Wednesday, February 4, 2015


"...with my hair!"

Like his owner, the inveterate joiner Superboy (with memberships in the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Justice League of America and the Global Guardians adorning his wall, not to mention probably the F.O.E., the Moose Lodge and the Kryptonian equivalent of the Elks, i.e. The El-ks), Krypto the Superdog had his own super-space team, The Space Canine Patrol Agents! 

Boasting only three appearances in their original incarnation, the story of the Space Canine Patrol Agents is absurd, sad, short, and riddled with poverty and murder. Yes, like the movies you can barely stand, the dog dies in this one. It’s Old Yeller in space.

Debuting in Superboy vol 1 No.131 (July 1966, “The Dog From S.C.P.A.”, advertised on the cover as “Krypto Joins The Dog Legionnaires”), the SCPA makes itself known to the Dog of Steel by his happening across the callous murder of one of its members in deep space. Flying away from Earth in a snit (Superboy ordered Krypto to stay in the modern day while he attended a meeting of his Legion buddies in the 30th Century, frustrating a hungry Krypto who loves the world-to-come’s “future dog food,” aka “Soylent Green” I assume), the Last Pooch of Krypton stumbles across an inflated dog brutally murdered by a puncturing rocket.

Rest In Enormous Piece, Mammoth Mutt

In his last moments, the dying dog introduces himself as Mammoth Mutt of the Space Canine Patrol Agents. With his dying breath, he alerts Krypto to the danger faced by the Mutt’s imprisoned allies on a world of dog-headed space pilots. In a grim scene I hate to imagine happening in real life, Krypto buries the unfortunate pooch in a shallow grave – complete with headstone! – and, stealing his special SCPA collar and status as an agent of that organization, he flies off to free the imprisoned dog heroes.

What Krypto finds is several members of the SCPA – rubber-butted Tail Terrier, bucktoothed doofus Tusky Husky, shape-changing Chameleon Collie and dog on fire Hot Dog – in a dingy dungeon inside the “Fido Fortress” of the dog-headed space pirates. They’ve recently returned from absconding with a haul of candy-striped dinosaur bones because I assume someone at DC’s offices got into the brown acid.

Where does he keep the gum?
Donning a spare pair of his master’s glasses, Krypto adopts the disguise of “Air Daile, the flying dog” which if you thought a dog in a cape wasn’t dumb enough, well, congrats.

Krypto and liberated SCPAers, plus horn-headed ally Bulldog and multi-footed Paw Pooch, manage ultimately to rout the baddies (despite having a dog-headed dinosaur dubbed a “Doggysaur” sicced on ‘em) but leave their punishment to the group’s opposite number, the Space CAT Patrol Agents. I’m not talking out of turn when I mention that the giant, immensely powerful space cats (Atomic Tom, Power Puss and claw-handed Crab Tabby) make the space dogs look like useless dicks.

This perception isn’t helped in their second appearance, Superboy vol.1 No.132 (September 1966, “Krypto’s Cat-Crook Caper!”) wherein the Space Canines are repeatedly robbed during their efforts to raise money to keep the heat on at SCPA headquarters. Yep, like public radio, the defenders of all intelligent alien dog life in the universe gotta put on talent shows and pass the hat to afford things like their snazzy dog cop uniforms. Again, if you thought a dog in a cape wasn’t dumb enough, Krypto now wears a leisure suit complete with a belt. Why even a belt?

Huh, General Zod is a cat person. I would've
had him pegged for a ferret.
But the sadness comes full circle in the final appearance of the SCPA’s original incarnation, Superboy vol.1 No.136 (March 1967, “Decoy of the Doom Statues!”), wherein evil space cats basically almost murder Superboy and Krypto on a chunk of leftover Kryptonian real estate which was essentially formerly part of the El family mausoleum. That’s some real heavy mortal irony, space cats.

An applicant to the SCPA – Precognitive Pup – predicts Superboy and Superdog’s near-death, which kind of casts a pallor on the whole thing. But wait, that’s not even the saddest part! Precognitive Pup is applying alongside Mammoth Mutt’s bereaved girlfriend, who also has the same power he does (who says opposites attract?) – inflating herself like a huge target for deadly rockets! Good lord, Mammoth Mutt had a whole rich life before he died, apparently. That’s genuinely depressing.

Also the evil space cats are aided by the pet cats of Krypton’s Phantom Zone villains, because apparently when you were convicted of the ultimate crime on Krypton then your housepet was sentenced alongside you. Sounds fair, Krypton, PS I’m glad you blew up.

The original incarnation of the Space Canine Patrol Agents packed it in after that adventure, having exhausted exactly how sad and stupid an idea could get before it completely wore out its welcome. Of course, if they were brought back in modern comics the likelihood is that they all would have died right out of the gate, for the pathos (except Paw Pooch who woulda just gotten an arm blown off, I’m sure).


Steve D said...

Cartoon Network brought them all back, of course.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

The SCPA (rechristened The Dog Star Patrol) were regulars in Krypto's 2005 animated series, along with Streaky and Ace the Bathound. The Dog Stars also included Brainy Barker and, uh, Drooly? ...Okay.

James W. Fry 3.0 said...

The following conversation actually took place in so-called "Real Life":

ME: Hey, sweetie. Did I ever tell you about the Phanty-Cats?

ROBYN, my not-exactly-a-comics-fan wife: No. Oh, God, what are they, the pet cats of the Phantom Zone criminals?

ME,coming to a startling understanding of what I've subjected this poor woman to for three decades: Uh, yeah. That's right.

Calamity Jon said...

Why can't you other guys be more like James?

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