WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains
Name: Hugo Strange
Residence: Gotham City
Occupation: Professional Criminal
First Appearance (Golden Age): Detective Comics #36 (February1940)
Little is known of the early life of Professor Hugo Strange
prior to his first encounter with Batman in 1940. While the two foes had yet to clash, Strange
had already cultivated a reputation as a mastermind of considerable renown,
attracting the attention of the FBI to his criminal operations. His first encounter with Batman occurred early
1940 when Batman observed the murder of an FBI agent by Strange’s
operatives. Approaching the scene, the
men scattered and approaching the dying agent, Batman retrieved his notebook before
the police arrive and assume the murderer is Batman (he was viewed as an outlaw
at this time. Before dying the agent
spoke of a strange fog, which Batman deduces is an adjective but a name, that
of notorious criminal mastermind, Hugo Strange
That evening, Strange launches his criminal operation,
blanketing Gotham in a deep thick fog on multiple nights. Banks are robbed in six figure hauls and a
well-known electrical engineer has gone missing. Batman notices that the names of the robbed
establishments are in the dead FBI agent’s notebook and intercepts some of
Strange’s men at the Sterling Silver Company.
Leaving the defeated henchmen in hands of the police, Batman departs but
Strange has realized that Dark Knight must have extracted information from the
dead agents. Assuming he is following
the list, Strange prepares to ambush Batman at their next encounter.
Batman slips into the Wolf Brother Fur Company – the next target – but is caught by surprise when the lights come on and the full force of Strange’s army of henchmen have him surrounded. Charged with his capture, not his death, the men engage in an intense melee and finally manage to subdue and capture Batman. Back in Strange’s hideout, Strange resolves to whip Batman but the hero breaks free and attempts to knock out the criminal with sleeping gas. Strange flees but Batman catches up and the two engage in furious fisticuffs. Batman is ultimately victorious and binds Strange, leaving him only to investigate the source of the fog. In a lab he finds Henry Jenkins, the missing engineer, who’s discoveries Strange has stolen to create the fog. Freeing Jenkins, Batman reverses the fog, clearing the skies over Gotham. Afterward, Batman earns the praise of the news media and Strange, in prison, vows to devote the rest of his life to destroying Batman (Detective Comics #36).
In a manner of weeks, Strange proved true to his word,
either staging or joining a prison break to escape. Once free, he and his men broke into an
insane asylum in Metropolis, abducting five inmates. A month later, in New York City, a monstrous
figure wades into the crowd. When the
police engage it, it goes into rage, proving enormously strong and resistant to
injury. After trashing cars and cops
alike, it leaps into the back of a large truck and escapes. The next day, the scene repeats but this time
the Batman arrives and gives chase. Trailing
the truck to an old, abandoned barn, he suspects a trap but has little
choice. His entry is greeted by two of
the previous monsters who drag him unceremoniously before Hugo Strange. The gloating villain explains that he has
extracted growth hormones which at extremely high doses, produce massive size,
strength and rage. He then inject the
serum, which takes 18 hours to work, into Batman.
As Batman’s time draws near, he uses chemical hidden in his
bootheels to create an explosion and free himself. His first encounter is Strange, whom he
engages in brief melee before knocking the villain out a window and into the
waters far below. He quickly administers
an antidote and blocks the effects of Strange’s cocktail. Now left to face the
monsters, he tricks two into killing each other before pursing Strange’s
henchmen and the remaining monsters in the BatPlane. Catching up their truck, he regrets the need
to kill but use machine guns from the BatPlane to wreck them gangsters. The monster inside survives but Batman uses
cable from the plane to garrote the monster and kill him. Finally, the last monster reaches Gotham and
seeing the BatPlane flies into a rage, climbing a skyscaper to try to catch
it. Batman gasses the monster, letting
it fall to its death below. He questions
whether Stranger is truly dead after all (Batman #1).
The answer came a few months later when, in late 1940,
Batman was on a routine patrol and broke up a warehouse robbery. Finding that one of the thieves as a
teen-ager, he bartered mercy for information on a larger plot. The boy promises
to meet Batman back at the same place at midnight with details of a new
criminal plot in Gotham. After the
thieves recover, they all go to a secret meeting place where thet are met by
Professor Hugo Strange. Strange
describes a new invention, a fear dust that causes uncontrollable constant
terror. At noon the following day,
Strange’s henchmen rob a bank and use the gas on the arriving police. As the officers wither in terror, the thugs
make off with their haul and return into Strange.
Meanwhile, the young member of the gang returns to meet
Batman at midnight. Strange, however,
noticed that the teen had seemed uncomfortable during the previous night’s
meeting and has him trailed. When he is
seen meeting Batman, the thugs quickly attack and overpower the Caped Crusader.
