Tuesday, November 13, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #364

Adventure Comics #364 (January 1968)
title: "The Revolt of the Super-Pets!"
writer and layouts: Jim Shooter
artist: Pete Costanza
letterer: Gaspar Saladino
cover: Curt Swan and George Klein
reviewer: Jason "Anachronistic Kid" Knol

Mission Monitor Board:
Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, and Ultra Boy

The Legion of Super-Pets: Beppo, Comet, Krypto, Proty (II), and Streaky

The people of Thanl

I think in today's lingo this would be referred to as a filler issue. Generally speaking, the Legion of Super-Pets are not everyone's cup of tea. But the cover alone completely alters the common expectation of the Super-Pets being cute tagalongs that don't deserve a starring role. Get a load of the shock on poor Superboy's face as Comet bucks him in the gut! Priceless! And the butt of poor Cosmic Boy's outfit has been torn apart by Krypto! Truly, this is the Revolt of the Super-Pets.

The opening splash page is a nice teaser showing the Super-Pets being hailed as heroes, and recipients of a brand-new headquarters. In the distance the Legionnaires walk away dejected. It appears the Super-Pets will finally be recognized for the heroes they are.

As the story begins the Super-Pets are frolicking in space, which is basically the biggest back yard one can imagine. Their play is interrupted by "crime machines under remote control" that are headed for Earth. Naturally the Super-Pets are able to defeat the machines and then fly back to Earth to tell the Legion that there may be more coming.

But back at the clubhouse Brainiac 5 scolds the animals for not letting some of the machines get away to be followed to their base. The Legion quickly plans to search for the rest of the machines, but when the Super-Pets offer to assist they're told to stay behind and guard the clubhouse with Saturn Girl. The animals are hurt and feel like they're "treated like mere pets!"

This leads to a great series of anecdotes about the history of each Super-Pet. We learn that Comet the horse was actually a centaur named Biron who lived in ancient times. He loved the sorceress Circe and was cursed to be all horse by her rival, an evil wizard. As Circe could not reverse this spell she instead granted Biron with immortality and all the super-powers of the Gods. Because that would surely lessen the pain of simply living out his last few years as a horse. At some point later a wizard from another world granted Biron the power to become temporarily human whenever a comet is visible in the sky. Hence Comet, I suppose.

Krypto and Beppo were Kryptonian animals who Jor-El used as test subjects for Kal-El's rocket to Earth. Streaky was an ordinary cat who was exposed to Supergirl's experimental X-Kryptonite, which gives Streaky temporary super-powers when he's near it. And Proty, who is actually the Legion of Super-Hero's second Proty (or Proty II), is a member of the Protean race from the planet Antares. They are a shape-shifting race, thanks to a people known as the Llorn who transformed the Proteans to enable their survival within a drastically-changing climate. Chameleon Boy brought Proty II to Earth to replace the late Proty in the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Saturn Girl telepathically overhears all these laments and tries to convince the Super-Pets to stay, but they insist on leaving. She psychically detects reluctance within Streaky, Krypto, and Proty, so she gives all the pets an extra boost of her telepathic power in hopes that they'll talk it out among themselves and decide to return.

The pets wander off on their own and are soon met by Rikkor Rost, a seemingly human being from the planet Thanl. He reinforces the validity of their hurt feelings and reveals that on Thanl the people have built statues of the Super-Pets, along with their very own headquarters in case the pets should ever wish to relocate. The pets overlook the strategically-timed coincidental meeting and the fact that Rikkor looks like a grown-up Klarion the Witch-Boy and agree to teleport with him to Thanl.

The Legionnaires return from their recon mission and tell Saturn Girl how they fought off a wave of machines, but as they followed the last few back the machines simply vanished. They realize they owe the Super-Pets an apology for not tracking the machines that turned out to be untraceable, and that's when Saturn Girl hits them with the news that the Super-Pets have gone to Thanl. 

Part 2 begins with Superboy, Supergirl, Chameleon Boy, Brainiac 5, Invisible Kid and Sun Boy arriving on Thanl in search of their beloved pets. The heroes find statues in the pets' honor and then stumble upon a massive celebration where the Legion of Super-Animals are being gifted with their own headquarters. It seems the change in moniker denotes their emancipation from their biped masters.

