Here it is, the column you've all been requesting in your sly, subtle ways for the past few weeks. I can't hold out against that much fervent demand! So mount up and ride along as we trace Supergirl's exciting adventures with Comet, the Super-Horse from CBG #1591 (May 14, 2004):

Supergirl’s Super-Horse!

Comet the Super-Horse was Kara's best friend in both human and animal form

Dear Mr. Silver Age,

Supergirl had a lot of good friends during The Silver Age. Which would you say was her very best friend?

Jimmy O.

Metropolis

Mr. Silver Age says: Kara Zor-El was a popular girl back in the day, Jimbo. Being a young, beautiful blonde with vast super-powers had to help that along. But I’d say that, hands down, her best friend was Comet the Super-Horse. After all, there aren’t too many friends who can read your mind, ride you on their backs and romance you! Or at least, there better not be.

The multi-persona friendship between Supergirl and Super-Horse had the oddest introduction of any member of the Super Family. We got our first glimpse of this extraordinary equine in Adventure Comics #293 (Feb 62).

To make a long story short, The Legion of Super-Heroes learned that the only way to defeat the mind-controlling Brain Globes of Rambat (one of my favorite villain names) was to use super-animals against them. So the team ranged through time and space to corral some.

 After scooping up Streaky and Beppo to aid Krypto, they headed for Asteroid Z, where Supergirl kept her pet Super-Horse in a corral. “Yes, readers!” the caption exclaimed. “This is a preview glimpse of a super-pet Supergirl will own some day in the future!”

It’s not known whether this was intended as a tryout or just a natural assumption that a super-girl would want a super-horse, but the horse looked exactly like Comet later would. He helped out but acted strictly as a horse, without even the typical English-language thoughts Krypto and Streaky always managed, much less the telepathy the real steel deal displayed.

That story promised a Legion of Super-Pets adventure soon, but it was quite awhile in coming. Instead, we first learned more about this mysterious Super-Horse—although even that introduction was accomplished a bit mysteriously too.

And the mysteries didn’t end even after his debut, which came in “The Super-Steed of Steel!” in Action Comics #292 (Sep 62).

In the story, Linda Lee Danvers fell asleep dreaming of owning her own horse, a wish that came true, at least in her dream. A white stallion (just like The Legion’s future Super-Horse) helped her defeat an alien invasion.

The dreams continued for several nights, until she suggested her family visit the Supergirl dude ranch for their vacation.

Sure enough, an exact twin of her dream horse was on the ranch! And when Linda took him out for a ride, he displayed amazing super-powers!

In the next issue, Comet revealed his telepathy and admitted that he’d been beaming dreams to her to entice her to visit the ranch. He explained that he was actually Biron, an ancient centaur who had been transformed into a horse rather than a human when Circe’s transformation potion was sabotaged by a revenge-motivated wizard.

To make up for the screw-up, Circe whipped up a potion that supplied him with super-powers, including the might of Jove, the speed of Mercury, the wisdom of Athena, the telepathic powers of Neptune, and the immortality of them all.

The wizard responded by imprisoning Biron on an asteroid for centuries until Kara’s rocket accidentally freed him. Grateful, Super-Horse followed the rocket to Earth and decided to team up with this beautiful super-blonde.

But then the ranch sold Comet to a Hollywood animal trainer, and Linda watched tearfully as her new buddy left for Tinseltown stardom.

In #294, Supergirl visited Comet on the movie set, but she was startled to discover he had developed amnesia. He not only forgot Linda but also how to use his telepathy and super-powers.

And so Super-Horse became a movie star but at the cost of Supergirl’s friendship—apparently creating an out in case fans didn’t care for Super-Horse and he needed to disappear.

But fans loved Comet (or at least the editor did), because he returned in Action #300 (May 63). As his memory slowly returned, two crooks pretended to befriend him and used him in their scheme. He finally regained his memory, helped Supergirl and Lena Thorul, and then was called by Superman to the Fortress.

In #301, he arrived fortress-side with Supergirl to learn that Superman wanted him to help a ruler on a red-sunned planet. Grateful for the aid, the ruler gave Comet the ability to become human whenever a comet passed by—but Super-Horse also lost all his super-powers in his new human form.

Upon returning to Earth, Comet reverted to human form and got a job with a rodeo.

Concerned when she didn’t hear from her horsy friend for awhile, Supergirl had Lena track him down, which led her to the rodeo.

There she met and saved the life of the dashing blonde-haired Bronco Bill, aka guess who. They were named King and Queen of the rodeo, allowing Bill to bend her over backward for a majestic smooch. He finally reverted to horse form and met up with Supergirl but didn’t reveal his secret identity.

