The Chicken Feed

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An exclusive excerpt from the Captain Planet Annual 1993
(Printed on RECYCLED PAPER!)
Generously donated by Mister Bung

1. From the very beginning, this is a tale of striking contrasts. The title’s sinister colouring and lettering (an homage to the pulp horror comics of yesteryear) suggest this will be anything but a “fine summer’s day”. Cunning foreshadowing, or a filthy lie? You decide.

2. How the Lake of Fear can have such a thriving tourist scene with that name is anyone’s guess.

3. Note the drowning swimmer on the far right. Nearby, another person watches contentedly as his/her companion fights against an imminent watery grave. Perhaps it’s the same psychopathic who slipped tranquilizers into the drowning victim’s orange juice that morning. Perhaps it’s merely a passing stranger who derives some strange, sadistic, sexual pleasure from these things. We simply don’t know.

4. It is a little-known fact that the Captain Planet series features subliminal environmental messages. Rearrange some of the letters in Wheeler’s speech (and get rid of quite a few extra ones) and you’ll get the letters “n”, “o”, “g”, “a”, “r”, “b”, “a”, “g” and “e”: no garbage.

5. This runner was originally naked. The censoring Speedos were only added in the second edition printing following complaints from parent groups, according to Captain Planet Annual 1993 writer Philip Caveney in this really weird dream I had.

6. Only a select few humans can pronounce an exclamation mark after a pause, and even then it only manifests itself as a loud, unexpected yelp.

7. Captain Planet Annual 1993 publisher World International Publishing Ltd. is an equal opportunity employer. This Nukemobile has a nasty stutter.

8. These innocent bystanders appear to be shimmying (left) and dancing the robot (right). In fear.

9. Duke Nukem is also the name of a wise-crackin’, fun-lovin’, gun-slingin’, boot-scootin’ videogame character. Developers Apogee briefly retitled their game “Duke Nukum”, possibly to avoid a copyright conflict. Unlike the famous Captain Planet villain, the other Duke Nukem has long since faded into obscurity.

10. Separated at birth?

11. Again, we see subtle environmental references in these two panels. If you squint and turn your head a bit, “Nukibarb™” sort of sounds a bit like “Harbin” – the Chinese city recently affected by the polluted water of the Songhua River. I’m also told the the villain in this story is a personification of pollution, but I don’t see it myself. What it is with people over-analysing simple works of children’s edutainment?

12. Don’t laugh – this could be a medical condition. Inflated self-esteem and an unnecessary tendency to say what you’re thinking are both symptoms of a Manic Episode, and can be linked to Bipolar Disorder. Deep beneath that evil radioactive exterior lies a troubled uranium heart. Duke Nukem deserves our sympathy, not our hatred.

13. “Nukibarb™” isn’t really trademarked. Enterprising barbeque manufacturers and environmental super villains, take note.

14. Nine out of ten astrophysicists agree that Ma-Ti is the most pathetically worthless Planeteer. In using his Heart powers to spread his calm, he is also passing on his suppressed sense of low self-esteem. See the man third from the front? His wife will leave him in three days as a direct result. True story.

15. Here we see Ma-Ti trying to steal Wheeler’s wallet. This petty theft is understandable, considering the low royalties he must receive from merchandising. In fact, he was the only planeteer not playable in the Captain Planet MegaDrive game! Bless him.

16. This series is notoriously controversial for its frequent and blatant allusions to white supremacism. This one panel provoked international outrage and led to mass burnings of the 1993 Annual (pictured).

17. Duke Nukem’s “loudly announce everything you are doing and thinking” disease is clearly infectious. If the Planeteers spent less time talking and more time doing, they’d achieve a hell of a lot more. Nukem could have easily escaped in these wasted twenty seconds (trust me – I’ve timed it) had he paid attention.

