The next big comic book movie opens this week! It is the animated featured DC League of Super-Pets. It will feature Krypto The Superdog binging together a team of super-powered animals to rescue the Justice League. What a lot of viewers won’t realize is that most of these Super-Pets have long histories in the comics! Let’s kick-off our look at them with the oldest – and it isn’t Krypto!
The Terrific Whatzit
The earliest of the modern League of Super-Pets to debut is Whatzit, The Flash’s pet turtle! Thing is, when he debuted, he wasn’t a pet! Funny Stuff #1 hit newsstands back in 1944 and it was a funny animal comic in the grand Disney ducks tradition. Writer/artist Martin Naydel, who later worked on All-Flash Comics, contributed a strip called “The Terriffic Whatzit”.
To prove a cosmic point, mild-mannered turtle Merton McSnurtle is granted super speed powers. To activate them, he sheds his shell. Without his shell, nobody can tell what animal he is. Dubbed The Terrific Whatzit, he battled crime a la The Flash for a few issues. In the 21st century, kid-friendly comics adopted a version of the character as the Flash’s pet. Now in the DC Universe proper, Whatzit is here to stay. He’s a turtle with super speed powers, what’s not to love?
Krypto The Superdog
The first proper super-pet to appear was, of course Krypto The Superdog. Krypto makes his debut in Adventure Comics #210, released in 1955. A white dog with super powers show up in Smallville and Clark Kent, in his guise as Superboy, investigates. He discovers that the pooch is Krypto, family dog of the House of El. Superboy’s father, Jor-El, launched the dog into space in a test rocket before sending his son, Kal-El AKA Clark Kent, to Earth. Krypto’s rocket was knocked off course, but both he and Superboy are happy to be reunited.
Kryptonian dogs are notably more intelligent than their terrestrial counterparts. Though he spends some time as the Kent Family dog Skip, Krypto mostly flew around space having his own adventures. He even traveled to the distant future and helped found the Legion of Super-Pets! Crisis on Infinite Earths wrote him out in 1986, but editorial mandates couldn’t keep a good boy down. He returned in 2001, and has been a loyal member of the Superman Family ever since.
Ace The Bat-Hound
Bat-Hound is a strange case in that he wasn’t actually Batman’s pet! Ace first appears in a one-off tale in 1955’s Batman #92. He’s the pet dog of engraver John Wilker, who is kidnapped by crooks. Bruce Wayne Dick Grayson discover Ace wandering alone, and make an effort to return him home using Lost Dog posters. This leads them to discovers Wilker’s kidnapping and the Dynamic Duo use Ace to help find his master. They worry, however, that the distinctive star-shape spot on his forehead will give away their secret identities. The solution? Put that dog in a mask!
Bat-Hound would continue to intermittently adventure with the Dynamic Duo, whenever they were able to borrow him or otherwise dogsit. It was his sixth appearance before circumstances forced Wilker to rehome Ace with Bruce Wayne. Ace’s last major appearance for a long time was in World’s Finest #143 in 1965. The licensing potential of superhero dogs, however, saw him make a resurgence in the 21st century – at least in kid-friendly cartoons and comics.
Ch’p The Rodent Lantern
Perhaps the biggest the change the movie is slated to make is to Ch’p, where he’s renamed “Chip”. Chip first appearances in a Green Lantern Corps backup story in 1982’s Green Lantern #148. He’s a faintly humanoid chipmunk member of the Green Lantern Corps. His debut story is essentially a standard “don’t judge people’s spirit by their size” fable. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, he moved from his homeworld of H’lven and joined the Earth-based Green Lantern Corps lead by Hal Jordan.
Chip hung around as a funny animal living in a real world until 1992. With the Dark Age of Comics setting in, Chip was killed off in the pages of Green Lantern: Mosaic #2.. Even so, he has remained a very popular lantern for use in cartoons, video games, and tie-in comics. He also morphed into squirrel at some point, likely because the fluffy tale is a more fun visual trait. Since he’s a Green Lantern that greatly resembles an Earth critter, he’s often paired with Green Lantern in Super Pets-related media. DC League of Super-Pets is no exception, but it remains to be seen if he’ll pick up a ring of his own in the movie.
And There Are A Bunch More!
Back in the kid-friendly Silver Age of Comics, super pets were a common superhero accessory because kids like animals. In the present, they’ve made a resurgence thanks to both their charming silliness and licensing potential. Between those two eras, there are way more Super Pets than are appearing in this movie! Some examples:
- Superman has Beppo The Supermonkey and Comet The Super-Horse
- Batman has Bat-Cow and Mogo The Bat-Ape
- Wonder Woman has Jumpa The Wonder Kangaroo
- Aquaman has Topo the Octopus and Storm the Giant Seahorse
- Plastic Man has Flexi The Plastic Bird
- Metamorpho has Element Dog
- The Red Lantern Corps has Dex-Starr The Cat
and on, and on, and on. Believe us when we say that there’s tremendous franchise potential in a kid-focused super pets movie. Each and every one of those characters has a first appearance with the potential to appreciate in value going forward. That’s why it’s a good idea to let experts like Back to the Past help you sell your collection when the time comes: you can figure out Funny Stuff #1 is old, but you might not know it forms part of the basis for a major motion picture!