The adventures continued in #302, when Comet was mind-controlled by an evil villain, causing all kinds of problems. He again reverted to human form, which hid him from the mind-controller.

He tried to warn Supergirl about the source of his problem, but she had changed into her Linda identity and was hanging out with Dick Malverne, so he had to be circumspect in his warning.

His plan worked, and when Super-Horse shortly reverted to horse form again, Supergirl kept him from being mind-controlled—but she didn’t figure out who the cute guy was who’d warned her of the plot.

By this time, Super-Horse was a member of the family, and he began appearing in cameo roles as well as supporting situations. He was mind-controlled again for a page while his super-pal battled Black Flame in #304 (Sept 63), but that and his later tipping off Kara that BF was hiding in Kandor were his only contributions.

Similarly, he was one of the members of the super-family allegedly killed by Kara’s death touch in #306, and he stood proudly by as she was honored later in the issue. As with Krypto, he made the transition from appearing only when the plot revolved around him to being just one of the cast.

Meanwhile, that Legion of Super-Pets adventure we’d been promised more than 1 1/2 years earlier finally arrived in Adventure #313 (Oct 63). The team didn’t get much face time, but they proved to be the secret weapon that defeated Satan Girl’s attacks (and they did it in only three panels).

The four pets then made a cameo appearance at the Superman Super-Spectacular honoring the Man of Steel in Action #309 (Feb 64), while Super-Horse played a small role in the Supergirl story in that issue, using his telepathic powers to help Supergirl determine if her parents were still alive (spoiler alert: they were).

Comet/Super-Horse/Biron/Bill was back romancing his super-pal in Action #311 (Apr 64) on “The Day Super-Horse Became Human!” Circe had perfected her centaur-changing potion, and she used it on her buddy Comet.

He returned to the present in his horse form but lost his memory in the process and then became human after inadvertently helping a robber. Suspected of being said robber, Bill coincidentally ran into Linda on a field trip and coincidentally saved her life (not that it really needed saving, of course, but the save kept her from revealing her identity or Weisingering up some goofy escape).

Recognizing her handsome savior as Bronco Billy, Linda gave him quite a little kiss of gratitude, and she gave him a repeat performance later when they went sightseeing. But then the law started chasing Bill, he asked Circe to turn him back into a horse to prevent him from being a fugitive, and Supergirl rode around on his bare back wondering what happened to her boyfriend.

Is anyone else finding this relationship just a tad weird by now?

Super-Horse was back in Action #312 to save Supergirl’s life again. Flying through outer space, he used the telescopic/x-ray vision of, um, some god, I’m sure, to learn that Kara had fallen into a kryptonite trap.

Fortunately, since Comet wasn’t from Krypton, the kryptonite didn’t harm him so he could save her. Unfortunately, a comet passed just then, changing him into the non-powered human Bill (thought he called himself by his centaur name, Biron), and he landed on an isolated asteroid.

Fortunately, the asteroid had once been inhabited and had a space suit (with face-hiding helmet) and fully-charged rocket pack in his size. Biron/Bill saved Kara and left quickly, leaving her once again wondering who her benefactor had been.

Taking a rest from all this human backing-and-forthing, Super-Horse went back to the future to help induct Proty II into his Legion gang in Adventure #322 (Jul 64).

Admittedly, as you can see, Comet was not especially welcoming when Proty suggested his own membership, calling him a “blob” and sneering at his credentials.

Frankly, as I've said many time, I think Proty should have been a member of The Legion itself, being a sentient being with super-powers, much like Bouncing Boy, only much more powerful. Super-Horse should have been too, although he wasn’t the predominant species on his planet, as all the other Legionnaires were, and maybe he liked being a big fish in a small (mental) pond, so to speak.

Needless to say, Proty proved his worth and his name was added to the roster of Super-Pets—and the only one native to the time period. That pretty well locked down the membership role for that august group, and they helped The Legion with a number of adventures.

But their appearances began to dwindle, especially after The Legion stopped having adventures in Adventure and moved their action to Action.

Super-Horse’s regular get-togethers with Supergirl also began to occur less often. After playing a minor role in Action #323 (Apr 65), in which Supergirl once again thought she’d killed her equine partner, Comet joined the other 20th century pets in establishing a shelter for homeless animals, thanks to the will of a wealthy man who left The Legion of Super-Pets to manage it in Superman #176 that same month.

It wasn’t explained how the man (whose relative had mistreated animals in his past) even knew of The Legion Pets, since they adventured in the 30th century. Was Superman telling newspapers about disasters that were going to happen 1,000 years in the future from which the Pets were saving humanity? I don’t even want to think about it. (Proty wasn’t part of the adventure, because, Superman surmised, he was probably off on a mission.)

