Category Archives: Featured Villains

Strange, Hugo: Character Corner

Hugo Strange
Hugo Strange

Batman’s villains are many and varied. The Joker’s chaotic jokes, Two-Face’s split-personality shenanigans, and the Riddler’s deadly games are just a thin slice of the delicious villain-cake that Batman has to eat (battle) endlessly. These enemies have their personalities set in stone; their origin stories, though perhaps approached with different details, result equally: Joker is an insane clown, the Penguin is a malformed mobster, Mr. Freeze is in his suit, searching for a way to help his wife. Most of the villains have this attribute, but not all of them.

Hugo Strange, mad-scientist-psychologist extraordinaire, is not one of the simple villains.

“Original” History

Strap in. We’re about to take a ride through the fourth dimension.

Hugo Strange first appeared in 1940, in Detective Comics #36, as a scientist that used a concentrated lightning machine to create a dense fog, in which he would rob banks. He escapes from the city’s asylum (before it was dubbed Arkham) and uses a growth hormone to turn a number of other escapees into mindless monsters. Batman beats him. This version maintains Strange’s bald head, glasses, and enviable neckbeard. He returned in the ‘70s: Strange is found running a private hospital, which Bruce Wayne checks in to for radiation burns. Strange discovers Wayne’s secret identity and attempts to auction the knowledge. A crime boss named Rupert Thorne tortures Strange to death before he can get the information out of him, but it was really a yoga technique to slow his heart, and later plots against Batman and Thorne, “haunting” Thorne and trying to weaken Wayne before taking his place. He is killed, perhaps for real, when his replica Wayne manor explodes.

Strange seems to be truly dead. In that universe, at least.

The above version is known as the “Earth-One” version. In the Earth-Two version, the origin is the same, up to his apparent death in the forties. Having barely survived the fall, Strange is left crippled and unable to enact his revenge, during which time the Batman of Earth-Two dies. He finally regains his health, and uses his earlier weather machine to take revenge on Batman, Robin, and Batwoman. I know I just said Batman died, but it was the Earth-Two Batman. The Earth-One Batman joined with the other two somehow. Strange was defeated, and ended up using the Cosmic Rod to commit suicide. These events were erased from existence in the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline in 85-86.

We’ve all had days like that.

The next version of Dr. Strange is the “New Earth” version. His origin is similar, but he discovers Batman’s secret identity even quicker – it quickly becomes the running theme for later versions of Strange. He makes his own version of the Batman suit to try and defeat him, attempts to turn public mind against Batman, and kidnaps the mayor’s daughter. He is shot twice and dumped into a river. Having faked his death, he makes his triumphant return by murdering a millionaire. He vows to destroy Batman, in mind and body, using Scarecrow’s toxin. He is nearly successful, but falls into the ocean while fighting Scarecrow.

Sure you are, Strange
Sure you are

Deciding he must kill Bruce Wayne if he wishes to become Batman, he kidnaps Catwoman and confronts Bruce Wayne, who maintains his innocence, escaping and returning as Batman. During the fight, the Batmobile explodes, seemingly killing Batman for once. Strange broke into the Wayne manor wearing his Batsuit, fighting Nightwing and Robin, escaping quickly. The explosion did not kill Batman, but did temporarily confuse Wayne, making him forget he was Batman. Strange suffers a breakdown, voluntarily checking himself into Arkham. He participates in a few smaller adventures, featuring Strange in secondary roles, land him on another planet with a number of other villains.

We’ve almost got the threads unraveled.

In 2011, DC combined all of its existing franchises into one continuity. The Hugo Strange in this continuity – dubbed “Prime Earth” – worked at Arkham Asylum, alongside Harleen Quinzel. His first appearance was in 2012. He hasn’t done much of interest, but is a presence nonetheless.

Extras

Hugo Strange grew in the public eye thanks to his magnificent presence in the Arkham City video game. He is able to discern Batman’s true identity, and gets Wayne interred as a result. This kicks off the events of the game. His appearance in the game tracks with his comic book look, but otherwise he is an unknown entity.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this strange character corner. Come back soon for more fun fan information!

