As with any colloquialism, we’ve heard the words “man’s best friend” so many times that it’s lost much of its impact. There is a reason the phrase was coined in the first place though. Pets freely give an unconditional love that humans simply aren’t capable of. Like any true animal lover knows, a pet is more than just a companion that we care for. Our pets are our most trusted friends, our closest confidants, and the creatures that make us feel more distinctly understood than anyone else in the world.
At the end of the day, superheroes are people too. They need that incomparable bond just as much as the rest of us. Their lives may be drastically different from ours, but the feelings for their furry companions remain the same. Throughout comic book history, there have been a slew of lovable critters from the exotic to the mundane.
Let’s take a look at the ones that separated themselves from the pack. Here are the 15 Coolest Pets In Comic Book History.
Dogpool is basically a canine alternate reality version of Deadpool. He made his first appearance in Prelude to Deadpool Corps #1 - Killer Queen. Wilson was a stray, wandering the streets alone when the evil Dr. Braun chose to make him a test subject for his cosmetics lab. The tests didn’t go as planned and, thinking Wilson was dead, those monsters actually threw him in a dumpster!
Luckily, that was only the beginning for Dogpool, the Merc with a Bark. The experiments may not have made Babeline’s mascara last forever, but they made the pup nearly indestructible. He wound up with a power set very similar to Wade Wilson’s and, with nowhere to go, landed for a brief while at the circus. Who wouldn’t pay to see an unkillable dog? Shortly after that, Wade discovered Wilson and made him a member of Deadpool Corps, his team of Deadpools from alternate universes.
Created by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, the Battlin’ Bovine initially appeared in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #1. Batman and Robin (his son, Damian) were on a mission in a slaughter-house and what Damian witnessed there actually made him decide to give up eating meat altogether. Aside from this drastic lifestyle change, he rescued a cow with a conveniently bat-shaped patch on his face and christened him Bat-Cow.
Damian’s new pet became a valuable member of the Bat-Family. Witnessing the violence done to these animals had a huge impact on him, which is pretty interesting considering the kid was trained by the League of Assassins. His decision was no phase though. Several issues later, Damian specifically mentioned that he would remain a vegetarian. Grant Morrison has written often about animal rights issues over the years, most notably during his seminal run on Animal Man. Bat-Cow is another fine example of him fighting the good fight alongside the heroes he writes about.
Introduced in X-Men #10 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, this massive saber-tooth tiger dates all the way back to 1965. Zabu was born in the Savage Land, Marvel’s prehistoric region hidden in Antarctica. After natives killed his parents, he was adopted by a pack of wolves. This arrangement didn’t last long and soon Zabu was alone. Eventually, he learned the necessary skills to survive the Savage Land and shortly after, met his mate. Unfortunately, this was also to be short lived. Cavemen, intent on hunting the saber-tooth tiger to extinction, killed her. When Zabu went to avenge her, he wound up saving the life of a young boy named Kevin, who almost immediately saved his life in kind.
As Kevin grew to adulthood, he and the tiger became inseparable. Zabu raised the boy as though he were his own cub and Kevin would come to be known as Ka-Zar, meaning “son of the tiger”. The pair have been having amazing adventures together ever since.
The enormous genetically engineered lynx was the faithful companion, really the only companion, of Adrian Veidt, also known as Ozymandias. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created her in their acclaimed graphic novel, Watchmen. Veidt obviously had great affection for the creature. When his marketing team wanted to immortalize his friends, as well as his lynx, by turning them into action figures, Bubastis was the only one Veidt gave the go ahead on. He even kept one for himself after they were made.
Veidt couldn’t have asked for a more devoted pet. However, the love he felt for Bubastis is definitely muted by the fact that he incinerated his beloved cat to further the plot to murder his rival. Sure, he seemed to feel pretty bad about it, but Bubastis couldn’t put herself back together the way that Dr. Manhattan could. Sadly, Veidt killed his best friend for a plan that was doomed to fail.
Redwing first appeared on the scene in 1969, created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. Frequent Captain America collaborator, the Falcon (currently donning the stars and stripes as Cap himself), AKA Sam Wilson, shares a telepathic link with his beloved bird. Strangely enough, it was the Red Skull that initially made this possible by warping reality with the cosmic cube (one of his favorite pastimes). The bond was eventually strengthened to the point of Wilson being able to link with other birds, even seeing through their eyes.
Redwing has proven himself time and again, bravely backing up Wilson. He has even saved Wilson’s life! The link between the two has made them incredibly close, giving man and bird the ability to completely understand one another. Redbird has made an appearance in the MCU, as a sort-of high-tech drone Sam uses in Captain America: Civil War, but his feathered companion was sorely missed. Here’s to hoping Redwing eventually makes his big screen debut!