That pretty much ended Comet’s days as a major player in stories. Circe showed up in Action #331 (Dec 65) to reminisce about him, and he helped Supergirl keep The Man of Steel out of the Fortress in #336 (Apr 66).

They also went for a romp when Supergirl feared she was losing her powers in #356 (Nov 67). But it was clear that Kara was losing her interest in equestrian sports. Even so, Super-Horse had a good long run with some quirky tales (and many identities) to help keep Kara’s life interesting.

-- MSA

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Dave Blanchard said:

It continues to boggle the mind that, in DC's effort to create a "less confusing" continuity they managed to demonstrate that they didn't have the slightest idea of how any of their characters & concepts fit together--they made changes to Superman that damaged the LSH, altered Wonder Woman enough to mess up the JSA, JLA and Teen Titans, and poor Hawkman...

Do you really think they "didn't have the slightest idea"? I think it more likely they just didn't care about doing the hard work that goes into tying everything together. I'm reasonably sure somebody on the Superman staff at the time probably said, "Y'know, if we say Superman was never Superboy, that's gonna mess up the Legion's back story." But the response was probably, "Ehhh, we'll fix it later. Not a big deal."

I think it was probably as much that as it was a case of the left hand not knowing what the right was doing. It's not like the team putting together Crisis on Infinite Earths was consulting with every other editor and writer on every other title, as all of them were engaged in getting their respective books out the door, preferably close to on time. 

For something like that they really should have planned it all down to the last detail.

ClarkKent_DC said:

I think it was probably as much that as it was a case of the left hand not knowing what the right was doing. It's not like the team putting together Crisis on Infinite Earths was consulting with every other editor and writer on every other title, as all of them were engaged in getting their respective books out the door, preferably close to on time. 

Surely the team behind COIE were consulting with all DC's other editors and writers.  They had to be, to produce all the teasers (red skies, appearances of the Monitor, etc) for a year before the first issue hit the stores.  And subsequently it still ended up making a hideous mess of continuity.

And later attempts to fix everything, Zero Hour, Final Crisis, Flashpoint, none of them seem to have been planned out properly. They still don't seem to realize that drastically changing something, like say, whether there was a Wonder Woman during WWII, or if Superman was a founding member of the JLA, or whatever they did to the Hawks, can affect other titles.  

That's the point at which they complain that fans are too continuity-obsessed, and isn't it better to tell good stories than to worry about every last bit of continuity? As if that's the choice.

-- MSA

And yet they hold onto Batman's continuity.

There has to be something between sticking slavishly to every bit of continuity and changing things as you go along however you feel like it. You can't just say "I don't like Hal Jordan, so from now on Green Lantern is...oh...Johnny Thunder."

To which my response has always been, Where exactly are these wonderful new stories that the evil old continuity kept you from telling? 

Mr. Silver Age said:

That's the point at which they complain that fans are too continuity-obsessed, and isn't it better to tell good stories than to worry about every last bit of continuity? As if that's the choice.

-- MSA

Mark S. Ogilvie said:

For something like that they really should have planned it all down to the last detail.

In a universe where they were publishing 30 monthly titles with 50 years of history? That's a lot easier to say than do -- particularly when it's a lot more important to get the specific details of the current story of New Teen Titans right than to try to figure out whether they ever met Mr. Jupiter or not anymore, in case you ever might want to use the character again. "Every last detail" is unattainable. 

In my (cranky, and probably temporary) opinion, they should have done exactly the opposite. Told whatever stories they wanted to tell, and contradicted whatever old stories they wanted to contradict. WITH NO EXPLANATION. And then let fans figure it out for themselves. Because fans live for that stuff. That's fandom's job -- putting it all together, and accepting or rejecting different stories as we please.

It's not DC's job to tell us what to believe about Batman. DC will never make up its mind, because its interest in telling a story with internal (and external) consistency only lasts for as long as that story is selling. And once it stops selling, or once it has the opportunity to sell another story, too, it'll do that without hesitation. Is Alfred fat or thin? If Jim Gordon had a baby boy when he first came to Gotham, and that boy is now in his 20s, how is it that Batman's been operating (at max) for 10 years? Fans are free to figure that out or handwave it as much as they like. If Batman Year One and The Black Mirror are both selling, there is no problem.

Knowing all the details of the new continuity ahead of time is not only impossible, it's counterproductive. It becomes like one of those horrible fantasy novels that's all index and no plot. It's best to make it up as you go along, and see what the chaos brings. And if something flops, tell another story to fix it, or just ignore it and move on. Let the fans sort it out. 

Seems the solution would be to give us more possible realities for different stories, not squeeze them all into one world. People wanted to see Batman and Catwoman married, but it wasn't possible in the regular universe, so say the Earth-2 versions married. Same with Superman and Lois. How did giving writers fewer options open up new opportunities for stories?
 
