DC Histories: Ace the Bat-Hound

Here at DC Histories, we try to make sense of the continuity that perplexes, befuddles, and intimidates. We discuss what worked and what didn’t. This week, we’re talking about a Batman’s best friend, Ace the Bat-Hound.

Batman (Vol. 1) #92 (1955) Cover

Ace the Bat-Hound is the quintessential DC Silver Age character. He’s lovable, he’s fun, he’s memorable, and he’s pretty darn goofy. Still, he holds a special place in the hearts of many Batman fans, not the least of which are several modern Batman writers who keep alluding to, and creating new versions of, this masked mutt.

In his 1955 debut, a lost Ace was found by Bruce Wayne and his ward Dick Grayson. Bruce put a notice in the local paper with a picture of the dog in an attempt to find his true owner. When the dog later jumped into the Batmobile as Batman and Robin sped away on a case, Robin had to make their new companion a mask to hide his very distinctive face markings for fear of someone noticing that Batman was palling around with Bruce Wayne’s dog.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #92 (1955)

Luckily, Ace looked super adorable in his little mask.

Ace helped out on Batman and Robin’s latest case and was a natural when it came to crime fighting. Though Ace was outed as the dog whom Bruce Wayne advertised about, a picture of Bruce Wayne shaking hands with Batman was able to throw off any conspiracy theorists. Bruce had gotten Alfred to dress up as Batman for the picture. Alfred turned out to be hiding some awesome abs beneath that butler outfit.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #92 (1955)

After Ace was returned to his owner, Mr. Wilker, that may have been the end of it. However, fan reaction was strong enough for Ace to return to the Batman line of comics just a few months later. Once again, Ace was working with the caped crusaders on a case. In one of my favorite covers from this time period, a glassy-eyed Ace appears to knowingly expose Batman and Robin’s secret identities just ’cause.

Batman (Vol. 1) #97 (1956) Cover

Ace became a full fledged member of the Batman family a few years later. Mr. Wilker got a new job which required him to travel a great deal. He simply couldn’t look after Ace anymore. Luckily, his pal Bruce Wayne agreed to take on the adorable hound full time. Ace was now a regular in the Batcave.

Unfortunately, around this time readers became privy to Ace’s thoughts. Readers had seen what was happening in the mind of that other superdog, Krypto, so it seemed a small leap to also peer into Ace’s mind. While this conceit works okay for the Kryptonian, it just didn’t fit in well with Ace. It just made things even goofier than before.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #125 (1959)

Various artists tended to draw Ace in different ways. While he appeared to be a German Shepard in his debut, that began to change over time. He just became a mutt whose breed was indeterminate. He appeared to be a hound in name only, though there are several panels where be looked sort of like a Pharaoh Hound. Still, the Bat-Hound moniker remained.

Over time, Ace’s star faded. He began to be used less and less. When he did appear in an adventure, it was only for a few panels. Still, he was Bruce’s dog so that meant when Bruce had nightmares, it was Ace who would comfort his master.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #156 (1963)

Ace’s last appearance during this time period was in two panels of a World’s Finest Comics issue. There, he was mostly just adorable set decoration.

From World's Finest Comics #143 (1964)

In 1964, Julie Schwartz took over as the editor of the Batman line of books. One of the first things he did was to get rid of most of the extraneous supporting characters in the various titles. Gone were characters like Batwoman, Bat-Girl, and Bat-Mite. Sadly, Ace was among those lost in the transition to a more streamlined Batman.

Ace would be gone for decades. His next appearance was in the pages of Ambush Bug’s first miniseries. There, he was listed alongside about a dozen other characters who had been lost to continuity due to seeming silly and irrelevant. Ambush Bug found the whole Ace thing pretty hilarious. Here, Ace appears to have the head of a Bull Terrier.

From Ambush Bug #3 (1985)

The following year, the universe shattering Crisis on Infinite Earths reset the continuity clock. After 1986, Ace had officially never existed though Schwartz’s soft relaunch in 1964 had already seen to that. However, Ace wasn’t completely forgotten. In 1990, Animal Man found himself in Limbo, a place that all forgotten comic book characters find themselves after their time in the limelight fades. Ace was seen in several panels while Buddy wandered around. Grant Morrison, writer of this issue, proved that he remembered the little guy. Morrison would prove that again nearly two decades later.

