Cover to Batman: Gotham Knights #9. Art by Brian Bolland.
|First appearance||Detective Comics #36
|Created by||Bill Finger
|Alter ego||Hugo Strange|
|Notable aliases||Batman, Dr. Victor Absonus |
Master practitioner of psychology, chemistry, and biology
Peak physical conditioning (occasionally)
Professor Hugo Strange is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain appearing in books published by DC Comics. He serves as an adversary of Batman. He first appeared in Detective Comics #36 (February 1940), and is one of Batman's first recurring villains, preceding the Joker and Catwoman by several months. He is also one of the first of Batman's villains to deduce Batman's secret identity.
Hugo Strange first appears as a scientist who uses a stolen "concentrated lightning" machine to generate a dense fog every night, allowing his gang to rob banks unseen, though he knows Batman poses a threat to him. Batman, who already knows of Strange's experiments, begins investigating him after one of his henchmen kills a man. When his henchmen are apprehended, Strange vows to set a trap for Batman at the next target on the list. When Batman arrives, over a dozen of Strange's men are waiting for him, and one of them knocks him out with a blackjack. He wakes up in Strange's lair, where Strange hangs him from his wrists and lashes him with a whip. Batman breaks the ropes, gasses the room, and tackles Strange, who is jailed but plans to escape. In his second appearance he escapes from the "city asylum" with a gang of criminals, then breaks out "five insane patients" and uses them as test subjects, turning them into hulking 15 ft zombies by administering a powerful artificial growth hormone that acts on the pituitary gland. They wear bulletproof clothing, and he releases them to wreak havoc in Gotham City while his men commit robberies. Strange administers the serum to Batman after the giants capture him, saying it will work in 18 hours. Batman tricks two of the monsters into killing each other, and then saves himself by creating a drug that prevents any abnormal secretions from the pituitary gland. He is then able to kill all the other monsters, and sends Strange to his apparent demise, although he suspects that the mad scientist has survived. In Detective Comics #46 Strange starts spreading a fear-inducing powder around the city until a punch from Batman sends him falling to his apparent death.
He returned in the 1970s during the "Strange Apparitions" story arc. Having survived his earlier "death," Strange is running a private hospital for Gotham's wealthiest citizens — where he holds them to ransom and changes them into monsters. When Bruce Wayne checks into the hospital to recover discreetly from radiation burns he sustained while fighting Doctor Phosphorus, Strange finds out that Wayne is Batman and proceeds to wreak havoc on his personal life. Strange then attempts to auction the identity of Batman to City Council Boss Rupert Thorne, Penguin, and Joker. Thorne has Strange kidnapped and beaten to reveal Batman's identity, but Strange apparently dies before he can tell them. Strange's ghost comes back to haunt Thorne, driving the council boss insane. Thorne confesses his long career of corruption and is sent to prison.
As revealed in Batman #356 (Feb. 1983) Strange had indeed survived the beating from Thorne's men, by using yoga to slow his heartbeat to an undetectable level. Strange created the 'ghost' that haunted Thorne which drove him to confess to the authorities. Subsequently Strange attempts to weaken Bruce Wayne through the use of drugs and robots, with the ultimate goal of usurping the mantle of Batman. The plan fails, however, and Strange apparently dies once more when he blows up a replica of Wayne Manor.
