Everyone needs a good, cheery story sometimes—especially Bruce Wayne, who puts up with a lot of shit as the Dark Knight. So what better than the cute tale of a billionaire shut-in and a ravenous pooch?
Ace the Bat-Hound has had a scattered history in the comics—first introduced in 1955 as Bruce’s adoptive pet (and trusty crimefighting ally), he’s had on-and-off appearances since then, spun off into cartoon shows. And even if it’s not been the original Ace, several other dogs have been welcomed into the Bat-family ever since.
Today’s Batman Annual #1, though, gives Ace a new origin story for the modern Batman. In fact, “Good Boy,” written by current Bat-writer Tom King and with art from David Finch and Gabe Eltaeb, gives Ace an altogether darker origin... one that sees the pup and Batman not exactly getting off to the best of starts.
This version of Ace is a former attack dog of the Joker’s, eventually found by Batman and Commissioner Gordon after the clown prince abandoned his pack of hounds and left them to starve and fend for themselves; the pooch clad in an Ace of Spades-themed outfit is the sole survivor. It’s not Bruce who chooses to bring him in, but instead Alfred, much to the chagrin of his ward when he finds the unruly dog in Wayne Manor one day.
Being the distant fellow he usually is, Bruce initially wants nothing to do with the dog, leaving it up to the hapless butler to train and discipline him... well, let’s say “train” in the loosest of terms:
But even though Bruce tries to get Alfred to accept that Ace is a lost cause, one too damaged by the harrowing treatment he faced at the Joker’s hands, Alfred persists, until eventually even the Dark Knight himself can’t help but warm up to the dog—after one night he slumps back into the Bat Cave, bloodied and injured, only for Ace to come up to him and diligently lick at his wounds.
For Christmas, Bruce decided to cement Ace’s place in the Bat family once and for all in a heartwarming moment for all involved:
D’aww! He insists its for Halloween, but who knows? Maybe the adventures of Batman and the Bat-Hound will live on in DC’s comics once more.