Krypto, also known as Krypto the Superdog, is a fictional character. He is Superman's pet dog in the various Superman comic books published by DC Comics. Krypto's first appearance was in a Superboy story in Adventure Comics #210 in March 1955. Although Krypto's breed is never specifically stated in the comic books, Krypto was drawn as a white dog of generic pedigree.
As explained in his first appearance, Krypto was originally the toddler Kal-El's dog while they were on Krypton. Jor-El, testing prototypes for the rocket that would eventually send Kal-El to Earth, decided to use Krypto as a test subject. However, Krypto's rocket was knocked off-course; the rocket drifted through space for years until it eventually landed on Earth, where Krypto was reunited with the now-teenaged superhero, Superboy. Due to the environment (Earth's yellow sun and lower gravity), Krypto possessed the same powers and abilities as his master, although his physical abilities were proportionate to his smaller size and species, similar to an ordinary dog vs. a human. Certain sensory abilities of Krypto's (senses of smell and hearing) would be more acute than those of Superman, just as an ordinary dog's senses would be more acute than those of an ordinary human. Krypto also had super-canine intelligence (approximately human level, though with his canine traits and interests still present); the comics expressed this via the use of thought balloons indicating what Krypto was thinking.
Krypto was drawn as a white dog of generic pedigree. The early appearances of the character in the comics usually featured exaggerated anthropomorphic facial expressions; these were replaced in later appearances by a more generic canine face. When fighting crime, Krypto usually wore a gold collar, a miniature facsimile of the famed Superman-"S" symbol for a dog tag, and a dog-sized version of Superman's cape.
When not accompanying Superboy/Superman, Krypto spent much of his time romping through space; while on Earth, however, he stayed with the Kent family, posing as their pet dog, "Skip". In that identity, his guardians applied a brown dye patch on his back for a disguise which Krypto could burn off with his heat vision when he went into costume; later, the Kents devised a pullcord-activated dye applicator and other methods which Krypto could use to switch to "Skip" and back without assistance.
Krypto had the distinction of belonging to not one but two organizations of super-animals: the 30th century Legion of Super-Pets, and the Space Canine Patrol Agents. After the 1971 revamp of Superman by editor Julius Schwartz, Krypto made no appearances for several years. The character returned suffering from amnesia in a two-part Green Arrow backup story in Action Comics #440 and 441. His memory was restored in Superman #287.
Krypto had his own feature in The Superman Family #182 (March–April 1977) to #192 (November–December 1978) and it was written by Bob Toomey.
In the final (noncanonical) pre-Crisis Superman story, Alan Moore's Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?, Krypto sacrificed his life to save Superman by biting the throat out of the Kryptonite Man. The villain died, but Krypto was irradiated by him and died as well but came back after Superman "reversed" time after dealing with the attack.
In Superboy #126 (Jan 1966) "Krypto's Family Tree", Krypto's father's name was given as Zypto, his grandfather as Nypto, and his great-grandfather as Vypto.
Following the 1985-1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series, Superman's history was extensively rewritten, initially eliminating all other survivors of Krypton in the revised version of his origin, including Krypto, so as to once again make the premise that Superman was truly the "Last Son of Krypton" a valid one.
Eventually, however, Krypto (in several forms) was reintroduced to the Superman mythos, the first being as essentially an exact copy of the pre-crisis Krypto existing in a pocket universe created by the Time Trapper. In this early Post-Crisis storyline, Superman found himself in this pocket universe in which, similar to the Pre-Crisis Earth Prime of Superboy-Prime, his teenage counterpart was the only superhuman on Earth. Combatting the genocidal forces of the three Phantom Zone criminals, this alternate Superboy had an intelligent Krypto counterpart as well, who heroically sacrificed his powers for his master to provide him with gold kryptonite to defeat his enemy. This was the same pocket reality from which the "Matrix" Supergirl originated.
Krypto and Bibbo
The second modern Krypto was a small white pet dog, rescued, and later named by Bibbo Bibbowski. Originally, Bibbo had wanted to name the dog "Krypton" after Superman's home planet. However, the engraver of the dog tag (knowing that Bibbo had recently won the lottery) intentionally dropped the letter "n" ("Six letters or less for 1 dollar"), so he was trying to extort more money from Bibbo; an angry Bibbo refused to comply and renamed the dog "Krypto." Soon after, the dog found two young children who had been trapped in a bomb shelter for a month following Superman's fight with Doomsday. The children were badly malnourished and dehydrated, but it was learned that they would survive and recover. This gave Superman the idea to explain Clark Kent's long absence by staging a faked rescue from a similar predicament.
