Ace the Bat-Hound

Ace the Bat-Hound

The comic book character Ace the Bat-Hound was the canine crime-fighting partner of Batman and Robin in DC Comics of the 1950s and 1960s. Ace debuted in Batman #92 (cover-dated July 1955). Ace's creation was inspired by the success of Krypto's debut in Adventure Comics #210 (July 1955), and by German Shepherd Dogs from detective films and serials, such as Rin Tin Tin and Ace the Wonder Dog. He was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Sheldon Moldoff.

Fictional character biography

Pre-Crisis

Ace was a German Shepherd Dog originally owned by an engraver named John Wilker. He was found by Batman and Robin after his master was kidnapped by a gang of counterfeiters. Batman used Ace to try to locate Wilker. Because he had already placed a large number of "lost dog" announcements for Ace in his civilian identity of Bruce Wayne, he was concerned that anyone recognizing Ace (who had a prominent star-shaped marking on his forehead) might make the connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman. To forestall that problem, he hastily improvised a hood-like mask for the dog that incorporated the bat emblem as a dog tag dangling from Ace's collar. Ace was subsequently christened "The Bat-Hound" by a criminal he helped Batman to apprehend.

Wilker later took a new job that made it difficult for him to take care of Ace, so he left the dog to Bruce Wayne. Wilker was never aware that Ace was the Bat-Hound or that Bruce Wayne was Batman.

Ace disappeared from the Batman comics after Julius Schwartz took over as editor in 1964, and made only very occasional comic book appearances in the years afterward.

Post-Crisis

A modern-day version of Ace was reintroduced in Batman #462 (June 1991), although he has been rarely seen in recent years. This version was originally a guide dog belonging to a blind Native American named Black Wolf. He didn't wear a mask, nor was he referred to as Bat-Hound, and has the appearance of a beagle-pug crossbreed. The dog at times helped Batman on cases and is depicted to be very affectionate towards his owner and vice versa, but disappeared after the events of the No Man's Land storyline in the late 1990s. A traditional Ace was seen in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond. He is in limbo with other forgotten characters.

Other versions of Ace the Bat-Hound

In Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come miniseries, Ace is portrayed as the giant winged steed of the Fourth World Batwoman. Ace is also mentioned in Howard Chaykin's Batman/Houdini crossover. During a seance attended by Bruce Wayne and mystic debunker Harry Houdini, Ace was referred to as Bruce Wayne's childhood pet. In the Frankenstein pastiche Castle of the Bat, Dr Bruce Wayne tests his theories by creating a literal Bat-Hound: a dog with some of the attributes of a bat.

Pre-Crisis, Superman's Batman-like identity of Nightwing included a Kandorian counterpart to the Bat-Hound, a telepathic dog named "Nighthound".

Ace in other media

Batman Beyond

In the late 1990s animated series Batman Beyond, an aged Bruce Wayne had a pet/guard dog named Ace, a Great Dane mix. He made his first appearance the the series premiere episode "Rebirth," as a fiercely loyal pet to his master. Later, on episode "Ace in the Hole," revealed that Ace, as a puppy, was bought from a pet store by Ronnie Boxer, the leader of an illegal dog-fighting ring. Ace escaped this abusive, violent life. He soon found Bruce, a fellow tormented soul, at Crime Alley during the anniversary of his parents' murders. After Ace was injured by a Jokerz member during an attempt to save Bruce from the thug, Bruce took Ace to a veterinary emergency hospital. Since there was no one to claim Ace, Bruce decided to take him in as his owner and the two got along well. At first Ace did not like young Terry McGinnis, Wayne's assistant and protegee. After he and Terry were able to help each other on several missions, including stopping Boxer's attempt to use synthetic growth hormones to turn his dogs into monsters, Terry earned Ace's affection and loyalty. In Terry's opinion, this was one of the small rewards being Batman had brought him.

Ace then went on to play a role in defeating the Joker in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. In the climax of the movie, he attacked the Joker and damaged the controls for the Joker's new satellite weapon system.

Ace was voiced by Frank Welker.

Krypto the Superdog

In the 2005 Cartoon Network animated series Krypto the Superdog, starring Krypto, (Superman's childhood dog), Ace makes occasional appearances and is once again a crimefighting ally of Batman -- although the Dark Knight himself has not appeared on the show. In this series, Ace, much like Batman, is equipped with various gadgets and equipment as an aid in his crimefighting efforts. In one episode, he met the Dog Star Patrol and helped them find their missing member Hot Dog. His enemies include The Joker's hyenas Bud and Lou, The Penguin's trained birds (Artie the Puffin, Griff the Vulture, Waddles the Penguin), and Catwoman's pet cat Isis (who flirts with Ace much like Catwoman flirts with Batman). Ace has a Batwoman-style glider he uses for more speed. He considers himself to be Batman's partner, rather than his pet. Ace is voiced by Scott McNeil.

The Batman (2004 series)

In the new The Batman animated series Alfred Pennyworth remarks, upon Batgirl's introduction, "Perhaps I should equip the Batcave with a doggie door, should Bat-Hound decide to join the gang." A similar remark appears in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, though in this case it is made by Harvey Bullock. It is quickly followed up by Tim Drake commenting that a dog could help the duo "sniff out clues."

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