DC Comics/Wikimedia Commons
DC Comics/Wikimedia Commons

7 Lesser-Known Members of the Batman Family

DC Comics/Wikimedia Commons
DC Comics/Wikimedia Commons

Everyone knows Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and (thanks to the Christopher Nolan movies) Lucius Fox. Fans with a deeper knowledge know Batgirl and Damian Wayne, Batman’s son. But there have been some extremely odd additions to the Bat-family over the years, most of whom were created during the bizarre Silver Age of comics (1956-1970) or in comics paying homage to that wacky era.

1. Ace the Bat-Hound

Krypto the Super-Dog, who first appeared in 1955, was the founding member of a series of DC superpets, such as Streaky the Super-Cat, Comet the Super-Horse, Beppo the Super-Monkey, and (cue Batman TV show theme music) Ace the Bat-Hound. This German shepherd in a domino mask debuted just a few months after Krypto, in a time when no sidekick was too far-fetched. These days, there’s a new Bat-Hound in town: Damian Wayne’s dog Titus was introduced in 2011 and is named after Titus Andronicus. Titus the dog is far more adorable than the play.

2. Mogo the Bat-Ape

In the 50s, one of the Ten Commandments of Comics was “Apes sell,” and there was a mania to put gorillas on comic book covers. When ape fever met Bat-character overload, the result was Mogo—a circus ape who followed Batman and Robin back to the Batcave. As Michael Eury observed in Comics Gone Ape: The Missing Link to Primates in Comics, “Sheesh, if a beast was smart enough to do that, why couldn’t the Penguin or the Joker?” Like Ace, Mogo ended up in a Bat-costume, because even non-human furballs apparently have a secret identity to protect.

3. Batman Jones

Not to be confused with the child on The League named Chalupa Batman, this odd 50s character was a baby named Batman after the Caped Crusader saved him. Batman Jones’s destiny was sealed when Batman took the time to build him a Bat-Coop as a playpen. When Jones became a teen, he put on a Batman costume and tried living up to his name, which caused problems for the real McBat. After plenty of shenanigans, Jones gave up on being Batman and started collecting stamps, because teens are fickle (and writer and Batman co-creator Bill Finger was apparently stumped).

4. Batzarro

While not exactly a sidekick, Batzarro, who appeared briefly in 1966 and 2005, is one of the oddest Bat-characters ever. Just as Bizarro is the “imperfect duplicate” of Superman, Batzarro is Batman’s opposite. While Batman hates guns because his parents were gunned down in Crime Alley, Batzarro uses guns to shoot people in Crime Alley. Batman is the world’s greatest detective, and Batzarro is the worst. Like Bizarro, Batzarro isn’t a straight-up bad guy: he’s more of a confused Bat-Doofus.

5. Bat-Cow

When Grant Morrison began a lengthy Batman run in 2006, he took a unique approach: writing the character as if every Batman story ever, from the wacky TV show to Japanese manga versions, was part of the character’s continuity. This included the wacky 1950s stories featuring Ace and Mogo, who Morrison paid tribute to in the form of Bat-Cow, a genetically modified cow whose markings resemble a Bat-mask. In 2012’s Batman Incorporated #1, Batman and Damian rescued the cow from bad guys, and Bat-Cow has since appeared periodically as comic relief. Nothing breaks the tension during a tense day in the Batcave like a well-timed “moo.”

6. The Batmen of All Nations

The group, created in 1955, was half-weird and half-realistic, exploring a likely effect someone like Batman would have on the world: he would spawn imitators. The Batmen of All Nations were a group of international crimefighters, all inspired by the Dark Knight: The Knight and Squire from England, the Ranger from Australia, El Gaucho from South America, the Musketeer from France, and the Legionary from Italy. This group returned in a terrific 2006 story by Grant Morrison and J.H. Williams called “The Island of Mister Mayhew.” That group evolved into Batman Incorporated, which included another ’50s hero inspired by Batman: Man-of-the-Bats, a Native American Batman.

7. Bat-Mite

The nuttiest Bat-ally of all might be Bat-Mite: an imp from the fifth dimension who tries to “help” Batman and only ends up causing trouble. Like Superman’s foe Mister Mxyzptlk, Bat-Mite has reality-warping powers that make you wonder if the writers and artists were on LSD. Such fifth-dimensional cosmic wackiness is a long way from the gritty crime drama most associate with Batman these days; it’s even goofier than the 1960s TV show. But it shows the versatility of Batman: he can go anywhere, from Crime Alley to the fifth dimension and back.

This Is the Age When Puppies Reach 'Peak Cuteness'

All puppies are cute, but at some point in a young dog's life, it goes from "It's so cute I could squeeze it to death" to merely regular cute. But when? According to one recent study in the journal Anthrozoös, peak cuteness hits between 6 and 8 weeks old for many dogs, The Washington Post reports.

Finding out when puppies reach their peak attractiveness to humans may give us insights into how domestic dogs evolved. Researchers from the University of Florida asked 51 students at the school to look at 39 black-and-white images of dogs, who belonged to three different breeds and whose ages ranged from birth to 8 months. The viewers then rated them on a sliding scale of squishability.

The results will sound familiar to dog lovers. Puppies aren't entirely adorable immediately after they're born—they can look a little rat-like—and the participants rated them accordingly. As dogs get older, as much as we might love them, their squee-worthy cuteness declines, as the attractiveness scores reflected. The sweet spot, it turns out, is right around when puppies are being weaned, or between 6 and 8 weeks old.

The participants tended to rate dogs as most attractive when the pups were within the first 10 weeks of their lives. According to the results, Cane Corsos were at their cutest around 6.3 weeks old, Jack Russell terriers at 7.7 weeks old, and white shepherds at 8.3 weeks.

The study only used still photos of a few breeds, and it's possible that with a more diverse sample, the time of peak cuteness might vary a bit. Certain puppies might be cuter at an older age, and certain puppies might be cuter when they're even younger. But weaning age happens to coincide with the time when puppies are no longer getting as much support from their mothers, and are thus at a high risk of mortality. By evolving to attract human support at a time when they're most vulnerable, puppies might have boosted their chance at survival until they were old enough to completely take care of themselves.

[h/t The Washington Post]

Martin Wittfooth
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig


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