The Earth-Two version of Strange also survives the fall he experienced. However, he is left paralyzed. After years of physical therapy, he regains enough movement to write out the surgical techniques needed to repair the damage to his body - and bribes a surgeon to perform the operation. However, the surgeon lacks Strange's skill, leaving him physically deformed (the surgeon dies for his failure). Strange uses one of his devices to capture Starman's cosmic rod, to use its power to attack everyone and everything Batman holds dear. He generates a storm in Gotham to obtain the device, which creates a dimensional doorway to Earth-One, bringing that universe's Batman over to Earth-Two and allows him and that world's Robin to join with the original Batwoman in defeating Strange. Strange realizes that he is in fact angry at his own wasted life and deformed body. Strange then uses the Cosmic Rod to commit suicide. (The Brave and the Bold #182, January 1982) 
In the Post-Crisis continuity, Strange was reintroduced in the "Prey" arc as a psychiatrist enlisted to help a police taskforce capture Batman. While brilliant at his work, he was portrayed as being equally atrocious; Strange was so obsessed over Batman that he took to dressing up like him in private. Strange ends up escalating the scales against Batman by brainwashing a police officer to become a violent vigilante, framing Batman for kidnapping the Mayor's daughter, and deducing Batman's true identity as Bruce Wayne. In the end though, Batman managed to foil Strange's plot and forced him to doubt his own conclusion about his true identity, before he could share it with anyone else.
According to Commissioner James Gordon, Strange was "abandoned as a child, grew up in state homes. A bright kid, but he apparently had a hell of a temper. Nobody knows how he put himself through college and medical school." He was raised in an orphanage on the lower East Side of Gotham, not far from the infamous "Crime Alley", in the heart of a part of Gotham known as "Hell's Crucible". Strange became professor of Psychiatry at Gotham State University, but had his tenure suspended due to his increasingly bizarre theories in genetic engineering. At some point, he is approached by an Indian man named Sanjay, who seeks Strange's aid in curing his sick brother. Strange agrees to help, and Sanjay works loyally by his side from that point onward. Borrowing money from gangster Sal Maroni, who is in the employ of Gotham's criminal kingpin Carmine Falcone, Strange sets up a lab. He then bribes a corrupt orderly to give him incurably insane inmates from Arkham Asylum - who have been institutionalized so long that they will not be missed.
Strange's experiments have literally monstrous results, with his test subjects turning into gigantic, mindless "Monster Men", possessing superhuman strength and cannibalistic instincts. Strange uses these Monster Men to raise the money he needs to pay back his Mafia connections. Batman becomes involved after discovering some of the gruesome remains of the Monster's Men's cannibalistic rampages. When Strange sets his creations free at an illegal poker game, helping himself to the victims' money after the slaughter, his Mafia connections begin to grow suspicious. Batman tracks Strange down, but is captured by Sanjay and thrown to the Monster Men as an intended meal. Batman not only holds off the creatures, but uses them in part of an inventive escape. Strange is enthralled by Batman, believing that he has found a genetically perfect man. He creates one final Monster Man using a drop of Batman's blood, and while his creation still has many of the flaws of its "brothers", it lacks most of the grotesque disfigurements that had plagued Strange's earlier work. However, Strange is forced to destroy his lab in order to evade capture. Soon after, he turns the Monster Men loose, including Sanjay's brother (who had been mutated in a failed attempt to cure him), at Falcone's estate, where Strange's Mafia connections are staying. Strange wants a fresh start, and realizes that the Mafia is still a link to his experiments. In the battle that follows, all of the Monster Men are killed, along with Sanjay (who was attempting to avenge his brother). Strange escapes amid the chaos, and succeeds in eradicating all links between himself and his experiments. Confident that he can not be linked to them, he begins to appear on TV as a psychological expert on the Batman.
It is possible that the events of Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy's "Prey" story arc take place at this point. Partly due to Hugo Strange's appearance on TV as a psychological expert, Captain Gordon is ordered to put together a Task Force to capture Batman, with Strange working as a consultant to try to discover Batman's identity. As the investigation continues, however, Strange grows increasingly monomaniacal in his obsession with Batman, expressing a desire to become Batman to the point that he dresses up in a duplicate costume. To that end, he attempts to kill the Caped Crusader, and then take his place, but constantly underestimates the physical demands Batman has placed on himself to become what he is now (To the extent that his initial attempts to deduce Batman's identity focuses on a personal tragedy such as a mugging or murder in the last five years rather than the lifetime of training that Gordon already knows would be required), as well as diagnosing Batman with various personality flaws such as split personality to account for his costume when Gordon is able to more accurately define Batman's goals as 'scaring the pants off criminals'. 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. Despite his attempt to break Batman by creating recordings and mannequins of Thomas and Martha Wayne blaming Bruce for their deaths, Bruce is able to collect himself and focus in the Batcave, confronting Strange to claim that he knows nothing about Strange's attack, casting doubt on Strange's deduction. Strange is ultimately caught, shot twice by the task force when he attempts to escape dressed in his duplicate Batman costume, and dumped into a river; it was then assumed he had died.
