Zap! Pow! BAM! Bark! Wait a minute…bark?
That’s right, as comics continue to bite off a lion’s share of pop culture and movie-going in the new millennium, there’s an integral facet of their stories and legacy that hasn’t hit multiplexes and multimedia like the human members of the Avengers and Justice League. Where are the canine companions that made them great? Comic dogs aren’t simply sidekicks either: many of them stand (on all fours) equal to their human counterparts. A few even take center stage!
We all know dogs from comic strips: Marmaduke, Odie, Annie’s dog Sandy, Snoopy and more. The world of heroic comic books is equally replete with compelling canines. To celebrate Comic Book Day with proper pooch panache, we’re spotlighting our 10 greatest dogs in comics.
Streak the Wonder Dog
Someone had to be first! Sidling up to the Green Lantern back in 1948, Streak provided not only heroic rescue but comic relief as well. Comic Vine describes him not simply as pet or sidekick to GL, but “crimefighting partner.” Covers began to feature Streak leaping into action on his own, fighting everything from burglars to mountain lions.
The brave pup began having solo backup stories, then on to his own adventures after Green Lantern was cancelled in issue #38. The final cover didn’t even feature Green Lantern: just Streak in all his wonder. This super pooch outpaced his human, and he wouldn’t be the last!
Krypto the Superdog
Most people think Krypto was the first superdog much like his human counterpart, Superman, was the first superhero. It’s been a while for sure: the white Kryptonian dog has been flying around since 1955, debuting in Adventure Comics #210 with a young Superboy.
With proportionate powers that mirror the Man of Steel, the four-legged flyer is virtually invulnerable. Naturally, this means Superman must maintain an exercise regimen of throwing a steel ball out of earth’s orbit for Krypto to play interplanetary fetch. A trip to the “dog park” means Pluto.
With inhumans coming onto the scene in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and an Inhumans movie on the way, can their signature pet be far behind? This lovable, oversized bulldog with tuning fork tiara has the power of teleportation, ensuring him the kingly role of escort to the Royal Family of the Inhumans.
At one point Lockjaw even gets his intelligence increased, recruiting and leading the Pet Avengers. What happens if Robert Downey Jr. and other actors start dropping out of the Avengers franchise? Comics have already provided the answer: replace them with pets!
Ace the Bat Hound
What works for Superman works for Batman, right? Krypto’s popularity led to the addition of a canine to the caped crusader’s company. Originally a German Shepherd, Ace’s breed has changed over the years, from a beagle-pug cross to a Great Dane in Batman Beyond and Brave and the Bold.
If people remain skeptical about the Batman Versus Superman movie, why not ensure a crowd-pleasing scene for dog lovers? I’ll bet Ace and Krypto would help settle the differences between those two.
Rex the Wonder Dog
It’s Batman and Captain America rolled into one! Created by DC Comics in 1955, this German Shepherd served in the K-9 Corps of the army and received a super-soldier serum not unlike Steve Rogers.
With enhanced strength, intellect and speed, Rex the Wonder Dog went on after the war to become a crime fighting detective dog. Rex is a fitting name, considering he’s taken on all manner of foes…including a Tyrannosaurus.
Junkyard from G.I. Joe
“A Real American Hero” isn’t just a name reserved for bipeds. This dutiful dog worked with a human, code-named Mutt, who was known to bite (perhaps bringing into question which one of them was really the pet). The faithful Rottweiler saved the day on many occasions, even leading Cobra Commander, Destro and the Baroness away from the other Joes and into quicksand. Like his fellow soldiers, Junkyard was determined to sink the evil forces of Cobra.
(We’ll also give a shout-out to Junkyard’s fellow four-legged Joe, Timber, who belonged to the silent ninja Snake Eyes—but Timber’s technically a wolf.)
Hyperdog (Seargent Kemlo Ceasar)
A list of super dogs called the top 10 can’t skip a comic book titled Top 10 with a canine cop. In the superhero-saturated city of Neopolis, Sergeant Kemlo Ceasar isn’t just a police pooch at the Precinct…he’s the boss.
Barking orders and eventually becoming head of Precinct 10, this Hyperdog looks humanoid due to the use of a robotic exoskeleton. After shift, the talking doberman slips out of the suit and kicks back on all fours.
The “merc with a mouth” Deadpool, coming to theaters in 2016, has traveled to alternate universes in his comic. In a parallel earth he finds a dog, Wilson, who not only shares his last name but a healing factor as well, after being experimented on by a cosmetics company and left for dead in a dumpster.
Dogpool becomes an unkillable “merc with a bark” and joins Wade Wilson’s Deadpool Corps.
Blink and you’ll miss that one super dog indeed made an appearance in the mega-successful Marvel Movie franchise. While Rocket Raccoon may have dominated in Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s a scene where a dog is contained (and then escapes) from the lair of The Collector. It’s clearly Cosmo, the telepathic Soviet space dog who becomes a member of the Guardians in the comics, linking heroes thoughts together for better fight coordination. He’s also been known to spar with his irritable raccoon teammate.
Bandit of We3
Perhaps our favorite, you’ll want to keep your tissues handy for this (literally) gut-wrenching tale of an animal trio—canine, cat, and rabbit—who escape the government testing facility seeking to make them dog soldiers (in Bandit’s case, quite literally). It’s like Homeward Bound meets Watership Down, sci-fi style.
The graphic novel lives up to it’s adjective—graphic—so be warned: their pursuers aren’t firing blanks, and the We3 team doesn’t take prisoners. Feral cat Tinker is the nasty one of the bunch, while Pirate the rabbit supplies heavy ordinance, explosive pellet style. Bandit is the heart and soul of We3, seeking to find he and his brothers a place to call home.
Runner-Ups Worth Mentioning:
Beast Boy (of the Teen Titans) who, while not a dog, is an alien shape-shifter who makes a pretty awesome dog when he wants to. Also, to bring things full circle there’s G’Nort, who like Streak cavorts with Green Lanterns but is actually a ring-bearing member of the Corps. Both were ultimately too alien and bi-pedal to make the list, but still serve us well by representing our furry friends in comics frames!
Many more dynamic dogs have appeared in classic cartoons and more, begging for another post, but for now I think it’s high time we started campaigning for more of these dogs to break free of the comics page. Superheroes have an established legacy of being pet parents, and their dogs should be joining our Marvel-ous heroes and X-citing teams in their movies and other media! Can you imagine the Black Widow with a Black Lab? Hulk with a green gamma pit bull?
Forget the Age of Ultron: this is the day of the dogs!