Norman Swatscat continued to nod as he answered, “That’s the one, sir. I shall contact him at once.” With that, General Norman Swatscat saluted President Fillmore and quickly left the Ovum Office.


An old rustic cabin facing a large lake in Hawkthorn, Nev-adder:

A large bald eagle in gray shorts was sitting in one of the two rocking chairs on the porch, nearly half asleep as he watched the primitive ducks fly across the sky. After a few seconds, a buzzing could be heard coming from his right arm, and the sound shook him half-awake.

Tapping a small spot a couple of times, a section of his arm seemed to open up to reveal what looked like a miniature television. Looking at the screen, he said, “Allstrung here. This had better be good. You turkeys know I’ve retired.”

Although the screen showed mostly static, the merest hint of a beaked head with a fleshy cockscomb atop it could be seen. A soft-spoken voice could be heard coming from the speaker. “Now, Steve, you know you never can retire. Your country needs you. Gobble, gobble.”

Steve lightly tapped at a button below the speaker, but the little TV still didn’t show anyone. “And what if I were to still say no?” he asked half-heartedly. He already knew he would take the job; he couldn’t let others get hurt.

As if reading his mind, the voice responded, “It doesn’t matter, anyway, Steve. Quackum should be there any moment to retrieve you. Gobble, gobble. Have a nice day.” And with that, the link was cut.

“Quackum?” Steve Allstrung muttered to himself, slowly rising from his chair. Then he heard a voice coming from the right of the cabin. Turning to face it, he saw a duck that was a living legend, the one critter in the world he just couldn’t say no to.

“Son, you know I could really use the help of Commander Fowl,” said Ducktor Quackum.

Steve’s only reply was a big grin as he greeted his old friend and hero of his youth.

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