For one of the wackier concepts to come out of DC’s Silver Age, Krypto the Superdog has had a long lifespan. Amidst all of Krypton’s survivors, from General Zod to Jax-Ur, it’s hard not to notice a little white dog with a red cape fluttering behind him. Krypto’s profile is one that’s hard to forget. We all love our canine companions, and Superman is no exception. Hard as it may be to believe, the Superdog has been around for almost as long as Superman himself. He hasn’t made it into any of the big screen movies yet, but there are rumors that he may wag his tail in the next season of Supergirl.
Recently, though, Krypto’s been having something of a hard time. People say that dogs eat everything in front of them, but Krypto actually got swallowed whole by the Eradicator. Luckily, you can’t keep a loyal Superdog down for long, and Krypto soon ripped himself free from the Eradicator’s chest. Krypto’s heroic rebirth is just another in a long line of victories: between planetary calamities, alternate realities, and massive multiverse retcons, Krypto always seems to find his way back to the Man of Steel’s side.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Krypto the Superdog.
15. He’s Been Around Since the 1950s
The 1950s was a time period of much controversy in the world of comic books, where they came under the microscope of worried parents, and the Comics Code Authority was first formed to protect the nation’s youth from being “corrupted” by magazines about space invasions and criminals. For DC Comics in particular, the years in which its “Silver Age” began were also a period where the stories started getting really weird, wacky, and just plain out there. Compared to the grittier vigilante tales of the WWII years, DC’s Silver Age was defined by all sorts of joyful whimsy.
These were the years wherein a comic’s plot might involve Batman wearing a different-colored costume every night — including an all-pink outfit — or Jimmy Olsen being sent back to the distant past, where he’d team up with the biblical Samson. Perhaps, then, it’s not so surprising that it was in these years that the Man of Steel got a pet dog with a little red cape.
Superman premiered in 1938 and Krypto in 1955, so the Superdog isn’t much younger than Superman himself. In his first appearance, Krypto’s rocket arrives on Earth, and it’s revealed that Krypto was once baby Kal-El’s dog back on Krypton. Apparently, Krypto was actually sent off in a test rocket by Jor-El sometime before Krypton’s destruction, but his escape pod was knocked off course, and only arrived on Earth many years later. Needless to say, Clark Kent is very enthusiastic about having his old dog back.
14. He Has Superman’s Powers
Palling around with a guy who can catch falling helicopters and push planets around is not easy. You’ve got to be up to snuff. Luckily, Krypto is endowed with the same physical response to Earth’s yellow sun as his Kryptonian owner, and he’s more powerful than even many human superheroes. Krypto can fly, is super strong, can shoot heat from his eyes and ice from his lungs, and can pretty much do anything Superman can. However, his abilities are proportionate to his species. Thus, while Superman is physically stronger, Krypto has a far more powerful sense of smell.
With his powers, Krypto can go pretty much anywhere he wants. To bring him to his side, all Superman has to do is emit a sonic whistle, and Krypto will fly across the galaxy to be there for his owner. While later depictions of Krypto have often shown him living in Superman’s arctic Fortress of Solitude, guarding it from intruders, the Silver Age stories had Krypto construct his own fortress in space by fusing together the remnants of meteors with his heat vision, creating a Doghouse of Solitude.
13. He Used to Have Human Level Intelligence
The Krypto of today is basically a dog in every respect: loving, loyal, fierce, protective… and with dog-level intelligence. Krypto does seem to largely understand what people are saying, and he’s shown himself to be capable of making independent actions to protect the world, largely because he understands and knows that these things matter to Kal-El. In many ways, the modern Krypto resembles the direwolves in Game of Thrones, with dual traits of loyalty and viciousness. Dogs are extremely intelligent animals, but they’re still dogs, and their personalities are naturally quite different from ours. He certainly has more emotions than his fellow Kryptonian Doomsday, at least.
However, the Silver Age Krypto, while still possessing canine traits and interests, was a different breed of animal altogether. Back in the Silver Age, Krypto was shown as having “super-canine intelligence” that put him at the same cognitive level as an adult human. Though Krypto didn’t talk, exactly, his extremely verbal stream of consciousness was depicted in thought bubbles above his head. But super-intelligence isn’t the only thing that the Silver Age Krypto had in common with his more famous master…
12. Krypto Had His Own Secret Identity
Seriously? Seriously. Any dog that can jump tall buildings in a single bound is going to catch a whiff of international fame, and while many dogs do love having all of that human attention, there’s a point where even pats on the belly get old. Even more so when just one playful tackle from Krypto could land most people in the Emergency Room. Not the best pet to have around small children.
