The Problems with Owning DC Super-Pets
No One is closer to You than Your Shape Changing Proto-Life Sidekick Alien Pet
Sometime during the silver age of comics, around 1962, comic book writers thought it would be a “laugh riot” to give superheroes pets. After all, if people couldn’t crank up the yuck-machine after a monkey caused mass chaos in a housewife’s kitchen, then they just don’t know high-class humor.
There is also a contingent of this country’s population that think joy buzzers and whoopee cushions are the height of humor and think we just don’t have enough of it on television anymore. I mean, Mister Ed was funny, right? Oh, that Wilbur! How will he keep the neighbors from finding his talking horse?
So comic book writers wrote stories about superheroes and their pets. The logic was if pets were funny then super-pets must be super-funny. Pets are at the very heart of a mundane life. Throw some superpowers into the mix and young readers get to laugh at paw prints on the living room ceiling.
This would add a new dimension to a “boy and his dog” story except it would be the story of Superboy and his Super-dog, Krypto. I’m sure writers also thought if Sherlock Holmes could have Toby, a half-terrier, in The Sign of Four, Batman and Robin could have Ace the Bat-Hound as their own canine tracker. The component of having a reliable animal member of a crime fighting team would be an integral part of the formula to warming the cockles of any young reader’s heart.
But is that what would really happen?
What would really actually happen if Superman had to deal with a super-dog with normal dog intelligence doing doggie things within his living space? How would Batman deal with a disobedient Bat-Hound?
Here are some things the early writers of the fifties and sixties hadn’t considered in their written hijinks and wackiness.
The Problem with Having Kryptonian Animals in the House
Modern comic book writers addressed the scenario of Superman having a super-dog. In the early 2000s, Krypto arrived on Earth and found Superman. Clark Kent, now a newlywed with Lois, brought the dog to live with them in their apartment. The problem was this version of Krypto had normal canine intelligence; the version from the fifties, having gained super-intelligence (for a dog) under a yellow sun had near-human consciousness and could understand and obey all of Superboy’s commands.
When Krypto scratched at the door, chunks of wood got gouged out of it. If Krypto saw a squirrel, he’d fly right after it. And if he chased after bad guys, they might be mauled.
Imagine having to house break him. Imagine trying to keep him off the counter. Imagine trying to keep him out of the oven while you’re cooking. Disciplining him could be a problem, especially if he started to hump Lois’ leg.
Superman eventually brought Krypto to live at the Fortress of Solitude and after that, the dog went to live with Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy even gave Krypto a secret ID as “Pal”.
The other Super-Pets would be problematic, too.
Those animals that seemed funny at first but are terrifying to think about now.
Comet the Super-Horse was primarily with Supergirl. Comet has super-powers and just loves being ridden by Supergirl. He can fly and has all the powers that Superman and Supergirl have. There’s only a few minor hitches.
The first problem is he’s a telepath and his powers are magical. That means that he has no vulnerability to the red sun or kryptonite – which is fine. The only snafu with that is if he breaks his leg and finds out there is still only one way to fix that on a horse.
The other catch is that Comet is really a dude.
That’s right. A sorceress turned Biron (Comet) from being a centaur to a horse and sometimes even turn fully human. Not for nothing, that’s kind of creepy. Normally people think that a dude who gets off on having a teenage girl ride his back as more than a little creepy. Comet changes into a human whenever there’s a passing comet that flies over Earth – which I’m sure is always a surprise to Supergirl.
Streaky the Super-cat was born when he came into contact with a specific form of kryptonite. This kryptonite, called Kryptonite-X or X-Kryptonite, was part of one of Supergirl’s experiments to neutralize green kryptonite but instead gave a passing cat superpowers and higher intelligence.
A cat… with superpowers… with higher intelligence. I’ll let that sink in for a bit. As a cat owner, this terrifies me. When my cat scratches the edge of the couch, I keep a water pistol to curb her behavior. A cat with near human intelligence and heat vision doesn’t like that. Think about every time a cat stares at you without blinking. That’s you burning to death.
Super Powered Monkeys
Super powered gorillas could easily be an article on its own given that we have characters like the Ultra Humanite, Grodd, Titano, and Monsieur Mallah.
However, people like monkeys. Didn’t we all chuckle a bit when Clint Eastwood said to his orangutan, “Left turn, Clyde”? When he took his naturally tremendous strength and punched out a gang of bikers, we all thought it was hilarious.
Heh, heh… monkeys.
Gorillas are six to fifteen times stronger than human beings. An average monkey is five to eight times stronger. Keep that thought in your head.
What do you do when you go against Beppo the Super-Monkey? Few people remember Beppo. Jor-El, a cruel, cruel scientist on Krypton who thought highly of animal testing, kept Beppo in his lab while building a rocket for Kal-El. When Krypton exploded, Beppo stowed away on board.
With a monkey on board a prototype interstellar space vessel with a baby, I’m surprised the ship didn’t just blow up. But the yellow sun was kind to Beppo and when they entered the solar system, the super-monkey survived with no injuries and a whole host of super-powers. Beppo survived in a jungle until he found Superboy living at the Kents and made trouble for Clark.
Yeah, that’s just hilarious.
Think about how much strength a normal monkey has. A normal monkey could tear your arm off and beat you with it. A super-monkey can tear Superman’s arm off and beat him with it. Think about what a super-monkey could do to a normal person. All I can say is that if Beppo wants a banana, you’d better f*@%ing give him one.
I won’t even go into the problems and damage a super-monkey can do if it flings its super-poo.
