By coincidence, this mull-myth suffers from the same symbolic deficiency as the last one I reviewed here, WONDER WOMAN: WAR OF THE GODS. Said deficiency might be called "the shoehorn problem," in which the creator becomes preoccupied (whether out of personal taste or from business considerations) with shoehorning so many disparate elements into the narrative that none of them possess any individual charm. But whereas as a multi-crossover work like WAR OF THE GODS had to tie into a dozen or more other DC comics features, the raconteurs behind this 1985 project-- plotter E. Nelson Bridwell, scripter Joey Cavalieri, and artist Carol Lay-- might have been able to trim away a lot of the extraneous elements in order to allow the strictly necessary characters some room to breathe. (To be sure, the project's editor was Roy Thomas, so based on his eighties writing, he too might have thought that "more is always better.")
Right off the bat, the project-- henceforth abbreviated to OZ-- has to work with a team of seven main characters, the members of "Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew." This group of anthropomorphic animal-superheroes debuted in 1982, written by Roy Thomas and penciled by Scott Shaw, and the OZ storyline was originally intended to appear in the regular magazine. The feature was cancelled, so the idea of the Zoo Crew countering a threat to both the fantasy-lands of L. Frank Baum's Oz and of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland became a stand-alone opus. The narrative consisted of three issues published in 1985, just one year before Captain Carrot's world of humanoid animals would be expunged (however temporarily) by the Crisis of Infinite Earths.
I should note here that I was not a fan of CAPTAIN CARROT at its best moments, for its creators tried to walk a tightrope between adventure and humor, and succeeded in neither arena. At most I experienced a mild liking for the design of the group's "Thing," a big porcine crusader named Pig Iron. But all the others were tedious in the extreme. If they weren't just blandly designed and poorly characterized-- Captain Carrot, Rubberduck, Fastback and Little Cheese-- they also had horribly punny names like Yankee Poodle and (ugh) Alley-Kat-Abra. So on top of finding deeds for all seven of these comical crusaders to accomplish in the narrative proper, Bridwell and Cavalieri-- possibly working to Thomas's specifications-- had to find a rationale for the beast-heroes to go adventuring in both Oz and Wonderland. But while the title seems to suggest a literal martial conflict between those two fantasy-domains, the truth is that there's just one evil overlord, the Oz-derived "Nome King," who's attempting to subjugate both realms.
I won't dilate upon the plot, which IMO is just a patchwork of episodes in which the Zoo Crew jaunts from one fantasy-realm to another for this or that forgettable errand. This extremely loose structure allows the writers to work in numerous characters from Baum and from Carroll, which might have worked out well if Bridwell or Cavalieri had shown any ability to continue the witty characterizations of such figures as the Mad Hatter or Dorothy Gale (who appears in OZ, though there's no accounting for Alice, the feminine muse for Wonderland). But the writers might as well have been attempting to emulate stock figures for a D&D game. As with the regular ZOO CREW comic, OZ is astoundingly unfunny and underwhelming in the adventure department.
Carol Lay's art is OZ's only saving grace, for her successful tightrope-act consists of rendering all the beast-heroes in typical bigfoot style, while the Carroll characters are all rendered along the lines of illustrator John Tenniel and the Oz characters follow the conceptualizations of illustrators Neill and Denslow. And there's one decent joke at the end of OZ, for after Captain Carrot has returned to his home from defeating the Nome King, the story ends with him getting yet more barely-welcome visitors: DC's klutz-heroes The Inferior Five. Their appearance is just a nod from Bridwell, since he wrote the Five's series, which I think is probably more fondly remembered than Captain Carrot even though the former didn't even rack up twenty issues. Frankly, since Bridwell seemed in my opinion more comfortable with writing the Five's baggy-pants comedy, a Five crossover with the Zoo Crew might have stood a slightly greater chance of being funny.
I suppose that one other positive aspect of this project is that its concentration on Oz-mythology-- a necessary result of the multitude of Oz-books compared to the two canonical Carroll tomes-- might make some readers want to sample the Baum canon.