When it was reported last week that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had signed to voice Krypto in a forthcoming DCU Super Pets movie, it may have signaled the tipping point for ALL four-legged heroes…
Who’s a good boy?
I love Krypto the Super Dog. There are more Krypto-related titles on my bucket list now than any other character in comics. If you had told me just five years ago that this would be the case I’d have called you nuts. And to be honest, it wasn’t even a Krypto story that spearheaded my interest in collecting key appearances of super-powered animals. It was Tom King’s “Good Boy” story about Ace the Bat-Hound in 2016’s Batman Annual 1, with beautiful artwork by David Finch.
If you haven’t read it, you should –because it won an Eisner Award for Best Short Story. That’s the kind of sneaky pedigree that makes it a great long-term investment. Award-winning comics tend to get reprinted in omnibus collections and trade paperbacks ad infinitum. This means they continue to connect with new collectors.
There is no clear consensus about what breed of dog Krypto was modeled upon. He’s been depicted variously as a Parson Russell Terrier, a Labrador Retriever, a German Shepherd mix. Possibly even an albino Dalmation. What makes him so lovable? He’s a kind of generic white dog upon which we all can cast the characteristics of our own pets. He’s an everydog.
There’s a new 3D animated version voiced by Dwayne The Rock Johnson on the way. The prices of key appearances have already started to spike, but not to the extent that we should expect. I mapped value trajectories using the last theatrically-released animated comic book film (Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse). You can see how multiple first appearances spiked modestly and then continued to take off without really stopping. And like Spider-Verse, this new film is not centered around a single character. The Legion of Super-Pets offers us a whole herd of different key issues to track down.
The Dog of Steel
Krypto is, of course, the original Super-Pet, having made his debut in March 1955’s Adventure Comics #210. That Atomic Age Key is out of the running for most collectors with an FMV of around $1,000 for a CGC 2.0, so I recommend seeking Krypto’s 2nd appearance instead: Adventure Comics #214, where the same money should get you a 6.5 and a spare 6.0. It’s even a slightly more iconic cover, featuring Superboy’s loyal pal breaking through a brick wall. This is the type of imagery one might expect of a first cover appearance.
Since high-grade copies of comics in this title are so rare, there is no shame in picking up lower grades than you might otherwise hunt. They offer an easier resale than comics of other eras in the same condition. If you want to complete the trifecta, the third Krypto cover appearance is Adventure Comics #220, the most recent sales of which were $240 for a CGC 7.0 and $126 for a CGC 6.0 –both from Heritage Auctions within the last month.
The Legion of Super-Pets
In the late 50s and early 60s, Hall of Fame illustrators Curt Swan and Winn Mortimer gave us classic cover after classic cover, but the Krypto covers of this era were particularly exceptional. At various points along the run, we are treated to a giant Krypto (Adventure Comics #262), a Bizarro Krypto (Superboy #82), and existential Krypto (Superboy #109) with thought balloons lamenting his master favoring other super-dogs.
Since the first appearance of The Legion of Super-Pets is not mentioned nor illustrated on the cover of Adventure Comics #293, it’s easy to overlook this important Key Issue that brings together Krypto the Super-Dog, Beppo the Super-Monkey, and Streaky the Super-Cat for the first time while also introducing Comet the Super-Horse, as well as containing the 2nd appearance of General Zod and the first Bizarro Lex Luther. This is a multi-key that has been criminally undervalued for way too long. I picked up a CGC 7.5 in March for under $300 which is still above the currently stated FMV, but should very quickly prove a wise investment.
We still don’t know who will be cast in the other Super-Pets roles, but it doesn’t take a psychic to predict the breakout potential of someone like David Cross or Patton Oswalt giving voice to Beppo the Super-Monkey. Kids love cats and dogs, but primates are next level. It’s probable that Beppo will be rebranded as a Super-Chimp (chimpanzees are apes, not monkeys) but that will only benefit his first appearance in Superboy #76. There is nothing on the census above a 9.2. It has been more than a decade since anything above an 8.5 has been sold.
The most recent sale of any graded copy was a 5.0 in November 2020 that sold for $110. That suggests a lot of opportunity for anyone who can score an ungraded copy at an LCS or small convention. At this point, even a 1.0 has got to be worth $100.
Now imagine Amy Poehler or Tina Fey as Streaky the Super-Cat. That can’t be bad for Action Comics #261, which features the Kryptonian feline on the cover of her first appearance. The highest graded copies are 8.5 and the only four to be sold in the last year ranged $500 to $625. This is not an aggressive rate of increase. This exposes the likelihood of a forthcoming market correction.
No Dog Days Ahead
In the modern era, artists like Alex Ross (Superman #680), Jorge Jimenez (Super Sons Annual #1), and Duncan Rouleau & Marlo Alquiza (Action Comics #789) have produced some of the most iconic comic covers of all time to feature Krypto, and yet there are NO graded copies of last, only a couple dozen of the first, and a mere half-dozen of the middle among the aforementioned –across ALL conditions.
Again, this showcases a scarcity in the market that presents opportunity. These books are out there, but very few are graded. As demand accelerates, the collectors who get those first copies to market will get to name their price. And if this first film sparks a franchise? Those prices will be the denominator from which all future statistics are expressed.
More than Meta Data
But let’s not limit our purview to just those animals from Krypton, because Grant Morrison’s WE3 has been under option for years awaiting the right director’s availability. Names bandied about have included James Gunn, James Wan, and John Stevenson. The expected visual style is to be somewhat akin to George Miller’s Babe 2: Pig in the City… but darker. It won Frank Quitely an Eisner Award for Best Penciler.
In addition, it routinely makes top ten lists of the best comics ever written. And while there are 3 issues of the original series and a trade paperback, there are only six total sales registered on the census across all formats and conditions. You’ve heard me bang the Vertigo drum before, but this seems like an especially egregious absence in the marketplace.