The Legionnaires brashly approach the Super-Animals with the attitude that they're going to "pick up the pets and head for home." Fond memories of past team-ups are recounted, but it's clear that the former pets no longer wish to be ordered around. Superboy and Supergirl seem to be getting through to their pets, but suddenly Chameleon Boy loses his temper, grabs Proty and commands, "Come here, Proty! We're heading home!" Proty calls for help from his friends, and it instantly escalates into a battle.

The present Legionnaires are now shown to include Star Boy, Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, and Ultra Boy, yet all the kids together cannot defeat their former Super-Pets. Chameleon Boy battles Proty in a living game of rock, paper, scissors, and Proty wins when he decides to add a hammer to smash Cham's rock. Elsewhere Krypto flies full-on into Colossal Boy's eye and Streaky lands paw-punches across the chests of several Legionnaires.

Beppo is so relentless in his attacks on Ultra Boy that he can only use his invulnerability power to survive, and Krypto and company use their super-breath to force the female Legionnaires into the rocket they flew in on. Comet bucks the rocket so hard it launches off the planet and lands back on Earth, right next to the clubhouse. Just then their new friend Rikkor shows up and suggests that their former friends are "powerful foes" and may now be plotting against the Super-Animals. The animals decide to secretly infiltrate the Legion with Proty as Blockade Boy and Comet, thanks to a nearby passing comet making him temporarily human, as capable archer Biron the Bowman.

The two demonstrate their powers and are quickly admitted to the Legion. Their first mission is to investigate the crime machines that keep attacking. Biron and Blockade Boy enter all the available information into the Legion's computer but receive inconclusive results. However, the revelation that the ships "vanish" into space, much like one would teleport, gives Biron an idea.

Back on Thanl the remaining Super-Animals are in a meeting with the High Council, a group reveling in the fact that they no longer need to fear any attacks on their planet, including from the Legion of Super-Heroes. Just then Comet and Proty smash through the wall! The enraged animals accuse Thanl's High Council of being behind the looting machines, and the Thanlians confess. Then they switch on the Kryptonite rays and 8th-dimension neutralizer to effectively immobilize the animals.

Things look bleak until the Legion flies in, attack the guards, and destroy the Kryptonite ray machine. The Legionnaires and Super-Pets work together to defeat the Thanlians and take them into custody. And in the customary denouement the Legion explains to the Super-Pets that they knew the true identities of Biron and Blockade Boy all along, but enabled the animals to find the truth for themselves. In the end poor Streaky laments the Super-Pets clubhouse they'll never have.

In the end I feel this story did a great job of showing the Legion of Super-Pets as independent, capable heroes in their own right. They weren't a cute tagalong or an awkward addition to the Legion; they were a group of superheroes in their own right. This story by Jim Shooter was a nice departure from the usual Legion tales he'd been writing, taking the focus away from the villains and shining a spotlight on the lowest rung of the Legion. As usual Shooter paces the story well and gives his artist plenty of action sequences to work with. Pete Costanza only drew a handful of issues of Adventure Comics during this period but more than proves his worth, capably handling the biped heroes and giving us wonderfully expressive animals in this issue.

It's unfortunate that the Thanlian high society bamboozled the animals as cover for their own crimes, but the Thanlian citizens' appreciation was genuine. The Super-Animals, truly deserving of that independent title, proved their worth in this issue. An immortal horse with the power of the Gods, two Kryptonian creatures, a shape-shifter, and a super-powered cat were able to at least physically overcome the Legion. After this revolt no one should ever doubt the true worth of the Legion of Super-Pets.

Science Police Notes:  
  • This issue features the last Curt Swan-George Klein cover on the Legion series in Adventure Comics.  
  • The real Blockade Boy originally appeared in Adventure Comics #344 and died in #345
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 7 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 3.


  1. Even as a kid, I'd always cringe when I saw the super pets. Anybody else wonder if that cover Cosmic Boy/Krypto scene was inspired by the famous "Coppertone" ad?

    1. No the ad was inspired by the cover. (Time travel, you know.)

    2. And at least the mystery of "boxers or briefs" has been solved, at least re Cosmic Boy. :D

  2. It's too bad the Super-Pets Legion never appeared in the Legion cartoon,or even the Krypto cartoon.

  3. A listing of several super-pets can be found here: https://earth-one-earth-two.blogspot.com/2010/08/powerful-pet-protectors-of-people.html