by Phil Perich for the Before the Bat podcast
There are many new characters coming to Gotham this season. One of whom is Hugo Strange. Hugo first appeared in Detective Comics #36 (February 1940).
In this first appearance, Hugo is a scientist who uses a concentrated lightning machine to make fog that hides his gang so they can rob banks. Hugo is one of Batman’s first recurring villains, appearing even before the Joker and Catwoman. He is also the very first villain to figure out Batman’s secret identity. One of the biggest Hugo Strange storylines took place in the 1970s. After he was believed dead after a fall in his last battle with Batman, Hugo returns. This time he is running a private hospital for Gotham’s wealthiest citizens. His plan is to hold them for ransom and/or turn them into monsters. Unaware of Hugo’s plans, Bruce Wayne checks into the hospital to recover from radiation burns he had from a battle with Doctor Phosphorus. During Bruce’s stay, Hugo discovers his secret identity. Hugo then attempts to auction this info off to the highest bidder. After offering a chance to buy the info to the Joker and Penguin, corrupt City Council boss Rupert Thorne has Hugo kidnapped and beaten hoping to get the info for free. Hugo apparently dies from the beating and later on his ghost is seen haunting Thorne until Thorne confesses all his crimes and is sent to prison. Hugo is later revealed to have survived in Batman #356 (February 1983).
In this issue, Hugo is shown to have survived the beating by slowing his heartbeat to an undetectable level using a yoga technique. He then went on to create his own “ghost” that haunted Thorne. He attempts to then defeat Batman using drugs and robots in a plan to eventually replace Batman. He once again seemingly dies when he blows up a fake Wayne Manor.
After a few modern retellings of his early appearances in Batman’s first year of crime fighting, Hugo makes another return to the present day in the classic storyline by writer Devin Grayson in Batman: Gotham Knights #8-11 (October-December 2000, January 2001).
In this story (one of my favorites), Hugo returns posing as a psychiatrist doing standard stress evaluations at Wayne Enterprises. Hugo attempts to drug Bruce Wayne and force him into revealing he is Batman. After Batman defeats Hugo, he keeps yelling he will tell everyone Batman’s secret ID.
Batman then fakes his death, and as Bruce Wayne, triggers a post-hypnotic suggestion he implanted to make himself forget he is Batman until Nightwing and Robin can defeat Hugo.
With Batman supposedly dead and Bruce Wayne alive, Hugo thinks his theory of them being the same person is disproven. This causes him to have a nervous breakdown and to be admitted to Arkham Asylum.
Hugo Strange is set to appear this season on Gotham. Here he will be a young professor at Arkham Asylum who helps turn it into the institution we all know today. Hugo will be portrayed by actor B.D. Wong, who knows how to play a psychiatrist after his years of experience on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Are you as excited as I am, to see this great actor play this evil genius? Tell me about it:
@nightwingpdp or @beforethebatpod on Twitter.
You can hear me and my friends discuss the show Gotham and all things Batman on our podcast Before the Bat: the Gotham Podcast every week. I also write for two other blogs, the Flash/Arrow blog and the True Believers blog. All my podcasts, blogs, and those of others can be found at www.southgatemediagroup.com.
Until next week, be good! Remember, the deadliest attack is the one on the mind!