Saturday, February 4, 2012

Prepping for Puppy Bowl VIII // My Favorite Five Comic Book Dogs!

I wrote the following a couple weeks back on Twitter as a joke...

... but it's kind of true. At least at our house. I could care less about the Superbowl and I'm only vaguely aware of who's playing, but I'm totally excited about Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl VIII, which will begin airing tomorrow afternoon. For those who don't know, Puppy Bowl is an annual romp-fest of puppy cuteness. They race around and tackle each other and score goals. There are puppies and piggy pep-squads and even tailgaters. The program's gotten increasingly commercial over the years, but I still enjoy watching the game. My biggest complaint is that they almost never feature poodle athletes, though this year's game at least features Friday, a maltese/poodle mix.

All of this got me thinking about the many dogs that show up every week in my comic book stash, so I thought it might be fun as we prepare for tomorrow's bouts of puppy athleticism to feature my Favorite Five Comic Book Dogs! There are a ton of pooches to pick from, but I think this batch is the pick of the litter:

5. Krypto: Krypto is Superman's and Superboy's super powered dog. Like much of DC Comics, he has a complicated series of origins and story lines dating back to the mid-1950s. Boiled down to the basics, Krypto is a canine-version of Superman. He can fly. He's super-strong. He has super-hearing. He has all sorts of vision powers. His senses are magnified. He can survive in space. In essence, he's the type of dog you really need to train hard to behave. In recent years, Kypto was the modern day Superboy's pet. He lived in Kansas with Connor Kent on the Kent farm and occasionally helped to fight super-menaces. Unfortunately, DC Comics recently relaunch its line of comics (again). Krypto has appeared in the relaunched DC Universe, but never made the jump to Earth instead got sucked into the Phantom Zone. Will this new version of Krypto re-appear on Earth in the future as a powered pooch? My hunch? Not for a while, but eventually someone with a fondness for the past will eventually return Krypto to Clark Kent's side.

4. Wonder Dog: Wonder Dog was a cartoon animal sidekick who made his debut in 1973 on the Super Friends cartoon alongside Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and DC Comics' other top heroes. He was the animal companion to heroes-in-training Wendy and Marvin. Wonder Dog and the others appeared in the first few issues of a comic book version of the Super Friends before getting replaced by alien heroes-in-training, the Wonder Twins and their space-monkey Gleek. Unlike the Wonder Twins, neither Wonder Dog nor his human companions had any super powers. They still managed to successfully (if clumsily) solve crimes, but they're easily over-shadowed by the shape-changing Wonder Twins and their rubbery purple monkey. As a result, Wonder Dog and his people faded away into virtual obscurity for several decades.

Then in 2006, DC's Titans re-introduced Wendy and Marvin to its comic book audience. They were a pair of caretakers to helped care for the Titans' headquarters. Several issues later, they adopted a stray dog and named him Wonder Dog. Unfortunately, this Wonder Dog was a very naughty dog. He was an evil hellhound sent to infiltrate Titans Tower by Ares' son with the mission to kill Wonder Girl. Wonder Dog killed Marvin and nearly killed Wendy before the Titans managed to destroy him. It's unfortunate that the once heroic Wonder Dog was transformed into such a destructive force. On the other hand, his final storyline was probably much more memorable than his first string of story lines so I guess that stands for something.

3. Cosmo: Cosmo is a telepathic dog who was introduced to Marvel Comics about five years ago. He saved Marvel's space hero, Nova, from harm and eventually teamed up with Marvel's new Guardians of the Galaxy team. I'm not sure if Cosmo's origin has ever been revealed. However, he appears to be a Russian canine cosmonaut. After the Guardians folded, he gathered a group of Marvel's most powerful cosmic heroes and helpted them become the Annihilators. Unlike most of the dogs on this list, Cosmo has human-like intelligence and is able to communicate telepathically -- with a Russian accent, no less! -- with most people. His mental abilities are some of the strongest around. He's floating around in space somewhere right now, though I have high hopes that he might show up someday to join the Pet Avengers or maybe even found the West Coast Pet Avengers! One can only hope... Either way, I'm fairly certain that Cosmo will show up in one comic book or another sometime soon.

2. Ms. Lion: Like Wonder Dog, Ms. Lion originally made her debut as an animal sidekick to Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar on Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. She didn't have any special powers. She mainly hung out at their headquarters. However, she did manage to save the day when the Spider-Friends, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Shanna the She-Devil, and the Sub-Mariner when they found themselves defeated by -- of all lame villains -- the Chameleon. Lots of people despised Ms. Lion, but I loved her. I loved her so much that I named my pekepoo after her. Ms. Lion made an appearance in the comic book adaptation of the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. But that was only a one-shot comic book and she vanished from Marvel's comic book as quickly as she appeared...

... That is, until a few years ago when Marvel Comics launched the greatest comic book super-team I never knew I needed until I saw them, the Pet Avengers! This version of Ms. Lion found herself teamed up with some of Marvel's greatest animal super-hereoes -- Lockjaw, Zabu, Redwing, Lockheed, Hairball, and Frog Thor (plus honorary Pet Avenger, Bo Obama!) -- to collect the powerful Infinity Gems and to defeat Marvel's avatar of death, Thanos! Ms. Lion has appeared several times since his re-appearance. He has no powers. He's just a little spunky lap-dog who occasionally stumbles into solutions. He's known to fight back opponents with his piddle-attack though that usually just annoys enemies. He's basically the Rick Jones of the Pet Avengers. But he's still pretty cool and a great addition to the team.

1. Lockjaw: Lockjaw is one of Marvel's first animal super heroes (actually, he might be their first). He debuted by in the 1960s as a member of the Inhumans. They fought against the Fantastic Four, but eventually became friends. Lockjaw is a huge bulldog with the ability to teleport anywhere. As noted above, he is a founding member of the Pet Avengers and was directly responsible for gathering that terrific team together in the first place.

One of my favorite Lockjaw stories focused on the time that he seemingly spoke to Quicksilver and the Thing and revealed himself to be a deformed Inhuman instead of a dog. Quicksilver later revealed that this event had been an elaborate hoax perpetrated on the Thing. The hoax idea is humorous, though it doesn't make a lot of sense given the seriousness of the story where Lockjaw originally spoke. However, Marvel really needed to clarify that Lockjaw was a dog and not a grossly mutated member of the Inhumans' Royal Family. Otherwise, they come off as a bunch of jerks by how they'd treated Lockjaw over the years.

That's my list of Favorite Five Comic Books Dogs! There were a lot of other great choices, including Dogpool, the Litter, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Yankee Poodle. Who are your favorites?

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