The following contains spoilers for the story “Hounded” Part Four from Batman: Urban Legends #14, on sale now from DC Comics.
Superman and Lex Luthor are the DC Universe’s most bitter rivals. In many ways, their rivalry is the epitome of good versus evil. So much so that it has extended to many of Superman’s family members. Kara Zor-El, Conner Kent and even Superman’s son, Jonathan Kent have faced Luthor as a nemesis in some capacity, whether it be directly or indirectly. However, recently, Luthor’s schemes have started stretching beyond the Man of Steel, as he faces off against other heroes of the DC Universe.
This latest one, though, is totally ridiculous. Fans of the Last Son of Krypton will be familiar with his pet dog, Krypto. The Kryptonian canine is even set to star in his own upcoming movie, voiced by black adam‘s Dwayne Johnson, alongside some other super-powered pets, in DC League of Super Pets. So, it would be expected that as soon as Lex Luthor got himself a dog, that would end up being Krypto’s nemesis right?
Wrong; Tea Batman: Urban Legends #14 story “Hounded” Part Four (by Mark Russell, Karl Mostert, Trish Mulvihill, and Steve Wands) has confirmed that Lex Luthor’s dog, Licks Luthor, has a nemesis in the form of Batman’s dog, Ace the Bat-Hound. Although this seems like a strange turn of events, it actually makes total sense, and in more ways than one.
The most important point is the powers these dogs possess. Krypto the Superdog has all the powers that Superman has. Meanwhile, Licks Luthor and Ace the Bat-Hound have absolutely none. Sure, both of them are trained by the best to assist both a superhero and a supervillain, however, neither of them is enhanced in any way. If Licks Luthor was to go up against Krypto, he wouldn’t stand a chance. He would need some sort of power suit like Lex to survive a one-on-one clash with Superman’s best bud. In a fight against Ace, the playing field is even. That brings their fight down to training, skill, and determination.
That also lends itself to another essential in building a lasting nemesis. If their skills are equal, then there can’t be a clear winner. Their fights will end up as their first did here – in a draw. They were evenly matched until one of Ace’s friends, a bear called Ursa, grabbed a hold of Licks and threw the dog back towards its criminal cohorts. The fight couldn’t continue, as the villains retreated.
This leaves Ace and Licks in an interesting situation. This could be a rivalry that endures. However, the past of Licks Luthor could point to another possible direction for this bitter rivalry. Lex wanted a dog that could do everything he asked of it, so Licks was trained to be for him and only him. Unfortunately, Luthor, upon meeting his new canine companion, discovered he was allergic to dogs. Licks ended up abandoned and in the same cruel facility as the other super-pets in this story, including Ace. He may be fiercely loyal to Lex Luthor, but he can never serve his evil master.
This suggests there may be a possible redemption arc for Luthor’s dog. His loyalties have always been to Luthor and him alone, not the criminals he was helping here. Once Licks finally realizes that Lex isn’t going to take him back then he won’t have to be a villain anymore. And if he isn’t a villain, then he won’t have to fight Ace the Bat-Hound either. With two parts remaining in this story of good boys, it’s entirely possible that these two canines’ final confrontation will see them set aside their differences and join forces.
Whatever the outcome, it’s certain that Licks Luthor and Ace the Bat-Hound will face off again before this story’s end. It’s possible that Lex Luthor’s abandoned dog could find a new home with one of DC’s heroes, maybe even Superman himself. However, it’s equally possible that he could be part of a building legacy for Ace the Bat-Hound, as his enduring nemesis. If that is the case, maybe one-day Licks will face Krypto – in an Ace and Krypto team-up.
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