Ask Chris #22: Who Is the Best Superhero Animal of All?
Here at ComicsAlliance, we value our readership and are always open to what the masses of Internet readers have to say. That's why we've given Senior Writer Chris Sims the
punishment pleasure of stepping into the grand tradition of the Answer Man as he responds to your reader questions!
Q: Who is the best ANIMAL superhero of them all? (Inspired by me watching the pretty-mediocre "Underdog" film on cable) -- bully_thelsb
A: I hate to be That Guy on a question from the Internet's most beloved Little Stuffed Bull, but it really depends on how loose you are with your definition of "animal." Are we talking only full-time animals, like Underdog or Mighty Mouse? Do characters who used to be human but later became animals with human brains, like Gorilla Man or Congorilla? What about mythological creatures, like dragons?
Also, how super-heroic do they have to be? I'm tempted to go with Mr. Tawny, but he's not really a super-hero, just a talking tiger in a plaid suit jacket that used to hang out with a bunch of super-heroes. And by the way, if anybody ever asks, that is why Captain Marvel is awesome.If we're going to go with only full-time animals (a phrase that I never thought I'd get a chance to use), then I think I've got to go with...
A pretty popular choice for the matter, I'm sure, but considering the alternative is pretty much limited to Rex the Wonder Dog, I think I'm pretty safe here. Don't get me wrong; Rex has the pedigree (har har) of being a Robert Kanigher creation, and as such was involved in plenty of typically Kanigherian adventures like fighting dinosaurs and shrinking down to explore subatomic universes, and his brother is Pooch, Gunner and Sarge's dog from "The Losers."
But Detective Chimp is an alcoholic talking chimpanzee in a hat who solves mysteries, and if I need to explain why that's awesome, than you and I will never understand each other.
If, however, the definitions aren't so strict, then my favorite animal super-hero is unquestionably this guy:
Comet the Super-Horse!
Of course, my reasons for thinking Comet's great are pretty closely tied in with the reasons he might not count. See, despite appearances, Comet isn't actually a horse, and unlike Krypto the Super-Dog (who was the El family's pet) and Beppo the Super-Monkey (a lab animal Jor-El used to test his rockets), he's not even from Krypton. No, Comet started out as that most hated of creatures: the loathsome centaur.
Specifically, he was a centaur named Biron who lived in Ancient Greece, where he saved the live of Circe (you know, from the "Odyssey"). In return, he asked her to turn him into a regular human, but she mixed up her potions and turned him into a horse instead, but ended up giving him super-powers in what I've got to think was a pretty halfhearted attempt to make up for it.
But wait, it gets better: Because he saved Circe from an assassination attempt, Biron was exiled to outer space by a wizard, where he lived as a horse on an asteroid for a couple thousand years until Supergirl's rocket broke the magic force field imprisoning him (?!) and allowed him to return to Earth, where he promptly became Supergirl's horse.
And really, since the fact that he was in a horse body meant that the only way he could communicate was by thinking really hard at people, that had to be a pretty frustrating existence:
"Supergirl! Perhaps with your fantastic powers, you could help me! I'm --"
"OOH A PRETTY HORSEY!"
"No, I'm... You know what? Too complicated. Just, can you--"
"YOUR NAME IS COMET!"
"No, it's Biron, I -- "
"I OWN YOU NOW LET'S GO TO SPACE!"
Even so -- and this is where it starts to get weird -- that didn't stop Comet/Biron from falling madly in love with Supergirl. Yeah, that's right: Supergirl's pet horse was in love with her, but because he was a horse, their relationship could never truly blossom.
Oh, except that whenever a comet came near Earth, he turned into a rodeo rider named "Bronco" Bill Starr, during which times he'd totally make out with her before going back to being her horse. Also, he went to the future a lot. And that, my friends, is why the Silver Age was awesome.
Of course, if we're talking about strange, horrifying half human/half-animal hybrid creatures, then my favorite would naturally be Super-Pup.
Q: What's the definitive Squirrel Girl story? -- BJMendelson
A: If I had to point to one thing about the Comics Internet that warmed the icy cockles of my heart, it would unquestionably be the fact that, thanks largely to Dan Slott, Squirrel Girl has achieved the level of cult fame that she always deserved.
I love Squirrel Girl, mostly because she's rooted in the idea of "What if we made the most ridiculous character we could possibly think of, and then had her win every time?" In a universe that prides itself on being grounded in a version of realism that still allows for gamma bombs and radioactive spiders, she's a pure, shining beacon of fun, and everyone who likes her seems to get that it's because she's constantly, effortlessly punching way above her weight class. Forget knuckle spikes and the ability to talk to forest rodents, her real super-power is winning.
Which, now that I thin of it, makes herthe Marvel Universe version of Batman.
As for her defining moment, I'm tempted to cop out and say that it's her first appearance, because that's the story that set the tone by having her singlehandedly beat Doctor Doom...
Really, though, I think it reaches its definitive peak in the "GLX-Mas" special, in a story where Dan Slott and Matt Haley not only have her take out Thanos...
...but have the Watcher on hand to enshrine it as an immutable, incontrovertible element of Marvel continuity, which is basically Slott getting all up in your grill and going "Did you see that? Because that. Just. Happened."
Incidentally, you don't need to thank me for the hot Dr. Doom upskirt shot. It's all part of the service.
And now, a few quick answers:
Q: Which is the more awesome movie featuring both Ben Gazzara and Sam Elliott: "Road House" or "The Big Lebowski?" -- Robert, via email
A: This is almost as bad as the time I was asked to choose between Jack Kirby and Jimmy Olsen, but while "Road House" is the movie I watch every Thanksgiving, "Lebowski" is quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. Heck, I'm watching it right now.
Q: Did you vote in the "Jason Todd: live or die" poll? If so, how? And do you think Batman would be disappointed in you? -- ChompyDuchamp
A: Nope. I was six. If I had, though, yes he would.
Q: What Marvel/DC character would you have Bruce Campbell play (Evil Dead Era or current)? -- PreposteChris
A: "Evil Dead"-era Bruce Campbell would have been an absolutely perfect Silver Age Superman.
Q: So what do you think of "Arkham Asylum," the Grant Morrison OGN? -- kenlowery
A: Oh, I hate it. I'm not a fan of Dave McKean at all (I can see why someone would be, but his art style is just the opposite of the stuff I tend to like), but even more than that, it's the one Morrison story that I just outright loathe. It reads very much like a product of its time, and despite a few things that I do like -- the debut of the idea of the Joker's "super-multiple-personalities" being the standout -- it's full of "edgy" moments that seem rooted in shock value rather than storytelling ("Two-Face crapped himself!")
For me though, the worst bit (as you may expect) is that Batman doesn't act like Batman at all -- and even stranger is the fact that he doesn't act like Batman acts in any other Batman story Morrison's written. In "Arkham Asylum," he's ineffectual, wishy-washy, and worst of all, a passive observer in his own story. So here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: "I liked that Grant Morrison comic a lot better when it was used as backstory for a video game.
Q: If you could choose anyone to write the fabled Batman musical, who would you choose, and why? For me, I'd choose Pete Townshend on the music and Neil Gaiman for the books (maybe Grant Morrison for this if he's not too busy). I'd think they'd be able to Batman's grim side properly without falling into grim-dark. What do you think? -- Molly, via email
A: I didn't care for Gaiman's work on Batman, so despite the answer to the previous question, my picks would be:
Story: Grant Morrison
Music and Lyrics: The RZA
And that's real.
That's all for this week, but if you've got a question you'd like answered, put it on Twitter with the tag #AskChris or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with [Ask Chris] in the subject line!