Krypto #81: Sleepwalker

From: Superboy #162 (January 1970)

It's the 70s (at least by cover date) and it's been a year and a half since Krypto's appeared in  substantial role... has the Bronze Age killed the Silver Age star? It can't be denied that despite the Curt Swan cover, the book's approach has change substantially since the year prior, eschewing shorter, multiple stories for issue-length tales, with more teen angst and more modern art. As you'll see, that makes for a more realistic-looking Krypto. Though the new approach does mean we'll get fewer Krypto stories (an anthology book could have given him his own short and silly tale), "The Super-Phantom of Smallville!" proves he can still act as Superboy's full partner.

This story begins with restless nights for bedfellows Superboy and Krypto who come to the realization that either an unnatural phenomenon is affecting them or else Frank Robbins is writing the story with the most tenuous grip on scientific reality, or both.
Something has shifted the poles and the polar ice caps are breaking up sending massive glaciers floating towards the equator, because that's EXACTLY how that works. Even Krypto knows this bit of scientific lore. Truly, science text books written by dogs. Looking for the cause, the Supers head for the magnetic storms created by a supernova 10 million light-years away. Again, SCIENCE in all caps! There, a dwarf star the size of a lawn bowling ball gets magnetically snagged to Krypto's collar, so Superboy has to throw the whole kit at another galaxy.
And as it turns out, this little ball was the cause of all our troubles and the ice caps re-aggregate at the proper poles as if Christopher Reeve had flown around the Earth counter-clockwise real fast. Everything's fine, right?

Well, Krypto gets some sleep at least, but we're reminded of that time the Phantom Zone villains ripped a whole through an aurora borealis to escape their prison, and Superboy cautiously checks in Phantom Zone viewer to make sure this magnetic disturbance in the Force won't cause similar problems. He's confronted with a trio of Kryptonian criminals claiming the magno-thingie allowed them to pull Kal-El's SOUL out of his body and into the Zone where they are visibly holding it hostage. The ultimatum: Free us or go soulless. Riddled with angst, Superboy considers it. What he doesn't know is that his "soul" is actually teenage Kryptonian crook Cha-Mel who can shape-shift thanks to a formula he drank back in the day (so he doesn't have humps or anything), now forever imprisoned in the youth-detention zone (there are delineations in the Phantom Zone?).

Anyway, Superboy is afraid for his astral self, so he decides to go in and rescue himself, making sure his foster parents turn the Phantom Projector on after 15 minutes to hopefully let him out. But there's a malfunction and the projector cuts out while Clark is halfway through, blocking the path out. So Cha-Mel telepathically accesses Krypto's dream, 'shifted into a monstrous dog, and makes the Super-Pup sleepwalk to Superboy's aid.
Superboy gets to the Zone, but the villains are too smart for him and make him chase decoys. Meanwhile, the trick the Kents into releasing Cha-Mel, who would then have released them, except that the projector once again goes on the fritz. Cha-Mel isn't equipped to fix it, so he threatens the Kents to force Superboy to tell him how. Except our boy Krypto is STILL sleepwalking, and he still thinks the projector is a juicy bone. He comes back for it and...
Krypto is off to the Dog Star with Cha-Mel AND the phantom Superboy in tow. The doppelganger slaps Krypto awake and the stunned dog lets go of the projector, which is instantly attracted to the magnetic dwarf star that is still flying around these parts. Trying to wrench it free, Cha-Mel activates it and is sent to the other side. Krypto, still thinking it's his master, manages to reverse the beam, but...
The real Superboy is projected out! And that's how Krypto saved the day without realizing it.

The Silver Age may be at an end, but Silver Age science is here to stay...


NES Boy said...

Heh, Superboy's reaction to the Aurora Borealis reminds me of this classic moment from The Simpsons.

And hey, was that Krypto actually talking in the panel where Superboy discovers the dwarf star stuck to his collar?

Siskoid said...

Looks like we got a bit of translation there, eh?


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