Do you hate it when comic books devolve to include an "adorable" pet and it's hijinks? We sure do! In fact, here's a list of 9 that not only suck, but make their masters less heroic for owning.
It is an unfortunate truth that super-heroes will, in their ongoing quest to fight for truth, justice, and the American way, enlist help from the animal kingdom. Sometimes these animals are sentient, with personality and independent motivations, such as such as Shadowcat's dragon Lockhead and Tin Tin's dog Snowy. Sometimes these pets are helpful partners, practically extensions of the hero, such as Falcon's bird Red Wing, Ka-Zar's saber-toothed tiger Zabu, or Birdman's eagle Avenger. Some are just for scenery, like Penguin's aviary or Joker's hyenas. Some, like Superman's Krypto and Supergirl's Streaky, are conceptually stupid, but inane enough that their existence is forgivable if we don't have to pay too much attention to them. And some heroes like Aquaman are so lame that a pet seahorse simply can't make him any worse.
We laugh, but when you were a kid in the pool you totally pretended those floaty sticks were Storm the Seahorse.
Other times, however, it is abundantly clear that whoever got stuck writing a series considered it a punishment and wanted to pass it on to the reader. Lacking any concept of what makes a good comic book, the writer tries to think of something kids like and settles on "animals" because the Comics Code Authority wouldn't allow DD-cup boobs or exploding heads.
It turns out that television isn't the only place animals can be impossible to work with. Pretty much any time a new pet shows in a super-heroes life, you can bet someone in a writer's room flipped a coin between that and giving them another new power.
These are some of the worst pets to leave their droppings over the pages of comic book continuity.
Speedball was a rather overlooked Marvel character from the eighties, named after a mixture of heroin and cocaine and with powers remarkably similar to what you would exhibit after downing such a concoction. After being bombarded with other-dimensional energy, Robbie Baldwin become capable of literally bouncing off the walls, his body generating a kinetic energy field that protects him from impact and basically gives him the abilities of a raquetball. As far as comic books are concerned, this is a legitimate reason to don powder blue spandex and fight crime.
And he would continue to be rather unremarkable background member of the New Warriors until he accidentally blew up a school bus, initiated the Marvel Civil War, and went totally emo, and would not have any reason to be on this particular list, except the energy blast hit a cat too.
Yay! The Bouncing Cat is back! The comic is saved!
The energy blast affected Niels, a cat belonging to the scientist in charge of the project who had no object to fleas and dander getting into the equipment. Niels got bouncy powers just like Robbie. Forgetting that cats are incredibly agile and always land of their feet anyway, Speedball spent far too much of his ten-issue independent run chasing after this cat to learn about his own abilities, presumably (though it was never explicitly stated) by dissecting the hell out of it. What should have been a set-up or page-filler for better a superhero (getting the cat out of the tree is comic gold) became an ongoing plot because a different crazy scientist ALSO wanted Niels in order to create Speedball powers of his own. In fact, rather than hire Ace Ventura or go check local pounds or try stealing the machine that caused this process in the first place, this villainous arch-nemesis with the truly terror-inspiring name of Clyde created several more super- villains in Speedball's hometown specifically to catch this cat, ignoring the fact that he seemed already quite capable of creating plenty of other power sets. Later Robbie adopted Niels and started calling him Hairball, because it's both disgusting and a pun, so what's not to like? It's not like the cat could talk and complain about the...oh wait, yeah, he kinda could.
So essentially this cat had EXACTLY the same powers as Speedball, making him utterly superfluous except as a magnet to draw further danger to the hero. In fact, Hairball's existence is cause for there being MORE super-powered villains in the world. If Lex Luthor wanted to study Superman by kidnapping Krypto and created half a dozen villains to be dog-catchers, it would STILL do less damage, because it would be focusing Lex Luthor's evil genius away from world domination for a few minutes.
There are no fewer than FOUR animals with Kryptonian powers, and this one is the stupidest. Beppo was one of Jor-El's test animals back on Krypton who stowed away on Clark Kent's rocket ship. Despite his resemblance to an earth chimpanzee, he is Kryptonian, and thus endowed with the usual overabundance of Super-abilities under the Earth's yellow sun.
