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):
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?
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.
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.
Mr. Silver Age said:
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.
I LOVE this idea. A "rolling" continuity where stuff that falls out of the public eye for too long can be refashioned to suit current needs, but stuff that is consistently used, stays consistent (or changes for in-story reasons. Brilliant!
And great post crisis stories?
The Death of Superman/Reign of the Supermen
The Return of Barry Allen.
Batman Year One.
Jack Knight's career as Starman.
They all seem pretty great to me.
Ron M. said:
.....he was still strong enough to tear up phone books when Johnny Storm found him in that flophouse. (By the way, where would Johnny find him now? Does anything like that place in FF#4 still exist?)
I think that today's homeless shelters fill the bill, they tend not to have just male residents like in the story.
And how many of those couldn't have been told pre-Crisis? Of course, Jack Knight would have to have existed on Earth-2.
Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:
And great post crisis stories?
The Death of Superman/Reign of the Supermen
The Return of Barry Allen.
Batman Year One.
Jack Knight's career as Starman.
They all seem pretty great to me.
Well, the Spectre was an Earth 2 character also, but interacted with a lot of Earth 1 characters in the series. As did Jack Knight, for that matter. Suicide Squad featured characters that originated on Earths 1, 2, S, and Charlton. (And maybe Earth X too, come to think about it, and definitely what would have been considered Earth Prime). The Return of Barry Allen definitely couldn't have happened without Crisis #8. Reign of the Superman might have been able to occur pre-crisis, but The Eradicator originated from a drastically different version of Krypton, and Superboy wouldn't have been the first person to have that name. And Batman Year One was an origin reboot, much like Man of Steel.
So... all of 'em?
But the bulk of those stories could easily have been told without destroying the multiverse to make them possible--some of them might have been a bit different, but once All-Star Squadron opened up Earth-2 to more than just the JSA & a couple of Soldiers of Victory, there were no shortage of characters that either the Spectre or Jack Knight to interact with instead of the Earth-1 characters in the series. For that matter, a "new" Earth-1 Spectre could have been created for the Ostrander series, while Jack Knight hinged so much on his status as a semi-reluctant legacy character, he would have had to have been on Earth-2 in a Crisis-less world--who knows, maybe something decent could have finally been done with the Infinity Inc. characters? Barry Allen & Superman could easily have died and returned without the multiverse being destroyed. The Eradicator wouldn't have been the biggest retcon in Kryptonian history, and a contemporary Superboy character (as opposed to the "15 years ago" one) was long overdue, and did it really matter if he was the first or second or third character to use that name? I don't recall Batman: Year One making the kind of "this is a whole new reality" changes to Batman's past that Man of Steel did to Superman's--it seemed more like the kind of tweaks they'd been making for decades, like when it was revealed that Joe Chill hadn't been a random mugger, but actually a hitman specifically targeting Thomas Wayne. With the Suicide Squad, I really think it was less just which characters were used, and more that Ostrander was able to take a bunch of, let's face it, previously fairly lame villains and write them as if they were actually interesting characters, which no one had ever tried doing with them before. It's not like Earth-1 ever had a shortage of such villains (and minor heroes) that could have replaced Nightshade, Punch, Jewelee, and whoever I'm forgetting off the top of my head without diminishing the series in any way. Actually, especially in the case of the Suicide Squad, it was largely the fact that those characters HAD the history of being losers in the previous continuity that made seeing them actually developed as engaging characters with depth and actual personalities so exciting (as opposed to whatever the unrecognizable entities starring in the New 52 Suicide Squad were).
Technically there was no reason every world couldn't have equivalents of every character. We never saw an Earth-1 Dr. Fate or an Earth-2 Black Condor or Earth-Shazam Blue Beetle, but that didn't mean they couldn't exist.Thanks to Jack Kirby Earth-1 briefly had a Sandman in the 70s.
But the bulk of those stories could easily have been told without destroying the multiverse to make them possible--some of them might have been a bit different,
Crisis was supposed to simplify the DCU to make it easier to tell stories without worrying about "continuity," mostly which Earth each character was on and getting rid of duplicates. Whether they told great stories--and again, the answers from people who haven't been reading comics since Earth-1 first began might be different--shows how effective they were at using the system that Crisis set up for them.
That they didn't do it well enough for us who liked what we'd had isn't that surprising really. On the other side, how many great pre-Crisis stories could have been told post-Crisis? I'll bet quite a few. It wasn't that important to the bulk of the stories being told, unless you were Tula or Prince Ra-Man.
The problem is that by eliminating the original versions of characters and combining the WW II heroes with current ones, they drastically changed the history of the one world they had left. They saw all those Earths as a problem, but it was much better to have those heroes off on another planet where they didn't have to always be dealt with. That was much more of a problem than occasionally having Batman teaming up with Wildcat.
DC's biggest problem is that the editors haven't been advocates for their own characters and their long-term viability. They go for the short-term flash, which makes them stand out--but then leaves them in a position that they want to forget when it's over, but the fans won't let them. So they reboot.
Rebooting also is encouraged by their love of retelling origin stories and putting their own mark on them. Whereas I dislike origin stories, because they're often not that interesting, change information I already knew and don't have an impact on current stories anyway. I gave up on caring about the new Superman and Batman Year One stories, and the current Secret Origins title seems really boring to me.
Which indicates I've been reading superhero comics for too long, which is why I've stopped for the most part. Fortunately, there's plenty of other comics to be reading and lots of reprints of stories I like.
Mr. Age wrote: DC's biggest problem is that the editors haven't been advocates for their own characters and their long-term viability. They go for the short-term flash, which makes them stand out--but then leaves them in a position that they want to forget when it's over, but the fans won't let them. So they reboot.
An even bigger, and related, problem is that the editors (and writers and artists) just don't stick around for very long, necessitating the need of incoming creative staff to, as you say, put their own mark on the characters. One of the things that made the Silver Age so great, and so unique, was that you had the same editors on the core titles for the entire decade of the 1970s. Every issue of FLASH and JLA and GREEN LANTERN was edited by Schwartz; every Superman family title (until the late 1960s, at least) was edited by Weisinger. Drake, Premiani and Boltinoff handled every DOOM PATROL issue. Kanigher and Kubert were there for virtually every Sgt. Rock story. The same folks were there issue after issue after issue, and while maybe that led to some feeling of "this is the same ol' thing again," there's something to be said for consistency... especially when Infantino's passing on the FLASH resulted in Andru & Esposito.
Same deal, really with Marvel. Stan edited the entire line for the entirety of the 1960s, and Kirby was there with him on many of the key titles. Even though Ditko's tenure was relatively short, other artists settled in for very long runs, like Heck, Colan, Romita and Buscema.
So part of our longing for the "good ol' days" of the Silver Age is very much tied in to our respect for creators who were in it for the long haul.