Dave Elyea said:

To which my response has always been, Where exactly are these wonderful new stories that the evil old continuity kept you from telling? 

Mr. Silver Age said:

That's the point at which they complain that fans are too continuity-obsessed, and isn't it better to tell good stories than to worry about every last bit of continuity? As if that's the choice.

-- MSA

I think maybe they received too many letters carping about continuity. Good fiction writers will tell you that since you can never please everybody you have to please yourself. It was probably hard for them to tell from the letters how many of their fans cared about continuity and to what extent. As Rob pointed out, making everything perfect while trying to meet deadlines (and put food on the table) is not possible.

Some probably saw too much continuity as baggage which could not please everybody and may even drive away new readers. I know that when I came back to comics in 1989 after a ten-year absence I wouldn't go near the X-Men because I would have been totally lost. Somehow Julie, Mort and Stan (when his memory didn't fail) managed to do a great job with continuity without making new readers feel like they were on the outside looking in.

When you're dealing with characters who've been around as long as Superman & Batman, I really don't see how you can maintain any kind of continuity over time without a multiverse to stick the parts you're no longer using someplace.  I've mentioned before that I believe that the actual problem with the DC Multiverse was that Earth-1 was allowed to run too long, and had to incorporate too many versions of the same characters (the various Batmans published between 1956 and 1986 are proof of that, and let's not even talk about Wonder Woman...)--heck, there was more difference between the "urban Robin Hood" Green Arrow designed by Neal Adams than the bland "Batman-with-a-bow" that came before him than there was between the Golden Age Carter Hall and the Silver Age Katar Hol, yet we were supposed to believe they were the same guy!

Back to my earlier comment, all sarcasm aside, have there really been any great post-Crisis stories?  Sure, there's lots of pretty good stories, but has there been anything that really stands out as a "great" story?  I realize that much of what we consider Great Stories are heavily tinted with nostalgia, but even considering stories that were only a few years before the Crisis, like the LSH's "Great Darkness Saga", or the Titans' "Judas Contract"?  It seems to me that most of the "big" stories since the Crisis have been continuity patches of some sort, even tho Crisis was supposed to have thrown continuity under the bus in the first place!  The fan boys keep getting the blame--either because "we" found the multiverse confusing (as if!) or "we" keep complaining that Clark Kent had a green toothbrush in Action Comics #702, but a blue one in Adventures of Superman #588 (seriously...), but it always seemed to me that it was always some writer attempting some ill-conceived revival that set things off--was there really anything gained by bringing back Sargon the Sorcerer as a Flash foe on Earth-1 instead of as a hero on Earth-2?  As much as I love Kathy & Betty Kane, was there really a point in bringing them back in the 1970s just to play second & third fiddle to Barbara Gordon?  Why not leave them to whatever Earth all those pastel aliens Batman fought back in the day kept invading?  In keeping with the original topic of this discussion, as bland as the Silver Age Supergirl was, have any of the many that have come after her been any improvement?  Certainly, they've all had even worst taste (and luck!) with men than poor Linda Lee Danvers did!

Is Alfred fat or thin?

There's all kinds of continuity: The shape of Alfred shouldn't vary from issue to issue; Flash's speed should be reasonably constant, in that he shouldn't race around the world in 10 seconds in one issue and then not be able to stop a speeding car in the next. Aquaman either needs to breathe oxygen every hour or he doesn't.

But the fact that Spider-Man has fought the Vulture or Doc Ock 27 times before doesn't need to be brought up (although maybe, just maybe, it might be time to invent somebody new instead). That GL has a broken arm in GL doesn't mean he has to have it in JLA. 

We need to have fair-play stories so we can play along and anticipate. Batman can't suddenly fly out of a deep hole, and Supergirl shouldn't be exposed to gold kryptonite and then get her powers back once it's taken away (which happened once).

Maybe it's like Spoilers--anything past a certain point, say five years ago, can't be cited as a continuity gaffe. I think that's better than rebooting everything from scratch and throwing out the baby with the bath water.

All sarcasm aside, have there really been any great post-Crisis stories?

You might not find any candidates suggested from this crowd, but I'm sure you will on other boards, especially those where the readers are under 40 and never read those stories. Clearly, nostalgia plays some role, and it's also a matter of perspective. The stuff I read now won't be received the same way stories were when I was 12 or when I first read those adventures. It's going to be hard to create a great story after I've been reading the comic for 40 years, but for somebody reading for 5 years, a lot of stuff might be cool.

I think the same is true of music; everything I hear today sounds like warmed-over bands I grew up listening to in the '60s and '70s, and I can listen to them instead. Now get off my lawn.

-- MSA

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