Sunday, July 15, 2012
SurVILEvor Island: Professor Arnold Hugo
Despero had mixed feelings about the ouster of Doomsday by a popular vote of 70% out of 20 respondents. While the beast was a potentially lethal and likely uncontrollable adversary, he was also a weapon of ultimate destruction that could be unleashed upon even the most powerful super-heroes. While this decision will see Doomsday out of any future Menagerie melees and local spotlight opportunities for the foreseeable future, he will remain in the Vile Census, with potential for a return to the fold. Professor Arnold Hugo is from Gotham City, and according to his family history, his ancestors played a major role in the city's development. When their contribution failed to be acknowledged by the local historical society, Hugo was so offended that he subject himself to a brain altering experiment, then unleashed a string of mad science menaces on other Gotham descendants. In his boldest scheme, Prof. Hugo nearly destroyed the planet before being defeated and imprisoned by his first foes, Batman and Robin, in his only ever feature length villainous role. Essentially, Hugo's origin and reason for existence was tied to Gotham City. When he reappeared in a later issue of Detective Comics, these same origins were revisited. After a brief escapade in Middletown, the Martian Manhunter turned Hugo over to Batman at the end of the guest appearance. J'onn J'onzz basically acknowledged the Dark Knight's ownership of Hugo. The only reference book the character has ever appeared in was 1976's The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes, Volume 1: Batman by Michael L. Fleisher, although he was minor enough to be misidentified as Professor Hugo Arnold (which was not corrected in the 2007 reprint edition.) His last appearance anywhere was a 2010 issue of DC Super Friends, where he was modeled after his first appearance and fought Superman and Aquaman. On the other hand, the Wizard of a Thousand Menaces made three appearances in the Manhunter from Mars strip running in House of Mystery from 1965-1967. Hugo was visually revised from being squat with brown hair to tall and lean with black hair and distinctly different facial features. Despite Hugo remaining mobile, he managed to run into J'onn J'onzz in entirely separate locations, once on a different continent. Unlike Batman, Hugo actually sought out the Alien Atlas in one instance for revenge, and featured into a total of five encounters. Despite his ties to Gotham City, Hugo has had no recorded stories there since his debut. Professor Hugo was the first villain to face Martian Manhunter in a solo adventure more than once, and in fact did so four times before 1966, when the Martian's next ongoing adversary was created in the form of Mr. V. Hugo has also battled J'onzz's sidekick Zook four times more than he ever has Robin the Boy Wonder. Where Professor Hugo is an insignificant and forgotten one time Batman foil, he's one of the most memorable Martian Manhunter adversaries of the Silver Age. Which is more important, where Professor Hugo started from, or where he went afterward?