Alfred Hughes was a jack of all trades, master of none. He spent the majority of his life going from odd job to odd job with little satisfaction or reward. Partially due to his inability to commit to one specific career, Alfred quickly found himself strapped for cash and irritating friends and relatives with unexpected and long-term visits, often to ask for cash or provisions, though with no real motivation to repay anyone for their kindness or hospitality.
Alfred eventually found a job working as a dead-beat security guard at the Metrobay Museum, though he proved highly ineffective at his job. More often than not, he dozed off while on the clock, and many treasured artifacts under his supervision, such as the Magic Wand and the Cloak of the Nightengale, were stolen while he was either distracted or goofing off.
Alfred was given two weeks notice after his incompetence cost the museum a fortune in stolen goods. On his last night, bitter and indifferent, he began to fool around with a few of the displays. At one particular exhibit of artifacts retrieved from the late Woodrow Strangecraft’s estate, he found a rather ordinary black hat. Alfred playfully put the hat on, curious to see if the legends of it being demon-possessed were true. Nothing appeared to happen, much to Alfred’s disappointment.
However, there was truth to the legend. Alfred had the hat on for only a few moments before thoughts began to enter his head. However, he assumed they were his own. Subtly, subversively, the hat began to influence Alfred’s mind, twisting it and conforming it to its own ideals while convincing Alfred they were his own thoughts and actions.
Alfred stole the hat, telling himself it was payback for his firing, and began to seek other means of work and amusement. But his odd jobs began to grow more and more morally questionable, illegal, and perverse. Alfred eventually formed a small troupe of misfits and criminals and started a traveling circus. Calling himself, rather unimaginatively, The Black Hat, Alfred and his Klown Krew began to scam and harass their way from town to town, robbing citizens and kidnapping unlucky “volunteers” from the audience for his and his cohorts’ corrupt amusement.
Black Hat’s crime spree did not last long, however. After returning to Metrobay and entertaining members of R.O.P.E., including presenting a bound Pink Pussycat to a delighted Max Indeks, Black Hat’s minions grew careless, allowing Pink Pussycat to escape and shut down the entire operation. Alfred took the brunt of the fall and wound up jailed at Metrobay State Penitentiary. Upon his incarceration, control of the Klown Krew fell to the villainess Clownetta, who still leads that ragtag group of thugs to this day.
Max Indeks, however, arranged for Alfred’s release. Impressed by his work ethic and corrupted mindset, Max appointed Alfred as a spy within R.O.P.E. He currently serves as the butler for associate R.O.P.E. member Dean Wickstaff, a careless and clumsy man whom Alfred was tasked with keeping out of the hair of Max and the other R.O.P.E. members.
Due to his lengthy time wearing the Black Hat, Alfred’s mind has all but been completely corrupted by its influence. He always appears more youthful and energetic than his actual age would imply, most likely due to the hat’s mystical charms. During his tenure as Black Hat, he also demonstrated several ‘magic tricks’ that may have either been elaborate stage theatrics or genuine displays of supernatural powers.
The current location of the mythical Black Hat is unknown.
The powers of the Black Hat are largely unknown. It’s magical nature is unstable and ever shifting and evolving as it jumps from host to host. It has displayed abilities ranging from cheap magic illusions to more extreme abilities such as teleportation, matter manipulation, and space-time displacement. The true extent of the Black Hat’s powers are unknown