Back in the Silver Age, Krypto’s secret identity was “Skip,” the family dog of Jonathon and Martha Kent. Clark Kent’s glasses seem to work well enough for Superman, but dogs don’t really have the luxury of donning identity-disguising eyewear. Instead, the Kents apply a patch of brown shoe polish to Krypto’s back whenever he becomes Skip. When danger arises, Krypto uses his heat vision to burn away the polish. As Skip, it would be kind of a dead giveaway if the dog had a red cape hanging from his shoulders, but this presents a problem for whenever he needs to change, since dogs don’t have opposable thumbs. Luckily, Krypto’s cape is retractable, and it disappears into his collar with the press of a button.
11. There Are a Lot of Different Krypto Origins
The DC Universe has had a lot of massive reboots, retcons, and retellings, from Crisis on Infinite Earths to The New 52, stories which are usually told for the sake of dispelling old continuity baggage and starting fresh. Throughout these reboots, a great deal of Silver Age silliness has been wiped out of continuity, in order to create a more serious DC Universe. But some pieces have leaked through the cracks, and Krypto the Superdog always seems to come back, in one form or another.
The Krypto’s post-Crisis origin stories have usually set him up as a dog-like creature from a parallel universe, with the most lasting story depicting him as coming from a fake Krypton created by Brainiac, which just so happens to resemble the Silver Age Krypton. This Krypto follows Superman back to our world and, though initially quite aggressive, is eventually well-trained by Superman, and becomes an occasional companion on his adventures. The New 52 Krypto is a Kryptonian dog who became trapped in the Phantom Zone, until he is freed by Superman decades later. The animated series Young Justice depicts a genetically altered white wolf with many similarities to Krypto. When it comes to origin stories, Krypto has almost as many as the Joker.
>The story JLA: The Nail depicts a more disturbing version of Krypto which resembles a starfish with an engorged red eyeball. This Krypto is the hideous result of genetic experiments splicing Kryptonian DNA with that of a dog. Creepy, but unforgettable.
10. He Was Part of the Legion of Super-Pets
Remember that whole thing about how wacky the Silver Age was? Well, it got even wackier. Superman might have his Justice League, that team of legendary heroes such as Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, but Krypto was once a proud member of the Legion of Super Pets. As you can see above, they were quite a lofty organization, though they didn’t appear too often.
Basically, this team was a line-up of most of the Superman-themed animals that DC writers had created at the time. Membership included Krypto the Superdog, Streaky the Super-Cat (not a Kryptonian, but super-powered nonetheless), Beppo the Super-Monkey (a fellow Kryptonian), a morphing protoplasmic alien named Proty II, and Comet the Super-Horse — a former centaur, mutated into a horse, who would occasionally transform himself back into a human being and trick Supergirl into making out with him. Uh, yeah, those Silver Age stories…
9. He Was Also In The Space Canine Patrol Agents
Krypto was a busy little dog, and he wasn’t content to only hold membership in one team of super-powered pets. He was also a member of the Space Canine Patrol Agents — yes, that shortens to SPCA — a team of meta-canines that patrol the galaxy, save lives, and all that heroic stuff that superheroes do.
Though Krypto was definitely the star of the team, membership in the SPCA also included the shapeshifting Chameleon Collie, the inflatable Mammoth Mutt, the multi-limbed Paw Pooch, the glowing-eyed Beam Beagle, the flame-throwing Hot Dog, the elastic-tailed Tail Terrier, and Tusky Husky, a dog capable of enlarging one of his teeth into an enormous tusk, an odd ability which is useful because… well…
The Space Canine Patrol Agents had a more successful run than the Legion of Super-Pets. A version of the team even made it onto animation, with many of the zany comic book dogs adapted to television, though the team itself was renamed Dog Star Patrol. Like the Green Lanterns, the SPCA had their own sacred oath, modelled after the famous “Bulldog” Yale chant: “Big dog, big dog, bow, wow, wow! We’ll stop evil, now, now, now!”
