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. With his master unable to fight off the kidnappers, Wilker's dog jumped to his defense. Ace put up a savage attack but was beaten into unconsciousness by the thugs. Disoriented but determined to rescue his master, the brave canine dove into the river in search of Wilker. While on patrol that night, Robin spotted the dog struggling in the water and joined Batman in plucking the dazed animal from the river. The dog soon recovered its energy and Bruce Wayne put an ad in the newspaper, believing that someone would recognize the brown German shepherd with the distinctive diamond patch of fur on his forehead.
The grateful dog raced the Batmobile out of the Batcave on a subsequent outing and, rather than return him, the Dynamic Duo took him along. Batman used Ace to try to locate Wilker. Because he had already placed the "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, Robin hastily improvised a hood-like mask for the dog that incorporated the bat emblem as a dog tag dangling from Ace's collar: "I cut him this mask from our black cloth toolbag ... and made a bat-symbol for his collar." The dog proved his worth immediately when he zeroed in on an escaped convict at a carnival. "Look," motioned Robin. "He's got Bowers by the coat-sleeve, holding him in true police dog style." Bowers' own cry of dismay ("Leggo you -- you BAT-HOUND!") officially gave the newest resident of the Batcave a name.
Meanwhile, a response to the advertisement had revealed the dog's true name and origin. A neighbor explained that the missing John Wilker had "bought this trained dog because he lives alone and is away from home all day". While Bat-Hound used his acute sense of smell to help Robin locate a missing child, Batman began his investigation of Ace's missing owner. The trio reunited at the site of a paper theft and Robin was startled when Ace suddenly began snarling. Batman had already suspected that the thieves were connected with John Wilker's abduction and Bat-Hound's reaction clinched it. Wilker, it turned out, was an engraver and the Dark Knight theorized that his kidnappers hoped to force him to counterfeit money. The Dynamic Duo caught up to the bandits when they were stealing ink from the Eastern Printing-Ink Company only to be taken captive.
Creating a makeshift Bat-Signal in the sky above the villains' lair, Batman was able to get Ace's attention. The Bat-Hound came running, nudged open a window with his nose, and bit through Robin' bonds. The trio of crimebusters made quick work of the would-be counterfeiters.
Predictably, a reporter on the scene of the mop-up couldn't resist pulling off Bat-Hound's mask and immediately connected Ace with Bruce Wayne. Holding a photo of himself, Bruce Wayne and Ace, Batman explained that the millionaire had simply loaned him the dog as a favor. Unknown to all, the Batman in the picture was actually Alfred.
As they bid John and his pet farewell, Batman commented, "He's a great dog, Mr. Wilker. It was HE who really saved us."
"And if you ever want to be a Bat-Hound again, Ace," Robin added, "the position is open."
Ace returned to the Batcave late in 1955, on loan from John Wilker to help the Dynamic Duo capture a gang using a trained dog to commit a series of diamond robberies. A two-way radio on Bat-Hound's collar enabled Batman to eavesdrop on the bandits and issue commands to Ace. For the next three years, Wilker continued to loan his pet out on occasion. Bat-Hound had the opportunity to appear with Batman and Robin in a movie, track down a deadly explosive, and pursue a "fugitive" Batman.
Wilker later took a new job that that would keep him on the road and make 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. Bruce Wayne happily agreed to take permanent responsibility for Ace. "The Secret of Bat-Hound", narrarated by the canine crimefighter himself, added another component to Ace's costume, a "tiny receiver" within the dog's collar that emitted a high-pitched signal whenever Bat-Hound was needed. Batman also created a device that would enable Ace to pull his mask over his head at his convenience.
Soon after, Bat-Hound was stricken with that hoariest of plot devices—amnesia. His memory fogged when his skull was grazed by a masked gunman, Ace developed a deep hatred of all masked men—including the Dynamic Duo. After rescuing their pet from a group of thugs who'd taken command of Bat-Hound, Batman arranged for Ace to have an operation to restore his memory.
In short order, Bat-Hound met the other members of the burgeoning Batman family, notably Batwoman (Batman #125) and Bat-Mite (Batman #133). At one point, in fact, the other-dimensional imp bequeathed Ace with Krypto-level super-powers, but a side-effect of the spell made Bat-Hound susceptible to the commands of others—including criminals. After realizing that he'd made Ace the pawn of a gang of thieves, Bat-Mite restored the dog to normal.
