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Batman v Superman

DC Comics and Warner Brothers lay claim to their slice of the superhero movie pie as Batman v Superman arrives in theaters this week!

Batman v Superman

It’s a high-stakes debut as Warners seeks to fire up a superhero cinematic universe to compete with Marvel Studios’ box office juggernaut. Batman and Superman, together again for the first time, in a cinematic slugfest that also promises to be a “backdoor pilot” for the forthcoming Justice League movie!

As you might imagine, Longbox Graveyard has covered both Batman and Superman quite a bit these past several years … get ready for Batman v Superman with these blogs looking at a time when DC’s big dogs weren’t quit so combative!

I took a look at the pre-Frank Miller Batman in this appreciation of Batman, “The Grey Knight.”

Gene Colan, Detective #561

And I looked at the very influential Steve Englehart Batman era, too.

Marshall Rogers, Batman

I looked at how Grant Morrison and Alan Moore each handled The Last Days of Superman.

Frank Quietly

Speaking of big dogs … both Batman and Superman were known for their super-pets, and Krypto and Ace featured heavily in my Top Ten Super-Dogs list!

Krypto by Alex Ross

And of course Batman and Superman, themselves, featured prominently in my DC Comics Top Ten.

Bat-Mite!

The Longbox Graveyard podcast did a deep dive on the last time Batman was on the silver screen with this assessment of The Dark Knight Rises.

The Dark Knight Rises

Digital comics fan and creator that I am, I quite enjoyed the digital-first Batman Legends of the Dark Knight series.

Legends of the Dark Knight -- Born Digital!

And you can also check out the Longbox Graveyard Batman Covers Gallery, Batman Trading Cards Gallery, DC Superhero Christmas Gallery, Batman Gallery, Superman Covers Gallery, Superman Gallery, and even hum along with the iconic Batman and Superman theme songs!

Enjoy the film! Even though the trailers show Superman and Batman at each other’s throats, I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll prove fast friends by the end …

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Top 10 Super-Dogs!

Longbox Graveyard #147

Longbox Graveyard goes to the dogs with this Top 10 List of the greatest comic book super-dogs of all time!

It’s Super-Blog Team-Up time again! Super-Blog Team-Up is a loose collection of comic book blogs and podcasts that come together several times a year to opine on a common topic. In the past, we’ve tackled superheroes calling it quits, ret-cons, bad guys, team-ups, and alternative time lines. This time, we’re offering Top 10 Listsa subject near and dear to my heart!

Super-Blog Team-Up

My past Top 10 lists have been (mostly) serious … or as serious as things get in funnybooks. I’ve listed my Top 10 Captain America Villains, Top 10 DC Comics Characters, Top 10 Marvel Comics Characters, Top 10 Superhero Lairs, and many more. With the Longbox Graveyard Super-Animal Showdown recently drawn to a close, this Super-Blog Team-Up seemed the ideal opportunity to add the Top 10 Super-Dogs to my roll of honor!

Before we get to the list, a few ground rules.

First, I am interested only in characters that appeared first or primarily in comic books. Animation is a whole ‘nother business … so you won’t find characters like Underdog or Dynomutt here. While some of these characters would also appear in animation, they are first and foremost comic-book dogs. Get it? Got it? Good!

Second, this list is heavily biased by the Bronze and Silver Age superhero sensibilities of Longbox Graveyard. Most (but not all) of these mutts are traditional comic book canines that have been around for decades, and all but one of my pooches hails from the comic book “Big Two” publishers. My apologies to all the contemporary, hip, indie comics hounds that I have unfairly consigned to the dog house!

Third, there is no third rule … aside from the restriction that David Letterman used to offer when introducing his nightly Top Ten — “Please, no wagering!”

Without further ado, and in reverse order (to help preserve the suspense, natch), here’s the Longbox Graveyard Top 10 Super-Dogs!

HONORABLE MENTION

The list leads with an honorable mention for DC’s Space Canine Patrol Agents!

A product of DC’s wonderfully unhinged Silver Age, the Space Canine Patrol Agents (SCPA) were a kind of all-dog counterpart to the Legion of Super-Heroes. First appearing in Superboy #131, the group included a dog you know — Krypto — and a whole bunch of C-list canines, like Tusky Husky, Prophetic Pup, and Chameleon Collie. Close your eyes and you can imagine this lot opening their meetings with their sacred oath — “Big dog, big dog, bow wow wow! We’ll stop evil, now now now!”

SCPA!

I can’t begin to parse through the SCPA membership for this list, so they all get in with an honorable mention (and one member of the crew will shortly get much more than that). For more on the too-weird-not-to-be-true SCPA, head on over to the indispensable Dial B For Blog, which has enough vintage SCPA art to get your tail wagging!