However, in Doug Moench's "Terror" storyline, Strange mysteriously comes back. He decides to work with another of Batman's enemies, the Scarecrow, and use him as a tool to help him capture Batman, while simultaneously having fallen into a further delusional state as he engages in a 'relationship' with a female mannequin in Batman's cowl, reflecting his warped dual admiration and loathing of Batman. However, Scarecrow turns on Strange when Strange's therapy proves effective enough to turn Scarecrow against his 'benefactor', impaling him on a weather vane and throwing him in the cellar of his own mansion. The Scarecrow then uses Strange's mansion as a trap for Batman, but his attempt to use Strange's plan fails when he only learns of Strange's plan to use Crime Alley as the scene of a trap while ignorant of the reasons why that alley is so significant to Batman, with his 'trap' merely consisting of luring Batman into the alley and decapitating a former classmate of Crane's. With Catwoman's help, Batman locates Scarecrow's hideout and catches Scarecrow in the cellar with Strange's body before the house is destroyed in a fire, but loses sight of Strange, with it being unclear whether Strange had actually survived the fall onto the weather vane- he claimed that he lured rats to himself by using his sweat so that he could eat them- or if Scarecrow and Batman were hallucinating from exposure to Crane's new fear-gas, although Batman concludes that the subsequent explosion of the house has definitely killed Strange.
Both "Prey" and "Terror" are set during Batman's early years. In the modern timeline, Strange returns in a four-part arc that ran through Gotham Knights #8-11. He is posing as a psychiatrist doing standard stress evaluations at Wayne Enterprises. While Bruce Wayne is on the couch, Strange drugs him with a powerful hallucinogen in order to coax Wayne into admitting that he is Batman. Batman escapes and triggers a post-hypnotic suggestion in himself, forcing him to completely repress the Batman aspect of his mind until Robin and Nightwing can thwart Strange. Believing that his theory that Bruce Wayne is Batman has been disproved, and that he may have actually killed Batman, Strange has a mental breakdown and is taken to Arkham Asylum.
Following that, Strange reappears as the head of a gang of super-criminals attempting to take control of Gotham's East Side, then controlled by Catwoman. 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.
In Batman #665, Batman tells Tim Drake that a huge man dressed like a combination of Bane and Batman had beaten him up, and he suspects the imposter had used "Hugo Strange's Monster Serum and Daily Venom shots" to gain his size and strength.
Strange appears in The Batman Adventures, which is set in the DC Animated Universe. Issues 35 and 36 of the comic book provide him with a tragic backstory: he witnessed the murder of his son David by mob boss Rupert Thorne, and was so overcome with grief that he sought to literally erase the memory with his mind control technology. The plan backfired, however; following the experiment, he could remember nothing but his son's death. After Batman stops him from killing Thorne, Strange is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.
The New 52
The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe) introduces the reader to his son Eli Strange for the first time, playing poker with the Russian Mob. Eli is first seen playing a game of poker with the Russian mob, betting a valuable bracelet, winning big and cleaning house. Before he can walk away with his winnings, the mobster forces him to play another hand, in which he discovers Eli's sleeve loaded with cards. Before he can give the order to have him killed, the mobster's thugs realize their bracelet (Eli's was a fake replica) had been stolen, Catwoman pouncing from the ceiling and taking out the entire group of criminals. She thanks Eli for being her distraction (the two having been working together the entire time) and tells him to run home to his father, which he is last seen doing.
