Superheroes have been fighting the good fight for nearly a century at this point, but a lot of them cannot do it without help and support. Important to the stories of many comics are not just the heroes fighting in them, but the super-powered pets that help our heroes fight the good fight. Whether it's the Legion of Super Pets, the Pet Avengers or some other super-powered animal, having a good pet in a story helps make the hero all the better.
You'll find that a lot of the animals on this list emerged from the Silver Age of comics, because that is when comic books were more geared toward children, but that doesn't diminish their significance. Here then are 15 of the best super-powered animal heroes in comic book history. (One point of clarification: the animals on this list are strictly animals, and are not anthropomorphized like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Rocket Raccoon.)
15 COMET THE SUPER-HORSE
Emerging from the pages of "Adventure Comics" #293, Comet the Super-Horse was created by Jerry Siegel and Curt Swan in 1962. Comet then appeared fairly regularly throughout the 1960s as Supergirl's super horse. Notably, Comet the Super-Horse was one of the members of the Legion of Super-Pets.
The weird thing about Comet the Super-Horse is that he was also Supergirl's boyfriend at one point. If that was not weird enough, he was also Lois Lane's boyfriend at one point. As it turns out, Comet had a human form called "Bronco" Bill Starr that he could transform into. Comet was originally a centaur from ancient Greece who transformed into a horse with superpowers and immortality after drinking a potion from Circe that was meant to turn him human. So, to recap, Comet was a centaur who turned into an immortal, super-powered horse that can transform into a rodeo trick-riding human who dates Kryptonian girls. Yup.
14 BEPPO THE SUPERMONKEY
The Simian of Steel debuted in "Superboy" #76 in 1959, and was created by the team of Otto Binder and George Papp. Another of the super-family's super-animals, Beppo was also a member of the Legion of Superpets who got into all sorts of mischief.
Unlike Comet, Beppo was in fact a Kryptonian monkey who arrived on Earth in baby Kal-El's space ship. Having separated himself from the baby Kal-El, Beppo survived in Earthly jungles for some time thanks to his superpowers, before returning months later to Smallville. Beppo, being a mischievous monkey, got into all kinds of monkey-shines through Smallville. The Kents believed it was the baby Clark, before learning of the monkey. Beppo then fled into space after startling himself by inadvertently setting off the Kents' fireworks in their barn, before later being recruited to join the Legion of Super Animals. Fortunately, Beppo never transforms into a human to date Supergirl.
B'dg was created by Geoff Johns and Edward Van Sciver in 2005 in "Green Lantern" #4. He was Ch'p's successor after Ch'p died in the Mosaic World, unceremoniously run over by a yellow truck. Heralding from the same home world as Ch'p, he is another squirrel-like green lantern with exceptional willpower.
While B'dg may appear to be one adorable Green Lantern, he has incredible willpower to help him through some of the galaxy's greatest conflicts. B'dg was a rookie Lantern when the Spider Guild tried to usurp power from the Guardians of the Galaxy on Oa just before the Sinestro Corps War. It was during this notable war that B'dg truly overcame his fear to earn his full Green Lantern Status. And now, not only does he serve as a brave protector of Space Sector 1014, but he's earned his place on this top superhero animals list as well. Truly his name will echo through the chambers of time; an impressive feat for a space squirrel!
12 MS. LION
Proud dog of Aunt May Parker and prouder Pet Avenger, Ms. Lion debuted in "Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers" #1 in 2009. Created by Chris Eliopoulos and Ig Guara, Ms. Lion fights a never-ending battle to protect Queens and his fellow Pet Avengers.
Even though his name is Ms. Lion, Ms. Lion is in fact a boy, and a brave boy at that. Ms. Lion was recruited by Lockjaw and Throg to join the Pet Avengers in their quest to collect the Infinity Gems before any super-villains could. Ms. Lion's enthusiasm tends to land the team into trouble, such as the instance where they went back in time to collect another infinity gem, but inadvertently drew the ire of Devil Dinosaur as the team encroached too closely upon his nest of eggs. However, at the end of the day, Ms. Lion will always remain the faithful dog of Aunt May.
Ch'p is a divorced squirrel-like Green Lantern from the planet H'lven. He debuted in "Green Lantern" vol. 2 #148 in 1982 and was created by Paul Kupperberg and Don Newton. Heralding from Sector 1014, like his successor B'dg, Ch'p fought a diligent battle to maintain peace in his sector.
Ch'p was the leader of his homeworld's resistance against a brutal military regime and was on death row for his dissidence before being visited by one of the Guardians of the Galaxy, whereupon he was offered a power ring. Using the ring to escape, he was successful in overthrowing his home world's despotic regime and joined Hal Jordan in the same recruitment class on Oa. As a Green Lantern, Ch'p kept his secret identity hidden from his girlfriend and his best friend, and was later racked with suicidal depression, causing him to move away from society and go into hibernation. Still, Ch'p set the gold standard for rodent green lanterns.