#10  Dogpool

Wilson was an alternate-universe mutt experimented upon for cosmetics testing. With the experiment deemed a failure, poor Wilson was thrown away … only to rise as Dogpool!

Dogpool

Animal testing for the cosmetics industry? On dogs? Now, there’s some true villainy!

Dogpool appeared in an astonishing 29 issues of various Deadpool comics (if Comic Vine is to believed), which either says something about the staying power of this character, or the vacuous nature of Deadpool books! Fingers are crossed that Dogpool gets some spotlight time when Deadpool comes to the silver screen in his 2016 movie debut!

#9  Max

Did you know that the Punisher had a dog? And did you know that this dog was so tough, even the Punisher couldn’t kill him? Meet Max!

Meet Max!

Max was totally off my radar until Dean Compton — frequent Longbox Graveyard guest columnist, host of The Unspoken Decade, and the world’s biggest Punisher fan — convinced me that Max deserved a place in the Round of 32 in last month’s Super-Animal Showdown.

Max is a savage Rottweiler who guards the Punisher’s safe house. He was wounded in the line of duty — so badly wounded that the Punisher put him down with a knife. But wait! So outraged was fan reaction to Max’s death that a retcon later established that hard-hearted Punisher actually performed some kind of surgery on Max and saved his life!

And so there you have it … Max, the dog even the Punisher couldn’t kill!

(And let’s not be exploiting any more poor Rottweilers to guard our safe houses, OK?)

#8  Destructo

As near as I can tell, Destructo only appeared once — in 1961’s Superboy #92 — but if you’re Lex Luthor’s dog, and you wear a Jolly Roger cape, you’ve got to make the list …

Destructo!

Gaining super powers by a run-in with young Lex Luthor’s time machine, Destructo went on a rampage, impersonating Krypto and ruining the Dog of Steel’s good name! This adventure alone was enough to earn Destructo the title of Krypto’s arch-enemy … this is one super-dog overdue for a comeback!

#7  Vegas

The honor of being the sole non-DC or Marvel comics dog in my top ten goes to Archie’s loyal dog, Vegas!

Vegas, by Francesco Francavilla

If we were just talking about the classic, canonical, Riverdale version of Archie’s pet, he likely wouldn’t make this list … but Vegas’ stand-out appearance in the zombie-infested Afterlife With Archie was emotional and unforgettable. I reviewed that surprisingly impactful series here — and I don’t want to give too much away about Vegas, in case you haven’t yet read Archie’s excellent undead adventure — but this image should give you an idea of why Vegas rates the seventh spot on my list!

Archie's best friend

#6  Cosmo

Now, this is pure cool. A Soviet space dog that drifted off course, mutated into a super-intelligent psychic that projects his thoughts with a stereotypical Russian accent, still wears his CCCP space suit, and serves as security chief on the space station the Guardians of the Galaxy calls home? Damn, it’s all I can do not to make Cosmo #1 on my list!

Cosmo

I just about leapt out of my seat when Cosmo made a cameo appearance in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, as one of the many captors of the dread Collector. When the Collector’s headquarters went boom, I turned to my son and said, “If Cosmo bought it, I’m walking out!” Fortunately, a quick shot showed Cosmo trotting to safety, and so the dream is alive that we will see Cosmo facing down his frenemy, Rocket Raccoon, in the inevitable Guardians of the Galaxy sequel!

#5  Pizza Dog

Also known as Lucky, Pizza Dog is the lovable mutt that Hawkeye rescues from the Russian mob in his recent breakout series by Matt Fraction and David Aja.

Pizza Dog

Lucky becomes a memorable supporting character in the series, and even stars in the brilliant issue #11 of the run, a book that told the kind of story that comics do better than any other dramatic form — a story related from Lucky’s point of view, using only the senses and sensibilities of a single and extraordinary dog. A great story about a great character, from a team at the top of their form (and good enough to snag an Eisner, too!)

Hawkeye #11

#4  Rex The Wonder-Dog

We need to fire up the Wayback Machine for the #4 hound on our list …

Rex vs. T-Rex

Debuting in 1952’s The Adventures of Rex The Wonder Dog, and appearing in DC adventures right up into the 21st century, Rex would have a serious pedigree even if his early adventures hadn’t been created by comics legends Robert Kanigher and Alex Toth! Rex’s forty-six issue run through the 1950s benefitted from some terrific Gil Kane covers, too.

Rex The Wonder Dog by Gil Kane

A kind of canine Captain America, Rex was a German Shepherd in the U.S. Army’s K-9 Corps who received a super-soldier serum injection, serving in World War II and Korea before becoming a crime-fighter, battling aliens and dinosaurs, and fighting alongside the future Justice League of America. A wonder dog, indeed!

