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Pawers with Powers: Get to Know DC's Super-Pets

Pawers with Powers: Get to Know DC's Super-Pets

By Alex Jaffe Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

On July 29th, it’s time to unleash your inner party animal. The long-awaited animated movie DC League of Super-Pets is headed to theaters and soon your whole family can experience the heroics of the Justice League’s best friends. We’re talking names you know and love like Krypto the Super-Dog, Ace the Bat-Hound…PB the Wonder-Pig…and…Keith? Okay, so maybe there are some new faces in the Barn of Justice. We’re all about legacy here in the DC Universe and always happy to see new heroes—even animals—take up the torch, with or without opposable thumbs. But legacy is also about recognizing what’s come before. So. now’s a good time as any to take stock of every animal who’s claimed to be a Super-Pet.
 

The Starting Lineup

First appearing in 1962’s Adventure Comics #293, the Legion of Super-Pets, as they were known at the time, was no alliance of animal counterparts to the Justice League, but a specific coalition of the animals in Superman and Supergirl’s coterie. Like the Justice League of America, the Legion of Super-Pets first united to defend the Earth from an alien invasion—in their case, the Gil’dishpan, a race of brain-like aliens in globes known informally, but appropriately, as “Brain Globes.” This incarnation of the Super-Pets would stick together for 24 years, until Crisis on Infinite Earths made the DC Universe a slightly more serious place.


Krypto the Super-Dog
First Appearance:
Adventure Comics #210 (1955)

Krypto is the only Super-Pet in the 2022 film to have been part of the team from the very beginning. Born on Krypton, Krypto was sent by baby Kal-El’s parents Lara and Jor-El as a companion to their child, as an unconditional friend in a potentially unfriendly world.


Streaky the Super-Cat
First Appearance: Action Comics #261 (1959)

Unlike Krypto, Streaky is an Earthborn Super-Pet, a normal housecat like any other—at least, at first. Streaky was once the perfectly average pet of Linda Lee, the Silver Age secret identity of Supergirl. But Supergirl’s experimentations with the artificial “X-Kryptonite” bestowed Streaky with all the powers of your Kryptonian man or dog. You may be familiar with the power-giving X-Kryptonite from TV’s Superman & Lois. Considering how many years TV’s Supergirl borrowed concepts from Superman, we suppose this turnabout is fair play.


Beppo the Super-Monkey
First Appearance: Superboy #76 (1959)

Beppo, like Krypto, is originally from the planet Krypton. But unlike Clark’s best friend, Beppo was an uninvited passenger on baby Kal-El’s rocket. Beppo stowed away in the escape pod from Krypton’s destruction at the last minute, ensuring his survival as the last Kryptonian monkey.


Comet the Super-Horse
First Appearance:
Adventure Comics #293 (1962)

Comet the Super-Horse has had a very long and complicated history, including a couple of romantic relationships with Supergirl. Comet first appeared as Supergirl’s pet horse in the very first meeting of the Legion of Super-Pets to fill out the roster. But as we would learn through further Supergirl stories, Comet was once a centaur named Biron who was cursed by Circe to be a full horse. Trapped in space, Comet was rescued by Supergirl, and became her companion—and, when he found himself transformed back into a human as a certain comet passed through our solar system, her suitor, “Bill Star.”

A very different Comet would be introduced in the 1990s Supergirl comics after Crisis on Infinite Earths, but that Comet was never part of the Super-Pets.
 

Silver Age Additions

Whizzy the Super-Cat
First Appearance:
Action Comics #287 (1962)

The Legion of Super-Pets are so named for the Legion of Super-Heroes, as the pets’ first adventure brought them into contact with the premiere defenders of the 30th century. This trans-temporal relationship has meant that the rest of the Legion’s roster could come from the distant future, which was also considered at the time to be part and parcel of the Superman Family. This included Whizzy, the first legacy hire of the team, as the 30th century descendant of Streaky the Super-Cat. Apparently that X-Kryptonite exposure stays in the bloodline.


Proty II
First Appearance:
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72 (1963)

Proty is an amorphous, telepathic being from the Antares star system who fell somewhere between pet and mascot to the Legion of Super-Heroes. The original Proty was short-lived, but the second Proty would tag along with the Super-Pets as a hero in its own right whenever time travel allowed.
 