Redwing is the trusty pet falcon of Sam Wilson. Created in 1969 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, Redwing first debuted in "Captain America" #117. Sam purchased Redwing who is literally a red falcon, in Rio, and the two have shared a telepathic link ever since an incident involving the Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube.
Redwing has helped aid Sam Wilson through many conflicts whether as the Falcon or Captain America, and is often utilized for reconnaissance missions for the Avengers. Falcon was also an important member of Lockjaw's Pet Avengers and helped the team track down the missing Infinity Gems. Redwing helped the team square off against Devil Dinosaur and was swallowed by Giganto; he also helped bring them to battle Thanos at the White House. In the film adaptions of the Marvel properties, Redwing was re-imagined as being a bird-like drone for Sam Wilson. Perhaps of any other animal on this list, Redwing has the best relationship with a human partner.
9 STREAKY THE SUPERCAT
Streaky the Supercat is one of several super pets to emerge from Superman comics from the early 1960s along with Krypto, Comet and Beppo. Springing forth from the pages of "Action Comics" #261 from 1960, Streaky was Supergirl's pet cat. But unlike Beppo, who came from Krypton, Streaky was an Earth cat who got its powers from an unusual form of kryptonite. Like Superman or Supergirl, Streaky had super speed, super sight and other abilities not unlike that of an average Kryptonian under a yellow sun. Streaky was created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney.
Streaky is not quite as obscure and forgotten as Beppo or Comet, but he is generally not well known even among comic book fan circles. However, Streaky has had some longevity in comics, making some sporadic appearances in various comics and media over the years. Notably, a normal house cat at the Kent household in "Superman: The Animated Series," and "Justice League" appeared. In the more child-friendly, "Krypto the Superdog" cartoon, a super powered version of Streaky appeared.
Lockheed is a dragon from the Flock homeworld that debuted in "Uncanny X-Men" #166 from 1983 and was created by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith. Lockheed is most commonly associated with the X-Men and is generally seen as the sidekick of Kitty Pryde. Lockheed can fly, has fire breath and is also an empath and keenly in-tune with the emotions and feelings of others. At one point when Kitty Pryde went missing, he began to drink heavily.
Lockheed himself, however, is no mere sidekick. Lockheed is one of the greatest warriors of the Flock. Lockheed was a crucial element in defending their home-world against the Brood. It was here that he encountered Kitty Pryde and came to Earth. Lockheed was named after a fairytale by Kitty Pryde, which by extension is what the SR-71 Lockheed Blackbird jet was named after as well. And like several other animals from Marvel on this list, Lockheed was a key addition to the Pet Avengers. Another notable incident for Lockheed is where he befriended Puff the Magic Dragon on Battleworld and had to defuse a conflict in Tokyo when she grew into a massive Kaiju. The more you know...
Throg, aka Simon Walterson, first debuted in "Thor" #364 and was created by Walt Simonson. Puddlegulp is a frog that Thor had encountered when he, himself, was transformed into a frog by Loki in Central Park. In "LockJaw and the Pet Avengers," he finds a sliver of Thor's Hammer which he uses to transform into Frog Thor, hence his new name, Throg!
In the Walt Simonson story, Thor helps Puddlegulp and the Frog King Glugwart fend off some aggressive rats -- a war they'd been fighting for some time. Armed with the power of Thor's hammer in the Pet Avengers series, Puddlegulp defends his fellow frogs and gathers up the infinity gems before they can fall into the wrong hands (or paws). Now, with the powers of Thor, Throg is capable of many of the same things as Thor, but proportional to a frog. Regardless, the frogs of Central Park will always have a protector in Throg.
Cosmo is a Golden Retriever/Labrador cross-breed dog that was formerly a test animal for the Soviet Union's Space Program. Birthed within the pages of "Nova" #8 and created by Andy Lanning, Dan Abnett and Wellington Aves in 2008, Cosmo is the head of security of Knowhere, a space station housed in the remnants of the head of a dead Celestial. Cosmo has telepathic abilities and is an important liaison to the Guardians of the Galaxy in helping them plot their destinations.
Cosmo is arguably the coolest animal on this list. He encapsulates everything that was cool about the space race; a cosmonaut dog who always helps the Guardians of the Galaxy, because he's a good boy. Despite being very helpful and protective, he isn't the most popular dog in space, as he draws a lot of ire from Rocket Raccoon, who is not a fan. Regardless, Cosmo is a great addition to the superhero pets in comics in the last 10 years, and would absolutely be in the top five if he had a little more history.
