Superheroes are awesome aren’t they… leaping tall buildings in a single bound, scowling atop shadowy gargoyles, extracting the truth with their golden lariats, ka-powing criminals, crushing crime and fighting hatred and oppression, yes indeedy, Superheroes are awesome! That said, for many, without their extensive network of sidekicks and allies would they really be as effective? Batman has Robin and his extended Bat-Family, Superman has Supergirl and Superboy, Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl, Green Arrow and Speedy, et al. Though it could be said (probably only by me) that the real power behind their thrones comes from the less heralded, yet equally as important… Super-Pets!
Now then, if you’re not a comic-book fanatic, you may feel I’m barking mad, or that this post could end up being a cat-astrophe (sorry, I had to!) and yet, Batman, Superman, Supergirl and yes even Wonder Woman have an extensive history with their fearless furry friends that dates back decades, plus, believe it or not, said pets also don colourful costumes (y’know, just in case SuperVillain pets recognise them!), exhibit powers and, yep, fight crime! So why not join us as we peruse (and pet) our all time favourite super powered animals, from Krazy Kangaroos, through Soaring Cats and even a Bat-Cow!
The origin of the Super-Pet dates way back to the 1940’s, specifically the 1942 release of Sensation Comics #6, which introduced us to Wonder Woman’s very own faithful furry friend. Now, you’d think with Diana’s extensive history and standing in Greek Mythology, that Pegasus would be the perfect equine entity to accompany her on her ongoing odyssey, failing that how about the mighty Minotaur, maybe three headed demonic dog Cerberus, or Zeus’ nurturing goat – Amalthea? Ha, well you’d be wrong oh fellow fans of fantastic fluffy fearless friends, for it was none other than… Jumpa, the Kangaroo!! (Uh, well, of course it was!)
I mean, you really have to wonder why Wondy’s incredibly talented creator, William Moulton Marston went with a Kangaroo over the suggestions I threw out there, but, that said, have you ever seen a Kangaroo up close before? those things are terrifying! One of these mammoth marsupials chasing you down with Wonder Woman on it’s back no less, would be the epitome of the good cop/bad cop trope!!
Now, I know that this might put me in the dog house with the other Super-Pets, but Ace the Bat-hound has always been my personal favourite of this formidable furry force, I mean look at him, he wears a mask, and sometimes a cape and utility belt style collar (how on earth does he get the bat gadgets out of there without fingers? questions like this keep me up at night!) and his master is The Batman! so case closed.
Ace’s doggy debut was in the 1955 issue of Batman #92, and this canine crime-fighting conundrum has been a stalwart admission to the Bat mythos ever since. Originally a German Shepherd, Ace has been through many different Bat-breeds since his initial inception including an English Mastiff and Great Dane, though you’d think, with Batman being heralded as The World’s Greatest Detective that a Bloodhound would make the perfect canine companion for the Caped Crusader… Suffering Sappho, maybe DC should hire me to write their comics! (only joking, uuh, unless DC want to, then I’m not!) But, if you thought caped and cowled crime-fighting canines was the quintessence of strange, you ain’t seen nothing yet…
Yep, it’s a cow! though not just any old cow of course, but a bodacious and bombastic Bat-bovine!
The legen-dairy ( the puns, they’re gonna get worse!) Bat-Cow made her first astonishing appearance in Batman Inc (vol 2) #1, whilst another version of the headstrong heifer appeared for a short while in Tiny Titans, after stealing Batman’s cape and cowl to fight crime and form the the League Of Just Us Cows, this variant was eventually put out to pasture after DC Comics rebooted her with a brand new origin story. During a raid on a slaughterhouse (which was a front for Talia Al Ghul’s Leviathan) Batman and Robin saved their bovine buddy and adopted her into their burgeoning Bat-Family, this also led to Robin embracing a vegetarian lifestyle. Of course, the idea of a crime-fighting cow is udderly ridiculous, but it has also made for some rather amoo-sing tales, still, as to not milk this segment any longer we shall be moo-ving on to…
The canine crime-fighting capers continue with the Man of Steel’s very own good boy – Krypto the Superdog! Krypto has been lending a paw to Supes since his cuspid creation in Adventure Comics #210 in March 1955.
Superman’s best friend also hails from Kal-El’s home planet of Krypton and as such shares a very similar power set to that of his master including flight, super strength and super-breath (gross, I mean dogs and super-breath should never, ever go together!) this four legged wonder’s power set marks him out as the ulti-mutt crime-fighting canine in the Legion of Superpets, which finds him constantly harassed by the pup-arazzi! (ok, ok, that one was fairly bad, just please don’t hound me over it!)
Just when you are feline that the you’ve had enough of the bad animal puns along comes Supergirl’s favourite furry friend, the paw-some Streaky the Supercat! I’m not kitten around you know, Kara’s fur-midable feline made his debut in Action Comics #261 in February 1960.
Unlike his doggy buddy Krypto, Streaky hailed from Earth and gained his claw-some gifts after exposure to X-Kryptonite, which enabled him with purr-fect powers such as – flight, super-speed and enhanced visual abilities. Though DC contains a plethora of cats in its canon, including Power Girl’s Stinky the cat, and of course Catwoman’s clowder, Streaky though will go down in hiss-tory as a personal favourite of mine, as he has such a meow-tain of purr-sonality!