Of course, we never think of such things whenever we need the help of The Detective Chimp or Sam Simeon, from Angel and the Ape.
It is one thing to be a monkey, but it’s quite another to be one that can talk. What I don’t understand is how a monkey can get a private investigator’s license. Sure, the monkey can talk. I’m sure that most monkeys would express a deep desire to fill their lives with more bananas and complain incessantly about why they can’t climb up buildings to swat at planes, but is that any reason to hire them as a PI? In what circumstances would you hire a monkey to take illicit pictures of a philandering spouse or dig up dirt on a business competitor, leave alone solve a murder or robbery?
It’s one thing to be impressed with a talking primate, it’s quite another to take their deductive reasoning at face value as they socially remove head lice from a friend.
Proty I and Proty II: A Sentient Pile of Goo
Fans of the Legion of Superheroes may remember Chameleon Boy’s favorite pet, Proty.
He was the perfect pet for a shapeshifter like Chameleon Boy. Proty used his protoplasmic blobby form to adopt the shape of anything or anyone it could imagine.
The thing is, Proty was really a member of an alien race that the Llorn transmogrified into sentient blobby things that could change shape. They were also telepathic.
Having Proty for a pet was never having to say you were busy. If you didn’t want to go to an event you could always send Proty in your place. Provided that the conversation with your friends didn’t get too complex and you didn’t mind a trained bit of protoplasm acting in your name, everything would go just fine. Just be prepared to answer a lot of weird questions the next morning like “Why did you feel a need to spend time next to the jello molds last night and why did you put it down your pants?”
Proty died when imitating Saturn Girl in a Daxamite lightning rod ceremony to resurrect Lightning Lad. The science always calls for a sacrifice and Proty decided to sacrifice his life rather than Saturn Girl dying instead.
Proty was replaced with Proty II, who is a member of the Legion of Super-Pets with Krypto, Streaky, Beppo, and Comet.
The biggest problem of having a pet like Proty or Proty II is finding him if he ever runs away.
“Have you seen this puddle of animated goo? Answers to Proty II. May feel need to reproduce asexually. Heart shaped spot on pseudopod.”
Other Animals that Should Cause More Trouble
While Super-Pets have the potential to cause mind-blowing havoc and destruction, there are scores of other normal animals that are dangerous even without having powers.
Like Doctor Mid-Nite’s owl. The first and current Doctor Mid-Nite have employed owls as partners/mascots in their own crime-fighting careers.
The first Doctor Mid-Nite, Charles McNider, got his powers shortly after a grenade damaged his eyes. One night, as he was recovering from his injuries and contemplating his future as he could never practice surgery again as a blind man, an owl crashed through his window and scratched off his bandages. McNider discovered that he could now see perfectly in complete darkness.
No one ever questioned why the owl went for McNider’s eyes.
He took in the owl as a partner and named it “Hooty”.
The current Doctor Mid-Nite, Pieter Cross, also a doctor, was exposed to a strength enhancing Venom derivative that made him blind but able to see in complete darkness like the original Doctor Mid-Nite. Cross also adopted an owl named “Charlie” that he named after McNider. Cross put a small camera around Charlie’s neck and uses him to scout out places for him.
As cute as both owls are, they are officially listed as “birds of prey” and are very dangerous to handle. They are not cuddly canaries or parrots. They can hurt people and have a very natural killing instinct. Owls are naturally carnivorous. Plus, according to the International Owl Center (www.internationalowlcenter.org), it is illegal for a private individual to own an owl as a pet.
Nor does anyone ever question how or why Aquaman rides on a giant seahorse or why Wonder Woman likes to ride for kicks on the back of a giant kangaroo on Themyscira. A giant sea horse could only be ridden by a man who can talk to fish while anyone who voluntarily decides to ride on a giant kangaroo should have their sanity checked.
Talk to any Australian on how naturally dangerous kangaroos are. Having a kangaroo the size of a small truck invites personal injury. This is something for the writing team for the new Wonder Woman movie to consider: If Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor really needs to be impressed, he should visit Themyscira’s giant kangaroo domestication program.
There is a small part of me that harkens back to more innocent times though. If Hollywood is going to make a Justice League movie, why not give Jason Momoa a giant seahorse like “Storm” from the animated cartoon so that Aquaman can be seen as the badass he truly is? After all, if I were foolish enough to go against a Jason Momoa Aquaman, as a pirate, I would be twice as likely to soil myself if I saw him riding up to my submarine on a monster seahorse.
It was the great W.C. Fields who coined the phrase to never work with children or animals. There is some truth in that as you shouldn’t work with dangerous animals just because it looks great to do or because other people think they’re cute. Fields would have done best in the CGI age when any creature in the animal kingdom could have been digitally placed next to him while he was alone on a green screen. Nowadays, a young actor like Neel Sethi can play with savage animals like a bear, a tiger, and an orangutan (voiced by the talented Bill Murray, Idris Elba, and Christopher Walken, respectively) in The Jungle Book and be in absolutely no danger at all. While there is much we don’t know about the wild kingdom, it is a best practice to treat animals with respect. And if you should get hurt or maimed by an animal that most people consider dangerous, chances are you did something really, really stupid.
Remember the Jungle Book is fiction and special effects aren’t real.
I’ll leave you with a snippet from the immortal Douglas Adams about the dangers of the animal kingdom. In his book Last Chance to See, Adams writes the following as part of his interview with a leading expert on deadly animals:
“So what do we do if we get bitten by something deadly?’ I asked.
He looked at me as if I were stupid.
‘You die, of course. That’s what deadly means.”