Welcome back! I’m Alex Jaffe, known here on DC.com and in the DC Community (where you’ll find me as HubCityQuestion) for this monthly column and our weekly Trivia Tuesdays. In this feature, I take the pressing questions that you submit about the vast scope of the DC Universe and all its inhabitants and history, and do my level best to deliver the answers you crave. Let’s solve a mystery, or rewrite history.
A Deck of Aces
How many different versions of Ace, the canine crimefighter, have there been? And with all the different Supergirls who have come and gone over the years, is Streaky even in continuity anymore?
There have been quite a few Aces. The original Ace, debuting in 1955’s Batman #22, was a German Shepherd who originally belonged to engraver and counterfeit ring kidnapping victim John Wilker. When Batman and Robin save Wilker with Ace’s help, he asks Batman to hold onto Ace for safekeeping as he travels abroad.
In 1991’s Batman #462, we’re presented with a new Ace, a Mastiff, who was formerly a watchdog for a blind Native American in Death Valley named Black Wolf. Batman takes this Ace home with him, who becomes a companion in the Batcave to Bruce’s mechanic, Harold Allnut.
My personal favorite incarnation of Ace was a black Great Dane who kept Bruce company as an old man in the 1999 animated series Batman Beyond. This model eventually became the basis for Titus, Damian Wayne’s pet dog in modern continuity.
The 2006 Krypto the Superdog animated series offers a gray-furred, cowl-wearing Ace, possibly a pitbull terrier, as a foil to the series’ star canine. 2008’s Tiny Titans appears to present this same Ace as a mask-wearing puppy, for the series’ own revival of the Legion of Super-Pets.
2020’s DCeased: Unkillables presents a possible German Shepherd mix of darker fur coloring, adopted by Jason Todd and Cassandra Cain after Batman’s death.
In the comics today, Ace has returned to his German Shepherd roots, rescued from a dogfighting pit and domesticized by Alfred in 2016’s Eisner-winning Batman Annual #1.
And then there’s the new Ace in the DC League of Super Pets animated film, a german shepherd/pitbull mix granted the power of invulnerability by orange kryptonite. He’s got a bit of a Jessie from Toy Story 2 thing going on in his backstory.
As for Streaky the Supercat, she hasn’t been around too much since the great 2011 reshuffling of the New 52, but she’s still around. Streaky reports for duty as a member of the modern Legion of Super-Pets in Super Sons Annual #1, Dark Nights Death Metal: The Multiverse Who Laughs and ‘Tis The Season to be Freezin’, alongside fellow members Krypto, Ace and Flexi the Plastic Bird.
What is the Atlantean currency? I have seen them pay surface dwellers with gold coins from sunk treasure ships, but I realized those might be considered worthless in Atlantean stores.
This is…a really good question, actually. Yes, we’ve seen Ocean Master bribing Black Manta with sunken treasure before, but there’s no indication that Atlanteans use that currency among themselves. In modern comics, at least since the New 52, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Atlantis operates on any sort of currency system at all. With 70% of the world’s resources at their disposal, it would be nice to say that Atlantis is effectively a post-scarcity society, where the need no longer exists to exchange money for goods and services.
Unfortunately, there still appears to be a very real caste system in Atlantis, where access to resources in Atlantis’s striated society comes down to the circumstance of one’s birth, as evident by the fact that it has existed for thousands of years as a monarchy. As the last queen of Atlantis, Mera made a lot of progress in fixing that system, before ultimately abolishing the monarchy entirely, so brighter days may be ahead.
I mean, it’s totally possible there’s a 1962 Aquaman comic where they use “sand dollars” or whatever, but as far as any modern depiction of Atlantis goes, there’s simply no money to be found. Yet another reason for us all to embrace life under the sea.
How Many “E”s in “Reporter”?
Before Superman: The Movie, did Lois ever had a spelling problem with typos? I don’t remember her having typo problems in The Adventures of Superman.
If this was just in a movie, I would have to say that’s a bit insulting to her character since she’s supposed to be a talented writer for a newspaper.
The running gag of Lois Lane’s spelling issues does indeed originate in the 1978 Superman movie! I understand why you might feel that way, but proper spelling is far from the most important part of what makes a great reporter. What makes Lois great is that she’ll go to any lengths to get her story, no matter how dangerous. Her drive to find the truth, her indomitable courage and willpower, and her ability to stand up to everyone from Lex Luthor to Oracle is what makes her such an admirable reporter.
So why the typo gag? Superman: The Movie is the story of a perfect, invincible, unbeatable superhuman, in search for a place among humanity. Lois’s little character flaws—her temper, her low impulse control, and yes, her cavalier attitude towards spelling—are all there to demonstrate exactly what Clark Kent loves about her: Lois Lane is the most human woman he’s ever met.
As a journalist myself, I can tell you that I have plenty of colleagues who have issues with spelling, including but not limited to a history of dyslexia. I happen to know many neurodiverse fans of Lois who identify with her ability to tell great stories, but have difficulty keeping letters in the right order. It means a whole lot to them that Lois Lane, for all her skill and talent, isn’t necessarily the best when it comes to getting the right number of letters together. But when the paper goes to print, the great storyteller beats the accurate speller every time. Spell-checker doesn’t win Pulitzers—people do.
Saving the Date
When is Damian Wayne’s birthday? It seems to be pretty easy to find all the other Robins’ birthdays but I can’t figure out Damian’s.
It’s actually quite rare for a comic to list a particular character’s birthday, but the Rosetta Stone for this sort of thing is a 1976 piece of merchandise from Warner Books titled the “SUPER DC CALENDAR.” Most character birthdays we recognize today come from this source. From here, for instance, we know that Bruce Wayne’s birthday is February 19th, Dick Grayson’s is March 20th, Alfred Pennyworth’s is April 8th, Commissioner Gordon’s is January 5th, and Barbara Gordon’s is September 23rd. (I personally share a birthday with Donna Troy.)
For dates on characters who have debuted since 1976, you just have to hope some writer mentions it in a comic. For instance, in 2004’s Detective Comics #790, Bruce commemorates what would have been Jason Todd’s 18th birthday on August 18th. In 2003’s Robin #116, we learn that Tim Drake’s birthday is July 19th when the poor boy is so overworked that he forgets to celebrate it. And in 2002’s Batgirl #33, a normal milestone-deprived Cassandra Cain finally learns from her father that her birthday was on January 28th.
Damian, interestingly, has celebrated his birthday in comics several times—most notably in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Truth & Justice #16 and WEBTOON’s Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, Episode 13. But on none of these occasions was the actual date specified. Now that his latest solo series has come to an end, we’ll just have to wait for whoever takes on Damian next to see if they’ll tell us when to send Batman’s most irascible Robin cake and gifts. I hear he has requested donations on his behalf to your local animal shelter.
That’s all the time we have for now. But my doors are always open in the DC Community, where I’ll be collecting your cases for my next crusade for the truth, typos (typoes?) be damned. But every journey always begins with you when you ASK… THE QUESTION.
Got something that's keeping you up nights? If you have a question about the DC Universe that you'd love to get answered, you can head on over to the DC Community and ask it here.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.