In 1991, a new dog came on the scene. Named simply ‘Dog,’ this canine was a companion animal to Black Wolf, a Native American tribal shaman. Dog looked after Black Wolf and kept the old man alive.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #462 (1991)

After Batman gained Black Wolf’s help on a case concerning Black Wolf’s old tribe, the shaman died. Realizing that Dog now had no where to go, Batman took the animal to live with him at Wayne Manor. It helped that Dog’s natural coloring included a bat-like symbol on his right shoulder. Batman was happy to have another ally.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #464 (1991)

Realizing that ‘Dog’ wasn’t a great name, Batman later renamed the pooch ‘Ace.’

This new Ace helped Batman on a handful of cases but mostly, he hung around the Batcave and spent time with Harold, an outcast and mechanic who Batman took under his wing. After Batman broke his back, Ace and Harold weren’t appreciated by Jean-Paul Valley, Bruce’s blonde replacement as Batman. They were both kicked out of the main level of the Batcave. Ace wasn’t Jean-Paul’s biggest fan.

From Batman (Vol. 1) #500 (1993)

After Bruce Wayne took back the Batman mantel, Harold and Ace were both let back into the Batcave. The pair began to be used less and less as the years went on. When Ace simply disappeared during the No Man’s Land storyline, barely anyone noticed.

A different Ace bounded onto the scene in 1999. In the television series Batman Beyond, a story which took place decades after the current DCU timeline, Bruce Wayne was now presented an old man living alone in Wayne Manor. His only companion was a Great Dane named Ace. When the world of Batman Beyond was brought over into comics, Ace followed along.

From Batman Beyond (Vol. 1) #1 (1999)

The Batman Beyond version of Ace was the only version around for years. That was still the case when Superman entered Limbo during the events of Final Crisis. There, the original Ace was still sitting alongside his fellow forgotten characters, who were all relegated to the back issue bins.

From Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 (2008)

Grant Morrison’s love of Batman’s Silver Age became apparent during his initial run on Batman but continued through his tenure on Batman Incorporated. In an early issue of that series, not only did Morrison bring Kathy Kane, the 1950s version of Batwoman, back into continuity but he also brought back the original Ace in that same issue. Now, the very first Ace could be argued as being back in-continuity. After all, there he was in a supposedly canonical adventure of Batman.

From Batman Incorporated (Vol. 1) #4 (2011)

Ace has yet to show up in the New 52. However, there is a new dog spending his time in the Batcave. Titus, a new addition to the Batman family, was introduced early on in the pages of Batman and Robin. There, Bruce thought that his son Damian needed to be taught responsibility by having a pet of his own. Towards that end, Bruce bought Titus, a Great Dane. Titus may as well have been named Ace since he is an obvious allusion to the Great Dane found in Batman Beyond. Still, ‘Ace’ isn’t the type of thing that Damian would name a dog.

From Batman and Robin (Vol. 2) #4 (2012)

Here’s hoping that Titus remains a constant figure in the Batcave. If history is any indication, Titus will be around for a few prominent adventures, then he’ll be in the background for a while, and then he’ll just stop showing up. It’s happened several times before. Let’s hope that it doesn’t happen this time.

Jeff Reid knows that he didn’t discuss the television show Krypto the Superdog in which Ace was a character. Jeff usually focuses on non-media character appearances in these articles. Focus on Jeff by following him on Twitter.


  1. “Jimmy Olsen is guarding my Fortress while I’m gone.”

    *smash-cut to the Fortress in flames*

  2. That cover of Ace with the picture in his mouth just kills me. So weird.

  3. I’m hoping we see more of Titus in Batman and Robin. Could be a nice balance for Damian so he isn’t always angry all the time.

  4. Great article, Jeff! Always wondered what the history of Ace was (he was the only character I knew of when Superman went to Limbo). Love that Titus is in Batman and Robin, and I really hope he stays around more. Definitely reminds me of Ace from Batman Beyond.

    I’m not too happy that Morrison brought back Ace into continuity pre-Flashpoint since it does seem silly. I also like how Robin complains about Ace having a mask, when in that panel you posted he’s the one who MADE the mask for Ace.

    Also, got to love that Ambush Bug panel of him trying to keep from laughing when explaining Ace’s origin.

    Great stuff as always, Jeff. Keep it up!