Issue #21 of 35   INDEX




Joel Grineau
by: Joel V. Grineau
Superpets - A Sidekick By Any Other Name
 

Krypto! Streaky! Beppo! Comet! Proty II! Do any of these names mean anything to you? Well, believe it or not, they were the members of the Legion of Superpets. Yes, SUPERPETS! You've got to be asking yourself, what in God's name am I talking about?

According to Joseph Campbell, heroes have helpers and tests along their heroic path. As we've discussed before, sidekicks have often served this role. Back in the early 1960's, somebody must have thought it would be great if Superboy had a sidekick. One problem though, was that teenaged heroes in general were already sidekicks themselves. The solution - give Superboy a dog. Why? As everybody knows, every boy wants a dog. Since Superboy had superpowers, than his dog should too. And thus was conceived the legendary Krypto the Superdog!

How does a dog get superpowers? Well, Jor-El launched a test rocket, which contained Krypto. The rocket's telemetry failed, but it was still near enough to Krypton that when the planet exploded, the rocket was pushed towards Earth. Evidently, some obscure law of physics I'm unaware of states that when a planet explodes, all the energy released will funnel itself towards Earth.

Krypto was just like his master. While Superboy used glasses to change his appearance, woodstain smeared around Krypto's eye gave him his secret identity. . .that of Clark Kent's dog, Chip! (Editor's Note: Hard as it is to believe, Joel is NOT making this up!) Superboy's powers were due to Earth's yellow sun and weaker gravity, as were Krypto's. Since Kryptonite could kill or mutate Superboy, the same went for Krypto. And just like his master, Krypto had a special place to get away from it all. Krypto constructed his 'Doghouse of Solitude', out of meteor fragments near the moon.

Of course, it didn't stop there. You see, if Superboy had a superpet to aid him in his adventures, then, logically, Supergirl needed one too. So, along came Streaky the Supercat, a normal Earth cat who's powers came from a fragment of Kryptonite-X lodged in his ball of yarn. Don't ask.

Someone thought it would be nifty if Superboy had a second pet, one who was a test, to balance the helping hand nature of Krypto. Thus, the troublesome Beppo the Superape was unleashed upon the world. Evidently Beppo also came from Krypton, as he had stowed away on the infant Superman's rocket! Again, don't ask.

Once again, Supergirl demanded parity, so we got Comet, the Superhorse. Comet was a helper, but his powers were troublesome. Comet was not from Krypton, he was from ancient Greece. Eventually Comet, who sometimes had a human form, married Supergirl. The sexual subtext is frightening. Really, really, don't ask.

This fab four of superpets ended up in the 30th century somehow. They were soon joined by Proty II (the pet of Chameleon Boy of the LofSH) and they formed the Legion of Superpets. And criminals all over the DC Universe were shaking in their tights. Imagine the taunting you'd face in prison, when it was found out that the Legion of Superpets had foiled your plans and beat the crap out of you and your henchmen!

To give these comic books the benefit of the doubt, I'm hoping that the creators were having a big laugh about this stuff at the DC offices. Really. It was all some weird joke wasn't it? I mean, it was the 60's right? Please God, please.

The Legion of Superpets had about a dozen adventures over the 1960's, and then (mercifully) they disappeared. They did not survive into post-Crisis DC. Well, that's not totally true. An issue of "Animal Man" a few years back had Streaky the Supercat in a couple of panels; and it worked! Only Grant Morrison can get away with stuff like that.

Only, Morrison! Nobody else. Got that DC?

Joel Grineau is a former Writer/Contributing Editor for "Chaos" Magazine. "Iron Man" 146 (purchased in the spring of 1981) was his first comic book, and time has not worn down his enjoyment of them. Joel holds a BA from the University of Guelph and an MA from the University of Saskatchewan. He is currently an officer with the Canadian Forces.

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Text © Joel V. Grineau, 1997,1998.
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