And no one could ever have anticipated the team making a triumphant comeback in “The Super-Sons Annual No. 1,” now on sale.
The Doom Patrol? They’ve had more reboots than members.
The Inferior Five? Too powerful.
The Challengers of the Unknown? Too known.
I am, of course, talking about the Legion of Super-Pets.
OK, sure, they are only called the Super-Pets here, but that’s only because the Legion of Super-Heroes hasn’t appeared in the DC Universe Rebirth. More and more, I expect “Doomsday Clock” to reset mainstream continuity to usher in not only the Justice Society of America but the Legion.
If there was ever a team to make the Legion of Substitute Heroes look bad-ass, it was the Legion of Super-Pets.
Formed in 1962 in “Adventure Comics,” the team came to consist of Super-Horse, Super-Monkey, Krypto, Streaky and Proty II. With the exception of Chameleon Boy’s pet shape-shifter, all were drawn from the Superman side of the family.
They were adorable. Looking back, the lineup felt like a cheat. With two dozen members from almost as many strange, wonderful worlds, you mean to say only three heroes had pets? Where was Triplicate Bat? Or Matter-Eater Hog? A lot of missed opportunities there.
The Super-Pets were loyal allies to the Legion – and when you think about it, more powerful than most of them combined.
After “Crisis on Infinite Earths” in 1985, they disappeared from DC. Super-pets were just too silly for modern readers. What did they know?
Now, yes, there are enough things varied about the 2018 version for DC to slap an “All-New, All-Different” label on the cover. Answering the siren cry for justice: Krypto, Bat-Hound, Streaky, Bat-Cow, Flexi the Plastic Bird and Clay Critter (in flashback).
Streaky is female. She should always have been female.
Streaky is in love with Krypto. Yeah, that’s weird.
The heroes reunite to take down an alien who is kidnapping dogs. But it’s not that easy. Streaky resents Krypto for the awful way their last mission went down – it cost them Clay Critter.
Another twist from the ’60s: You don’t get panels of the pets thinking at each other in those weird, servile expo dumps. You know, the moments that would find Krypto thinking: “My master would be so proud of me for using my super-breath to stop that fiend.”
The Super-Pets bark, meow and moo like the animals they are.
It’s a fun one-in-done story, and how often do you ever get that from an industry driven by trade paperback collections?
Peter J. Tomasi is one of the most unheralded writers working in comics today. His stories mix inventiveness with deft characterizations. This annual is an amusing shout-out to DC’s past as well as an omen of what’s to come. He’s so good, I’m buying the “Super-Sons” regular monthly title.
Funny, that. I’ve come to realize a creep in my comics purchases lately. I’m buying almost all of DC’s Rebirth line and loving every title. The DCU now seems as large as your imagination, and that’s the best tribute I can think to the Silver Age. If there is a rule in the DCU – and I have no idea if there is – it’s if there’s a good story to be told, tell it. That attitude has to be part of the reason why DC is outselling Marvel.
This story was missing only one thing.
What really would have made this issue perfect would be the formation of – wait for it – the Legion of Substitute Super-Pets! You know, the super-pets who cover for the regular super-pets when they’re busy chasing cars or getting treated for mange. Imagine that lineup: Wonder Wombat! Green Hamster! Zippy the Backwards Magic Hummingbird! Aquagoldfish!
There’s always next year’s annual.