The Simian of Steel inexplicably wears an outfit similar to that of Superboy, complete with diaper. When he first appeared he caused all sorts of mischief that Clark's parents initially blamed on him, until the Monk of Might (these are actual thing he got called, by the way) flew off into space.
Not only is Beppo a stupid idea, but he's clearly dangerous. A dog with Superman's powers might chase its own tail and wind up creating a cyclone, and a cat with Superman's powers might scratch the couch to death, but the damage these creatures cause would be minimal and fairly localized. Whereas a monkey is a creature of chaos, just smart enough to be able to find spiteful enjoyment in setting whole cities on fire with its eyes or knocking down skyscrapers like a row of dominoes. It's not really intelligent enough to be reasoned with (short of spending years working with Jane Goodall) but utterly impossible to be stopped by the most powerful of Earth's weapons until we devise the Kryptonite banana.
"Well, it'll stop Green Lantern...and Mario..."
An age-old race of genetically-enhanced humans living on the moon, the Inhumans are a good look at what mankind might become. With their genes kicked into overdrive by the alien Kree, their powers pushed to mutagenic levels by Terrigen Mist, their technology the most advanced Jack Kirby could draw, and their society completely secluded from human influence, the Inhumans look at Reed Richards' greatest inventions like a he's a kid showing off his fingerpaints on their refrigerator. Their leader can destroy mountains by speaking; the only one weak enough to see any point in dealing with humans - Crystal - can control the elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, which basically makes her all the Fantastic Four at once.
Mixed in with their awesome power and bizarre appearance is a giant hulking dog named after a symptom of tetanus. Lockjaw is able to teleport himself and others over great distances. And slobber. A lot. And that's it.
So it's a...dog? Bull? Mastadon?! WHAT IS THIS THING?!
With all the power at the Inhumans' disposal, with all the dimension-shifting the Fantastic Four undergo on a routine basis (they drop defeated villains off in the Negative Zone like it's the Ecto-Containment Unit), yet they all need a mutt to get them anywhere off a bus route.
To make this even more insulting, Lockjaw was apparently once an Inhuman, mutated into a dog by the Terrigen Mists. So he was once intelligent, but now acts like a dog, up to and including biting people he does not like, either because his intelligence has been lost or he's just a complete dick; no one's quite sure. Either way, the Inhumans inspire a lot less awe with him slobbering so heavily that Garfield sneaks up and kicks him off the table.
The Legion of Super-Heroes are an intergalactic group of super-powered teenagers from the 31st century of the DCU. Each member must possess at least one natural superpower, either inherent to their race or gained independently, with the one unshakeable rule that there be no duplication of powers. This has led to several candidates with bizarre, useless, or dangerous powers that are nevertheless unique, such as Ulu Vakk who can change the color of things, or Stone Boy who turns into an immobile statue.
The other, unspoken rule is that you have to be humanoid. Otherwise you're treated as a pet.
Proty is a Llorn alien from the Antares system. He looks like the jism ejaculated when a ball of snot fucks a wad of gum. Despite this, he is demonstrably intelligent and able to shape-shift. And not just like the cockroaches in Mimic; this blob of yuck can become a perfect duplicate of anyone it wishes.
Read that again. He is intelligent and super-powered. But though he CAN look human, the entire team treats him like a pet, to the point that when he dies, sacrificing himself to save Saturn Girl, they go out and get another Llorn and name him Proty II.
In the future, you can be green, purple, even African American (though they frown upon it), but if you're not mostly human shaped, you're barely better than furniture.
In the 31st century the elderly, people with deformities, and anyone else not matching the popular perception of perfection are stuffed and used as lawn gnomes.
