DCAU #333: Ace in the Hole

IN THIS ONE... Ace the Bat-Hound revisits his origin story.

CREDITS: Written by Hilary J. Bader; directed by James Tucker.

REVIEW: So Ace may not have (yet?) worn a mask, but his heroic origins show him to be a tortured hero worthy of Batman. Turns out he was raised to take part in bloodsports by an abusive trainer (at least the animal abuse is mostly off-screen), escaped on the eve of his first bout during a police raid, and found his way to Crime Alley on the night Bruce Wayne still honors with a visit. The dog jumps a Joker (how the very existence of that gang must rankle) when Bruce is attacked, and though it's pretty clear he wasn't in any real danger (cue badass cane action), he adopts the dog on the spot.

In the present, Ace sees his abusive "father", Ronny Boxer, and races after him, gets lost, then captured by an unethical dog catcher who sells him back to Boxer. The latter sees this as fate, returning his property to him, but if fate had a hand in this, it had retribution in mind. Ace is intense throughout, from that early moment where he knocks himself out against a car door to his escape from a cage to attack a giant mutated dog. He never lets up, and is clearly smarter than the average dog. I'll easily forgive the mild cheesiness of the epilogue if the next season makes expanded use of the character.

If there's one thing the show has learned to do well by this point, it's action, whether it be with dogs or humans. Even a fight with an ordinary gun-toting criminal like Boxer is turned into an epic, destructive sequence. So when a giant dog shows up, you don't know what to expect anymore. Would you believe Batman gets swallowed and puked out? Well it happens. Crazy.

None of the comic book Aces have a similar origin. The original Bat-Hound was a kidnapped engraver's, used to track his master's abductors, then left with Bruce Wayne to care for. Post-Crisis, he was a guide dog, adopted by Batman when his master, a Native called Black Wolf was killed. In the New52, Ace is finally a Great Dane like Beyond's, but he's called Titus, and was purchased normally, as a gift to Damian.

SOUNDS LIKE: Ronny Boxer is played by Bill Smitrovich (Life Goes On), while Ozzie is voiced by Peter Onorati (Kate & Allie, Murder One, Civil Wars). Maddie the dog catcher is Jim Wise, Coach Tugnut on Even Stevens.

REWATCHABILITY: High - It's the secret origin I didn't think I needed, but I'm glad I got!


Anonymous said...

By now I'm sure you've seen that season finale episode of JLU where Terry is having a looong talk with Amanda Waller. There is a theory going around the Internet that Batman named his dog "Ace" as a tribute to the young girl from that JLU episode whose life was stolen from her. That's obviously a theory formed in retrospect, and I'm not sure it sounds plausible, but it's out there.

De said...

Surprising no one, this is my favorite episode of Batman Beyond.


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