Hugo Strange is a brilliant but insane psychologist and scientist who is driven by obsession to fight against Batman. Strange is famous for having discovered Batman's secret identity independently through deduction and striking at him emotionally, while using genetically engineered Monster Men as his own private army.
Hugo's childhood was scarred by trauma and grief, leading him to hone and direct himself, making the most of his ordeals to pursue higher goals. He was raised in an orphanage on Gotham City's lower east side, the neighborhood called Hell's Crucible. Growing up to be a well-respected mind in the scientific community, he became professor of psychiatry at Gotham State University until his tenure was suspended over increasingly bizarre theories in genetic engineering.
Main article: Batman and the Monster Men
Strange and his assistant Sanjay begin experimenting with genetic manipulation in an attempt to cure disease and imperfection, although this results in a terrible race of cannibalistic Monster Men who require regular feeding. Not taken seriously by the scientific community, he turns to crime boss Sal Maroni for his funding.
His patients are Arkham Asylum inmates who won't be missed. Eventually he is forced to pay off his debts by sending his creatures to massacre a mob gambling house, stealing several hundred thousand dollars in the process.
The carnage makes his mafia connections extremely suspicious. Batman tracks them down after several grisly murders, although he is subdued by Sanjay and locked in the den of the beasts. Batman is able to fight his way out of the cage and escape, which leads the professor to believe he has found a genetically perfect specimen. Maroni's men physically threaten him in response to the gambling house slaughter, which makes him decide to wipe all of them out. The last monster he makes is the most perfect one, using the Batman's DNA, and he gathers all four of them for an assault on Carmine Falcone's mansion compound in the countryside. They are unleashed and begin killing all the mobsters in sight, although Batman arrives to control the situation. Sanjay is shot dead in the chaos, and Strange is forced to flee the scene. He then uses his psychological credentials to go on television as an anti-Batman commentator.
Main article: Batman: Prey
Strange appears on a talk-show to discuss Batman's psychology with Captain Gordon and Mayor Klass, where Gordon is announced as the head of a new GCPD anti-vigilante task-force with the professor as their professional consultant. He begins to develop obsessive behavior, making his own Batman costume to get inside his enemy's head. As the investigation continues, Strange grows increasingly monomaniacal in his obsession with Batman. His greatest desire is to become Batman. To that end, he has attempts to kill the Caped Crusader, and then take his place. Strange eventually concludes that Bruce Wayne is most likely Batman, brainwashes the head of the police Task Force into becoming a lethal vigilante to turn public sentiment against Batman, and kidnaps the mayor's daughter. He is ultimately caught, shot twice and dumped into a river; it was then assumed he had died.
Main article: Batman: Terror
Having only faked his death, Professor Strange announces his return by murdering an old millionaire named Sebastian Cole and painting a bat on the wall with his victim's blood. He vows to destroy Batman completely, first in mind and then in body. Taking the alias Victor Absonus, he becomes a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum and begins rehabilitating the mentally broken Scarecrow. Hypnotizing a guard, Hugo smuggles his new partner out of the asylum and they take up residence in Cole's oceanside manor. His plan is to combine Scarecrow's fear gas with a powerful hallucinogen to get deeper into Batman's psyche; delivering his second threat, he breaks into Wayne Manor and overpowers Alfred Pennyworth to leave behind a taunting mannequin of himself. Scarecrow refuses to be anyone's pawn and betrays Strange, giving him a powerful dose of their concoction. Running through the house in delirious terror, he falls into a trap in the floor where he's impaled through the chest in the basement, seemingly dead. The manor is converted into a house of terror and death for Scarecrow's high school bullies, eventually attracting Batman's attention. In their climactic fight, Hugo reveals that he has been barely surviving for days in agony on rats, and strangles Scarecrow as the house burns down around them. The three men fall into the ocean, and Strange escapes again in the chaos.