The protector of Gotham, the Dark Knight took on the mantle of the bat, using a symbol of darkness to inspire fear in the cowardly and superstitious criminals that infested his city. And no one can say Bruce Wayne does anything by half-measures. Just about everything in his arsenal follows this theme: batarang, batmobile, bat signal, batplane, bat-sub, batcycle, bat-caltrops, bat-computer, bat-rope, bat-shark repellant, and bat nipples. The only things that didn't get a chiropteran prefix are his young wards, who instead get to show how fearsome they are via comparison to a small springtime bird. Even his other allies join in on the fun: six Batwomen, five Batgirls, Batwing, Bat-Mite, Batman Beyond, and even Batman Inc.
So of course, there was Bat-Hound.
"Ha, Robin! And you said the hours teaching him to catch a harpoon were wasted!"
Ace the Bat-Hound was a crime-fighting canine partner that Batman would bring along because a dog was literally more useful in every single fight than Robin. The pooch wore a bat hood and later cape as well, because BATMAN.
Remember, this isn't about whether the pet is good or bad, helpful or hinderance, but whether it makes the super-hero look stupid. Personally, I have a soft spot for Bat-Hound, but though they keep giving Bruce a dog named Ace in every reboot, there's a very good reason they don't put him in a cape again.
Except in the Krypto the Superdog TV show, but that's a whole 'nother kettle o' fish.
In Batman Beyond, an aging Bruce Wayne, alone in his manor with a Great Dane for protection and companionship made a certain sad amount of sense. But to a modern-day Caped Crusader (who spends a great deal of time swinging over roofs and climbing walls) this is utterly preposterous. Krypto the Superdog kind of works because a dog humanizes a character; he makes Superman just a little more human. Whereas Batman, even at his campiest, most Adam West-ish incarnation, was always about inspiring fear in villains. It's hard enough for criminals to take you seriously when you step out of the shadows wearing a cape and your underwear on the outside; do it with a pet in matching accoutrement and you damage the legacy of the Dark Knight more effectively than the entire Joel Shumacher filmography.
All the way to the left. Keep looking...There he is! Who's a good boy?
Super Friends was a campy animated series that got rerun more often than Scrubs back in the seventies. It is therefore beloved but not quite enough to deserve a gritty reboot or movie trilogy, and so holds a position in mainstream pop culture somewhere between Transformers and Popples.
Basically a watered-down Justice League, Super Friends chronicled the adventures of Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Green Lantern, Flash, Black Lightning, Green Arrow, Cyborg, Apache Chief, Hawkman, and Plastic Man would also sometimes show up to help. Also along for the ride were two distinctly non-powered teenagers, Wendy and Marvin, and their equally unpowered mutt Wonderdog. The inclusion of Wendy and Marvin vaguely make sense in the context of cartoons at that point in history: many cartoons in the day featured main characters with sidekicks who served for viewer identification, apparently on the premise that viewers are idiots.
Far less explicable was Wonder, their caped pet pooch. Unlike Krypto, Wonder had no superpowers, and unlike Ace, he was not much more intelligent than the average dog (although still far smarter than Marvin). Here's a wonderful clip expressing just why it is so stupid that the Super Friends would even consider letting this trio into the Hall of Justice, let alone tagging along to fight crime. But even Wonder was better than . . .
In later Super Friends episodes those annoyingly powerless pubescents and their pet pooch were replaced by teens with actual powers: the Wonder Twins. Zan and Jayna are aliens who can transform via physical contact with one another into any element or animal, respectively. Despite dressing in purple leotards, they would have been no more campy than any other aspect of the show except for their own pet, a blue monkey named Gleek.
Yeah, that shudder that just ran down the back of your neck? That means you watched the show. If you are under the age of 25 this word means you really like singing teenagers, while to those over the term will always be associated with a blue monkey in ill-fitting yellow.
Though to be fair, he's pretty clean-cut for a monkey.
Gleek the Exorian Space Monkey spewed an unending torrent of nonsensical babble, sounding like nothing so much as the homeless guy who wanders around downtown muttering to himself about government demons stealing his precious bodily fluids via satellites, only less coherent. It was a nonstop chatter that only barely managed to conceal a backwards subliminal message recorded directly from the mouth of Satan, and only because the message was less inherently vile to the senses.
