Open Up For the Dog Extermination Squad!

Well, it's Sunday morning. Once more I have proved myself very bad at preparing something in advance of a busy day. Ah well. We're dipping into the Sack of Silver Age Strangeness today and hauling out Superboy No. 126, because I know that you all want to learn about Krypto the Super-dog's family tree and because stuff this dumb practically writes about itself.

Under the flimsy pretense of trying to figure out why Krypto is frightened of a tiny bug, Superboy uses some of his amazing technology to look into his pet's earliest memories and ends up listening to his father Jor-El give a mini-lecture about the new puppy's family tree. A really detailed lecture, actually, given that up to the age of five or six Kal-El was basically about as smart as Bizarro on nitrous oxide.

Jor-El starts off by telling the tale of Krypto's father, who lived with a little girl in Zaro city and was named, well, Zypto.

 Now, obviously the people of Zaro City are insane. I have a theory that it served as some sort of massive asylum for the people of Krypton ("Granpapa just wouldn't stop watering the cat, kids, so we had to send him to Zaro City"). I mean, here's a city on a planet that was dedicated to science, right? They were ruled by a Science Council, for Rao's sake. And yet their first response to their dogs getting sick after bing struck by lightning isn't quarantine or a search for a cure, it's DOG EXTERMINATION SQUADS. Join the Dog Extermination Squad, for a satisfying, meaningful career.

Valla's father, who as far as I can tell is named Dik-Ki, demonstrates that maybe Jor-El wasn't such a revolutionary problem-solver as we had thought. Or perhaps Kryptonians had some sort of built-in impulse in times of stress to put something in a vehicle  and get it as far away as possible, fast! I mean, think about how many times Superman has flung something into space or tossed it in the ocean and then considered the problem solved. I'll bet that the Kryptonian wheel was invented by a man who lived at the top of a hill and had a stressful family life.

Of course, Kryptonians also seem to have uncannily good aim, as demonstrated by Zypto's surprise appearance at the Zak-Zil Aviary ("Zak-Zil Aviary: we cram birds into the smallest cages we can! Come see the parrots cry!") Professor -Zil seems to bear out my theory about the inhabitants of Zaro City: he's spent years and years and who knows how much money and how many birds making a serum  that should give him wings, but hasn't even thought to test it in any way other than by slugging it back himself.

Ugh. Ag. "Distillation from the glands of a thousand birds," skeezes me out. It's very similar to the origin of Man-Bat and half a dozen other Silver Age animal-based superfolks and it conjures terrible images into my head, either of a thousand birds (or bats, or ocelots) having lots of problems in life because someone has removed their adenoids or similar. Of course, the alternative is to picture Zak-Zil maniacally feeding a thousand birds into some sort of giant juicing machine, so having a them sadly lining up across my mind's eye, waiting for their thyroid medication and gently coughing, is maybe preferable.

So Zypto was now a winged dog. He went back home and it turns out that the people making up the Dog Extermination Squad were dumb enough to believe that he was some type of dog-like bird. Which makes sense, really. I mean, think of your relatives: which one is most likely to end up in a Dog Extermination Squad?

You picked the dumbest one, didn't you? Just goes to show.

So Zypto has wings for a while and then he loses them when he fans some radioactive gas away from his owners.Everything's neat and tidy.

Now Zypto's father, Nypto, he was Dik-Ki's dog when he was a boy:

Dik-Ki had trained Nypto as a meteorite-hunting dog, which must be pretty tricky outside of an asteroid belt. Also, I have to assume that he dyed that poor beast. That's the sort of thing that kids get up to, right? you've got a meteor retriever, so he'd better look the part, all blue with crazy spots?

Sent after  a fireball in the sky one night he finds not a chunk of space-rock but a pair of green and hunched aliens who have a truly diabolical scheme:

They're going to steal a couple of fish! Truely, these intergalactic tyrants put Mongul and Darkseid to shame with their awful schemes. Give an alien a giant fish, as they say, and he'll... eat that fish and be happy. Damn his blue and terrible bones!

I don't know if I can take any alien seriously when he's holding a fish bowl liike that. Do Skrulls keep pet fish? Is that why I could never quite take them seriously, or is it the chin corrugations? Actually, the most menacing alien that I've encountered recently in a comic book is Starro the Conquorer, which I call ironic. In any case, they want to eat dogs, so I guess they must be evil, despite their piscophilic tendencies. 

Really, though, from what I hear, dog is a horrible thing to eat. Maybe these guys could go legit with their meat-wrangling business, taking things like skunk and hagfish and such off the hands of butchers across the galaxy. Or processed ham, that's pretty unbearable.

The dog-chase rages on, with Nypto desperately fleeing for his very steaks, until he gets a great idea:

Pork! No alien can resist pork!

Also, every planet in the universe has the same basic life-forms? Are there pigs on Mars, except that they're red and can levitate? Fire-breathing pigs on the moons of Alpha Centauri IV? A race of amorphous pigoids living under the frozen ammonia sheets of Strompar Maximus? Do I like a universe with infinite variations on the porcine form more or less than one without? A man could go mad envisioning the many variations on the gentle pork chop alone.

Philosophical musings on the nature of intergalactic ham aside, the story ended in a fairly standard manner, as Nypto lured the aliens close enough to a magnetic mountain to wreck their ship and send them fleeing in their two-man-no-dogs escape craft. Their evil scheme foiled, the aliens returned to their world to watch their people starve to death.

Finally, we have Vypto, Krypto's great-grandfather, and his super-boring story. See, Vypto was a normal dog, except for the fact that he could apparantly dive one mile underwater. Now, it's possible that the Kryptonian mile was actually about six metres or something but any way you slice it I'd call that extraordinary. Vypto spots some treasure on the sea floor and then gets mixed up with some crooks that are searching for it and fools their telepathic hounds by scaring them with a picture of a scary bug that his owner drew.

The important part of this whole stoy? Jor-El took the time to track down the picture of tthe scary bug and show it to Kal-El and Krypto, and that's the origin of why Superman's dog is scared of a bug. Damn you, Silver Age. And damn you for your dog-naming conventions, too. I love you, but it's going to take me a little time to get over this.

One final note: this wan't a last-minute, the-story-that-the-regular-guy-handed-in-has-Superboy-eating-kittens-oh-god-get-the-mail-boy-to-write-something kind of thing.

Yep, they planned this debacle. Uh, enjoy the hobby shop comic that I forgot to edit out.

Happy Sunday, folks.