There has been plenty of comedy in most superhero comics, and there have been plenty of parodies of superheroes, but for sheer surreality and goofiness -- with a heart of gold and violence -- none have ever topped the Flaming Carrot. This bastion of lunacy, written and drawn by Bob Burden, has been around since 1979, jumping from publisher to publisher and entertaining fans to this day.

While most of us imagine being as smart and fearsome as Batman or as powerful as the Hulk, in our heart of hearts we know we'd probably be a lot more closer to the Flaming Carrot. His origin (video below) is similar to that of Don Quixote: After reading 5,000 comic books in a row to win a bet, a man suffered brain damage and became the Flaming Carrot. While he has no powers per se, his giant fake carrot head has a flame that can be increased or decreased, and he keeps a nuclear-powered pogo stick in his snout. He carries guns (and usually shoots the bad guys), gets a wide variety of weird gadgets, and always wears flippers (in case he has to swim).

Flaming Carrot is the defender of Palookaville, a neighborhood in Iron City. While he is something of a neighborhood hero, he makes a living by running a laundromat and taking the money he finds at crime scenes. He has battled mobsters, aliens, the cloned feet of Hitler, wannabe supervillains, and even a giant talking chicken wing (the latter in "Crouching Carrot, Hidden Hotwing"). He's teamed up with such local heroes as the Mystery Men (the team of second-rate heroes who inspired the movie of the same name) and Sponge Boy and appeared in comic books with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Cerebus the Aardvark.

While parody is easy, there's a certain heart and charm to the world of the Flaming Carrot that elevates it past simple superhero jokes. This lunatic hero may be a crimefighter, but he also spends plenty of time doing regular things (in costume), from dating the ladies to performing as a lounge singer. He often speaks in sentence fragments, likes to exclaim "Ut!" when surprised or excited, and makes massive leaps of logic that usually turn out to be true (like assuming the evil Umpires in NY would be hiding at the Umpire State Building -- and then finding them at the Empire State Building). It's a weird, goofy world the Carrot lives in -- but it sure is fun!

The most recent new issues of Flaming Carrot Comics were a 4-issue miniseries put out by Image Comics in 2004, with an issue in 2006 using photos instead of artwork. The older issues are collected in black and white collections, and the Flaming Carrot Kickstarter Project has met its goal, which means more hardbound and digital copies of the classic stories will be available. The Flaming Carrot has also been on a t-shirt (which I had) and had his own action figure (which I have).

One of the Flaming Carrot collections proclaims "The wild shall wild remain" and that certainly applies to the orange avenger. With all the changes that have happened in the world since the Flaming Carrot first appeared, his unique charming lunacy remains as fun as ever.


Overall grade: A-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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