Krypto #132: Escaping the Kennel of Solitude

From: Superboy #91 (October 2001)

If I felt Jeff Loeb didn't really get the point of Krypto, Joe Kelly definitely does, even if the story comes up short of making the super-dog Kon-El's best friend. (Superboy and Krypto, a boy and his dog, is a dynamic preferable to Superman and Krypto, the grown man who leaves his dog at home all day, don't you agree?) Krypto has to be a dog, but he also has to be a hero. In "War Letters", Kelly tells three stories, one of which is Krypto's, and he's both things, where Loeb kept him as a too-powerful dog.

What makes a hero? I ask because dogs are innately "heroic" in that they want to protect their masters, but that's pack mentality. A hero is one who makes a conscious decision to help others, even outside their pack. Perhaps ESPECIALLY outside their pack. Kelly's Krypto starts off as the same destructive dog, munching on Superman robots and almost knocking over the bottled city of Kandor. Then he sees Superboy on a monitor and thinks "playmate!" and he's off. But there's this whole war of the worlds, Imperiex Probe storyline going on, and it makes him... think!
This is crucial. The Silver Age Krypto had high intelligence as part of his powers suite. He had a dog's instinct, but he could think, reason, plan, and he had a sense of right and wrong (at least unless a cat was involved). If he'd had the vocal chords for it, he would have spoken (and did, as a member of the Legion of Super-Pets). It took a little while (what's the solar energy absorption rate for intelligence?), but seeing people suffering ignites that intelligence, at least the empathetic part of it. And instead of going out to play, he put his considerable energies to helping people.
It's a beautiful thing. And when he gets home to Antarctica, exhausted, he's met with an Imperiex Probe and he still gives it his all.
This, THIS, is the Krypto we've been waiting for. Superman arrives and saves his bacon just then, but that's what friends are for.

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