DC One Million

The Legion of Executive Familiars
First Appearance: DC One Million 80-Page Giant #1 (1999)

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Legion of Super-Pets was left in the past…until the distant future. In the 1999 DC One Million event, we’re introduced to the Legion of Executive Familiars of the 853rd Century—a team of intelligent animals which succeeds the original Super-Pets. Its members include Krypto-9, descendant of Superman’s own Krypto; Octus, an octopus from the 8th dimension; Wormhole, an ineffable giant worm that inhabits subspace; Phaethon and Savitar, the sun dogs; and Googal, the last mouse in the universe, with the ability to endlessly self-multiply.
 

Tiny Titans

The first book to bring the Super-Pets back in earnest was the delightful, light-hearted Tiny Titans series of 2008, which brought the concept beyond Superman. This time, animals from throughout the DC Universe from the Golden Age to the modern era could count themselves as members. It was here that the Super-Pets really became a counterpart to the Justice League. Here we account for the new members of the expanded team.


Jumpa
First Appearance:
Sensation Comics #6 (1942)

Technically the oldest Super-Pet by a matter of months, Jumpa was the high-jumping kangaroo mount of a young Diana growing up as the princess of Themyscira. We learn Jumpa’s origin in Wonder Woman #23. Jumpa isn’t your typical kangaroo, but a Kanga, the mounts used by the Sky Riders of Nebulosta. When a young Diana thwarted the Sky Riders’ invasion of Paradise Island as a young girl, the Amazons kept their mounts as their own, and Jumpa became Diana’s closest of allies.


Hoppy
First Appearance:
Fawcett’s Funny Animals #1 (1942)

The 1940s and early 1950s were a diverse time for comic book genres, with one of the most popular being “funny animal books,” comics which starred cute, anthropomorphic animals on cartoonish adventures. When Fawcett Comics, the original home of Shazam, launched their own foray into the Funny Animals genre, they did so with Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny, a rabbit who can transform into a leporine hero just by saying “Shazam!” In Hoppy’s case, however, Shazam stands for the wisdom of Salamander, the strength of Hogules, the stamina of Antlers, the power of Zebreus, the courage of Abalone, and the speed of Monkury.


Terrific Whatzit
First Appearance:
Funny Stuff #1 (1944)

Not too long after Fawcett started lampooning its own heroes in Funny Animals, DC was doing the same. Long before Captain Carrot and his Zoo Crew, Funny Stuff introduced us to Merton McSnurtle, an anthropomorphic layabout turtle from Zooville who is granted powers by two powerful cosmic beings to determine if a neutral being would use them for good or evil. (In costume, he bears a striking resemblance to Jay Garrick, the original Flash.)

When the Zoo Crew was eventually introduced decades later, the Terrific Whatzit was revealed to be the uncle of the team’s modern super speed turtle, Fastback. One of the modern Super-Pets, “Merton, Shell on Wheels,” is named in his honor.


Ace the Bat-Hound
First Appearance:
Batman #92 (1955)

The very same year that Superman got his own dog, so did Batman. Like many members of the Bat-Family, there are a number of origin stories for Ace. In his original debut, Ace was a German shepherd belonging to John Wilker, an engraver who was kidnapped by a gang of counterfeiters. Batman and Robin enlisted Ace’s help in tracking the kidnappers down, and when Wilker had to leave town, he entrusted Ace to Batman.

Since then, Ace has been the guide dog of a blind Native American, a rescue from an underground dog fighting arena, and in Batman Beyond, a companion to Bruce in his old age. DC League of Super-Pets will present us with yet another origin story for Ace. We’ll see if this is the one that sticks.


Topo
First Appearance:
Adventure Comics #229 (1956)

There have been multiple incarnations of Topo through the years, from intelligent octopus to anthropomorphic Altantean to Lovecraftian squid-beast, but all have been friend and ally to Aquaman. Whether he’s babysitting Aquababy, studying sorcery with Mera, or laying waste to the foes of Atlantis, or just banging the war drums in the 2018 Aquaman film, you can always count on Topo to respond to Aquaman’s call.


