- "The most dangerous man in the world! Scientist, philosopher and a criminal genius ... little is known of him, yet this man is undoubtedly the greatest organizer of crime in the world."
- ―Bruce Wayne
Professor Hugo Strange is a major adversary to Batman. First appearing in Detective Comics #36, he is Batman's oldest adversary and one of his most dangerous foes. Initially a mad scientist who utilized various scientific methods to fuel his schemes, Strange has often been depicted as obsessed with Batman's identity and even donning the role himself. He is also one of the first foes to learn of his dual identity of Bruce Wayne.
Professor Hugo Strange has a bald misshapen head, complete with bushy eyebrows, coke-bottle glasses and a thick beard accenting his jaw. He is an evil psychologist and chemical genius who knows Batman's secret identity and lusts to take the identity for himself. Just as The Batman was familiar with him, Strange knew of his adversary long before they met. Cursing an underling for not killing him when he had the chance, Strange declared that "The Batman is the only man with the imagination to sense the exact nature of our plans." Strange had first gained fame in the world of psychology when he claimed to have fully analyzed the Dark Knight from afar. Strange would lend credence to his own claims by learning of Batman's true identity of Bruce Wayne. However, his hatred of Batman turned into more and more of a deranged obsession, using his medical expertise to hatch a series of bizarre plots based around genetics and mind control in order to defeat Batman and possibly take his place.
Hugo Strange was originally a criminal scientist who uses a stolen "concentrated lightning" machine to generate a dense fog, allowing him to rob banks unseen. The Batman had chanced upon the looming threat of Strange in Gotham thanks to the dying words of F.B.I. agent John Davis. A list of banks and other financial targets, coupled with a cryptic reference to fog, put the Dark Knight on the alert. The next evening, Gotham was virtually hidden beneath an unnatural fog that helped shield the first in a series of robberies. Heading to the next target on the list, Batman handily defeated a sextet of Strange's men. In his quarters, Strange reacted with naked fury towards the man who had interfered, shattering a wine glass in his hand: "I'll CRUSH him as readily as I crush this glass!"
In a one-to-one match, though, Strange was no match for Batman, who beat the professor into submission. Freeing the electrical engineer whose device had created the fog, Batman soon cleared the Gotham skyline. Shaking his cell bars at the end of Detective Comics # 36, Strange vowed to escape and "devote the rest of my life in revenging myself upon The Batman!" He does later escape from the "city asylum" (later known as Arkham Asylum) with "five insane patients". Strange went into seclusion for a month and uses the deranged inmates as test subjects, turning them into hulking zombies by administering a powerful artificial growth hormone that acted on the pituitary gland; a side effect caused the victim to become a mindless brute. Thus his return was heralded by a fifteen-foot monster with herculean strength that rampaged through the streets of Gotham. The plan was to exhaust the city's resources on his behemoths while Strange and his mob looted with impunity. Trailing the creatures to their lair, Batman once again faced Professor Strange, who injected him with the same chemical that transformed the madmen into mindless beasts. The Caped Crusader saves himself by creating a drug that prevented any abnormal secretions from the pituitary gland. Escaping, Batman knocked Strange out the window of his headquarters, located on the edge of a seaside cliff. With Strange left to "fall to murky waters below," Batman turned his attention to running through a gauntlet of monsters and devising a cure for himself before he joined their number.
Hugo Strange returned in 1941's Detective Comics # 46. Using fear dust that reduced all in its path to quivering wrecks, the good professor no longer aspired merely to great wealth. Now he boasted that "they will let me take over the reins of the government. I can be dictator of America!" Once again, the Dark Knight and his nemesis were locked in battle at the edge of a cliff. Reeling, Strange fell over the edge. "This time," Batman remarked, "it really looks as if it is the end of the evil career of Professor Hugo Strange!"
He returned in the 1970s during the "Strange Apparitions" adventure. Having survived his earlier "death," Strange is running a private hospital for Gotham City's wealthiest citizens — where he holds them for ransom. When Bruce Wayne checks into the hospital to recover discreetly from radiation burns he received as Batman, he had unknowingly stumbled onto an elaborate scheme that transformed wealthy patrons into monsters. Confronting the hospital's Chief of Staff, Batman was stunned when Doctor Todhunter pulled off a mask and revealed himself to be...