The Man of Steel . . . The King of Seas . . . The Amazonian Princess . . . The Dark Knight and Boy Wonder . . . As campy as the show was, these characters were and still are iconic paragons of heroism. They are modern gods, men and women who walk among us but take to the skies when danger appears. The most powerful forces of good ever assembled, ready to speed into action to save the day, only to be slowed down by a mutt and a blue monkey in a cape. It'd be like if the X-Men refused to go into battle without their pet lizard.
Oh, right. Missed one on the list.
Yes, that is Wonder Woman astride a kangaroo. Presumably, this is what happens when your main mode of transportation is entirely invisible, you forget where you parked, and you have to make do.
No, this is not another example of Rule 34. This is Jumpa, a kangaroo-like alien brought from Amazonia. That Wonder Woman rides. See? Perfectly logical explanation.
Frankly, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in this pitch meeting.
"So, Bill, it turns out Wonder Woman has kinda sucked so far as representing women in comic books. She's supposed to embody nobility and strength, yet she's a warrior princess who left her home because of a man, she started out in the Justice League as the secretary, her weapon of choice is what rodeo clowns use and she has repeatedly exhibited a fetish for being tied up. Is there some way we can give her more dignity?"
"Yes there is, Roger. Bam!"
"You're fired, Bill."
Thor the Thunder God has faced great injustice at the hands of his wicked stepbrother Loki. The Lord of Lies has committed so many crimes that Thor founded the Avengers specifically to beat him up. Few injustices quite match when Loki turned Thor into a frog. But it was punishment not so much for Thor as for the readers.
As annoying as it was when it happened to Goku in Dragonball Z, it was even worse in Thor, because it turns out Central Park is full of sentient frogs. One such amphibian, Puddlegulp, is a human who has been turned into a frog by a gypsy, because that's what gypsies do. He finds a sliver of Thor's enchanted hammer Mjolnir and, apparently being found worthy to wield it by Odin All-father, transforms into Throg, the Frog of Thunder.
This collectible will be worth a bundle in precisely never.
No, I'm not shitting you. This was a thing. And Marvel doesn't do reboot Crises like DC so it is still a thing. The power of the god of thunder, the incarnation of the elemental forces of lightning, were sent into a cursed frog who became an amphibian superhero. If this isn't outright blasphemous, it should be. It proves the absence of any God more effectively than Neitzche, just in the sheer absence of thunderbolts or plagues that hit the artist's desk when inking this. If a god - any god - truly existed in any incarnation capable of taking umbrage, surely this would be the final straw.
Also, Throg was also human, so this is another case of a sentient being that ought to have voting rights being lumped into the same category as pet just because he's not human shaped. And not just by me; he's one of the goddammed Pet Avengers.
Yes. THAT IS ALSO A THING!
Give me a second to steady my nerves, because what I write in the next few paragraphs violate every code of morality and decency ever established by civilized man.
Comet is Supergirl's horse. Considering she can fly at supersonic speeds, this is a bit like the Flash owning a car. He was once a centaur - a mythological species noted for sexual debauchery - that was magically turned into an immortal horse with superpowers (why not?). When a comet passes through the solar system he turns into a human rodeo trick-rider. He was completely intelligent, and telepathic. Oh, and he was totally in love with Supergirl, who had no idea he was anything other than a horse with super powers.
"Remember, I'm not from this planet. That's a totally normal thing, right?"
Comet/Bill Starr was obsessively in love with Kara Zor-El, with the same sort of fanatical desire that leads to building altars and stealing panties, both of which I assume Comet did, probably while in horse form. So obsessively in love that he played the part of her horse for 35 years just to be close to her.
"I'd like to show her MY little pony!"
That's not the creepiest part. As Cracked has discussed before, young girls like horses because the motion of riding stimulates their girly parts enough to be intriguing, and so it is particularly disturbing that the horse beneath her is totally trying to slip his giant horse penis inside her at every opportunity. Or that while he's a human he routinely tries to hook up with the totally not yet 18-year-old Supergirl without letting on that that she was riding him bareback just that afternoon.
Yeesh! It makes an appearance by Krypto the Super-dog downright something to look forward to!