Later, Hugo Strange uses Eli to oversee an operation to dose Gotham with Fear Gas. Scarecrow led Batman to believe that a small boy in a picture would be harmed unless he put a stop to it. Arriving at the scene, Batman realizes that the small boy was actually Eli. He manages to avert the disaster and Eli is arrested.
In other media
- Hugo Strange is introduced in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne" (a remake of the auction that took place in the Strange Apparitions story arc with some minor differences) voiced by Ray Buktenica. A psychiatrist running a rest hospital that he uses to blackmail Gotham's elite with secrets, Hugo finds out with a machine that reads minds. Bruce Wayne goes to the hospital and undergoes the 'treatment' which allows Strange to discover his secret identity. He then auctions off this information to a trio of Gotham's top crime bosses: Joker, Two-Face and Penguin. After a fierce bidding war, Joker suggests that the villains simply pool their money and pay Strange rather than competing. However, Batman managed to switch the video with his identity with another he manufactured, which shows Strange boasting about his plan to scam the villains by giving them a fake identity for Batman. In an attempt to save himself, Strange blurts out that Batman is Wayne but Two-Face responds "I know Bruce Wayne. If he's Batman, I'm the King of England!" and the trio then tries to kill him by throwing him out of an airplane. Batman saves him at the last minute however and had Robin show up at the crime scene disguised as Bruce to discredit Strange's claims of knowing the Dark Knight's secret identity as Hugo is then taken into police custody.
- Hugo Strange returns in Justice League Unlimited as a member of Project Cadmus. In the episode "The Doomsday Sanction", he has a brief cameo appearance seated at a table within Cadmus' headquarters with no lines. It is possible that Strange is the one who provides Amanda Waller with Batman's real identity. Producer/writer Dwayne McDuffie confirmed that the character's appearance was intended to set up a later use, presumably the episode "Question Authority" during a torture scene to pull information from the Question's mind. But due to the production of The Batman, Warner Brothers withheld most Batman characters and is replaced in Cadmus by Doctor Moon.
- Hugo Strange appears in The Batman voiced by Frank Gorshin (the actor played the Riddler in the 1960s Batman TV show) and later by Richard Green. In this series, he is the Chief psychologist at Arkham Asylum. Hugo appears briefly in the episode "Meltdown" and as the primary villain in the episode "Strange Minds". Strange is portrayed as being far more fascinated with the deranged criminals at Arkham Asylum and how their minds work than actually finding a cure for their madness, on more than one occasion provoking them to cause more mayhem. In this interpretation, he is a master chemist, programmer and skilled at robotics. In the episode "Fistful of Felt", Strange cures the Ventriloquist of his multiple personality disorder only to turn him again into a criminal. Despite his insistence that it was test to see if he's truly cured, Batman tells him he'll be watching him. In the episode "Gotham's Ultimate Criminal Mastermind", he does in fact design a robotic villain called D.A.V.E. to hunt down Batman. He pulls a gun out at Batman, thus sealing his reputation as a villain. He's currently incarcerated in Arkham, having been ironically dubbed insane by his former colleagues. In the episode "Strange New World", Strange (from his cell in Arkham) infects Batman and Robin with a toxin claiming it to be an antidote. Under the drug's influence, the Dynamic Duo hallucinate that they are being pursued by zombies. Hugo claims that he has distributed a chemical throughout town, making everyone into zombies that obey his every command. This is later revealed to be a lie, concocted in order to trick Batman into spreading the real chemical. Robin is cured about halfway through the episode. Batman realizes the truth at the last moment and allows Batgirl to cure him. Even later in the same season, Strange appears as one of the many supervillains held hostage by the vigilante Rumor. As Rumor moves to the machine he would use to execute all criminals at once, Strange asks him about his motivation. Rumor replies that he wants to kill them all in retaliation for an attack by the Joker that crippled his boss. Strange laughs and tells him that the scheme is in fact motivated by his guilt over his failure to protect his boss rather than any sense of altruism or desire to protect Gotham from the captured villains. Strange later appears in the series finale "Lost Heroes", working with The Joining, helping them to capture the Justice League and extract their powers in return for ultimate knowledge of the universe. When Strange's work was complete, The Joining kept their promise but the massive amount of information (delivered directly into his brain) overloaded his cerebral cortex, leaving him catatonic.