10 Ace, the Bat-Hound
Much like the other Bat-Family pet on this list, Ace doesn’t posses any special abilities. He’s just a normal dog; meaning, he’s loyal, fearless, and loves beyond all reason. Introduced in 1955 by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, Batman and Robin rescued Ace from nearly drowning in the river. Bruce Wayne then attempted find his owner. When it turned out to be a job for Batman and Robin (Ace’s owner was kidnapped), Ace actually followed the Batmobile out of the cave and they let him tag along. However, Ace had a very distinctive marking on his forehead and Batman was concerned that someone would make the connection between Bruce and the Caped Crusader. So, he did what any rational guy that puts on a Batsuit every night would do: he fashioned a makeshift hood for the dog and added the bat emblem to his dog tag. After the case was solved, Ace was returned, but would help on certain missions, until eventually the dog’s rightful owner gave him to the Dynamic Duo.
Ace wasn’t utilized much post-Crisis, at least not in the same way. Stories of the Dark Knight had gotten, well, darker and a pup that could respond to a tiny receiver in his collar and put on his own hood probably seemed out of place. He has appeared in several iterations since though, such as Batman Beyond and most recently was reimagined as Titus in DC’s New 52 (nicknamed Ace).
When Ezekiel first appeared in The Walking Dead #108, fans had a lot of questions. One of the craziest and coolest things about the King of the Kingdom was his pet tiger, Shiva. Ezekiel was a zookeeper before the zombie apocalypse and knew the tiger since she was a cub. They forged a bond that carried over into Shiva’s adulthood and ever since the world went to Hell, she had become a trusted and protective pet. More than that, she had become the man’s closest friend. Not only did Shiva fight by Ezekiel’s side; she also slept in his room.
Sadly, we only got to know Shiva for ten issues before she was killed defending Ezekiel from an onslaught of zombies. Ezekiel was lost after her death, wishing that he had been the one to die in her stead. This was in part because he felt extreme guilt over losing his men, but the loss he truly could not stand was Shiva's.
Chris Claremont and Paul Smith created Lockheed in 1983. The cat-sized creature may look like a purple dragon, but he actually belongs to a highly evolved extraterrestrial race. He and Kitty Pryde have been inseparable ever since he rescued her from the Brood in Uncanny X-Men #166 and then followed her home. Kitty took his name from a bedtime story that she told Illyana Rasputin (sister to Colossus).
Lockheed may be small, but he’s basically a highly intelligent, fire-breathing dragon, capable of understanding human speech and completely invulnerable to psychic attack. Professor X can’t even tell what’s going on in his mind! This is most likely due to the fact that Lockheed is an empath. Not only is he Kitty’s best pal, but he's also proven to be a valuable ally to the X-Men as a whole and has become a beloved member of the X-family. Lockheed has formed an unbreakable bond with Kitty and would follow her anywhere.
Like Zabu, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Lockjaw in 1965, originally appearing in Fantastic Four #45. He belongs to the royal family of the Inhumans and was mutated, like the rest of them, by the Terrigen Mists. More than a pet, Lockjaw is an indispensable part of the team. He is not only super tough-- this Bulldog-like creature actually has the ability to teleport himself and anyone around him as well. This allows for easy travel from their home in Attilan to Earth.
Although Lockjaw is a member of the Inhumans, he heads up a team of his own too. In 2009, Marvel published the first of several miniseries following the adventures of Marvel’s favorite furry and feathered friends called Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers. Aside from Lockjaw, this cuddly collective included Redwing, Lockheed, Zabu, Hairball (Speedball’s cat), Ms. Lion (Aunt May’s puppy) and Throg (basically Thor as a frog).
6 Lucky aka Pizza Dog
Matt Fraction and David Aja, who had so brilliantly breathed new life into Iron Fist (along with Ed Brubaker), gave Hawkeye the same treatment in 2012. While Clint Barton was the book’s main focus, another star emerged from the comic and that was definitely Lucky. The mafia that owned him had been dubbed “Tracksuit Draculas” by Clint, who fed their dog, originally named Arrow, some pizza. This single act of kindness caused Arrow to protect Hawkeye when the gangsters were shooting at him. Then Arrow was tossed out into the street for his troubles!
Clint rescued the pup though. He got him patched up and renamed him Lucky. As touching as the story of their original meeting was, and as great as the series was in general, nothing was quite as awesome as Hawkeye #11. This tale was told entirely from Lucky’s point of view. Wholly original and lovingly told, this issue gives us only information that Lucky would know, from the words that he understands to the symbols that represent the world as he knows it. It’s a beautiful story that cements not only Fraction and Aja as groundbreaking storytellers, but Lucky as one of the most lovable pets in comics.
