Saturday, December 24, 2011

WORD OF THE DAY! 12/24/2011

man's best friend [manz-best-frend]
1. a tame dog.

EX. "The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog."-George Graham Vest, 1870

The previous quotation is considered to be the origins of the phrase, man's best friend, but I think we all know the idea of canine loyalty goes back about as long as man has domesticated dog (or as long as they've humanized us). Sad dog stories and inspiring dog stories are as much a part of our collective mythos and history as war. From Futurama's Seymour in Jurassic Bark episode to Disney's Old Yeller (1957) to the oldest sad old dog story I can think of is Homer's story of Argos in The Odyssey.

Argos was Odysseus's dog and waited for his master's return for 20 years. Once known for his strength and speed, upon his master's return, Argos had grown old and neglected. Odysseus returned to his home disguised as a beggar and the old hound recognized him but only had the strength to lift his ears and wag his tail. Odysseus shed a dear for his dear companion before going inside his home. Argos then dies.

If Superman is a role model for what a man can do with unlimited power, then Krypto is a role model for what a man can do with unconditional love. Today's subject is Krypto, Superman's best and most loyal friend.

Krypto's first appearance in comics came in Action Comics #210 in 1955. Krypto was originally the pet of an infant Kal-El (AKA Clark Kent/ Superman). Jor-El needed to test one of the escape rockets before sending his son to Earth and so he decided to send Krypto firs.t Except poor Krypto's ship was lost in space until it landed on Earth and he was reunited with a teenaged Superboy. Krypto has all of super man's powers and abilities, to dog scale, as well as superior senses of smell and hearing compared to even his master, and human-level intelligence (though a dog's interests).

 Despite not seeing for his pal for over a decade, Krypto was still as loyal as ever to Superman. Over the years he has defended Superman and Earth from all kinds of threats. It's not always easy being Superman's best friend. Heck, nobody but Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, or Krypto would be dumb, desperate, or compassionate enough to put up with the nonsense of the Silver Age Superman.

For one, Krypto is no less a dog than Superman is human. He enjoys fetch and getting his ears scratched. And Krypto doesn't have the same concepts of mercy or control a human would have. Superman has had to train him several times over the years to keep him from hurting others, by accident. In one example, in one of the most recent first times he met Supergirl she was walking the halls of the Fortress of Solitude. He assumed she was a home invader and attacked her. He went so far as to shoot heat vision at her and tear down doors.

The most important example of Krypto's canine loyalty comes in Alan Moore's Action Comics #583 story, What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. In the story, the Legion of Doom finds and attacks the Fortress of Solitude. The Kryptonite Man wants to use his radiation to literally tun Superman green and kill him. Krypto, the ever-loyal Superdog, throws himself into danger's path, bites out the throat or the villain and dies of Kryptonite poisoning. To quote Krypto from another comic, who's thoughts are often telegraphed over his head, "This one hurt man. Krypto loves man -- Krypto hurt this one. Man loves place. I protect place for man. Krypto good boy."

But just as his master, Krypto is too important as a symbol of canine loyalty to be thrown aside forever. He has been reborn as many times as Superman. above you can see his most redesign in the New 52 reboot. He has become more alien, they mixing features of wolves, cats and dogs to create a more powerful looking animal. Krypto will continue to evolve alongside his master, as dogs have evolved for thousands of years.

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