Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monkeys From Outer Space


I know that not everyone cares about Superhero Comics. However, I do, so that's what I'm going to talk about today. Specifically the new DC Comics line-wide reboot that started in September. You may have seen the commercials. Basically, in an act of desperation (because rival Marvel Comics has been beating their ass in sales for nearly a decade straight), DC has restarted all of their comics from the beginning (well, sort of, but whatever). Most of the major characters have shown up by now, but there's one group of characters that haven't been seen at all.

They're superhero mainstays. Super-powered activist for truth, justice, and badassary. They're some of the most powerful beings in the entire DC universe, and I, for one, refuse to just stand back while they get marginalized. I'm talking, of course, about the Legion of Super-Pets.

I am so not joking, you guys. The Legion of Super-Pets is so freaking awesome, it hurts. They're a great example of the zaniness of the 1960s in comics. For a few years, everyone had pet sidekicks. Batman had Ace, the Bat-Hound, a Great Dane that he put a Batman mask and on, who helped sniff out crime. Aquaman had Topo, a rocktastic octopus that was also a percussionist. And Superman... man, the Superman Family had so many pets that the pets formed their own freaking club. That club? The Legion of Super-Pets. Let me break the team down for you:

First up, we have Krypto the Super-Dog. He's easily the most famous member. In fact, he had his own kids' show a couple years ago. Back when Superman was still a baby, before Krypton exploded, his father Jor-El (who had figured out the planet was about to explode) was rushing to create a spaceship to save his infant son from the eminent destruction. However, before he put a six-month-old in an experimental rocket ship, Supes' dad decided he should probably do a test run with the prototype. So, Jor-El, being a rather pragmatic super-scientist, grabbed the closest potential test subject he could find, the family dog. He strapped him into a rocket ship, firing the first Kyrptonian dog into space. Yes, they had dogs on Krypton, just like on Earth. There is much Comic Book Precedent for space dogs, I assure you.

Krypto, now shot into space a few weeks before Krypton's explosion, apparently took the leisurely way to Earth, because he landed there a few years after Superman did. But soon he found his young master, and also discovered, since he was from Krypton, that he had all kinds of rad super powers! Just like Superman is a literal super man, Krypto is a super dog. So, along with being super strong/fast/and flying, he also has dog related super powers, like a super sense of smell. He also would join the Space Canine Patrol Agents, a group of dogs from all over the universe with various super powers who battle space dog crime. Yes, this is a thing that existed. The sixties were weird, you guys. Weird and AWESOME.

That's Krypto for you. Next up, we've got Streaky the mother fuckin' Super-Cat, who is definitely my favorite member of the team. Unlike Krypto, Streaky was once an ordinary house cat (Krypton had dogs, but not cats, apparently). Well, mostly ordinary, except that Streaky happened to be the house cat of Superman's cousin, Supergirl. Dudette must of been living the good life, since her owner was one of the most powerful people on the planet. His or hers, Streaky's gender kind of fluctuates depending on the writer. I prefer Streaky being a her, since all the other Super-Pets are either male or asexual, but whatever.

One day, Supergirl is doing some super science experiments, as she and her cousin often do. She was working on a piece of Green Kryptoninte- you know, the type that kills Kryptonians- trying to find a way to neutralize it's deadly affects. After transforming it into something called "X-Kryptonite" (because you come up with a better name, if you're so smart), Supergirl decided that the experiment was a failure, and in an act of utter scientific short-sightedness, she threw the new compound out the window. That's where Streaky came across it. Cats are curious, as I'm sure you know, so after careful consideration, Streaky touched the weird glowing rock, and suddenly (SOME HOW) got the standard Kryptonian super powers.

Guys, that is FANTASTIC. Okay, dogs are supposed to be loyal, and honorable, and man's best friend, right? So yeah, Krypto is a Super-dog, I mean, he's literally Superman's best friend, always does what's right, all that crap. But a super cat? I've lived with cats all my life. I love my cat. But she is a SUPER BITCH like 95% of the time. Cats do not give a fuck about anyone except themselves. So a cat with all the powers of Superman? YES. That is hilarious, because you just know that the entire world would be on the verge of destruction, and Streaky could totally save the day, she just wouldn't care enough to do it. To hell with the human race, they're only good for being furniture and petting their cats, Streaky would say. Streaky would save the world, but only if she got something in return, like a giant ball of string, because cats are totally self-absorbed. That is hilarious, you guys.

Next, we've got Beppo, the Super-Monkey. Yes, really. So, apparently, on Krypton, they not only had dogs, they also had monkeys. Now, this may sound ridiculous at first, but it makes sense when you think about it. Kryptonians look exactly like humans, right? And humans came from monkeys. Therefore, Kryptonians had to come from Kryptonian monkeys. That's just evolution, people. So yes, Krypton had monkeys too, that makes sense. Most of the rest of Beppo's origin doesn't, but it's comics, so we'll just go with it.

Remember how Jor-El just kind of grabbed Krypto and used him as a lab-rat because he was the closest animal nearby? Well, apparently Jor-El wasn't just pragmatic, but also super lazy, because he had a whole bunch of lab monkeys in his basement or something. Beppo was one of those lab monkeys. And he was apparently running around the El's house when Krypton started to explode. He freaked out and hid in the nearest shelter he could find, namely the rocket ship that the El's were about to put baby Superman in. So Beppo hitched a ride to Earth, and then apparently snuck out of the rocket ship before the Kent's found baby Superman. If this seems bizarre to you, that's probably just a sign that you are still sane, but just go with it anyway.