"Professor Hugo Strange! I thought you were dead! But I should have known better. You always were one for miraculous returns -- and you've turned men into monsters before!"
For his part, Strange credited Batman as "the reason I abandoned Gotham City for Europe after our last battle -- and the reason I have returned after so many years of success there. Only The Batman can offer Hugo Strange a challenge."
With Batman drugged and in his power, Strange seized his chance and removed Batman's cowl, revealing the angular features of Bruce Wayne underneath. Now armed with the knowledge of Batman's identity, Strange gloated to the unmasked Dark Knight, "Your secrets are secrets no longer--Bruce Wayne!" Strange soon became intent on divesting the Wayne Foundation of its fortune while simultaneously engineering an auction for the secret of the Dark Knight's true identity. Preferring not to wait, organized crime boss Rupert Thorne had Strange abducted but no amount of torture would release the truth from his lips, and Thorne apparently ended up killing Strange before he could learn the secret he held.
With his dying breath, Strange gasped, "To learn The Batman's secrets -- you must triumph over him -- not me. I was a fool --to ever think of -- selling them. The Batman is too good for such as you -- Thorne! He and I -- we are two -- of a kind! I will -- never -- betray -- "
Rescued by Robin, Batman was oblivious to Strange's fate. Thorne was not so lucky. Over the course of the next two issues, the crime boss would be haunted by the spirit of Hugo Strange, a specter that warned "Your murderous life has run its course. When you see me a third time, it will be -- the end!" Driven to a desperate flight, Thorne could not escape his fate. On an empty, rain-swept road in Ohio, Thorne confronted someone—a ghost, his conscience, or something else—and had been reduced to madness by the time the Highway Patrol came across his vehicle the next morning.
Strange had not really been killed - he had used yoga methods to slow his heartbeat to an undetectable level. Strange had plotted his revenge against Thorne and had created a 'ghost' which he used to haunt Thorne until he turns himself in to authorities.
Strange plots his revenge against Thorne and Batman. Thorne was later released from prison, intent on rebuilding his criminal organization. The haunting of Thorne by Hugo Strange's ghost was soon reprised, culminating in a two-parter set of issues that saw "ghost breaker" Doctor Thirteen brought in to debunk the supposed spirit. Thirteen found evidence that the haunting had, in fact, been a hoax and an enraged Thorne headed for the office of the political rivals he imagined were responsible. Gunning down one official, Thorne was shot by another. Observing from a limousine outside, a laughing Hugo Strange bid Rupert Thorne a "good night".
Strange now found himself compelled to adopt The Batman's identity for real. Through the use of drugs and robots Strange attempts to weaken Bruce Wayne before usurping him in the role of Batman. When his attempts to drive Bruce Wayne insane with lifelike mandroids met with failure, after failing Strange apparently dies when he blows up a replica Wayne Manor.
In BATMAN ANNUAL # 10, it was revealed that the Strange who died in BATMAN # 356 was said to have been a mandroid with the genuine article remaining in the background to initiate a complete takeover of the Wayne Foundation and move into Wayne Manor himself.
"Can you think of better vengeance ? Crushing Bruce Wayne ... framing Batman as a criminal ... and then conducting a media tour through the famed Batcave to reveal that Wayne IS Batman ?"
Batman succeeded in capturing Strange but insisted on a blood test to prove the prisoner was a human being. Along the way, the Detective Harvey Bullock unwittingly manipulated Hugo into believing that Bruce Wayne was the LAST person Batman could really be.
The Earth-Two version of Strange also survives the fall he himself 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 bribe 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.
In the Post-Crisis continuity, Strange is reintroduced in the "Prey" arc as a psychologist hired to use his skills to help bring in Batman. He eventually figures out Batman's secret identity, but instead of revealing it to the public, he keeps it secret.
According to Commissioner James Gordon, Strange was "abandoned as a child, grew up in state homes. A bright kid, but he apparently had a temper. Nobody knows how he put himself through college and medical school." (Batman and the Mad Monk) 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.
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. 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.
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. Scarecrow turns on Strange, however, 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.
