Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stone's Scale of Evil Rank
7) Highly narcissistic, not distinctly psychopathic people with a psychotic core who kill people close to them (jealousy an underlying motive)
Why Professor Arnold Hugo has been selected for 9th Place:
- Hugo was the first popular Martian Manhunter villain.
The Martian Manhunter was introduced in Detective Comics #225, amidst the firestorm of controversy whipped up by Dr. Fredric Wertham over a perceived link between comic books and juvenile delinquency. In a move toward self-censorship, the distinctly ghoulish Batman rogues gallery was largely banished from covers and most comics throughout the 1950s. The comics instead embraced a rather juvenile take on science-fiction, characterized by tame monsters-of-the-month and alien visitations. Favorites like Catwoman and Two-Face vanished until the '60s, but the Batman series had the furious pencil of Dick Sprang to fall back on, plus irregular Joker appearances and the introduction of Mr. Freeze in 1959. Detective Comics fared poorly, with outdated artists and a greater emphasis on giant rampaging beasts. Lesser lights like the Terrible Trio, Dr. Double X and Calendar Man debuted in 1958, but it didn't exactly blaze the path of a super-villain revival.
Editor Jack Schiff shepherding an underwhelming Batman line in the dire 1950s was one thing, but following the late decade super-hero revival spearheaded by Julie Schwartz, things needed to change fast. In Schiff's final years, Joker appearances in Batman spiked, and Detective Comics began trying out new villains in rapid succession, beginning with Professor Arnold Hugo in 1962. Aside from Cat-Man, who was an instant smash, none stuck... except Prof. Hugo. In the days of newsstand distribution, there was a massive lag between the production and reception of comic book stories. Cat-Man's three cover appearances in just over a year's time are telling, because he returned a month after sales receipts from his debut would have been tabulated. It took Prof. Hugo a year-and-a-half to resurface, but the mere fact that he did means something. Hugo was the first "freakish" Batman foe introduced in a long time, so there might have been reservations about repeat cover appearances, and probably no sales boost like Cat-Man likely delivered, but his revival pretty much guarantees the fan mail must have been extremely positive. Someone like the Flame Master might have made more sense as a Martian Manhunter threat, but what Schiff was looking for was sales, and a positive response to Hugo had to offer hope.
Martian Manhunter had fought a number of super-scientists and criminals with advanced technology, but none made enough of an impression to return as individuals of note. Besides an especially snide personality, it seems like having a visual hook was the main thing to set Prof. Hugo apart. A genius with a head shaped like a lightbulb is pretty inspired, but not as much as having him then use clown make-up as a disguise in one episode.
- Hugo was the Manhunter's first "stolen" foe, and link to the greater DC Universe.
Detective Comics #322 saw the return of Prof. Hugo... in the back-up strip. "The Man Who Destroyed J'onn J'onzz" was the first Manhunter from Mars strip to name the hero's stomping grounds as Middletown, where previously one might have assumed that John Jones was, like Batman, located in Gotham City. The story established the heroes shared a continuity through a cameo by the Dark Knight, while also setting up Martian Manhunter as a separate property. If Schiff was already looking for a parachute before being shown the door, as Julie Schwartz would hold his job in another five issues, that would seem a prudent move. Scwartz cleaned house upon arrival, restoring classic rogues and introducing new adversaries. Cat-Man, so closely tied to Batman, could not be allowed exit from the franchise, even as he fell into disuse. Professor Arnold Hugo, having proven himself both of interest and available, jumped ship with Martian Manhunter in his cover-featured new title, House of Mystery.
- Prof. Hugo was the Manhunter's first successful reoccurring foe, and the only one to appear in all three of his major Silver Age periods.