- Hugo Strange appears in the Young Justice voiced by Adrian Pasdar. Introduced in the episode "Terrors", Hugo is the psychiatrist of Belle Reve working under warden Amanda Waller. During Icicle Sr.'s breakout attempt, Strange and Waller are trapped in a cell by the escaped inmates. After the breakout is thwarted by Superboy and Miss Martian then all of the prisoners (sans Riddler) are rounded up and returned to their cells, Hugo ends up becoming the new warden of the prison. In the episode's closing moments, it is revealed that he had been working with Icicle Sr. the entire time as part of a plot to take control of the prison on behalf of the Light (Project Cadmus' Board of Directors). In the episode "Humanity", Strange was seen viewing a surveillance of the team interrogating Professor Ivo on where T.O. Morrow's hideout is. Hugo even allows Ivo to send a transmission to Morrow (impersonated by Red Volcano at the time) warning him that Young Justice is heading his way. In the episode "Coldhearted", Batman and Flash visit Strange at Belle Reve where they state that they suspected that Captain Cold, Icicle Sr., Icicle Jr., Killer Frost and Mr. Freeze were behind the flying ice fortresses that buried the USA in winter. Hugo shows Batman and Flash some security footage stating that the five ice villains have never left their cells. As of the episode "Usual Suspects", his role in helping prisoners escape is known by the JLA and he is not seen again, meaning he is either on the run or has been captured in the five year break between seasons one and two.
- Hugo Strange appears in a short animated film created by Bruce Timm in honor of Batman's 75th anniversary. The film, "Batman: Strange Days" is an homage to one of Strange's first appearances in the comic books. Played by Brian George.
- Strange is a featured villain and playable character in the minigame "Villain Hunt" on the Nintendo DS version of Lego Batman: The Video Game.
- He appears as the main antagonist in Batman: Arkham City voiced by Corey Burton. According to Rocksteady, this is the first time Batman has faced him in this continuity. The character surfaces as a largely unknown psychiatrist with a shady past involving controversial experiments with behavior control. Strange is appointed warden of the new "Arkham City" detention facility, with the approval of Gotham mayor Quincy Sharp and the material resources of Ra's al Ghul; he continues his unethical research, simply committing anybody (such as reporter Jack Ryder) who attempts to uncover the truth. The dubious warden's coup d'état is revealed to be Protocol 10, the wholesale extermination of Arkham's criminal populace after their professional interest to him has expired. After his private security force massacres hundreds of inmates with a combination of air and missile strikes, Batman fights his way to Strange and forcibly deactivates the operation. Disappointed, Ra's dispatches Hugo for his failure - upon activating Protocol 11 (a self-destruct sequence for his command tower), the latter seemingly expires from his wounds.
- Strange makes a cameo appearance in Injustice: Gods Among Us among the many villains present in Arkham Asylum.
- He is mentioned by Dr. Harleen Quinzel in extortion files in Batman: Arkham Origins, set 6 years earlier than Arkham City. Harley states that Strange is giving psychological treatment to Alberto Falcone who is apparently missing. A poster is also out in the area to see Strange's experiments.
- "GCD :: Cover :: Detective Comics #1". Comics.org. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #138
- Detective Comics (vol. 1) #36 (February 1940)
- Detective Comics (vol. 1) #437
- Batman (vol. 1) #1
- The Brave and the Bold #182
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #11-15
- Batman and the Monster Men #1-6
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #137-141
- Batman: Gotham Knights #8-11
- Catwoman #46
- Catwoman #48
- Batman (vol. 1) #665
- Batman: Gotham Underground #1-3
- Salvation Run #2
- Detective Comics (vol. 2) #5 (March 2012)
- Detective Comics (vol. 2) #10 (August 2012)
- Forever Evil #1
- Young Justice, "Terrors"