Fuzzy the Krypto Mouse
First Appearance:
Superboy #65 (1958)

Fuzzy the Krypto Mouse may have been Tiny Titans’ deepest pull for its Super-Pets roster, previously appearing in only one Silver Age issue of Superboy. Like Streaky, Fuzzy was mutated into a super-being after exposure to an experimental variant of Kryptonite, channeled into a ray by a local scientist. After a day of superheroics, “Krypto Mouse” returned to his original form. But that didn’t stop him from being remembered for this roster expansion.


Super-Turtle
First Appearance:
Adventure Comics #304 (1962)

Super-Turtle, or “Tur-Tel,” was a gag strip character in ’60s Adventure Comics devised as a throwback to comics’ already long past “funny animal” period. Like Superman, Tur-Tel was the last survivor of the planet Galapagon, energized by his arrival on Earth. Unlike Superman, Tur-Tel’s father actually convinced his Science Council of Galapagon’s imminent destruction…but, as a race of turtles, they were too slow to react to the news.


Bd’g
First Appearance:
Green Lantern: Rebirth #3 (2004)

Bd’g, the rodentlike Green Lantern of Sector 1014, was introduced near the very start of Geoff Johns’ long mythology-expanding tenure on Green Lantern, to replace his once popular but now sadly deceased predecessor Ch’p. Bd’g is perhaps most notable as an early mentor to Green Lantern Corpsman Simon Baz, while all the other human Lanterns were otherwise occupied.


Robin Robin
First Appearance:
Tiny Titans #28 (2010)

In the tradition of Comet the Super-Horse, the creative team of Art and Franco on Tiny Titans were obliged to include a new Super-Pet of their own. Their contribution was Robin Robin, an actual robin with all the skills of Robin. Robin Robin would find his spiritual successor in the hyper-competent Super Robin of Teen Titans Go! No argument over who the best Robin is would be complete without him. (But it’s still Jason Todd.)
 

Rebirth

The Super-Pets returned to continuity for the first time since the Crisis in Super Sons Annual #1, as the backdrop of a long-delayed reunion between Krypto and Ace. They were joined once more by Streaky, but the rest of the roster was a newer class.


Bat-Cow
First Appearance:
Tiny Titans #17 (2009)

Bat-Cow is an interesting case, as a character originally created for Tiny Titans. Batman & Robin writer Grant Morrison liked the idea of Bat-Cow so much that they incorporated her into their new Batman Incorporated series for the New 52. Bat-Cow became something of a meme from there, and when it was time to round up a new version of the Super-Pets, this Tiny Titans alumna was drafted along with them.


Nathan the Daschund
First Appearance:
Harley Quinn #1 (2013)

Nathan wasn’t a member of the Super-Pets as they were reintroduced in Super Sons, but he was present as a new member for their return in Dark Nights: Metal in a short story by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Conner and Palmiotti had previously created Nathan as a favorite pet of Harley Quinn, her first and most beloved of many, many adopted animals in the series (as long as you don’t count Bernie, her stuffed beaver).


Clay Critter
First Appearance:
Super Sons Annual #1 (2017)

A modern-day equivalent of original Super-Pets member Proty, Clay Critter appears to be a slopped off, independently sentient chunk of Clayface who appears in a brief flashback in Super Sons Annual #1. Clay Critter is no longer be a member of the team in the modern day, and while it’s unknown exactly what happened to him, his loss may have led to the original team’s disbanding before their Super Sons reunion.


Flexi the Plastic-Bird
First Appearance:
Super Sons Annual #1 (2017)

There’s something familiar about Flexi the Plastic-Bird, with its red, white and yellow markings. Said to be the “heart of the team,” the nature of Flexi’s abilities and resemblance to Plastic Man remains unknown. The two have never been seen together in the same place… Eel O’Brian, is that you?
 

The New, Nifty Zoo

In addition to Krypto and Ace, the newly renamed DC League of Super-Pets will give us a new crew of PB the Wonder Pig, the simply-named Keith and Mark, Merton, Shell on Wheels, and Chip—who appears to be none other than the long-lost Green Lantern Ch’p restored to life! Like you, I haven’t yet seen DC League of Super-Pets, but by my account the movie has already justified its worth simply for that alone. Get to know this new crew of critters in theaters on Friday and with the graphic novel follow-up already in stores, DC League of Super-Pets: The Great Mxy-Up.


DC League of Super-Pets opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, July 29.

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.