A Tribute to the of

The wonderful Sy Barry turned 91 on the 11th and I recently learned a bit of trivia about the prolific artist on the Phantom strip for many years. While his comic book work wasn’t nearly as voluminous, he does hold the distinction of being the very first inker on the very first story that introduced Krypto the Superdog way back in Adventure Comics #210 from March of 1955, just shortly before the Silver Age kicked off. The cover was by Curt Swan with Stan Kaye on inks and “The Super-Dog from Krypton!” was scribed by the equally prolific Otto Binder under the editorship of Whitney Ellsworth.

That splash page shows a rather perplexed Superboy wondering how to deal with the eager canine fetching him all these massive items. Let’s turn the page and see what our creative team dreamt up.

As with nearly all the Superboy stories, it takes place in Smallville and the local dog-catcher is rounding up unlicensed canines, but as he goes back to the cab of his truck, he hears a loud noise, but fails to spot one of his charges bursting through the side of the truck chassis. Next thing you know, all the dogs are loose and Clark Kent, obviously having a slow day, decides to change into his familiar red and blue togs to help round up the rogue pooches. The animal control warden notes that one is still missing after Superboy makes some quick and temporary repairs to the truck, but vows that he’ll round up the stray later.

Later, Clark is helping his father at the Kent family store when a robbery occurs, but our hero cannot risk changing into his alter ego in front of so many witnesses. The crooks exit the store and are confronted by a white dog who seems to be resistant to their bullets, though they wonder if they just cannot seem to hit the animal. Concealed around the corner of the store, Clark deflects the stray slugs back at the hoods’ weapons, effectively disarming them until the police arrive. Young master Kent then sees the dog using one of the pistols as a chew toy.

Changing into his Superboy costume, the Boy of Steel is determined to get to the bottom of things and begins to chase the dog when the animal abruptly takes flight. Dubbing him “Superdog,” Superboy continues his pursuit. Just as suddenly, the dog reverses course in mid-air to show Superboy some affection and our hero is even more curious as the dog seems to know him. The Boy of Steel soon discovers that the dog’s other abilities mimic his own, when he spots a bone buried in the Earth that the dog also spots with X-ray vision and unearths.

Seemingly gifted with above average intelligence, the canine appears to sense the boy’s thoughts and leads our hero to a deserted farm and a crash-landed rocket complete with a written record in Kryptonese. It seems the Kryptonians were using experimental rockets prior to the planet’s demise and of course were using animals in the test flights. One scientist, anticipating the upcoming disaster, used a prototype rocket and placed Krypto, their pet into it and of course due to perhaps a collision with a meteor, the rocket did not return and Krypto grew from a pup into a full-grown dog. Let’s not speculate about water, food and, er, waste during his journey.

When Superboy reaches the end of the record, he discovers it was signed by his father, Jor-El, meaning it was his family’s pet and they are now reunited. Superboy is overjoyed at this piece of home and the opportunity to have his own dog, but Krypto is still prone to natural dog behavior and starts to cause a few headaches, like taking off after a plane and chewing on the wings, causing both damage and danger.

Soon our hero has found a secluded place and proceeds to make a super dog house out of massive stones. He also forms a collar and chain, but stocks Krypto with a super-sized pile of bones to keep him occupied and less prone to escape. After cleaning his dog up with a barbwire scrub and a molten lava bath, the Boy of Steel takes his leave.

After school the next day, Clark looks forward to a visit with his dog when he discovers Krypto has beat him to the punch, locating his master with X-ray vision revealing the concealed uniform. Just to ice the cake, the dog has shown up with a steel girder for his master. Clark quickly relieves Krypto of his payload and tries to avoid Lana Lang in the process, but she is certain she spotted him performing a super deed and her suspicions of his alter ego are in high gear.

Later, it’s more canine mischief as Krypto chases a cat. Superboy reasons that he cannot fit into the small opening in the brick building the feline escaped into, but fails to take into account Krypto’s invulnerability and enthusiasm as the dog bursts right through the bricks. Using a supersonic, high frequency whistle, the Boy of Steel is able to summon his pet and soon boy and dog are putting the steel girder back where it belongs on a suspension bridge.

Afterward, it’s back to the doghouse and a super scolding for Krypto when Superboy suddenly has an idea. Back in his civvies, he approaches Lana carrying a large ladder, which she states only proves that he is really Superboy. Clark then tosses the ladder to her, informing her it’s made of light weight magnesium and she remembers that the girder could have been made of the same substance.

Then, he alerts her to a crimson streak overhead. She replies that the cape is a dead giveaway and it could only be Superboy flying high overhead. Lana apologizes and the matter seems to be settled, but of course we know what really happened. Superboy fashioned a huge boomerang for Krypto to chase and wore Superboy’s cape as a clever decoy.

The Boy of Steel continues to ponder the mixed blessing of his newfound hound when he goes back to the doghouse, only to discover an empty collar. Using telescopic vision, he spots his pet rollicking out in space. Superboy is both relieved and heartbroken and only hopes that maybe his pet will return from time to time, just to check in and that ends this little 10-page story.

Thus ends a classic tale in the Superboy mythos and we now know the exact moment when Krypto the superdog made his debut, thanks in part to the talents of Sy Barry. Happy birthday, Sy! Thanks for the interview you gave me, available here in the archives [Sage #274] of the Silver Lantern.

Do join us again the 1st of April, dear readers, when a new review will be located right here.

Meanwhile, the faithful webmaster and I await your inputs. Just fire off an e-mail to this address and you’re bound to get a reply: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Until then…

Long live the Silver Age!

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