They return him to Strange, where he is beaten into submission and left in a
side room. There he overhears their
plans – to distribute fear dust on a train, in the waters system and via
air. As the thugs leave on their appointed
missions, Batman emerges and overpowers the remaining men. He then calls Robin and explains the current
situation, instructing him to intercept those bound for the water supply. Batman then heads for the train, at which
point he is able to subdue the men before the dust can be spread. Robin intercepts the henchmen at thocks beloe
water supply and after a melee across a theatre marquee, also accomplishes his
goal. Batman’s final task was to
intercept Strange, who was having difficulty with the plane. Enraged at the site of Batman, the two battle
it out and Strange falls over a cliff to craggy rocks below. Believing him dead, Batman goes to reunite
with Robin. Batman never saw Strange again (Detective Comics #46).
Robin was not so lucky.
In 1982, Strange re-appeared and created an electrical storm over
Gotham. Dick Grayson consulted with Ted
(Starman) Knight at the two set out to find Strange. A bold of lightning snaked over to the two
heroes and caused them to crash land, allowing Strange to steal Starman’s
cosmic rod. Strange himself appear as a hologram, gloating over his victory and
declaring his ambitions had evolved over time.
He no longer desired to rule Gotham, simply to destroy it. Unbeknownst to Strange, his storm had an odd
side effect, pulling the Batman of Earth-One to Earth-Two. Batman seeks out the JSA to get home and encounters
Robin, who explains the current predicament.
The heroes are then attacked by the Catwoman’s old Pantherjet and after being joined by the Batwoman of
Earth-Two, the Spinner’s tops and the original Batmobile.
The three heroes realize that these artifacts could only come from the Bat Cave. The trail Strange there who launches a battery of Bat-Weaponry at them, including a giant model dinosaur and a robotic Batman. While Robin and Batwoman struggle with the disconnect of working with Batman after there version was deceased, Batman of Earth-One helps them come to clarity. Strange emerges, his body crippled and deformed by his fall in the 1940’s but misshapenly restored by surgery and a dose of the formula he used to create his Monster Man. Batman deduces that Strange is not really trying to kill them, that what he actually wants is for them to help him end his own miserable life. Realizing the truth, Strange uses the Cosmic Rod to kill himself. In the aftermath, Batman is sent back to Earth-One, the threat of Hugo Strange on Earth-Two ended forever (Brave and the Bold #182).
Powers and Abilities
Hugo Strange lacked super-powers but was a brilliant tactician, scientist and logician. He developed a wide variety of biological and chemical weapons to use in his crimes, including monster-creating hormones, dust that causes irrational fear and process to produce dense fog.
Weaknesses and Limitations
Bereft of his equipment and his henchmen, Hugo Strange was an ordinary mortal and easily defeated.
The history of the Earth-One Hugo Strange is thought to begin essentially the same as his Earth-Two Counter-Part. On this Earth, however, he survived and returned to torment Batman several times, the first years after his apparent death from falling off the cliff. Masquerading as Dr. Todhunter, he discovered Batman's true identity but when he tries to leverage that in Gotham's criminal community, is kidnapped by corrupt politician Rupert Thorne and apparently beaten to death to get the answer. He resists til the end and his body is dumped in Gotham Harbor. He then appears to haunt Thorne as a ghost (Detective Comics #471-176). Strange continues the ghost motif for sometime until Dr. Thirteen reveals his ruse and after pretending to be Batman, he seemingly again killed in a confrontation with Batman (Batman #356). He again survives but eventually Batman convinces him that his knowledge of Bruce Wayne's identity is a hypnotic trick and drives Strange insane (Batman Annual #10). His final fate in this timeline is unknown.
The Hugo Strange of the post-Crisis fused time line started life with a similar modus operandi but was not initially appreciated as a master criminal. He again creates monsters but when he Batman impedes his operations, he goes on to become a television commentator on vigilante psychology (Batman and the Monster Men). As in other timelines, his obsession with Batman deepens and his criminal operations become much more collaborative include the Scarecrow (Batman: The Dark Night #137-140), super-villain groups (Catwoman vol 3 #46) and even being shanghaied off-world (Salvation Run LS). The final fate of Strange is this timeline has not been revealed.
Hugo Strange is this timeline started out even closer to the Batman family, as a neuroscientist working for Wayne Enterprises. He eventually left to join the staff at Arkham as a cover for his unethical experimental work (Detective Comics Vol 2 #5). The Hugo Strange of this timeline is a criminal with an international organization who participate in networks such as the Secret Society of Super-Villains.
Detective Comics #36
1st appearance, vs. Batman
Batman Archives #1, The Batman Chronicles #1, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus #1, Batman: The Golden Age #1, Batman Arkham: Hugo Strange TPB
vs. Batman and Robin
Dark Knight Archives #1, Batman Chronicles #1, Famous First Editions #F-5, Batman #1 Masterpiece Edition, Millennium Edition: Batman #1, Golden Age Batman Omnibus Vol .1 HC, The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told Vol. 1, Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 1
vs. Batman and Robin, apparent death
Batman Archives #1, The Batman Chronicles #3, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus #1, Batman: The Golden Age #2
Brave and the Bold #182
vs. Batman of Earth-One, Robin, Starman and Batwoman of Earth-Two, actual death
Batman: Secrets of the Batcave, Tales of the Batman:Alan Brennert, Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vol. 3, Batman: The Brave and The Bold Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 3