#3  Ace the Bat-Hound

Ace hasn’t the resume of Rex the Wonder-Dog, but he gets on the podium of our Super-Dog Top 10 because … Batman!

Ace the Bat-Hound

Because nothing that works in comics isn’t worth over-doing, Ace’s appearance was a foregone conclusion when Krypto took the comics world by storm in 1955. A scant four month’s later, Superboy’s dog was joined by Batman’s hound, Ace, in the DC universe of super-animal stars!

Ace never caught on like Krypto, but c’mon. He wears a Batman mask, and he hangs around the Batcave. Ace is awesome just walking into the room …

#2  Lockjaw

The surprise winner of the Longbox Graveyard Super-Animal Showdown rates the penultimate position on our list!

Hugs For Lockjaw!

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and making his first appearance in 1965’s Fantastic Four #45, Lockjaw is the unforgettable teleporting super-dog of the weird and wonderful Inhumans. That alone would ensure that Lockjaw made this list, but the four-footed Inhuman has had a long and surprisingly successful second act to his career, first headlining his own book in Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, and then playing a supporting role in the new fan favorite Ms. Marvel series.

Fifty years after he was born, it seems that Lockjaw is still a pup. Respect!

#1  Krypto

And respect is what it’s all about for the #1 entry on the Super-Dog Top 10.

It’s Krypto, of course!

Krypto by Alex Ross

C’mon, who else could it be? Krypto is the sine qua non of dogs in capes!

First appearing in Adventure Comics #210 in 1955, Krypto was an instant hit as Superboy’s pet. The pilot of Jor-El’s prototype rocket that would eventually bring baby Superman to Earth, Krypto was knocked off course and reached our planet later than baby Kal-El, but still in plenty of time to partner with Superboy in many of his Silver Age Adventures, and even becoming leader of the Legion of Super-Pets!

Lockjaw may have (narrowly) defeated Krypto in their recent showdown, but in the long view of history, there’s only one possible Top Dog when it comes to super-pets. All hail Krypto, the greatest Super-Dog of them all!

to be continued ...

That will do it for my Top 10 Super-Dogs. Please share your thoughts in the comments section, below! And also take a look at the many other fine Top 10 Lists on offer from my fellow Super-Blog Team-Up colleagues:

PLUS! Catch up with the Super-Blog Team-Up crew in their very own Sub-Reddit!

Thanks for reading! And if you are ready to make room for a super-dog in your own home and heart, remember that there are thousands of awesome shelter dogs looking for a good home! Please visit my friends at Adopt-A-Pet.com to find your new best friend!

Adopt-A-Pet.com

NEXT MONTH: #148 Longbox Soapbox

Six Signature Superhero Sound Effects!

Longbox Graveyard #136

One of the singular pleasures of being a comic book fan is puzzling out their onomatopoetically-rendered sound effects!

Sound Effects by Wally Wood!

Sound Effects” from MAD, by the brilliant Wally Wood

While sound effects have somewhat fallen out of favor in contemporary comics writing, I still love them. And while I love a good BLAM! or WHAM! as much as the next guy, I particularly enjoy sound effects that are strongly associated with a specific character or comic. While most comic book sound effects are made up by a creator on-the-spot, a signature sound effect is always the same, and as much a part of a character as their costume or name.

My criteria for calling something a “signature” sound effect is simple — you have to know it in the dark. If all you have is a black panel with a single sound effect, but you still know what is happening (and who is making it happen), then that’s a signature sound effect!

Here are Six Signature Superhero Sound Effects! Why only six? Because I love alliteration even more than onomatopoeia (and I couldn’t think of a seventh)! But my draconian rules have doubtless caused me to exclude your favorite sound effect, so be sure to take me to task for my cruel exclusions in the comments section, below.

In the meantime, in rough and reverse order of their fame and recognizability …

… drum roll please …

Dudley Serious Saves The World!

(drum roll sound effect courtesy of my very own Dudley Serious Saves The World!)

… here are Six Signature Superhero Sound Effects!

6) POW!

All right, this is a little bit of a cheat, but it’s my blog and I get to make the rules. “Pow” is a generic sound effect, and not especially associated with Batman, but the use of visual sound effects was a signature element of the classic Batman TV show, so “POW!” gets an honorable mention.

POW!

5) KTANG!

I know full well that the real Captain Marvel is the Big Red Cheese, but my favorite Captain Marvel is still the enlightened Kree man of war that I have celebrated several times here at Longbox Graveyard. Just as Billy Batson could change into Captain Marvel by shouting, “SHAZAM!” (a term that would top list list, if it were a proper sound effect!), so for a time could Rick Jones trade places in the Negative Zone with Captain Marvel by clashing his “Nega Bands”together … with the characteristic sound of KTANG!

