Sure, the world loves a superhero; from Iron Man to the X-Men team, costumed avengers are definitely popular right now. Marvel Comics is the king of caped crusaders (and “parent” to most of the world’s most beloved superhero characters), and while their vigilante “white hats” are now getting a huge resurgence in vitality and profile, let us not forget some of Marvel’s other comic characters that may not be getting quite the same treatment. I’m talking about the non-human kind, and, no, I don’t mean aliens or mutants or intergalactic clowns (Slapstick; look it up!).
It’s the animals’ turn at a day in the spotlight. Marvel Animals.
Here are my favorite furry (and not so furry) friends from the extensive and awesome Marvel universe:
Lockjaw: Let’s face facts; everyone loves a dog. Add a giant mustache to said dog, a tiny pair of outer space antennae, and the ability to psychically transport people and things. and you’ve got my favorite Inhuman (and incidentally, mustachioed dog) in comic books. Lockjaw is the strong and silent type, much like his “owner?,” Black Bolt. Though the Inhumans’ popularity waxes and wanes over the years, good ole’ Lockjaw remains a fixture for many Marvel comics fans and one of the the more imaginative “superheroes” around. Good dog.
Throg: Not many people could fill the mythical boots of the Norse god Thor, but Throg is not many people… or any people. Often mistaken for the frog that Thor did some body swapping with, Throg is actually a former football player cursed by a mystic, and forced to spend his life as a tiny amphibian thunder god (complete with his own hammer of power, Frogjolnir). Throg has become a fan-favorite character and an important member of the Pet Avengers, all while remaining undeniably adorable.
Zabu: While at first glance he just might appear to be your run of the mill Sabertooth tiger (have you ever been to a mill? SO many tigers), Zabu is one of the toughest characters in the MU and a loyal sidekick to the Tarzan-like Ka-Zar. Zabu spends most of his time in the Savage Land, hanging out, climbing trees, fending off alien invasions; you know, typical tiger stuff. While he may not be as cute as some of the other creatures on this list, he is a sabertooth tiger, and that’s infinitely more helpful than being cute.
Lockheed: It’s like the famous country song goes; “Every cat needs a dragon” (you guys know that song, right?), and Shadowcat’s dragon is a pretty great one. Lockheed has long been a fixture of the pages of Marvel funnybooks, going all the way back to Uncanny X-Men #166. This purple alien dragon is a constant friend to Kitty Pryde, and when he’s not on earth, an uber intelligent alien dragon who has done more than his part to save the day, on many occasions; Also… he’s a tiny purple dragon.
Monkey Joe: Sidekick and best friend to the Great Lakes Avengers‘s Squirrel Girl, Monkey Joe is a furry rodent with a heart of gold who met his end way too soon. Possessing an above average squirrel intellect and a love for nuts, Joe was an integral member of the GLA team, even helping his friend Squirrel Girl to defeat the dastardly Doctor Doom before sacrificing his life for the team. You were one good squirrel, monkey, and you will be missed.
Spider-Ham (Peter Porker): No, this isn’t a Simpsons Movie tie-in; Spider-Ham is a honest to goodness actual Marvel comic book character… and he’s pretty awesome. Peter started life as an average teenage spider, who in a science lab experiment gone awry, was transformed into the all-powerful and all-quippy Spider-Ham, a crime-figher with no equal (other than I guess, Spider-man and all the Spider-man clones). He’s a spider. He’s a pig. He’s a spider-pig.
Howard The Duck: I know what you’re thinking; “That weird Tim Robbins/George Lucas movie that may have included interspecies erotica?” Yeah, kind of, but there was also a comic book. Created by Steve Gerber in 1973, Howard has had an interesting career in the “world he never made,” appearing in his own series (and then sporadically in Marvel books for decades to follow) before being given the big screen treatment. Say what you want about the film, but this Duck has a style and attitude all his own. Plus, he’s a cigar smoking duck.
Hitmonkey: Possibly the least well known member of this list, and quite possibly the most badass; Hitmonkey is a (wait for it), Hitman Monkey. If that doesn’t get you excited, there’s frankly no hope for you in the long run. Although he made his debut a short few years ago, Hitmonkey really stands out from the rest of the pack because… he’s an assassin who happens to be a Japanese Macaque monkey, who learned his killing ways from a human assassin his monkey tribe once took in to heal; and he wears sunglasses. I LOVE THIS MONKEY!
Dogpool: Everyone loves the “Merc’ with the Mouth,” but have you met his trusty and insane canine companion, “The Mutt with the Mouth?” Meet Dogpool, lunatic Wade Wilson’s (Deadpool) furry friend (who is equally a lunatic, but in more of a quadrupedal manner). A proud member of the Deadpool Corps, Dogpool is powered with a mutant healing factor just like his owner, as well as a strange skill for hand-to-paw combat. You guys, he’s adorable, and psychotic, and I want one.
Rocket Raccoon: You knew he’d be here. “Star” (cause c’mon, he will be!) of the upcoming Marvel sci-fi film Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket has long been a fan favorite character and a sort of “mascot” for the Marvel galactic universe. That being said, he’s far from a mascot, as Rocket is a bad-tempered, quick-triggered, inter-stellar warrior who is more apt to shoot off your hand than shake it. Plus, he’s adorable.