After sneaking out of the rocket ship and all that, Beppo decided he wanted to live in the jungle with other monkeys. Despite landing in Kansas, this would prove to be no problem, because, as a Kryptonian monkey, pretty much as soon as he landed on Earth, he developed powers just like Superman. So, soon, he was living it up in the jungles of Africa or South America or something, throwing his poop at super-sonic speeds, being the most badass monkey ever. But one day, using his space monkey super vision, he spotted young Kal-El, living some crappy life as a toddler in Kansas with super powers, and Beppo decided to join his former master, and have space monkey adventures with an infant Superman.

So that's how Superman got a space monkey. (With super powers.)

Next, it's Comet the Super-Horse! And while Streaky may be my favorite Super-Pet, Comet is definitely the most messed up. Okay, so, despite his name, Comet isn't really a horse. He just looks like one. So, way back in ancient Greece, there was this centaur, named Biron. You know what Centaurs are, right? Half man, half horse, metaphorical creatures to talk about unobstructed sexual desire? Right, you guys are with me here. Anyway, this centaur Biron really wanted to be a human. He went to Circe, who was notoriously good at turning people into animals, and he asked her to make him a real human. Dude was an idiot, because while Circe was great at turning people into animals, she sucked at reversing it.

Anyway, she tried, but screwed it up, so instead of turning Biron into a real human, she just turned him into a full fledged horse. No surprises there, but apparently Circe was feeling guilty that particular day, so while she couldn't turn Biron (the now regular horse) into a regular human, she did give him super powers. So, now, living life as a super-horse, Biron the (ex)Centaur had super speed, super strength, flight, telepathy, and some bullshit called telepathic vision, which who the fuck knows what that means?, but again, it was the sixties, just go with it.

Cut to two thousand years later, and the silver age of super heroes. Superman's cousin Supergirl comes across this horse with super powers, and she thinks this shit is the most awesome thing ever. And to be honest? Horses and I have never gotten along. But a horse with telepathy, super strength, and who could fly? Pretty great, you guys. So, she develops this weird friendship with a horse, and I REFUSE to go into the psychological implications of that. Not because I'm a coward. Oh no. But because THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET WEIRDER.

You see, when Circe gave this originally-a-centaur-but-now-a-superpowered-horse his powers, she also rigged it so that every time a comet (see! hence his name!) passed close enough to whatever planet he was on, Biron the horse would turn into a regular, non-super-powered human. Are you confused yet? Because, congratulations if you aren't, I've studied this useless bullshit for years, and I still think this crap is ridiculous.

So, whenever Comet turns into a normal human, he goes by the name (seriously) of "Bronco" Bill Starr, and works as a rodeo rider stunt riding horses. Yes, this is a man (but really an ex-centaur) who rides horses professionally until he turns back into a horse as soon as a comet is too far from Earth. Also, he's in love with Supergirl, who thinks he's just a normal... Super-Horse... when she's riding him. And also she's in love with Bill Starr from the moment she first sees him. And Brion doesn't want her to know he's actually a freak of super magic/science/two thousand years old and in love with a 17 year old alien... basically, Comet the Super-Horse is completely fucked up.

And finally, there's Proty. Technically, he's Proty (II), but honestly, you don't care about that and neither do I. Wikipedia's description of Proty is as follows: Proty is a "shapeless mass of protoplasm" who is telepathic, and a shape-changer from the 30th Century. That sounds like it could be awesome. But it is not. Seriously: Fuck Proty.

But the rest of the Super Pets ARE AWESOME, NO LIE. People who think super heroes need to be SERIOUS maintain that the Legion of Super-Pets are ridiculous. And yes, they clearly are. People who think Cape Comics should be dark and brooding think the Legion of Super-Pets make no friggin' sense. AND THEY DON'T. People, whose names I won't name here, have told me that the Legion of Super-Pets is "the stupidest god damn thing to ever happen in the history of comic books, ever."
And, to those (unnamed) persons, I say this: FUCK YOU.

You know what makes no sense? A dude who was shot here from his home planet moments before it exploded and is now the greatest inspiration for what we as a species can accomplish, ever. A billionaire who, as a child, saw his parents murdered in front of him, and grew up to dress like Dracula to beat up mentally handicapped clowns in dark alleyways. A kid who was bitten by an irradiated spider, who didn't get cancer, but learned to teach by example that power brings responsibility. Yes, Superheroes are inherently ridiculous. OBVIOUSLY.

But once you get past that, once you start seeing the morality lessons; once you start seeing that in every age, we need our myths, well, screw it, why not? Dogs, monkeys, and cats with Superman's powers? Plus, a telepathic, emotionally troubled 2,000-year-old magic horse? How can anyone think that isn't good drama? And/or comedy?

My point is this: DC Comics, stop ignoring these characters. Because they are awesome, and a creative person (i.e.: me) could make awesome comics about them. I know you guys are in a transitional period right now, but seriously, the L.S.P. is so great (except Proty, fuck that guy), and they deserve a spotlight.

Is it ridiculous? YES. Does it make any actual sense? NO. You know what also has those exact answers to those exact questions? ANY SUPERHERO COMIC BOOK COMIC EVER. People don't want seriousness all the time in their superheroes. God knows I don't. They want fun. And in the right hands, the Legion of Super-Pets could be fun as hell. I want to live in a world where super powered dogs and cats are all that stands between me and certain doom. And I know I can't be the only one.