5 ACE THE BAT-HOUND
Ace was a German Shepherd who was originally kidnapped by a group of gangsters. Ace helped Batman and Robin located his owner and became Batman's new crime fighting dog after it became too difficult for his previous owner to take care of him. Ace first debuted in "Batman" #92 and was created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff in 1955. After the first Crisis, Ace appeared several times in the books, but as different breeds of dogs. In one story, Ace appeared as a bulldog; in another, Ace appeared as a bloodhound. Perhaps Batman has a stable of Bat-hounds?
This particular Bat-hound was used in many silver age Batman stories and was a staple of 1950s Batman comics. After Julius Schwartz became the editor of Batman comics in 1964, Ace seldom appeared after that. However, Ace did have notable appearances in "Batman Beyond" and "Krypto the Superdog." He wouldn't be Batman's dog if he wasn't adorned with a bat cowl and a bat-emblem dog tag, obviously. As far as famous animals in comic books, Ace is probably one of the more well-known ones.
Lockjaw is the teleporting bulldog-like Inhuman who helps escort the royal family around. He helps bring the Inhumans to Earth from Attilan and back -- or anywhere in the universe, really. Lockjaw is also the leader of the Pet Avengers, who went around recruiting other animals, many of which are featured on this list, to retrieve the infinity gems. Retrieve. Because he's a dog. Get it? Anyway, Lockjaw debuted in "Fantastic Four" #45 in 1965 and was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
Lockjaw is a core member of the Inhuman family and is generally seen when the Inhumans make guest appearances in other titles or media. Lockjaw ranks highly on this list due to his prominence and his role as the head of the Pet Avengers. With the upcoming Inhumans television show, Lockjaw will be a part of the cultural zeitgeist soon enough, and will probably be one of the most well-known super-powered animals for both comic and casual fans.
3 DEVIL DINOSAUR
One of Jack "King" Kirby's final contributions to Marvel Comics, Devil Dinosaur is a massive red Tyrannosaurus Rex that debuted in "Devil Dinosaur" #1 in 1978. He's generally seen with his ape-like friend Moon Boy, as both are natives of a parallel Earth called Dinosaur World, where dinosaurs coexist with humanoid beings. Kirby scripted and penciled all nine issues of the first series and was instructed to create a character like Kamandi over at DC, who was also a Kirby creation. Marvel wanted them to give Moon-Boy a dinosaur co-star because of their rising prevalence in pop culture at the time.
What's not to like about Devil Dinosaur? He's literally an awesome red T-Rex. It's particularly awesome that he's been revived recently in the "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" series as well. In addition to his two solo books, Devil Dinosaur was featured in one of Marvel's Godzilla titles in 1979. Hopefully, Devil Dinosaur will get more love in the future.
2 BATTLE CAT
Battle Cat is the pet tiger of He-Man, the defender of Grey-Skull, from the hit 1980s cartoon, "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" from 1983, which has had many comic book adaptions over the years. Battle Cat serves as the mount for the brave and brawny He-Man, but is the alias of the cowardly Cringer, who is also Prince Adam's pet tiger. As opposed to Battle Cat, Cringer is lazy, over-eats and sleeps constantly. He's also about as brave as a mouse!
However, when Prince Adam transforms into He-Man, Cringer becomes the mighty Battle Cat, fighting alongside He-Man with all the bravery in the universe. Without Battle Cat, He-Man would have lost countless times to the forces of Skeletor. Battle Cat earns a high place on this list because of how well known he is to the public at large, thanks to his iconic design and placement in the heady halls of nostalgia.
1 KRYPTO THE SUPER DOG
Krypto the Super Dog was created by Curt Swan, Sy Barry and Otto Binder in 1955 in "Adventure Comics" #210. In the story, Superboy finds a dog inside a rocket with a hand-written note from Jor-El. The dog had been used to test the first rocket before launching his son. Unfortunately, it drifted off course and did not find its way to Earth until Clark was a boy. Krypto, like Superman, possesses many of the familiar traits that a Krptonian would under the red son.
Perhaps the most established comic book pet in all of comics, Superman's trusted best friend is one of the few Silver Age creations on this list to be used regularly in the modern era. When Grant Morrison talks about Superman, he describes him as an every-man on a Paul Bunyan scale. Thus, when he walks his dog, he has to walk him across the solar system. And yet, as god-like as they may be together, Krypto and Superman's relationship brings the pair down to earth in a delightful and endearing way. Krypto is fairly well known outside of comic book circles too, so well-known that he even had his own cartoon show on Cartoon Network in 2005.
Do you think we missed any key superhero animals? Let us know in the comments!