How Krypto Made History!

One of the rules of time travel in DC's Silver Age was that you can't change history, and yet many times it seemed that history would not have occurred as we know it without the interference of a time-traveling DC character. And in the case of "How Krypto Made History," an Otto Binder/George Papp tale from Superboy #75 (Sept 1959), that character was a dog.

It all begins innocently enough, as Superboy and Krypto engage in fun and games on a bright day in idyllic Smallville...

Superboy zooms into space, but Krypto tags him and dives into the ocean to elude his master. Superboy tags him and burrows into the sea floor, taking the chase underground. Krypto gives pursuit, but loses interest in the game when he discovers a huge dinosaur bone. Taking it to dry land, he bites the bone, only to spit it out in disgust.

"Haha!" laughs Superboy, "You see, Krypto, fossil bones that are buried underground a long time become petrified...or turned to stone! Fresh bones only existed long ago, in the Age of the Dinosaurs!"

With that, Superboy throws the bone over the horizon to start a game of "fetch," but Krypto has already started spinning at super-speed into the past, after those fresh dino bones.

You know what? This is really cute. Sure it's ridiculous to think dinosaurs could have lived in 1927, but hey he's a dog! Those little signs with the year on them are probably hard to make out at faster-than-light speed, and even if Krypto could see them, he couldn't read them, right? (Incidentally, who put them there? The Department of Time Transportation?). Besides, by 1927, Zsa Zsa Gabor had already been around for ten years, so it kind of was the Age of Dinosaurs, in a way.

Krypto thinks he's lucked out on his first try, as he lands in a forest full of dinosaurs and giant bones. Unfortunately, as he bites into one he finds it's made of plaster, as are the "dinosaurs," in reality just sculptures at a tourist attraction.

Not far away, baseball legend Babe Ruth has just hit the record-breaking 60th home run of the season, but as it flies toward the stands, history is threatened as a pigeon unwittingly flits into the ball's path. Luckily, Krypto draws the bird out of harm's way in his super-speed slipstream.

This raises a number of questions, however. First, why did Krypto travel to the middle of that "nearby" ball field before beginning his time-traveling spin, rather than simply doing it from the dinosaur sculpture park? Second, why does the suction of his spin draw the bird off-course, but not the ball? And third, why does he say "Oops"? Does this mean saving birds from almost certain death is the last thing he'd ever do on purpose? What's he got against birds, anyway? Oh, and do pigeons really say "Awwk"?

Ruth's record saved, Krypto goes back even further in time to find himself in the pitch black of a cold night. Spotting large shapes in the distance, he uses his heat vision to "sting" the objects, figuring if they move, they may be dinosaurs. Instead, he learns they're only chunks of ice on a river. Disappointed, he moves on, never realizing he's just cleared the way for George Washington and his troops to cross the Delaware.

Then things start getting really wacky. Journeying further back in time, Krypto arrives in Holland just as Dutch crews are working desperately to reinforce the dykes that will save their land from devastating floods. Krypto notices his tail is muddy and sticks it in a hole in the dyke to wash it clean (?). A dutch boy notices this and when Krypto flies off, the lad puts his finger in, saving Holland and securing his place in the history books (even if Binder never actually mentions him by name...usually we know him as Hans Brinker).

Next Krypto moves from the "probably fictional" to the "definitely so" when he arrives in Sherwood Forest, unwittingly saving Robin Hood from assassination when he catches an arrow in his mouth in what he thinks is a game of fetch. Then it's on to the age of Camelot...

Okay, I'm willing to forgive the lack of history knowledge, but how stupid does this dog have to be to think a guy in armor is really a dinosaur? Anyway, just for fun, Krypto loosens Excalibur when the knight's not looking, and the lucky fellow -- who we learn is yes, Arthur -- is able to pluck it from the stone (being sure to throw in an "Odd's Bodkins!" for good measure).

Finally, Krypto arrives in the real Age of the Dinosaurs; the year 100,000,000 BC. He's just about to dig into a juicy dino skeleton when Superboy shows up to spoil his fun, dragging him back to the present for "an important event." It turns out Smallville is holding a celebration in Krypto's honor, commemorating the first anniversary of his arrival on Earth (you know those Smallville folk...any excuse for a day off of work). The mayor presents Krypto with a trophy in the shape of golden bone, but he's unimpressed ("Shucks! I can't eat that!").

As consolation, Superboy takes Krypto to the Arctic, where he's spotted the bones of an extinct mammoth frozen in a glacier. "They won't be petrified!" They use their heat vision to melt the ice, but before Krypto can dig in, another interruption...

Uhm...yeah. Bet they both felt stupid when the "greatest archeological find of the century" never made the papers, and "Professor Van Wyck" was revealed as an escaped mental patient, hiding from police in the Arctic in a fort made of bones.

Back home again, Krypto has to settle for a bowl of "Bow Wow Dog Biscuits." Sad-faced, he mopes that his whole adventure was just "a wild goose chase," but we know better. Krypto has saved history. Or made it; it's never quite clear.

Not much to say about this one, except that it's fun, and also that -- if you take this sort of thing seriously -- it offers evidence that the separation of Earth-1 history from our own occurred a long time before Kal-El's ship landed near the Kent farm. Just as Superman is a fictional character on our world but a real one on Earth-1, so it appears to have been with many literary characters, here including Robin Hood and King Arthur, but elsewhere the Three Musketeers, Sherlock Holmes and others. There's probably the potential for a whole post on that subject, but it'll have to wait for another day.