48 years ago - Hugo Strange is born.
30 years ago - 18-year-old Hugo Strange goes to college.
26 years ago - 22-year-old Hugo Strange begins medical school.
24 years ago - 24-year-old Hugo Strange begins his medical residency.
23 years ago - 25-year-old Hugo Strange becomes a professor of Psychology.
20 years ago - 28-year-old Hugo Strange finishes his residency & becomes a practicing psychiatrist and has his theories published.
16 years ago - 32-year-old Hugo Strange's new theories get him fired from his professorship. He begins his experiments in chemical and hypnotic behavioral modification, crafting plyable henchmen for Gotham's criminals.
14 years ago - 34-year-old Hugo Strange begins crafting Monster Men, confronting Batman as the Mad Monk. He fakes his death and begins appearing on TV as a Batman expert.
13 years ago - 35-year-old Hugo Strange becomes the new head psychiatrist of Arkham after Johnathan Crane is arrested. He works regularly with the GCPD taskforce.
11 years ago - 37-year-old Hugo Strange's obsession with Batman deepens. He deduces his identity and tries to sell it. He frames Batman for kidnapping Mayor Rupert Thorne's daughter & tortures him with imagry of his parents. Ultimately he is shot by police while wearing a replica Batsuit and was presumed dead.
6 years ago - 42-year-old Hugo Strange poses as a psychiatrist doing routine tests of executives at Wayne Enterprises & tries to get Bruce Wayne to confess to being Batman. He is thwarted by Bruce's regime of post hypnotic suggestion and by Nightwing. He again fakes his death.
2 years ago - 46-year-old Hugo Strange appears in Bludhaven crafting designer drugs for Tobias Whale.
Dear lord, this character is weird. He's a part of a very bizarre time in Batman comics when they were backlashing pretty hard from the live action TV show and the general public perception of Batman as a complete joke. While only a decade earlier, Batman was full of rediculous comedic and science-fiction concepts, now it was diving into political issues, sociologically and psycologically driven story concepts, introducing characters like Ra's Al Ghul, and just generally redefining the idea of what a mainstream comic book character could be. In this enviornment, this bizzare villain emerged that had practically none of the traditional earmarks of a comic bad guy. He was a mad scientist, sure, but the challenges he posed were entirely internal. He could never really be defeated in a way that ended the threat he posed, but he could be made to defeat himself. He's not used very often in modern interpretations of Batman because it requires such a deft touch to write him in a satisfactory way, but when he is it produces a completely unique Batman story... and often a story unique in comics in general.
Hugo Strange's Comic History
Hugo Strange actually first appeared waaaaaaay back in 1940, the second year of publication for Batman. he was a mad scientist, very similar to the Mad Monk, who would produce super-powered hirelings. He had very limited appearances over the decades, because he really was just one of a zillion random mad scientist characters created in the era that was essentially a riff on Captain Marvel's Dr. Sivanna.
It was decades later in the late seventies when Hugo Strange came back as a scientist running a private hospital that would blackmail and mutate his patients. This is pretty obviously a send up of his earlier appearances, but in the new era of Batman comics he quickly shifted into something far weirder as he managed to learn Batman's secret identity and would threaten to auction it off to various classic villains like the Penguin and Joker, but also to new, less fantastical and more political threats like Boss Rupert Thorne.
This was the main story element that was used to define the character going forward, sometimes making him part of the anti-Batman police taskforces, but always slowly devolving into madness as his obesssion with Batman and theories about his psycology eat him alive from the inside.
The Mad Monk
There's no actual pre-existing correlation between Hugo Strange and the Mad Monk, this is something entirely of our own invention. Both characters just felt really weirdly incomplete as we tried to build out their larger lives and somehow they seemed to come together in a way that made sense. The Mad Monk is completely devoid of any explanation or place in the larger Batman mythology, and Hugo Strange seemed to be such a non-fantastic villain.
Mad Monk was practically a one-shot villain way back in the early days of Batman comics. His story featured the very first time Batman battled 'metahumans', and also includes some of the best examples of early Batman flat-out murdering people. We wanted a way to build him into the story and including him as part of Strange's bizarre backstory felt very correct... there are elements of Strange's early stories that have mad scientist echos of the Mad Monk, so ultimately this seemed like a weird but comfortable fit.
Our Hugo Strange Story
Trying to get this particular character correct was bizzare, because it's very tough to isolate the specific story beats that he really needs to bring. We started by breaking down the idea that he replaced Dr. Crane as the new head of psychotherapy at Arkham, which gives us some additional structure to the world of Batman. It also works because while Crane became a flat-out supervillain, what Strange becomes is something weirder and more esoteric, and that feels very correct. The innovation of giving him a brief secret life as the Mad Monk actually seems to expand the sense of danger from the character, knowing he's capable of such a thing, but it's convenient that he's able to fake his death and abandon that role so easily.
The really weird part of Hugo Strange is the fact that the main threat he presents is the knowledge of Batman's Secret identity. That's SUCH a huge deal. It makes him one of the few charaters that can totally destroy Batman's life on a whim, so you really need to assemble some safeguards against it. First, and most obvious, is the fact that as he makes his discovery he's also completely losing his mind... but also, he doesn't actually have any proof for his theory, no one actually believes him, and Batman is actually able to categorically disprove the theory multiple times, (despite it actually being correct), which of course drives him further insane.
Hugo Strange's Future
Hugo Strange, if used well, is such a fantastic tool to dig into the psychosis of Bruce Wayne. Unlike a lot of other heroes, Bruce's mental state is a huge part of what makes him interesting and there are very few more satisfying ways to unpack that then to have a character that is obsessed with understanding it. Even better, Hugo gets his theories wrong as often as he gets them right, which drives him insane but also gives us SO many opportunities to explore all the various ideas about what makes Bruce tick.
It's established that Strange has a penchant for faking his death, but at some point you have to image that the heroes stop buying it. Fool me once, and all that. The last major arc for him was actually 11 years ago when he kidnaps Mayor Thorne's daughter and completely looses his mind, iconically donning his own Batman costume, but we didn't want to leave him there so we dug into some later appearances, actually giving him the upper hand of Bruce Wayne as opposed to Batman at one point before he's saved by Nightwing.
This actually put in motion our plans for where he goes next. As Tobias Whale begins his takeover of Bludhaven, the stage is being set for a new battlefield for Nightwing, and Strange actually feels like a fantastic addition to that world. Beginning to evolve and shift Strange's obsession from Bruce specifically to Dick Grayson feels like a fascinating way to evolve the larger story, and that's the best thing a villain can do for it's hero.