ByJack Carr, writer at
You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.
Jack Carr

They say dogs are a man's best friend, but isn't really a BFFs kinda guy. Even when he has a Robin, you're way more likely to find him alone in the Batcave on a Friday night, brooding silently about the class of criminal in like the emo vigilante he is, than enjoying bro time with a few Heinekens.

Don't think, though, that the Dark Knight is not incapable of lightening up, just a little, every now and then. One of the short stories in 's new festive annual 'Batman Annual #1,' written by Tom King and drawn by David Finch, sees Batman reunite with an old bud, and it's pawsitively heart-warming. (Sorry.)

'Batman Annual #1' [Credit: DC Comics]
'Batman Annual #1' [Credit: DC Comics]

In 'Good Boy,' Alfred and Bruce become a little too closely acquainted with a trio of attack dogs kept by the Joker, tormented and turned into feral beasts. Bruce votes to have the sole survivor put down after he savagely kills the other two, but a more compassionate Alfred is minded to give the canine a second chance, and brings him home to Wayne Manor.

Those who loved/suffered through Batman v Superman will be all too familiar with Batman training montages, but 'Good Boy' offers one of a different kind as Alfred works to train the hound, a German Shepherd, and repair the spirit which the Joker broke in him — if that's even possible (fair to say Batman's dubious).

'Batman Annual #1' [Credit: DC Comics]
'Batman Annual #1' [Credit: DC Comics]

Over time, their efforts with the dog begin to pay off (turns out it's actually quite easy, this whole "repairing the spirit" malarkey), not least when he reacts with concern to the sight of an injured Bruce returning from a violent mission to the Batcave with a knife wound. As Christmas looms, the vigilante seems to have decided he's ready to embrace his new friend, even patronizing him with some classic human-to-dog banter. "Yesh you do," etc.

What's cool about the dog is that he's not just any old Bat-sidekick — his name is Ace, making him the first incarnation of Ace the Bat-Hound in DC Rebirth continuity and a throwback to the classic canine companion first introduced in 'Batman #92,' way back in 1955, when Batman and Robin were a whole lot more colorful. His return in 2016 signals a welcome splash of fun in what is generally a pretty dark (and excellently well told and drawn) ongoing comic series for the Caped Crusader.

Mysteriously, the woman at the Gotham Pound actually describes Ace as female, but Batman seems to believe she's a he. But hey, 2016. Screw labels!

'Batman #92' [Credit: DC Comics]
'Batman #92' [Credit: DC Comics]

Whether Ace sticks around remains to be seen, but his central role in 'Annual #1' feels like a timely reminder that, even in the grimy shadows of Gotham City, dogs will always be a man's best friend.

Is this the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship in DC Rebirth?


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