When we first meet this delightful capuchin, he is throwing feces at Yorick Brown, who is training him to be a helper monkey. Shortly thereafter, a plague wipes all mankind and we mean all man kind, as in everything with a Y chromosome. Yorick may not have enjoyed having poo flung at him, but many issues into Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s much beloved opus, Y: the Last Man, we learn that this may have been the very substance to save his life. The mischievous male monkey seems to be the only link to Yorick’s miraculous survival. This was due to genetic experiments done on Ampersand, which altered his DNA and somehow made him immune to the outbreak that killed every other male member of every species.
The road Yorick was forced to walk as the last man on Earth was a lonely one indeed. Putting aside the fact that without Ampersand, he would have died like all the other men, Yorick loved that monkey. During that time, the simian not only saved his life, but undoubtedly saved his soul as well.
No list about the coolest pets in comics would be complete without Krypto the Superdog. It was his popularity that most likely led to the introduction of Ace, the Bat-Hound mere months after Krypto made his first appearance in 1955. Not only does this playful pup hail from Kal-El's home world, but he also shares the powers given to Superman by Earth's yellow sun. This has been problematic over the years and the Man of Steel has had to work hard to train a dog that's just as strong as he is.
Beginning in 1962, Krypto headed up the Legion of Super-pets, which included Comet the Super-horse, Streaky the Super-cat, and Beppo the Super-monkey. Krypto has had many great moments over the years but the quintessential story of the Kryptonian canine would have to be Superman #680. James Robinson and Renato Guedes told a touching story that truly did him justice. Krypto came to Superman's aid when Atlas had him on the ropes. This issue ended with Superman pointing to his faithful pooch shouting, "You want to cheer a hero? This is a hero!" We couldn't agree more.
3 Old Lace
When Gertrude, Alex, Chase, Karolina, Nico, and Molly discovered their parents were supervillains, the kids teamed up to fight them. This is the premise of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s awesome book, Runaways (soon to be a show on Hulu). In order to be a match for their evil parents, the kids ferret out their secrets and steal their greatest weapons from right under their folks’ noses. For Gertrude Yorkes, this is a genetically engineered dinosaur from the 87th century with whom she shares a telepathic link.
Believing her parents to be, well, not evil masterminds, Gert is shocked to learn the truth about them. However, discovering Old Lace (who she names after deciding her own superhero sobriquet will be Arsenic) kind of makes up for it. Due to their link, the two are instantly connected and only grow closer over time. One would be heartbroken without the other. Plus, having a dinosaur on your side that will follow your every command turns out to be pretty helpful in battle.
2 Lying Cat
Alright, this is the 3rd entry on this list that was created by Brian K. Vaughan, so that guy must have a true talent for writing amazing animals into existence. In this case, the pet appears in his epic space opera, Saga, drawn by the incomparable Fiona Staples. Seriously, the art in this book is gorgeous. One of the many memorable characters populating Saga’s universe is a bounty hunter named the Will. Even more memorable: his pet. Lying Cat is not only his faithful companion, but she is also a human lie detector.
Lying Cat is enormous and resembles a Sphynx cat. She and the Will are super tight and she has protected him on more than one occasion. Her ability to tell when someone is lying is an incredible asset to the Will in his line of work. The one thing about her that has a tendency to get on his nerves is that Lying Cat doesn’t let anyone get away with being less than truthful, not even him. When anyone utters a lie, LC puts her paw down immediately, simply saying, “Lying.”
This is the 2nd Grant Morrison entry on this list and while his propensity for writing about animal rights has already been noted, if he’s written a manifesto on the topic, it would be this one. We3 is a heartbreaking and beautifully told tale with ridiculously good art by Frank Quitely. It is one of Morrison’s lesser-known stories, but certainly one of his best. The three-issue miniseries is reminiscent of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, if the animals finding their way home were also high-powered weapons.
We3 follows the journey of a dog (Bandit), cat (Tinker), and rabbit (Pirate). The three were experimented on by some sort of shady military program and have been turned into cyborgs with a whole lot of firepower. However, they are prototypes, so the time comes to “decommission” them. The project head can’t bear the thought of putting them down, so she sets them free instead. The government uses all of their considerable resources to catch the creatures, who want nothing except to find the home that they’ve never known.
Part of the brilliance of this story and the way in which Morrison truly shows his love of these animals is by giving them personalities that are so distinct from one another. At times, the book is difficult to read due to the harsh subject matter, but it is also impossible to put down. It's a stirring meditation on animal testing and abuse. If you don’t fall in love with these pets, you’ve got no heart!
Which comic book pets do you wish were your own? Let us know in the comments!