July Fourth Superheroes

July Fourth Captain America
You’re welcome

Two of the most well-known superheroes, Captain America and Superman, are both patriotically-minded. Captain America’s red, white, and blue fandom is well-known, and Superman (who, some would say, is the Ur-example of a superhero) was raised on all-American values straight from the vein of the land, by Mr. and Mrs. Kent. So, what adventures do they, and other classic capes, do during this summer holiday, July Fourth?

First off, there’s a likely supervillain attack during these dates. There’s actually a Batman villain named Calendar Man, who pulls heists based on holidays. There are so many villains, in both universes, that the idea these characters have a day off – especially during July Fourth – is almost unthinkable. But not completely.

DC:

As Superman is the star-spangled boy scout, he likely enjoys July Fourth a trifle more than the others (even though Wonder Woman’s outfit is red, white, and blue from beginning all the way until nowish), and so it’s up to him to make it fun. Sometimes he has it at the JLA watchtower, address: the moon. There, it’s a tasteful cocktail party, during which they view the simultaneous firework shows all across the U.S. in a glorious panorama of flashing colors that only the super-privileged few can witness.

He also might invite the other superheroes down to the farm. John and Martha Kent know a thing or two about feeding superheroes a healthy home-cooked meal. As long as he can handle a healthy dose of Diana-is-so-nice-you-two-should-get-together, Superman no doubt enjoys having his brightly-dressed and patriotic friends over for dinner.

Marvel:

Depending on what version of Captain America we’re wrestling with (either the movie version, recently awoken and still with one foot in the forties, or the comic book version, which was thawed from the ice in the sixties and is now a little more caught-up). Given the first version, Cap will probably love the classic arrangements of July Fourth, the bbqs and the fireworks and Off, a spray which usually fails to fulfill its promise in relation to bugs and their distance from you.

If we have the comic version of Cap to manipulate, he’ll see the normal trappings and want to kick it up a notch. He’ll set up the fireworks himself, plan the buffet in immaculate detail, and have the SHIELD lab boys develop a powerful new anti-insect toxin which is safe for humans. Since comic books must have a conflict, this will result in a powerful, dangerous new villain that arises, somehow, from the chaos of the event, and must be put in his place by the assembled Marvel cast, be they Avengers or otherwise.

Of course it’s hard to tell what any given character would do for July Fourth, but we can at least be certain we’ll be enjoying ourselves as well. So go on, have a great weekend.

Harley Quinn Character Corner

Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn’s original look

Every few weeks at the Superhero costume blog, we talk about a superhero character in greater detail. This week, we’re talking about the Joker’s number one gal, Harley Quinn!

Original version:

Harleen Quinzel — First appearing in the Batman Animated Series, with a genius-level IQ and a scholarship in gymnastics — attended Gotham State University, majoring in psychiatry. A disastrous experiment involving her then-boyfriend, Guy Kopski, resulted in him shooting a hobo and asking Harleen to help him kill himself. It is unknown whether or not she helped him, but he died after the gun was fired.

After graduating with glowing references, Harleen started working at Arkham Asylum, requesting to meet the Joker as soon as possible based on a claim of writing a book about serial killers. Her experience with Guy Kopski endeared her to the Joker’s “chaos” theory of humanity, and she quickly fell in love him the Joker. She helped him escape several, began calling herself Harley Quinn, and was herself committed when finally caught.

Referring to the Joker as “Puddin,’” and breaking out of Arkham several times on her own, Harley became Joker’s second-in-command, if such a thing could even exist. After a while she saw acknowledged his abusive behavior and split off, becoming a crime boss on her own terms, though this would end with a member of her own gang putting a hit on her, forcing her into hiding.

Other versions:

Harley Quinn’s first appearances are in the Batman animated series, which ran from 1992-95. She was immensely popular with the fandom, prompting her inclusion in the main universe. She has been featured in works of her own, and is a recurring antagonist in the Batman Arkham Asylum video game series.

Harley Quinn and friends in Arkham Asylum
Harley Quinn and friends in Arkham Asylum

We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of the Character Corner. Come back next week for more fun fan information!