Main article: Batman: Transference
Returning to Gotham while believed dead, Hugo Strange decides that he will kill Bruce Wayne and take over the Batman identity for himself. Disguised in the costume, he captures Catwoman and briefly interrogates her about their relationship using sodium pentothal. Now working as a psychologist providing evaluations for Wayne Enterprises' employees, he confronts Bruce directly during a session. Maintaining his ignorance, Wayne escapes from the gun-wielding maniac in the locked room and returns as Batman. They fight on the rooftop and Hugo is defeated, tied up for the police while swearing he'll tell everyone what he knows. Batman leaves the scene and the Batmobile explodes seemingly killing him, while Strange escapes. Breaking into Wayne Manor while wearing his Batsuit, Strange fights Nightwing and Robin but escapes. Bruce is revealed to be still alive, but has no memory of being Batman. Strange captures all three of them and interrogates them in an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Threatening to execute them, Professor Strange becomes convinced that his assumptions about Wayne were wrong and has a psychotic breakdown, then voluntarily checking himself into Arkham Asylum as a patient. His former student Dr. Charles Nigaff personally took him under his care.
The One You Love
Main article: Catwoman: The One You Love
Hush spreads word that Gotham's East End is protected only by Catwoman as revenge for a slight, leading to a migration of villains who believe they can take over the territory. Hugo Strange acts as the leader of a gang including Angle Man, Captain Cold, Cheetah, Hammer and Sickle. Catwoman joins Strange's gang, then allows its members to "find out" that she intends to betray them, faking her death when they attempt to eliminate her. Although she defeats and imprisons most of the gang, and even convinces Strange to leave the East Side alone, Strange still mocks her by pointing out that he had faked his own death far more often than she had.
Main article: Salvation Run
When villains start mysteriously disappearing, Hugo seeks refuge with the Penguin alongside Mad Hatter, Scarecrow and Two-Face. They are ambushed by the Suicide Squad underneath the Iceberg Lounge, and taken into custody. This is part of massive super-villain deportations to another planet organized by Checkmate during Salvation Run, and Hugo is stranded with many others until they can escape.
Battle for the Cowl
Main article: Batman: Battle for the Cowl
Upon returning to Earth, Strange was once again locked in Arkham until his release during the destruction of the asylum at the hands of Black Mask. Once free, Strange organized a gambling rake in Gotham's underground to challenge the man who seemed to be Batman's successor. In doing so, he attracted the attention of Oracle and the The Network, who were responsible of stopping Strange's plan, but failed to capture Strange himself.
Powers and Abilities
- Genius Level Intellect: As a master of psychology, Hugo Strange is an expert at mental and emotional manipulation for personal gain. He possesses a thorough understanding of the human mind, and thus human behavior, giving him a major advantage over most foes.
- Martial Arts
- Peak Human Condition: Hugo Strange exercises intensively and extensively--he has been shown training with weights and performing cardiovascular and gymnastics routines on a regular basis to keep himself in peak condition.
- Obsession: Strange has an obsession with Batman that borders on the delusional.
- Genetic Limitation: Strange, despite his best efforts, can never be as physically toned as Batman. Strange himself admitted during his workout that he is "limited by [his] genetics."
- Hugo Strange in the modern DC Universe takes characterization from the Hugo Strange of Earth-Two and Hugo Strange of Earth-One from Pre-Crisis stories.
- Hugo Strange's first historical appearance is in Bill Finger and Bob Kane's Detective Comics #36. Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy reintroduced the character Post-Crisis making his first appearance in modern continuity Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #11. His first chronological appearance is Matt Wagner's Batman and the Monster Men #1.
- Strange's depiction has changed over-time. Originally when he was presented in Batman: Prey he was shown to be a weak scholarly type who envied Batman for his physical strength and aptitude. Batman and the Monster Men is written later and leads into Prey, but retcons Hugo as a man of the world at peak physical condition who struggles against his poor genetics.
- Hugo Strange Recommended Reading
- 49 Appearances of Hugo Strange (New Earth)
- 87 Images featuring Hugo Strange (New Earth)
- 7 Quotations by or about Hugo Strange (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Hugo Strange (New Earth)
- Batman and the Monster Men #1
- Batman and the Monster Men #3
- Batman and the Monster Men #2
- Batman and the Monster Men #4
- Batman and the Monster Men #5
- Batman and the Monster Men #6
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #11
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #137
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #138
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #139
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #140
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #141
- Batman: Gotham Knights #8
- Batman: Gotham Knights #9
- Batman: Gotham Knights #10
- Batman: Gotham Knights #11
- Batman: Orphans #2
- Catwoman (Volume 3) #46
- Gotham Underground #1
- Salvation Run #2
- Battle for the Cowl: The Network #1