Speedball’s cat Niels/Hairball

And Aunt May’s dog Ms. Lion.  The two act as a furry buddy cop dynamic, but I’m focusing on the more popular one to shamelessly increase hits.  Though, I use the word popular lightly, as Niels doesn’t even get a full page in the Marvel Pet Handbook (written and drawn by everybody):

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The above picture provides the finest example of comics as a glorious literary art form.  A cat wanders into an ongoing experiment, gains superpowers, and fights crime.  And we don’t question a single freaking thing.  Here’s some proof from Speedball #2, written by Stan Ditko & Roger Stern and drawn by Ditko:

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Speedball spends his series searching for the cat in between smacking criminals with energy bubbles.

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Yes, comics were weird in the ’80s.  And the decades before that.  The ones after that too, to be fair. But now Niels treks out on his own, taking the superhero name Hairball to correct injustice perpetrating throughout the Marvel universe.  Today, we’ll be using scenes from Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1-4 and Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1, all written by Chris Eliopoulos and drawn by Ig Guara.

Oh, and now Niels can talk.

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The rest of the Pet Avengers roster consist of Lockjaw, Redwing, Lockheed, and Zabu (all given a full page in the Marvel Pets Handbook) along with new character Frog Thor — who while a frog, is not Thor.  I’m ignoring the other characters today, but they deserve an introduction.  The giant teleporting dog Lockjaw lives with Black Bolt and the Inhumans on the moon.  The superhero Falcon’s pet Redwing has a telepathic link that allows his master to see out the bird’s eyes and vice versa.  The alien dragon that befriended Kitty Pryde Lockheed can do all the normal tiny dragon things.  And Zabu’s a sabretooth tiger living in the Savage Land with Tarzan-esque humans Ka-Zar and Shanna the She-Devil.  He doesn’t join until next issue.

If you don’t know who Ms. Lion is, you’re not alone.  The dog showed up in the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon from the early ’80s.  You’re completely caught up.

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So now they go on adventures.  Surprisingly suspenseful and action-packed adventures.

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The pets decide to gather the Infinity Gems, the jewelry with the power to remake the universe into whatever its owner desires.  Turn people into tuna.  Water becomes chicken broth.  Dogs now speak Mandarin.  Anything the heart wants, except for one small problem — a certain supervillain won’t let go of the notion that the Infinity Gems belong to him.

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Like all good superhero team origin stories, they must work together to defeat a foe tougher than any one of them alone.  Only it turns out to be Thanos, an invulnerable superbeing that the entire galaxy fears.  Also, he’s holding Bo, President Obama’s dog.  Social commentary or celebrity guest star or whatever you want to believe.

Witness our feline pal heroically become the superhero we all wish him to be, instead of a whiny cat with an orbit of glowing rainbow balls.  You can click the image for a larger version if needed.

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Thanos versus the unified animal super team begins now.  For the future and whatnot.

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I’m not going to show you the fight, I’m sorry.  But you can probably guess the outcome.  While Hairball, Ms. Lion, and the others show up in series like Avengers vs. Pet Avengers, one-shots like Tails of the Pet Avengers, and a few other publications, I want to highlight one more moment with the world’s angriest cat and happiest dog.

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Let’s not take this problem lightly (see what I did there?).  Hippos weigh over a ton and even real Avengers like Captain America can’t just toss an animal that size back in its pen.  This dilemma involves a carefully crafted solution.  Or zero impulse control.  Either works.

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And the second adventure begins the next page.  I’m not one to bash pet owners, but Aunt May should probably keep better track of her dog or at least splash herself with radioactive goo — she’s practically the only member of the Spider-Man family not to be an Avenger nowadays.

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6 Comments on “Speedball’s cat Niels/Hairball”

  1. furyoffirestorm78 says:

    I don’t think the animals are speaking actual English – their “speech” is being “translated” since a comic full of “meows” and “woofs” would be boring and hard to follow.

    • Jason Levine says:

      You make a great point, and there is definitely more than one scene where humans don’t understand the animals. By the way, thank you so much for your comments on my delay. I really appreciated it.

      • furyoffirestorm78 says:

        You’re very welcome. I appreciate the awesome (and time consuming) job you do with writing such great articles and going through the trouble of digging through your comic collection to scan these images. I realize that you do have a life outside this site, and sometimes work, family, or just life in general can interfere with posting articles on a set schedule, but I also realize that in the scheme of things, our work, family, and personal life are much more important than trying to make sure that an article about the Top Ten chicks that Hercules has banged gets posted on Monday afternoon instead of Tuesday night. 8^)

  2. Too bad Marvel and DC no longer do inter-company crossovers. I’d like to see a meeting between the Pet Avengers and the Legion of Super-Pets.

  3. Js says:

    Marvel struck gold with the Pet Avengers, great art, good story and wonderful characters. I bought it on a whim, then gave it to my nieces, then bought another copy and gave it to my nephews. It was a fantastic all-ages book, and I had hopes that they would keep up on it.

    I hope they make a comeback sometime, as long as the quality is still there.


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