The Dark Knight fights a towering bear named Ursa in the finale of “Hounded,” a six-part story that wraps up in Batman: Urban Legends #16 — and after subduing his foe, Batman later releases him into the Wayne Wooded Reserve, a nature area near Wayne Manor.
“Hounded,” which began in Batman: Urban Legends #11, is a story that delves into Batman’s relationship with animals, particularly his pet hound, Ace. Written by Mark Russell (Prez, The Flintstones) and illustrated by Karl Mostert (DCeased: Unkillables), the tale begins with Batman and Ace infiltrating a human trafficking ring only to become captured by henchmen working for the crime boss Colonel Andrei Tarkov.
After Batman is knocked unconscious and transported to an underground fight club, Ace is sent to a secret animal experimentation facility, where the Bat-Dog encounters a chicken with super intelligence, an unnaturally fast tortoise, a squirrel with a penchant for thievery named Li’ l Nutz and Ursa the bear, an abused ursine who was formerly used for torture and intimidation.
Defying all odds, Ace helps this motley crew of animal companions escape from the facility. As the creatures evade their pursuers — led by a hound named “Licks Luthor” who was once briefly owned by Lex Luthor — they make their way across Gotham to rescue Batman. The super-intelligent chicken dies in the effort, and Ursa is captured by Tarkov’s men and sent to the arena to duke it out against Batman.
The story concludes with Batman wrestling the bear into submission before turning his attention to Tarkov, who attempts to shock Ursa into getting back on her feet. Ace and the other animals arrive in the nick of time, and the sight of her furry companions is enough for Ursa to join the fight against her captors.
In the final pages of the story, Batman gifts the unusually speedy tortoise to the Flash and sets up his reserve for Lil’ Nutz and Ursa, musing on the relationship between humans and animals, and stating that all living creatures deserve to walk their own path in life, free of hatred and abuse.
“Hounded” is not the first story that has shown Batman’s compassion towards animals. “Good Dog,” written by Tom King and illustrated by David Finch for 2016’s Batman Annual #1, showcased the Dark Knight saving Ace from the throats of the Joker. Previously, a cow saved from a criminal slaughterhouse that Damian Wayne lovingly referred to as “Bat-Cow” also lived in a Wayne Manor barn.
Batman: Urban Legends #16’s “Hounded” features colors by Trish Mulvihill and letters by Steve Wands, with cover art by Mostert and Mulvihill and variant cover art by Ejikure and Derrick Chew. The issue is on sale now from DC.