KTANG!

4) PING PING PING!

One of the coolest things about Jack Kirby’s New Gods is that it is full of things that Jack never fully explained. What was the Source? What was the Anti-Life Formula? Most intriguing of all … what was a Mother Box?

The indispensable gadget of every New God, a Mother Box was one part computer, one part iPhone, and one part genie-in-a-lamp. Built by hand and customized by their owners, Mother Boxes seemed able to do just about anything. But the one thing they all seemed to do was to go PING PING PING when activated!

PING PING PING

3) BAMF!

Nightcrawler’s characteristic teleportation sound effect is as recognizable as his devilish tail and three-toed feet. BAMF became such an X-Men stand-by that I’m convinced someone eventually referred to Nightcrawler “bamfing” someplace, rather than teleporting … but I can’t find that particular reference (and a Longbox Graveyard No-Prize to someone who does!)

BAMF!

2) THWIP!

This one goes way back — all the way to Amazing Spider-Man #36 — which means it is almost certainly a Steve Ditko invention. It is the perfect expression for the sound of Spider-Man’s web-shooters — suggesting speed, a rushing of escaped gasses, and the sound of a whip, all-in-one!

THWIP!

Bonus … a clever bit of sound effects-oriented meta storytelling, from Amazing Spider-Man #43, as suggested by Mike W in comments, below!

Amazing Spider-Man #43

1) SNIKT!

A second X-Men sound effect tops this list, which makes me wonder if X-Men scribe Chris Claremont had a particular affection for sound effects. Or maybe it was Dave Cockrum? Regardless, the sinister sound of Wolverine’s adamantium claws sliding from their sheath is scary enough to make bad guys wet their britches all by itself! More than any sound effect on this list, if you “hear” SNIKT, all by itself, in the center of a dark panel … you know all Hell is about to break loose!

SNIKT!

What did I miss? Sound off with your own sound effects in the comments section, below!

IN THREE WEEKS: #137 Thing vs. Thing!

Let’s Hear It For The Anti-Heroes!

I churn through a lot of images in my relentless internet search for art to fill my Pinterest Galleries and Instagram photo stream, but something about this particular pinup (source unknown) made me pause and think about my comic book preferences.

my personal (anti) heroes

I love Marvel and DC the way I love Betty and Veronica — it is impossible to choose! The differences between the two groups of heroes is a whole ‘nother column (or a whole blog!), but a big part of that difference comes down to the nature of Marvel’s heroes …

… or, more precisely, Marvel’s anti-heroes.

TV Tropes offers as good a definition of anti-heroes as any — “… an antihero is a protagonist who has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero. (S)he may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely apathetic. More often an antihero is just an amoral misfit.” That description certainly applies to the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, and Sub-Mariner above, all of whom are among my favorite Marvel characters.

melodramatic Ben Grimm

The notion of the anti-hero seems baked into Marvel’s DNA — not surprising, given that so many of Marvel’s heroes were conceived as reactions to those pre-existing DC icons. Marvel’s heroes are not unique in their shades of gray, but the anti-hero trope is too central to Marvel’s heroes to be an accident: Spider-Man was hunted by the police; the Fantastic Four revolved around Ben Grimm’s troubled soul; characters like Hawkeye, the Black Widow, Quicksilver, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch all began as villains. Luke Cage was an escaped convict. The Defenders boasted Subby, Hulk, and the Silver Surfer as charter members, and prided themselves on being a collection of misfits. Marvel had a whole stock of supernatural characters that weren’t always good guys — Ghost Rider, Werewolf By Night, Morbius, Tomb of Dracula, Son of Satan. The X-Men made being a shadowy outsider their raison d’être, and Marvel is working hard to introduce us to yet another group of roguish quasi-good guys with the launch of their Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Batman -- anti-hero

DC has their anti-heroes too, of course. Batman was an anti-hero well before Frank Miller got ahold of him, and Swamp Thing is the greatest monster comic of all time. Many of Jack Kirby’s DC creations fit the mold — the Demon, and some of the most deeply troubled New Gods. But for the most part, when I think of DC, I think of sunny, Silver Age sentinels like the Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Superman. I love DC’s characters — I just love them differently than Marvel — and didn’t really decode how different they were from Marvel’s core approach until coming across this random pinup …

Tell me about your favorite anti-heroes in the comments section, below!

Batman Covers Gallery

Visit my Batman Covers Gallery on Pinterest.

Don Newton, Batman #374

 

Read my columns about Batman — Legends of the (Digital) Dark Knight, Batman The Grey Knight, & Escape From The Longbox Shortbox!

(View all Longbox Graveyard Pinterest Galleries HERE).

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