Krypto was later acquired by the modern Superboy, Kon-El; however, this version of Krypto was an ordinary Earth dog with no superpowers, and the dog and Kon-El didn't get along. For a time, Krypto's friends were agent Rex Leech, Rex's daughter Roxy, the being from the genetically engineered race at Cadmus called "DNAliens" known as Dubbilex, and TV reporter Tana Moon. Krypto became involved in many of Superboy's adventures. The dog was eventually dropped from the series, remaining in Hawaii when Superboy returned to Project Cadmus. Superboy's friends believed him to be missing and Krypto was left in the care of a neighbor that he liked. After Superboy #69 of that series, the dog went to live at Cadmus. Krypto, a creature called Grokk the Living Gargoyle, and a DNAlien named Angry Charlie, started an uprising against the Agenda, an evil consortium which was influencing Cadmus at the time. After battling a DNAlien named the Gene-gnome, Krypto was never seen again, his last appearance in Superboy #74.
The Dog from Krypton
The third and more familiar version of Krypto was introduced in the early 2000s Superman comics storyline Return to Krypton, as a dog from a false, idealized Krypton (that coincidentally resembled the pre-Crisis Krypton) that was created as a trap by Brainiac 13. Superman was able to defeat the trap, and when he returned to Earth, Krypto followed him.
This new version of Krypto has all the physical abilities of his pre-Crisis predecessor, but with a normal canine intellect. This initially causes a great deal of trouble for his new master when, for instance, he would scratch at a door to indicate he wanted to go out and unintentionally gouged big chunks out of the door with his super strength, or inflicting grievous bodily harm when combating villains (since Krypto bites the way a regular canine would, only without being careful about his super strength). As a result, Krypto is for some time locked away in the Fortress of Solitude under the care of one of Superman's robots. This robot is programmed to emit the scent of the dog's real master. Superman has gone to great lengths to train the dog, and he now occasionally accompanies the Man of Steel on missions. Batman never misses an opportunity to poke fun at Krypto when Batman and Superman don't see eye-to-eye.
Krypto operates on his own for a short period of time, helping out when disasters rocked the planet because of the plans of the invading Imperiex. He is shown rescuing endangered people.
In the "Hush" story arc, Batman uses Krypto to sniff out the whereabouts of Poison Ivy after she uses kryptonite lipstick to gain control of Superman. It also appears that Krypto has taken a great liking to Catwoman, much to her immense displeasure.
Krypto is part of the rescue force put together late in the Superman/Batman storyline "Public Enemies" (#1-6). Thinking Batman and Superman needed to be rescued from President Lex Luthor, a small team of superheroes, which includes such heroes as Superboy, Nightwing, and Robin, invade the White House. Krypto destroys part of the upper floors while subduing some Secret Service agents.
Krypto has a surprisingly violent reaction to Kara Zor-El when he first encounters her. The dog happens upon the girl while she was exploring the Fortress of Solitude and attacks, going so far as to use his heat vision and other potentially lethal attacks. Batman, who distrusted Kara at that time, pointed this out as an argument that Kara might not be who she says she is when he remarks "Doesn't it bother you at all that the dog hates her?" Superman's response was "It's his job to protect the fortress while he's here. Besides...the dog hates everybody."
Some time later, Superman left Krypto in Superboy's care, saying that Smallville's open spaces were a better place for the dog, and that Superboy could use a friend (as shown in Teen Titans vol. 3, #7). Their relationship had a shaky start, not helped by Krypto getting Superboy in trouble with the superheroine Starfire for destroying her alien garden.
However, they have slowly developed a close friendship, in which Krypto willingly does anything he can to protect Conner. One example of this loyalty was Krypto's quick defense of Conner from an enraged Superboy-Prime. He bit Superboy-Prime in the shoulder. Although Krypto was injured with a punch sending him bouncing down the main street of Smallville, this only strengthened his relationship with Conner. Unfortunately Superboy perishes in battle while destroying a multiverse influence tower that Superboy-Prime helped build.
Krypto makes a brief appearance in Justice League of America. The entity known as Fernus took over the mind and body of Martian Manhunter. Krypto is telepathically influenced and uses the Atom as a chew toy. Ray and the League are saved by John Stewart and his injuries are healed by the Flash.
