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Feature: The Legion of Super-Pets - Get to Know DC Comics' Cuddlier Side

PrintE-mail Written by Vanessa Berben Friday, 14 June 2013

Feature Articles


The Legion of Super Pets

When we found out there was going to be yet another Superman reboot, everyone here at Starburst began making guesses as to whether or not this new film could breathe life back into the franchise. One thing we could all sadly agree on: the new movie probably won’t feature a special appearance by Krypto the Super-Dog.

While it is not that surprising given mainstream audiences might not care that Superman has a dog, it is a little disappointing for nerds like us who also happen to be animal lovers. Whether you are a dog-person, cat-person, or even a monkey-person (okay that brings up entirely different images than we were intending) – chances are there is a member of the Legion of Super Pets for you.

Most of the LSP had already made separate appearances in different stories, but they premiere as a team in February of 1962 in Adventure Comics Volume 1 Number 293. When the Brain-Globes of Rambat take mental control of the Legion of Super-Heroes and use them to defeat Superboy, the Legionnaires strike back by crossing time and space to recruit their animal counterparts. Because they are immune to mind control, the LSP takes action and defeats the Brain-Globes before being returned to their respective time periods.

Krypto

The character of Krypto the Super-Dog has undergone several revisions since he first appears in 1955’s Adventure Comics Number 210 but originally he was Kal-El’s childhood pet on Krypton until Jor-El decided to use him as a test subject before he launched his own son into space. Unfortunately Krypto’s ship was knocked off orbit and the poor little guy spent years floating through space before he was finally reunited with a teenage Superboy.

On Earth, Krypto possesses all the same super-traits as his master, just in a doggie-version. He appears in over 150 issues in various stories throughout the DC Universe and actually pulls double-duty as a member of the Space Canine Patrol Agency, which just might be the most adorably named crime-fighting group ever. He even had an entire show dedicated to him when Cartoon Network created the short-lived Krypto the Superdog in 2005.

He hasn’t gotten the level of exposure that Krypto has, but Streaky the Cat is still a beloved character. He obtained his powers after Supergirl gave up on a Kryptonite experiment and tossed it out. This new, altered form was dubbed X-Kryptonite and given that cats are well, curious, little Streaky was transformed after coming across it and getting exposed to its radiation.

Becoming the unwitting subject of experimentation seems to be a running theme, as fellow LSP member Beppo the Super-Monkey can attest. Created by DC legends Otto Binder and George Papp, Beppo first appears in 1959’s Superboy Number 76. Similar to Krypto’s fate, Beppo is one of Jor-El’s test subjects and ends up stowing away on Kal-El’s ship headed for earth.

Beppo

After his arrival he slips away unnoticed and does quite well for himself in the jungle, being a Super-Monkey and all. He eventually returns to Smallville and wreaks havoc on the Kents before leaving again. He joins the LSP after running into Supergirl and getting recruited.

Another friend of Supergirl, Comet the Super-Horse might have the most interesting backstory out of all the LSP. Originally born a centaur in ancient Greece, a sorceress casts a spell on him that allows him to switch back and forth between being a horse or a man. As a horse he becomes Supergirl’s pet… and as a man he briefly becomes her boyfriend. We’ll give you a minute to think about the implications.

First appearing in 1962’s Adventure Comics Number 293, he is originally a friend of Superboy’s before becoming Supergirl’s pet and occasional romantic interest. He appears sporadically throughout the ‘60s before all but disappearing until 1997’s Supergirl Number 14 when the character is reborn into something very different.

This new Comet is still something of a centaur, but is also a shape-shifter who can become a man and a woman. Again, Comet falls in love with Supergirl but when she finds out “he” can also become a “she” Supergirl ends the relationship. The important thing to walk away with here is the knowledge that Supergirl’s okay with her boyfriends turning into animals, just don’t be a chick on the side – that is a deal-breaker.

Super Horse

Both Comet and Krypto have remained semi-regular characters in one form or another in the Post-Crisis DC Universe. After the 1985-86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, timelines for everyone in the Universe were reset and many characters were essentially erased. Streaky got a second chance in Cartoon Network’s Krypto the Superdog, but other than the occasional appearance poor Beppo has been left a bit to the wayside.

The Legion of Super-Pets may be no more, but Krypto the Superdog continues to be a staple in Superman’s life. His character has undergone several variations and changes in origin, but for the most part he has stayed fairly close to his original Pre-Crisis personality. But Krypto hasn’t been limited to the world of Superman; he has also become a friend to the Green Lantern as well as Batman and Robin.

In the Hush saga Poison Ivy uses Kryptonite lipstick to gain control over Superman, so Batman enlists Krypto’s help to track her down. And in the Green Lantern storyline Sinestro Corps War, Robin uses Krypto to fight off Superboy-Prime. Krypto’s defeated in the battle but as he can always be counted on to do, he buys the others time to reassemble and save the day.

Streaky

Defending their Superhero friends has always been the core mission of the Super-Pets. While they have been given their own storylines in multiple issues and some in TV and film, their real purpose is to provide loyalty and protection to their masters. That’s why we love these furry superheroes so much. Because powers aside, it is their pure devotion and companionship that relates them back to the pets we have at home. Now if you’ll excuse us, we are going to go find some Kryptonite and chase our dogs and cats around the house. We can dream.

MAN OF STEEL is out now.

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