Ace the Bat-Hound later appeared in Ambush Bug #3 and 1990's Animal Man #25, where Ace was seen pursuing Marvel Bunny. Contrasting the innocence of the original character was 1990's Detective Comics #623 and 624. The samples of a 'Batman' comic book as written by DC Universe's writer's take on Batman presented Ace as a slavering demonic dog with telepathic powers and an appetite for criminals.
A New Earth version of Ace appeared in Batman #462, originally a guide dog belonging to a blind Native American named Black Wolf. The dog at times helped Batman on cases and is depicted to be very affectionate towards his owner and vice versa.
In Batman #465, Ace could be seen rushing up to the Batmobile as it pulled in and slobbering over the face of the smiling Dark Knight. Later, Batman and Ace went out on another mission, with the hero using his dog's sense of smell to track down Killer Croc in the labyrinthine Gotham sewer system. A year later, in December 1992, Ace put his tracking skills to the test again, helping Tim Drake locate the kidnapped Bruce Wayne, James Gordon, and Armand Krol.
Eventually, Ace found a closer relationship with the Batcave's resident electronics whiz, Harold Allnut. The mute young man delighted in creating toys for the dog like a mechcanical mouse. Ace, in turn, displayed intense loyalty to Harold, following him deep into the caverns beneath Wayne Manor, providing a sense of security as the genius went exploring in the darkness. The displacement of Bruce Wayne by Jean Paul Valley in 1993 changed the entire atmosphere in the Batcave and a disgruntled Ace took up permanent residence in Harold's quarters. By the time Nightwing and Robin set-up a war-room in the cave, Ace the Bat-Hound had made his last major appearance. Ace's place in Wayne Manor has been taken by Alfred's cat, Midnight, a black and white feline glimpsed only a handful of times.
Ace has since been glimpsed only briefly in photographs in Kingdom Come #2-3 & 4 and Kingdom Come: Revelations, although he also made an actual cameo appearance in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond.
- See: Titus
A Great Dane named Titus is given to Damian by his father. Ace is an affectionate nickname for this dog.
Behind the scenes
- 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 June 1955). Ace's creation was likely inspired by the success of Krypto (Earth-One)\Krypto's debut in Adventure Comics #210 (March 1955). He was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Sheldon Moldoff, who said the character was inspired by Rin Tin Tin.
- Ace disappeared from the Batman comics after Julius Schwartz took over as editor in 1964, and made only very occasional comic book appearances (such as in Ambush Bug #3, 1984, which looked at what were considered some of the sillier areas of the DC universe) in the years afterward.
- Bat-Hound made his last appearance in the core Bat-titles in early 1964's BATMAN # 162, where he led Batwoman and Robin to the lair of several hybrid "animal-men". Three months into Schwartz's "new look", Ace made his final bow of the Silver Age, a two-panel cameo in the Mort Weisinger-edited WORLD'S FINEST COMICS # 143.
- As illogical as it may seem, Ace wore a domino-mask in order to protect his secret identity, due to a prominent star-shaped marking on his forehead.
- In the modern, Post-Crisis continuity, Robin (Tim Drake) briefly adopted a German Shepherd named Ace, which he used to aid him on several adventures. A version of Ace has also appeared on the children's animated series Krypto, the Super-Dog.
- In Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come mini-series, Ace is portrayed as the giant winged steed of the Fourth World Batwoman. Ace is also mentioned in Howard Chaykin's Batman/Houdini Elseworlds series. 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 Batman: 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.
- In Pre-Crisis continuity, Superman's Batman-like identity of Nightwing included a Kandorian counterpart to the Bat-Hound, a telepathic dog named "Nighthound".
In Other Media
- In the animated series Batman Beyond, the elderly Bruce Wayne has a "black Dane-mix" (as described by Bruce Wayne in the season 2 episode "Ace in the Hole") canine he names Ace. Ace helps the new Batman, Terry McGinnis, on occasion. He plays an important role in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker when he defeats one of the Jokerz spliced with hyena DNA. He also saves Terry from the Joker and manages to destroy Joker's machine by knocking him down, causing him to lose his joy buzzer and send it into the machine's cords, destroying his doomsday device and leaving the laser on a fixed course (Joker's hideout). It is implied in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue" that he is named after Ace of the Royal Flush Gang. In the producers commentary of 'Rebirth, Part 1", Bruce Timm said Ace's vocal effects were done by Sound Engineer Rob Hargeaves's dog.
- Ace was also featured in the animated series Krypto the Superdog, As Krypto's ally. In this animal-centric series, he is portrayed more or less as a canine version of Batman. Ace was voiced by Scott McNeill. Batman himself never appeared in the series.
- 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.