8. There Was a Version of Krypto Without Powers
In the early years of post-Crisis DC, when there was an enormous emphasis on toning down the Silver Age silliness and telling more grounded stories, there was still a desire to pay tribute to the past. During the famous Death of Superman story, wherein the Man of Steel is killed protecting the world from Doomsday, the concluding battle leaves a lot of rubble around Metropolis, withmany casualties buried beneath it. Two children are trapped in a bomb shelter for a month following the cataclysmic event, dying of starvation, until one day they are found and rescued by the yapping of a little white dog.
This post-Crisis Krypto is a dog rescued and adopted by Bibbo Bibbowski, a longshoreman and former boxer that considered Superman one of his buddies. Though Bibbo had actually wanted to name the dog Krypton, as a tribute to his friend’s home planet, the engraver of the dog tag said he was going to charge by the letter, so Bibbo dropped the N in irritation.
7. He Hung Around with Superboy For a While
In the Silver Age, “Superboy” was a name used to refer to the adventures of the teenage Clark Kent before he became Superman, similar to a costumed version of Smallville. Krypto was introduced in the pages of Superboy before being incorporated into Superman’s adventures. In post-Crisis DC, however, Superboy’s adventures were wiped from continuity, and a totally new Superboy was created… making for an all-t00-perfect companion for the new Krypto.
Bibbo’s unpowered version of Krypto ended up spending a lot of time with Kon-El, the post-Crisis Superboy. Conner Kent, AKA Kon-El, is a clone of Superman genetically engineered by Project Cadmus (who is later revealed to not be an actual Superman clone at all, and to have telekinetic powers, but that’s a whole different story). Kon-El doesn’t take well to Krypto, and the dog finds closer relationships with Superboy’s friends. During the time in which Superboy lives in the Hawaiian Islands, calling himself the “Hero of Hawaii,” Krypto gets involved in a lot of his adventures. When Superboy leaves Hawaii to rejoin Project Cadmus, the dog stays behind, under the care of a DNAlien named Dubbilex.
Later on, after the super-powered alien Krypto is reintroduced to the series, Superman leaves this Krypto in Superboy’s care, since Kon-El has since moved to Smallville and Superman feels that that the dog will enjoy those surroundings more than the Fortress. Though their relationship is rocky at the beginning, Kon-El and Krypto soon form a tight, loyal bond, all the way until Superboy’s death.
6. Batman Likes Teasing Superman About Krypto
When the super-powered dog starts accompanying Superman on occasional outings, cape and all, it certainly raises some eyebrows. Seeing a flying man is one thing, but in the comics universe, there are now a lot of superheroes, and everyone has known Superman for a long time. A flying dog, though? In a cape? That’s going too far. At least, Batman thinks so.
Though Superman and Batman are friends, they nonetheless have very different outlooks on life, and Batman can’t help but make fun of the inherent goofiness of the Superdog whenever he gets a chance. Not too loudly, though, since this version of Krypto can get pretty vicious if he feels that he or his master is being threatened. This is all pretty ironic, considering that in the pre-Crisis days, Batman himself had a German Shepherd that he named “Ace the Bat-Hound”, who would occasionally put on a Bat-mask and accompany the dynamic duo on missions. Admittedly, Ace hasn’t had the same longevity as Krypto, and modern depictions of the Bat-Hound have simply depicted him as Bruce’s dog.
5. He Didn’t Like Supergirl at First
When Supergirl first arrives on Earth and is taken by Superman and Batman to the Fortress of Solitude, she encounters Krypto there. Considering the fact that she is the first Kryptonian other than Superman that Krypto has encountered in a long time, it’s expected that the dog might have a reaction. What’s not expected is the violent nature of this reaction, as Krypto immediately begins attacking her, trying to rip her apart, and even using his heat vision. This viciousness immediately garners the suspicion of Batman, who suspects that something is amiss with Kara. Superman chalks this up to Krypto’s canine protectiveness over the Fortress. When Batman asks why he isn’t bothered about Krypto being so perturbed by her, Kal-El shrugs it off as Krypto just being perturbed by everyone. Keep in mind, this post-Crisis Krypto is a lot more aggressive than earlier depictions.