Later, he is mentally influenced by an alien armada being led by the space-faring villain Despero. This is seen in Superman/Batman #32 (March 2007). Along with other earth-based heroes influenced by alien origins, Krypto attacks Superman and Batman after a gathering in Metropolis. The two titular heroes neutralize the alien threat, freeing the minds of everyone affected.
One Year Later
Action Comics #850 presents the latest revision of Superman's origin, containing many subtle retcons to Superman: Birthright, the latest major revision of Superman's continuity. The current version indicates that Krypto was indeed the El family dog from the real Krypton (as in the Silver Age), showing an identical white dog present at Kal-El's birth. Although Action #850 does not deal with the specifics of how this dog was sent to Earth or when he arrived (Krypto is not clearly shown in any of the brief scenes of Clark's childhood), subsequent issues of the Superman title have contained references to Krypto being around when he was "young". Both inclusions retconned the origin of the current Krypto hailing from an ersatz Krypton and debuting during Superman's adulthood.
Some time later, a back-up feature in Action Comics Annual #11, written by Geoff Johns, finally clarified the details of the "New Earth" origin of Krypto: "The Kryptonian canine of the House of El, Krypto was sent in a small prototype rocket created by Jor-El. Lost for years, Krypto was eventually found and rescued by Clark when he was a boy." This retcon essentially brings the modern Krypto almost identically in line with the original Silver Age version.
Krypto goes missing for over a year following the death of his previous owner Conner Kent, but Superman is unable to devote much time to search for him, having himself been without powers for much of that time. Krypto responds to the call from Jimmy Olsen's makeshift signal watch and makes his return. Krypto is quick to defend Jimmy who along with Superman fall under attack, and is badly injured as a result. Jimmy takes Krypto back to his apartment, and nurses the injured dog back to health. Superman later decides to let Krypto stay with Jimmy when he realizes that Krypto has always preferred the company of younger people, such as himself as a child and Kon-El. Jimmy gives Krypto the secret identity of "Pal", a play on the old Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen title.
During the Green Lantern storyline Sinestro Corps War, Robin enlists Krypto's aid in battling against Superboy-Prime, who has returned to Earth as part of the Sinestro Corps. Under Robin's command, Krypto attacks Prime with feral rage damaging Prime's armor, but is unfortunately beaten aside, although he buys the heroes enough time for Superman, Power Girl, and Supergirl to join the fight.
During Superman's battle with the villain Atlas, and after Atlas incapacitates such heroes as Steel and Bibbo Bibbowski, Atlas laments that he has not faced a worthy opponent. Just then, Krypto emerges vowing to "hurt this one" because he "loves man" (Superman). Krypto proves to be more than a match for Atlas, revealing Atlas' magical nature to Superman. This is the first and only story to show exactly what Krypto 'thinks', and although it's translated for readers, Krypto 'speaks' in a simplistic manner with broken English, rarely using pronouns. This story also focuses on how Superman has taught Krypto to be much calmer and well-behaved; Superman reassures Lois that Krypto loves her as well. Following the death of Pa Kent and Brainiac's attack on the family farm, Krypto arrives on the front step of the Kent Farm, to protect Martha Kent and provide companionship. A clone of Krypto made by Cadmus made an appearance in Power Girl.
Geoff Johns detailed Krypto's role in Adventure Comics. The character appears alongside the resurrected Connor Kent as his companion and sidekick, with a much more amicable relationship than before Connor's death.
Krypto is instrumental in helping Connor Kent escape the effects of a Black Lantern power ring. He later participates in the final battle against the Black Lantern Corps. The canine is again seen living calmly on the Kent farm, sitting next to Martha.
The New 52
In the wake of The New 52, Krypto appears as a normal dog with no powers on Krypton. There is mention of a white dog ghost that is protecting Clark Kent. In Action Comics #5 (March 2012) during Krypton's final moments Jor-El tries to save his family by opening a portal to the Phantom Zone when suddenly the incarcerates try to escape. Krypto bravely defends the family but is sucked into the Phantom Zone, while baby Kal-El shows anguish at losing the dog.
The now-grown Superman rediscovers Krypto in Action Comics #13 (December 2012) after being pulled into the Phantom Zone by the first inhabitant of the prison. At the story's conclusion, Superman is able to bring Krypto back to Earth from the Phantom Zone. With Krypto in critical condition Superman rushes to the observation deck exposing Krypto to the sun's radiation. Krypto is then healed at an accelerated rate and is comforted by Superman. The rapid healing reveals that the dog has developed superpowers just like those of Kal-El, Kon-El and Kara Zor-El.