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The world of comics is no stranger to cats — fantasy comics like Saga, The Unwritten, and Monstress are well-known for their fantastic talking cats, and don’t get us started on anthropomorphized cats or the cats of humor comics. There is no shortage of cats in this glorious medium.
Yet, superhero comics have generally favored dogs when it comes to companions. Superhero comic book cats are usually cast as manipulative and short-tempered, and my cat for one would like you all to know that she finds that to be a highly offensive, completely true stereotype. Looking back across the many appearances of cats as superhero sidekicks, some of these stories turn out to be flat-out bonkers.
Here are some of the strangest.
Green Lantern Vol 4 #54-55
Dex-Starr is one of the Red Lanterns of rage, so his schtick is that he flies around coughing up blood and committing brutal murders. Yet, he is also a very cute cat with an adorable face, so we are forced to love him even when he is a very bad kitty indeed. This two-parter shows Dex-Starr teaming up with his new master, Atrocitus, who is about as pleasant as he sounds. While Atrocitus fights Green Lantern, Star Sapphire, and Lobo, Dex-Starr takes on Lobo's pet space bulldog. Atrocitus doesn’t win this round, but Dex-Starr definitely does.
The back-up story in this issue tells Dexter's sad origin story, and it makes us cry. Without rehashing the traumatic details, let’s just note that Dexter has his reasons for becoming a rage monster and leave it at that. For lighter fare, Dex appeared alongside Jessica Cruz in the #ragecat episode of DC Super Hero Girls, and that story has a much nicer ending — Cruz adopts the little monster and they live a happy life together. Cute!
Action Comics #277
The Silver Age is full of bizarre Superman Family stories, but still, some of them manage to surprise. This story begins as a fairly standard "Streaky the Supercat versus Krypto the Superdog" issue, but it just gets increasingly more bonkers as the pages turn.
Streaky is jealous that Kara is showing attention to Krypto, and he decides to battle it out with the oblivious Superdog. This somehow ends up with them on another planet. Kara plays around with a ball-shaped alien for a while and then finds a giant skeleton of an unknown beast, which she decides to play with. Her and Krypto fall into a pit, which turns out to be a wishing well. Streaky becomes giant-sized for no reason. No part of this story makes sense, but we do know one thing: it’s one of Streaky's finest hours.
Justice League Europe #13
Streaky might have been written out of continuity a few times, but there is always his counterpart, Stinky, to keep Power Girl company. Stinky went on to be a recurring character in later Power Girl series, but his first appearance was here. Justice League Europe is giving a group of children a tour of their embassy when Stinky is zapped in from nothingness, looking like he just fell out of a trashcan he’d been living in for several years. A criminal breaks in and attempts to rob the League, but Stinky is there to foil his plans.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a cat story without hijinks. Stinky walks across a control panel and pushes a giant red button that unleashes the embassy’s self-defense features on the team. Later, he flat-out falls asleep on the button, leading to even more chaos. Despite this, and despite ending up in a literal brawl with Wally West and Guy Gardner, Stinky is immediately adopted by Power Girl, the one true ally of cats in the Justice League.
Captain Marvel Vol. 8 #7-8
Of course, there's no getting out of this list without bringing up Goose, otherwise known as Chewie to comic book fans. Chewie is not truly a cat but indeed a Flerken — an alien species that contains countless pocket dimensions. This is common knowledge today, but it was this, the Release The Flerken 2-parter, that initially gave us the heads-up.
Rocket Racoon insists that Chewie is not a cat, but Carol Danvers absolutely will not hear of it, even when their ship is attacked and boarded by mercenaries attempting to take the Flerken. As Rocket says, Flerkens are rare and worth tons of money. He also refuses to put his neck on the line for a Flerken, a species which disgusts him. Carol stands by her Flerken Cat to the bitter end and finds new homes for her little monster babies when it's all said and done.
Chewie is still a Captain Marvel mainstay to this day and has now played a big part in MCU continuity with the release of the Captain Marvel film in 2019.
Selina Kyle has come a long way from her days as a murderous femme fatale, but there's still a ton of fun stuff to read from her early days. In Batman #42, we find Selina trapped inside the walls of a prison. She receives a book, The Immortal Cats of Fiction, which has chemically treated pages that she uses to create an explosion that blows her cell door off its hinges. She goes home to brood with her cat Hecate, assuring her that "famous felines of fiction" will be her new crime theme.
What can we say? We miss Batman fighting crimes that were basically just performance art.
This story now has all the excuse it needs to fly completely off the rails, and that is exactly what it does. Catwoman and Batman fight in the middle of a rodeo, which leads to Batman wrestling with a bull while Selina rides off on a horse. However, nothing that happens in this story can compare to the sheer bonkers energy of Selina going full Cask of Amontillado on Batman and Robin and sealing them into a crypt while she tells a rambling story about the Cheshire Cat.
They eventually apprehend Selina and send her right back to jail, but let’s face it, she had a heck of a run.