There are some theories that Krypto might show up in season 2 of Supergirl, and an inherently fun concept like a flying dog would certainly fit in better with that show’s warm optimism than it would with the more grim DCEU. If he does show up, we’ll see if he reacts the same way to Kara.
4. He’s Been Cloned
Kon-El isn’t the only project that Project Cadmus has spawned in its test tubes. Cadmus is a former stem cell research center that has grown to become the world’s leader in bio-engineering… especially when it comes to the scientific art of cloning. Though Superboy and Dubbilex are some of the more popular and successful experiments to emerge from Project Cadmus’s chambers, they’ve also pulled off some successful animal clones. A dog clone, to be exact.
Power Girl encounters a clone of Krypto when she breaks into the Project Cadmus facility. Though the cloned dog has never met her before, it immediately recognizes her, perhaps retaining memories of the original Krypto. The Krypto clone possesses all of Krypto’s powers, his personality, and everything except the little red cape. Sadly, this dog is shot down by the villainous businessman Maxwell Lord. Both Kryptos never get the chance to meet each other, though perhaps that’s for the better, given the original Krypto’s response to Supergirl. Fare thee well, second Krypto. The canine version of Spider-Man’s Clone Saga will have to wait for another day.
3. He Was on Smallville
Smallville, despite never showing Superman in costume until the very last moments of the final episode, nonetheless ended up being the longest running Superman TV series to date. Throughout its runtime, it managed to integrate almost all of Superman’s friends and foes into its pre-Superman setting, including many characters who had, up until that point, never been in a live action production. These included such DC mainstays as Doomsday, Darkseid… and Krypto the Superdog. Sort of.
On Smallville, Krypto is introduced in the fourth season, when Lois Lane accidentally runs over a dog and brings it back to the Kent farm to recover, only to discover that the dog possesses super powers. It is soon revealed that the dog is part of a LutherCorp experiment involving Kryptonite. This Krypto’s powers are only temporary, however, and soon fade away. When he’s adopted by the Kent family, Clark wants to name him Krypto, but after some resistance from Lois, instead settles on Shelby. Despite the loss of powers and name, this Krypto does get a brief moment in the red cape… though it’s really just a red towel, used to dry him off after Lois gives him a bath.
2. He Had His Own TV Show
Smallville was not Krypto’s only moment in the small screen spotlight. In 2005, Cartoon Network premiered an animated series titled Krypto the Superdog, closely modeled after the Silver Age stories and featuring the title character in a starring role, the Canine of Steel no longer limited to being Superman’s sidekick. Aesthetically modeled after the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1960s, Krypto ran for two seasons, and starred the voice of Sam Vincent as the Superdog himself.
The cartoon closely follows the original story for Krypto’s origins, and then has Superman place the dog under the care of an Earthling boy named Kevin Whitney. Though Krypto pretends to be a normal dog around Kevin’s family, Kevin knows the truth, thanks to an intergalactic communicator that allows him to communicate with Krypto in English. Krypto also exchanges dialogue with all of the other animal characters on the series, including Ace the Bat-Hound, Mammoth Mutt, Streaky the Super-Cat, and all of the other canines on the Dog Star Patrol.
1. Bizarro Has His Own Krypto
Speaking of animation…
Bizarro, the demented Superman clone, made his way into Superman: The Animated Series in the episode “Bizarro’s World”, and following close behind him was a somewhat different version of Krypto. In the DC Animated Universe, Superman’s Fortress of Solitude also functions as a sort of intergalactic zoo after Superman rescues the surviving remnants of dozens of different extraterrestrial animals from a character named the Preserver, and puts them in his Fortress so they can live in more humane surroundings. Among these is a small reptilian creature.
When Bizarro, presented in the cartoon as being more lonely and misunderstood than truly evil, breaks into the Fortress, he breaks the menagerie out. The aforementioned reptilian alien is grateful for this, and it ends up forming a close bond with Bizarro, following him everywhere. Bizarro adopts the little lizard creature as his pet, and names him Krypto.
Now, there’s also a Bizarro Krypto in the comics, because there’s a Bizarro everything: on the cube-shaped Bizarro World, there are Bizarro versions of every person on Earth. But the comic book Bizarro Krypto certainly isn’t as cuddly or as weird as his scaly animated counterpart, that’s for sure.