Comics Reviews

Batman’s Most Manipulative Rogue Stole a Spider-Man Villain’s Worst Trick

In Batman: Urban Legends #11 Hugo Strange attempts to kill Batman using a motivation quite similar to Mysterio’s

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Batman: Urban Legends #11, on sale now from DC Comics.

One of Batman’s longtime villains just took a page out of Mysterio’s playbook. Hugo Strange borrowed Mysterio’s plan and attempted to end Batman’s life as he ends his own after discovering he has stage IV cancer. Batman barely survives, but the greatest tragedy may be what happened to Batman’s sidekick, Ace the Bathound.

In Batman: Urban Legends #11, (by Mark Russell, Karl Mostert, Trish Mulvihill, and Steve Wands) the Caped Crusader teamed up with his fearless pal Ace the Bathound. Responding to a police call about three hostages, the two find themselves navigating a fairly straightforward situation with the usual set of thugs opposing them. The story is told with flashbacks into Batman and Ace’s history from the beginning, as the two separate to solve different challenges.

Related: When Did Batman and Catwoman Discover Each Other’s Secret Identities?

The situation went sideways when the three hostages that Ace rescued turned on him. The charade felt very much like a Mysterio scheme-in-the-works. After knocking him unconscious, the three discussed Strange’s plan and an unknown employer. Batman encountered Strange seated in a high-back red chair alone in a haphazard room. Strange quickly revealed a suicide vest lined with explosives and that he’d been diagnosed with cancer, bringing him to this final act of killing himself and his nemesis. Moments later, Strange hit the trigger, killing himself, and attempting to kill Batman.

This plan mirrored an infamous plan by Mysterio to bring down Daredevil. Mysterio’s efforts to destroy Daredevil started at the same point as Hugo Strange: the diagnosis of Cancer. What’s different is that Mysterio and Daredevil weren’t long-time opponents to the level that Strange and Batman were. Strange was constantly foiled by Batman over the years, a point he makes just before he hits the trigger of the bomb.

The “Guardian Devil” story ran in Daredevil (volume 2) #1-8 (by Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada, and Jimmy Palmiotti). Mysterio’s plot was convoluted featuring a potential messiah or antichrist baby, a fake HIV diagnosis for Karen Page, and demonic transformations. Not satisfied with spending his final days taking down what he thought was the “clone” Spider-Man, Mysterio went after Daredevil. Rather than kill Mysterio as the villain had expected, Daredevil dismissed the entire plot as unoriginal. In an absolutely brutal moment, Daredevil reduced Mysterio to a complete counterfeit of a villain whose life has been for nothing.

Related: Red Hood Takes on a New Protégé in Batman’s Dark Future

Batman treated Strange with far more respect. While careful to note he’s not complimenting him, Batman still acknowledged Strange’s intellect and complexity as an opponent. The two had an odd camaraderie, with Strange acknowledging that Batman knows him well. This entire engagement was completely different than Mysterio and Daredevil, who have little history and even less mutual respect. Strange does lure Batman to his potential demise but the plan was far less elaborate and had no supernatural elements (as far as we know). More so, the attempt to kill Batman was simple and almost succeeded. Drawing Batman into the blast radius, Strange pontificated only briefly before hitting the trigger.

Strange was decidedly dead with an unknown trio picking pieces of his body off of themselves as they attempted to recover Batman’s body. They discovered he’s alive, and also decided to abscond with his trusty sidekick, Ace the Bat-hound. Batman has been kidnapped while unconscious, although still alive. The tragedy though is that he has been separated from his loyal pet, Ace. Ace found himself in a cage and the conversation outside suggested that his original owner, the Joker, might like him back. Knowing Batman’s concern for Ace, there’s nothing that will keep him from rescuing his pal.

Mysterio’s efforts all were for naught, despite giving us a great story, the end result left Mysterio mentally destroyed and having failed. While Strange may not have killed Batman in his own suicide, he did injure him and might have caused an even greater wound in separating Ace from Batman. Strange does Mysterio’s ploy but does it simpler and with greater effect.

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