During a struggle with the archvillain, Batman falls into the cellar, but he grabs Scarecrow and drags him down with him. Scarecrow's trap is rigged to have the cellar slowly flooded, and now, as the water level rises, Scarecrow furiously tries to kill Batman. Strange, who has mysteriously returned to life, stops him. Suddenly, the cellar walls begin to crack, and the three of them are swept into a nearby river. In the ensuing chaos, Batman catches Scarecrow, but loses sight of Strange.
Both "Prey" and "Terror" are set during Batman's early years. In the modern timeline, he 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 has been disproved, and that he may have actually killed Batman, Strange had 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.
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.
He is currently seen in Salvation Run amongst the villains imprisoned on another planet.
Strange's fragile mental state has left him with intermittent knowledge of who is under Batman's mask, a fact that hangs over Bruce Wayne's head—if Strange ever snaps completely someday, all of Batman's secrets might be revealed.
The New 52
Strange was likely referenced in Batgirl #4 by several criminals who have an app on their phones allowing them to track Batman which they claim to have gotten from someone named Hugo. His son Eli Strange is featured in Dectective Comics #5 playing poker with a Russian gang and cheating to get all their money. His ruse is discovered but the boy is saved by Catwoman, who he agreed to infiltrate the gang for in the first place. Strange himself appears briefly at the end of the issue, saying that he will make Eli into what he is meant to be, the son of Hugo Strange.
Hugo Strange is trained to physical perfection and a brilliant psychological analyst. He possesses extensive knowledge of genetics, and uses this to frequently aid in his plans as he carries out his fixation on Batman and his secret identity. Strange, however, is currently plagued by schizophrenic episodes that leave him confused and dangerous.
In Other Media
- Main article: Hugo Strange (DC Animated Universe)
Hugo Strange was introduced in the Batman: The Animated Series episode, "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne" and was voiced by Ray Buktenica. Hugo Strange was a psychiatrist who ran a rest hospital that he used to blackmail Gotham's elite with secrets that he found out with a machine that read minds. Bruce Wayne went to the hospital and underwent the "treatment," which allowed Strange to discover his secret identity. He auctioned off that information to a trio of Gotham's top crime bosses: The Joker, Two-Face, and The Penguin. Two-Face had personally known Bruce Wayne ever since childhood, and later accused Strange of fraud when Batman switched the tape with one that he had created that portrayed Strange as fabricating the secret identity. Strange tried to save his skin by simply telling the villains that Bruce Wayne was Batman, but they simply scoffed at the idea, and thought that he was lying. Two-Face commented that if Bruce Wayne was Batman, then he was the King of England. The trio then tried to kill Strange by throwing him out of an airplane. Batman saved him at the last minute however, and had Robin show up at the crime scene disguised as Bruce Wayne to discredit Strange's claims of knowing the Dark Knight's secret identity. Strange was then taken into police custody.
In Justice League Unlimited, Strange returned as a member of Project Cadmus. Strange's appearance was brief however: he was seated at the Cadmus table in "The Doomsday Sanction" with no lines. However, due to the production of The Batman and the inclusion of Hugo Strange on that series, Warner Brothers withheld most Batman characters from the later episodes of "Justice League Unlimited." With Strange unavailable, he was replaced in Cadmus by Doctor Moon. It was possible that it was he who provided Amanda Waller with Batman's real identity.
- Main article: Hugo Strange (The Batman)
- Main article: Hugo Strange (Young Justice)
- Main article: Hugo Strange (Gotham)
The Lego Batman Movie
Hugo Strange makes cameo appearances in the film alongside other Batman villains. This film marks the first theatrical appearance of the character
LEGO DC Games
- Main article: Hugo Strange (LEGO Video Games)
- Hugo Strange is a featured villain and playable character in the minigame "Villain Hunt" on the Nintendo DS version of LEGO Batman: The Videogame.
- Hugo Strange appears in LEGO DC Super-Villains, voiced by Corey Burton. A member of staff at Arkham Asylum, he experiments on the prisoners to create his Monster Men. Strange is encountered by Joker and Livewire during a breakout organized by Lex Luthor, forcing them to fight one of his experiments.
- Main article: Hugo Strange (Arkhamverse)
Though referenced in Batman: Arkham Asylum, Strange serves as one of the main villains in the sequel and the director of the titular prison. Strange commands the TYGER Security services, using them to hold the prison and enforce his wrath.