Although Monty Moran and the Diabolu Idol-Head had follow-up encounters with the Alien Atlas prior to Hugo, one was fleeting and the other met its final end within two years. Both fared better than the majority of bad guys to turn up in the Manhunter from Mars strip, which couldn't turn out one decent repeat in eight years. Professor Hugo joined the cast at the tail end of the "John Jones" period, when the Sleuth from Outer Space was still a police officer in Middletown, in a story featuring Captain Harding. Hugo returned twice during the "Idol-Head" years, when Manhunter and Zook traveled the United States in search of a "Pandora's Box," fighting the monsters which would regularly emerge from it. Hugo's final canonical appearance was during the "Marco Xavier" period, when Manhunter assumed the identity of an international playboy and spy against the criminal organization Vulture. All in all, Professor Arnold Hugo spent four years as the Manhunter from Mars' longest-lived Silver Age adversary.
The Counter Argument:
- Professor Arnold Hugo is a Batman villain whose only Bronze Age appearance was in a Batman Encyclopedia, where his name was misspelled. His modern age revival was relegated to Johnny DC (where he briefly battled two entirely different super-heroes.)
- Professor Arnold Hugo has no powers, isn't especially brilliant by comic book standards, and contributes nothing Modern Age readers would embrace.
- Professor Arnold Hugo looks ridiculous, and is difficult to draw proportionate to other characters. Aside from the big head, he's just another jerk in a suit.
What Professor Arnold Hugo Represents:
Debuted in Detective Comics, exiled to House of Mystery, abandoned at the tail end of the Silver Age, and engaged in a constant battle for recognition and respect. Prof. Hugo is the embodiment of fan frustration with the Manhunter from Mars' handling and reception, and allowed to get nastier about it than Martian Manhunter ever would. Where J'Onn J'Onzz is a selfless, dignified champion of a great society living in harmony, Hugo is an ironically small-minded egotist only interested in personal fame and fortune. Hugo demands acknowledgment for his scientific accomplishments, and would like nothing better than for the entire world to kiss his feet. Wounding his enormous ego promises a severe reaction, potentially lethal if Hugo had any real follow through. While Hugo talks big, he doesn't seem to have the stomach for cold-blooded murder, though he has no regard for innocents in his path. Like the Martian, Hugo seems distant from all of mankind. Unlike the Martian, Hugo seems to prefer it that way, alienating rather than being alienated. Because of his modest goals and human foibles, as well as his ultimate harmlessness, Hugo contrasts against J'Onzz in ways none of his grander villains can.
If Manhunter is an idealized socialist, Hugo is the screwball libertarian. Where most of academia is left-leaning and aloof, Hugo's the quiet guy in the teachers lounge who passionately supports free market economics, extortion via radiation poisoning and invisible flying robots.
- Professor Arnold Hugo is to the Martian Manhunter as the Riddler is to Batman
- Professor Arnold Hugo is to the Martian Manhunter as the Monarch is to Dr. Venture
- Professor Arnold Hugo is to the Martian Manhunter as Batroc the Leaper is to Captain America
Who isn't ranked because of Professor Arnold Hugo:
- Monty Moran: The Getaway King / Getaway Mastermind: The first reoccurring Martian Manhunter foe, who debuted in 1958 and turned up again in a 1961 JLofA story. However, his second go around didn't showcase much of a personal investment between hero and foil, plus no one has cared enough about Moran to do anything else with him in almost fifty years.
- Doctor Trap: If you were going to try to do a "grim n' gritty" update of Prof. Hugo who commits violent murders and compensates for his deformation and lack of powers through science, you would end up with Dr. Larry Trapp. Also, every third villain created in the Modern Era, so don't bother.
I adore Professor Arnold Hugo, so much so that I'd rather see him left along than mishandled. That said, Hugo is a delightfully snarky heel who plays very well off J'Onn J'Onzz, and could work today as a reluctant ally against greater threats, or an outright villain in stories more concerned with entertainment than the continued decline of psychology in Western civilization. Professor Hugo is easily the most quotable Martian Manhunter adversary, and has personality enough not to work wet.