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Hugo Strange (Earth-One)

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Quote1 "Yes, my friend-- You no longer wear your mask! I saw my chance and seized it! Your secrets are secrets no longer-- Bruce Wayne! Quote2
-- Hugo Strange src

Early Career

Professor Hugo Strange was an evil genius infamous for committing and organizing crimes all over the world, known as an international mastermind. His early encounters with his longtime enemy, Batman mirror those of his Earth-Two counterpart. After his last criminal attempt, he was presumed dead, but in reality, Strange survived his encounter with the Dark Knight and went into hiding for a period of several years, leaving the world to think him gone forever.[1]

Strange Apparitions

During the time when Batman and the Gotham City Police Department thought him deceased, Hugo Strange fled to Europe to pursue his illicit ambitions there free from the bedevilment of costumed crime-fighters. Dissatisfied with the lack of challenge by the regular law enforcers, Strange returned to Gotham City where he hatched a new plot to ransom Gotham's most affluent citizens by establishing a mental health clinic for the wealthy, where he would transform his "patients" into Monster Men and hold them up for ransom. Bruce Wayne, having recently battled the superhuman psychopath Doctor Phosphorous as Batman, checked into the clinic to recover from radiation burns sustained during that fight, unaware of the institution's true, insidious nature. In his guise as Batman, Bruce soon discerned that something was amiss with the situation and learned that the clinic was a front for an illegal operation headed by the chief of staff, Dr. Todhunter. However, Batman's investigation of the premises was stopped when Todhunter, actually Strange in disguise, had him drugged and unmasked him in this disoriented state.[2]

Now cognizant of the Batman's true identity, Strange modified his plans to account for this most unexpected turn of events and set into motion another, multifaceted, potentially more rewarding subterfuge. Strange would disguise himself as Bruce Wayne and pilfer the Wayne Foundation of its considerable funds, before organizing an underworld auction for the knowledge of the Batman's secret identity. Once word of the auction spread, Strange instantly attracted the attention of three interested possible bidders: The Joker, the Penguin, and corrupt Gotham City Council member Rupert Thorne. All events seemed to point towards the revelation of the Batman's most closely preserved secret, yet things did not go as anticipated in the end, as Thorne's henchmen kidnapped Strange and tried to torture the information of Batman's alter ego out of him. Resistant to the end, Strange apparently died from the abuse he suffered at Thorne's hands, and his corpse was evidently then dumped into the harbor.[3]

The Ghost of Hugo Strange

Many weeks after this all had transpired, Rupert Thorne, still the foremost hegemon of organized crime in Gotham City, began being plagued by visions of the ghost of Hugo Strange. Strange's "ghost" routinely threatened Thorne upon his every appearance with impending doom, stating that his third visit would mark the hour of Thorne's demise. Driven to the brink of madness from the shock and uncertainty of it all, Thorne hired Doctor Thirteen, a professional debunker of alleged supernatural phenomena, to discredit the reality of the "ghost of Hugo Strange." As might be expected, Doctor Thirteen deduced that the phantasm was a holographic projection generated by devices surreptitiously scattered throughout Thorne's residence and that its voice was merely a recording.[4] Consumed by crippling paranoia, Thorne convinced himself that the appearance of Strange's "ghost" was the work of two subordinate, corrupt elected officials, whom he suspected of conspiring to overthrow him: Mayor Hamilton Hill and Police Commissioner Peter Pauling. Eager to take action against the perceived traitors, Thorne started with Pauling and successfully murdered him, only to be shot himself and taken in by the Batman. In the aftermath, it was revealed that the "ghost of Hugo Strange" was actually the doing of the real Hugo Strange, who was alive and well the whole time.[5] In the past, while being interrogated by Thorne's men, Strange used a yoga technique to slow down his heart rate to be virtually undetectable and thus simulate death, explaining how he had survived the seemingly fatal ordeal. With his revenge on Rupert Thorne exacted, however, now Strange was free to focus his efforts once again on the Batman.[6]

Time to Settle the Score

Having at long last seen his machinations to bring about the downfall of Rupert Thorne come to fruition, Hugo Strange then formally "returned from the dead" a third time, intent on settling the score with the Batman, the only opponent worthy of his respect. Strange's return was marked by Bruce Wayne's relocation, unbeknownst to him, to a replica Wayne Manor, where he would be befuddled with ubiquitous sets of two robotic duplicates, one modeled after Alfred Pennyworth and the other after Dick Grayson. These sets of duplicates would make abrupt disappearances and reappearances at a whim, making Batman question the veracity of his own sensory input. The truth was only made plain once Batman descended to the replica Batcave, where Strange made an appearance dressed head to toe in a replica Batsuit. Strange once more desired the usurpation of Batman's two lives, those of Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight, albeit for seemingly less rational reasons than the perpetration of grand larceny this time. As Batman and Strange grappled, the latter inadvertently flipped the self-destruct switch for the replica Wayne Manor, forcing Batman and Dick Grayson, who had arrived during the fight as Robin, to escape before the complex came down over their heads. When the ruins of the mansion-like deathtrap were rummaged through afterwards, only the shattered remnants of destroyed androids were found; Hugo Strange's body was not. As if the lack of a cadaver were not already an obvious foretelling of Strange's inevitable return, the criminal mastermind would confirm this prediction by showing his hand once more in the ensuing months.[7]

Around the time of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hugo Strange made his final comeback, accompanied by his ultimate revenge scheme, concocted for the destruction of Batman first as Bruce Wayne and subsequently as the symbol he represents. The end goal would have been nothing less than the total annihilation of everything the Batman ever was and ever stood for, cementing the triumphant Hugo Strange within Batman's rogues' gallery for the rest of time as the supreme foe. Indeed, it actually almost worked. By using his many unknown contacts on both sides of the law, Strange managed to have the Wayne family fortune and estate both confiscated within a matter of days, reducing Bruce Wayne from Gotham's billionaire bachelor to a woebegone pauper. As if this were not enough to utterly defeat the Batman, for Strange knew of his legendary resilience all too well, he also prepared to frame Batman as a criminal and reveal his secret identity to the public. Fortunately, Batman and the new Robin thwarted Strange and turned him over to the authorities along with evidence of his wrongdoing. With Strange's underhanded manipulations brought to light, Bruce Wayne's estate and fortune were both returned to him. Yet Batman realized that Strange, having exhausted his many options to defeat him through complicated trickery, might very well reveal his true identity once behind bars. Taking precautions against this, Batman told Detective Harvey Bullock that Strange uncovered his secret identity in the past but that he hypnotized Strange to "incorrectly recall" the face behind the mask as that of Bruce Wayne, reasoning that Bruce's licentious playboy reputation made him the individual most were least likely to believe was really him. Once Strange did as anticipated and bragged of how he learned that Batman and Bruce Wayne were one and the same, Bullock mocked Strange and retorted with the elaborate lie that Batman told him. Wracked with doubt and horrified by the idea that his memory was tampered with, Strange drove himself to the brink of a nervous breakdown.[8] He has not been seen since, as far as can be determined.


Abilities

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Footnotes


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