Happy Chinese New Year, and welcome to the Year Of The Rabbit!
To celebrate, we’ve come up with a list of some of the best (and in some cases, worst) comic book rabbits.
Note: we’ve decided to go with mostly Western comic characters here, but would still like to give special mention to some manga characters as well, such as Carrot, the rabbit mink from One Piece, Rabbit hero Mirko from My Hero Academia, and of course, Momoji Sohma from Fruits Basket, who was cursed by the spirit of the rabbit of the zodiac.
One of THE best rabbit characters in comic books ever was inspired by a real-life samurai warrior – Miyamoto Musashi, a real life samurai whose story was immortalised in Hiroshi Inagaki’s classic Samurai trilogy back in 1954-56.
Like him, the star of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo comic book, Miyamoto Usagi, is a samurai, a ronin (masterless samurai) cast adrift after the death of his master, and now wandering the land on a warrior’s pilgrimage. He just happens to be a cuddly fuzzy-wuzzy rabbit as well.
Born in Kyoto in Japan in 1953, Sakai’s family moved to Hawaii when he was just two-years old. There, he discovered the joys of comic books and samurai movies and dreamt of doing a comic book series based on Miyamoto Musashi. Then one day he was doodling in his sketchbook and drew a rabbit with its ears tied up into a samurai topknot. He loved it so much that instead of Miyamoto Musashi, he turned it into Miyamoto Usagi instead, Usagi meaning rabbit in Japanese.
The first Usagi Yojimbo (Japanese for “Rabbit Bodyguard”) comic was published in 1984, as part of an anthology of comics featuring talking animals called Albedo Anthropomorphics.
Usagi Yojimbo finally got its own series in 1987, and Sakai has since won numerous Eisner Awards for the comic.
Usagi has appeared in an episode of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV cartoon series, and there is even a spin-off series called Space Usagi, set in the future and featuring one of the rabbit ronin’s descendents.
Recently, Netflix also adapted Usagi Yojimbo into a series called Samurai Bunny, which features one of Miyamoto Usagi’s descendants in the lead instead.
Back in 1942, Fawcett Comics decided to add an animal-led comic book to go with its superhero stuff like Captain Marvel (not the Marvel Comics version, but the one that would later join DC Comics and become Shazam).
So, they published Fawcett’s Funny Animals, and creator Chad Grothkopf, came up with a bunch of animal characters for it, one of which was a Hoppy, a bunny who dreamed of being strong. He then added elements from Fawcett’s popular Captain Marvel strips, and SHAZAM! You’ve got Hoppy the Marvel Bunny!
Originally an ordinary bunny in the town of Animalville, he is transformed into Captain Marvel Bunny when he imitates his hero Captain Marvel, by saying Shazam. He also has a Black Adam-like enemy called ... Black Bunny. Maybe they should get The Rock to play him as well.
DC Comics had quite a number of rabbit characters, actually. Besides Hoppy The Marvel Bunny (who would later, er, hop over to DC after it bought over Fawcett Comics), there was also Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, the stars of a 20-issue comic run that first came out in 1982.
Originally introduced in 1982’s The New Teen Titans #16, Captain Carrot was originally a mild mannered comic book artist called Roger Rabbit (no, not THAT one), who gets Superman-like powers when he is struck by fragments of a meteorite brought into his world by none other than Superman himself!
You see, Superman had been investigating a strange phenomenon that was making the citizens of Metropolis to behave like primates, and found that there was a strange energy coming from Pluto. But when he flew there to check it out, he was stopped by an energy barrier.
Then, he noticed a meteor passing through, so he grabbed it and was drawn into “Earth-C”, a world of talking animals, some of whom gained superpowers from the meteorite’s shards, and would later form the Zoo Crew, led by Captain Carrot himself.
With the rays also causing Earth-C denizens to revert to their non-anthropomorphic characters, the Zoo Crew team up with Superman to stop the source of the energy, which in an ironic twist of fate, turns out to be caused by Starro the Conqueror, the starfish-shaped alien, who was the reason the Justice League was formed in the first place.
Not much explanation is need for this guy – after all, he is from the Spider-Ham comics, featuring talking animal versions of Marvel’s superheroes.
He is basically a bunny version of the Red Hulk who doesn’t do much or even say anything in the comics besides, well, appearing whenever a big group shot is needed.
Inspired by, but not to be mistaken with Lewis Carrol’s White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland, Dr Lorina Dodson is a rather absurd but surprisingly long-lived supervillain that usually comes up against Spider-Man.
The daughter from a wealthy family who grew up on Lewis Carrol’s books, she was married off to an older rich man and resented it so much that she killed him, with his death ruled an accident.
She subsequently used her inheritance to become the supervillain known as the White Rabbit, modelling herself after Lewis Carroll’s character, arming herself with carrot bombs and mutant rabbits, and even at one point resorting to stealing only watches.
In her first appearance, she comes up against Spidey and Frog Man, who goes after her for robbing his favourite fast food joint. Yeah, her first ever fight was against Frog Man. No wonder her career never really improved by any, er, leaps or bounds.
What is it with Spidey and weird bunny villains? First there’s Red Hulk Bunny, then White Rabbit, and then there’s this strange Easter-themed villain from 1975’s Super Spidey Stories #9.
Traumatised by a childhood event where a bully sat on her basket of Easter eggs, Funny Bunny turned to a life of crime stealing other kids’ Easter Eggs.
Yes, this is a Spider-Man villain that actually existed. Somehow we doubt we’ll ever see Tom Holland fighting her in the MCU (though we wouldn’t rule out Miles Morales coming across her in the Spider-Verse animation though).
Who knew a bunny would have such a tragic life? From the pages of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s We3 comic book, all Pirate the Bunny, wants is to roam free and eat grass.
Instead, he is forced to be part of a military experiment that encases him in robot armour and given cybernetic enhancements and weapons, alongside Bandit the dog, a.k.a ‘1’, and Tinker the cat, a.k.a ‘2’.
This three issue comic released in 2004 is arguably the most tragic story about a bunny, a cat and a dog you will ever read.
It will also be one of the most violent, with lots of blood and gore, and even Pirate dropping landmines on a train and getting shot in the head. Yeah, not for kids or fans of furry bunnies, this one.
The Star Wars universe has a lot of weird characters and aliens, but one of its weirdest is also one of its most, well, grounded in Earth terms.
Jaxxon T. Tumperakki is a green Lepi alien, basically a green bunny, that first appeared in issue #8 of Marvel’s Star Wars comics back in 1977, created by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin. A smuggler who was friends with Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, Jaxxon also pilots a ship called The Rabbit’s Foot.
His first ever story was Eight for Aduba-3, which was kind of like a tribute to Kirosawa’s Seven Samurai, but set in space and with a green bunny (What is it with comic book bunnies and samurai anyway?).
Meant to be a sort of analog to Bugs Bunny, George Lucas famously hated the character, but he became a fan favourite, and has since made appearances in more modern Star Wars comics as well.