18. This is a typographical error. As anyone who has seen the show will attest, it is pronounced “viiind”.

19. The phrase “gah” is reserved exclusively for infants and comic book villains. Anyone else caught using it in public is subject to the death penalty, unless they can convincingly prove that it was an abbreviation and they were merely discussing an episode of “Greatest American Hero”.

20. This is grossly irresponsible behaviour from Kwame. Burying a large radioactive device under the Earth’s surface will endanger future Lake of Fear tourists for centuries to come. Remember, kids, use your power rings responsibly!

21. Joey Dedio, who voiced Wheeler Sloane in the Captain Planet TV series, also contributed his vocal talents to one episode of Extreme Ghostbusters – the same show in which Billy West (Fry from Futurama) played Slimer! Wow!

22. Linka’s head covers a third figure behind the grassy knoll.

23. This is a pun, or play on words. It’s hilarious because the phrase applies both metaphorically and literally!

24. Observe the glimmer of fear behind the brash one-liners; the suppressed tears burried deep inside those stony green eyes. Through the Power of Heart, Ma-Ti’s low self esteem is slowly but surely seeping into his very soul.

25. Highbrow jocular wordplay like this elevates Captain Planet far above its peers. This is sophisticated entertainment for a smarter generation. Those of us who grew up on the show can hold our heads high in superiority. Neither the generation before nor after had such terrible puns with such impossibly disproportionate charm.

26. Not true. The contemporary mirror was invented in Sidon during the first century A.D. Earlier designs date as far back as Babylon in 4000BC. Sentient rock or not, the word “latest” makes it exceptionally unlikly Duke Nukem played any part in its creation.

27. There is absolutely no way anybody could comfortably use this sentence in a real world context, under any circumstances, ever, times infinity plus one more than you can count.
Especially not in an unconvincing Russian accent.

28. This is the only time Ma-Ti’s monkey, Suchi, appears in this comic. Those unfamiliar with the characters would be completely baffled by the suited simian’s appearance, especially considering he serves no purpose in the story. (Yes, he just appears out of nowhere!)
It gets worse: Ma-Ti’s suspiciously gleeful gaze at the monkey suggests Suchi is the “little help” they need. Finally, it’s his chance to shine! Alas; he has raised and shattered both Suchi’s hopes and ours. He is referring to none other than…

29. Still no sign of that drowning swimmer. We can only assume the worst.

30. Why can’t the Power Rangers use the MegaZord to crush the monster the moment it appears?
If Superman can turn back time, why can’t he undo every catastrophe that arrives?
If Captain Planet can easily solve the Planeteers’ dilemmas as a last resort, why don’t they summon him at the first sign of trouble?
Some of life’s great mysteries will never be solved.

31. See what he did there?

32. SEE WHAT HE DID THERE?

33. If there were ever a live-action Captain Planet movie, this mullet ensures a mid-nineties Richard Dean Anderson would have been perfect for the part. We can only hope that such a film were made in some parallel universe, and that a ragtag group of dimension-hopping travelers led by Jerry O’Connell will find a copy and bring it back to our world.

34. He didn’t stop to think that those rays could end up hitting an alien civilization, perhaps triggering a full-scale galactic war for which Earth will never be prepared. NEVER! Careless short-term solutions from a mortal Planeteer is one thing, but we really should expect better from Captain Planet.

35. SEE WHAT HE DID THERE?

36. This is circular narrative – where the subtle story elements woven into the start of the tale reveal themselves at the end. In this case, the reference to a holiday brings us an entire six pages back. It allows us to reflect on the experience: the laughter; the tears; the puns. As a lone tear falls down our collective cheek, the truth finally hits us. Captain Planet has played his part in saving the environment. Now it’s our turn. If we believe in our hearts and in each other, we, too, can be Planeteers. The POWER is YOURS!

37. That said, Mister Planet, that flying pose really does make you look like a tool.

38. And now he’s releasing a known criminal next door to Santa! Dear sweet merciful god, when will the cruelty stop?

More Cartoon Nostalgia:

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