Monday, March 5, 2012

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 (March 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.

In the late 1990s animated series Batman Beyond, an aged Bruce Wayne had a pet/guard dog named Ace (vocal effects done by Frank Welker), a Great Dane mix. He made his first appearance 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 and both the elder man and the dog desire companionship, Bruce took him in as his owner. At first Ace did not like young Terry McGinnis, Wayne's assistant and protegee, but 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, Terry briefly reflecting that Ace's loyalty was one of the "small rewards" that he had gained in his time as Batman. Ace then went on to play a role in defeating the resurrected Joker in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, when he attacked the Joker in the climax of the movie, damaged the controls for the Joker's new satellite weapon system, and freeing Terry from his captivity. In the Justice League Unlimited episode, "Epilogue", it is suggested that the dog might be named after the Ace from an incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang, who was terminally ill and the original Batman briefly befriended before her death.

* In the 2005 Cartoon Network animated series Krypto the Superdog, starring Krypto, (Superman's childhood dog), Ace the Bat-Hound (voiced by Scott McNeil) makes occasional appearances and is once again a crimefighting ally of Batman—although the Dark Knight himself does not appear 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, and 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.

* 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."

* Ace the Bat-Hound appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Legends of the Dark Mite!" with his vocal effects done by Dee Bradley Baker. He helps Batman fight Catman and an endangered tiger he unleashes on Batman. Ace manages to corner Catman up a tree, and Batman rewards him with a bat shaped treat after getting him to heel. Ace is later seen in the main plot of the episode, as a guise Bat-Mite created. When Batman see two Aces, he knows something is wrong. At the end, Batman touches Ace's collar to see if he is a fake, but he's the real thing and tells Ace that he was just making sure. Ace makes an appearance in "The Siege of Starro! Part One" where he is seen when Batman contacts Booster Gold. In "The Plague of the Prototypes!", Ace is friends with Batman's prototype Bat-Robot, Proto, and encourages him to save Batman from Black Mask. Later, using his jet-pack, he helps Batman and Proto track down and de-activate Black Mask's bombs.

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