Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Back Issue Bin: Action Comics #334, Streaky

Last week in Superman #1, we saw the Kents' ... ahem, Smiths' pet cat Goldie get incinerated by Jon's uncontrolled heat vision. It was a brutal, shocking scene which I felt was unnecessary to Jon's story. But there it was.

It was with that event in mind that I decided to look to a more pleasant story about a cat.

What better place to look than Streaky, the super-cat! Supergirl's pet cat was a mischievous scamp who was seen in her earliest stories in Action Comics. He was later seen as a normal cat in Daring New Adventures, the pre-Flashpoint Supergirl, in Cosmic Adventures, Tiny Titans, and even in in cartoon form in Krypto. Streaky is an important part of Kara's history.

Surprisingly, despite doing this blog for eight plus years, I have never reviewed his origin story. I unfortunately don't own Action Comics #261, Streaky's first appearance. But I do own the story in a variety of reprints. The scans you see here are from Action Comics #334, a giant issue of Supergirl stories.

So if you don't like to see a cat's charred corpse and would rather read about a cat flying around with a cape, read on!

Supergirl's Super-Pet was written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel with art by regular Supergirl artist Jim Mooney. As I said, this was originally published in Action Comics #261, a mere 9 months into Supergirl's history.

The opening blurb talks of how Supergirl is like any other kid and would love to have a pet. So why not a super-pet.

I find a bit of cosmic synchronicity in that this first splash shows Streaky attacking a wild eagle. It was a wild eagle attacking Goldie that led to Jon's heat vision attack.

In Midvale, a small Kryptonite meteor falls to Earth. Supergirl still hasn't been revealed to the world so Kara needs to retrieve the meteor stealthily. As it is Kryptonite, she can't easily approach the meteor so she crushes a lead make-up compact around it.

In these early issues, one of Supergirl's main missions is to try to find a cure for Kryptonite to protect Superman. Back in the Midvale orphanage, Kara experiments on the Green K, bathing it in a variety of chemical. Alas, she cannot change the nature of Kryptonite. To keep herself safe, she tosses the chemically altered Kryptonite into the woods near the orphanage. Now I would think maybe it would be safer to simply coat the Krytponite in lead again to be even safer. But whatever.

What I do love is that this is one of the earliest signs that Supergirl is both highly intelligent and a science geek. This personality trait has been part of Supergirl's character right up to recent days.

Earlier in the issue, we see Linda use her powers to help an alley cat escape the animal officer.

Later, the cat somehow shows up on the ground of the orphanage. Linda's loving instincts take over. She wants to keep this cat. She asks the orphanage staff if she can keep Streaky.

Look at how cute the kitty is!

Exploring the grounds, Streaky comes upon the Kryptonite Kara experimented on. Now it is X-Kryptonite, a unique form of Kryptonite, one with an X-factor of the random experiments Supergirl performed on it.

The rays of the meteor make Streaky strong, brave, and tingly. He suddenly has powers.

Take note of the Superman doll in the second panel. Earlier we saw that Superman had dropped off dolls for the orphans to play with. Zooming around while he learns how to fly, Streaky crashes in some dolls and comes out of it wearing a cape.

He is now Super-cat!!!

Like any cat, Streaky has a rather mischievous mind of his own. He flies around the town doing what a cat would do if it had Kryptonian powers.

He tips over a milk truck, spilling the delicious cream so that the feral cat population of Midvale can have a nice meal.

Later he shakes a tree so that a load of apples falls on the head of a mean dog.

Thrilled and proud, he lets out a mighty meow!

That super-meow is loud enough to wake up Linda. She goes to investigate only to see that her feline friend has powers. And he isn't being inconspicuous. He is no secret weapon. He is seen by airplane pilots and townfolk.

Finally, Kara catches up with her pet in time to see Streaky attack a wild eagle who was going to eat some helpless chicks.

I love Streaky's internal monologue throughout the story as he revels in his powers.

And Supergirl is thrilled too!

Much like Superman's relationship with Krypto, Supergirl is thrilled with the fact that she has a super-friend to play with. She grabs a big spool of steel cable and heads into space with Streaky. He paws and plays with it like a giant ball of string.

Call me a sentimental fool but I love that second panel of Streaky all tangled in the string while Kara laughs nearby. Streaky is a total scream!

But as suddenly as they arrived, Streaky's powers wear off. Suddenly he is a normal cat plummeting to his death ... that is until Supergirl catches him and brings him home.

And so the story ends. Supergirl has to wonder what made Streaky so powerful for that time. And then she asks a question ... basically aimed at the readers. Will we ever see more of the super-cat?

As for Streaky, he dreams of donning the cape and chasing a bull dog. As this is a reprint, the end text box talks of how Streaky would play with the X-Kryptonite more and have more adventures.

Streaky is a huge part of Supergirl's legend so hard to believe I haven't covered this before. And I am probably drunk on nostalgia but I love this story. It is okay to occasionally have silly and fun stories. Streaky was a bit of a scamp and definitely his stories are a bit goofy. But I love him. Given his place in Supergirl's history, I would say Action Comics #261 is an issue of high importance for a Supergirl collection. If that isn't available or affordable, Action Comics #334 is a nice primer for the silver age Supergirl and also of high importance.

And certainly I would much much rather read a super-cat fending off an eagle than see a young hero accidentally immolate his beloved pet.

So, should I cover more Streaky stories?

Overall grade: A+


Martin Gray said...

Thank you Anj, this was the perfect palate cleanser after the horrors of last week's Superman. Streaky was the cat I wanted and I miss him hugely, boy, but I love the internal monologues he and Krypto used to have. This is what comics needs!

Off to nag Steve Orlando...

Uncle Screensaver said...

It was odd how Jim Mooney drew him so cartoony, but then I guess that's what fits Streaky best. I always wondered why the animals had to have their names hypenated.

Through the years, creators have been confused with Streaky I's gender, and I wonder if that was because of the issue with L. Finn's masterpiece of a first appearance, or something else. I remember when I was a child and my only experience was seeing him in a LSH Digest that he must be a girl cuz Kara was a girl.

In TDNAOS, Streaky II was a female stray that Linda adopted, saying she reminded her of a cat she used to own. I think Kupperberg had said he wasn't comfortable with "thinking" animals, but I wondered if Super-Cat was like Krypto, space his playground, or if it meant Streaky had died.

I thought Goldie was going to be the "new(est" Streaky - having a ginger coloured cat, powered or not, is generally a nod to him (plus, in "Kingdom Come," we see animal easter eggs), and then DC goes and does *that*. As an animal lover/ cat person, that image sticks in my head and still really upsets me.

Anonymous said...

Maybe its me, I never thought much of Streaky, I always thought it made more sense for Supergirl to "inherit" the care and feeding of Krypto the Superdog.

Then again this was the era when Krypto was a member in good standing of the "Space Canine Patrol Agents" so maybe Kara was better off with Streaky....

garyb said...

Issue #334 was the 80 page giant special at $0.25. So, that was a special. The month before with Action #333 that regular issue was $0.12.

Wonderment visited upon my head. Wonder what the rate of inflation is between 1966 and 2016, 50 years.

The inflation calculator says that applying the 641.5% cumulative rate of inflation "that same item" would cost $0.89.