When we speak about “new” Batman antagonists—you realize, characters that got here into the combination within the 2000s and past—it is easy to get caught up within the big-name A-listers. Baddies just like the Court of Owls and Red Hood are likely to steal the highlight with big fanbases and flashy variations in video games, exhibits and films. Trust me, I get it. I like them too. But you realize who else I like?
The unsung hero—er, villain of the Gotham City rogues gallery generally known as Professor Pyg, who a few of you newer followers could also be assembly for the primary time ever on this week’s BATMAN #62. If that is you, it is best to know a number of issues. Yes, he is actually all the time that tousled, and, sure, his tales are actually all the time this creepy—that is what makes him so fantastic.
Aptly launched again in BATMAN #666 in 2007, Professor Pyg’s actual identify is Lazlo Valentin and he first confronted off towards Dick Grayson underneath the cowl, somewhat than Bruce, although Bruce has definitely had his share of run-ins with him since. While he might look pig-like, his codename truly refers back to the basic story of Pygmalion, a play a few sculptor who fell in love together with his statue. Lazlo simply wears a pig-shaped masks to confuse issues a bit, or perhaps to make issues extra unnerving—the precise Pygmalion had nothing to do with bacon.
Of course, Lazlo does not appear to care about that in any respect. What Lazlo does care about is inventive “perfection.” Like the Pygmalion of fable, Lazlo fancies himself one thing of a sculptor—besides he does not work in clay or marble, he is far more fascinated with reworking dwelling human our bodies.
If that sounds gross and probably deadly, consider me, it’s. Lazlo, regardless of his full madness, is definitely a reasonably gifted chemist and surgeon. It’s simply that he makes use of these expertise to kidnap after which medically alter his victims into what he believes is the “ideal” human form—often some type of grotesque monster. Those victims are became brainwashed “dollotrons” who’re both become everlasting “art installations” for Pyg’s aesthetic sensibilities or pressured to be henchmen for his greater tasks. It’s as disagreeable and grotesque as it’s painful, and, even when the dollotron victims are rescued, they’re often left completely scarred and traumatized by the expertise. This is not Joker venom we’re speaking about right here, or one of many Mad Hatter’s mind-control units—that is everlasting, bodily alteration with a scalpel and a needle and often an entire bunch of different deeply disagreeable issues.
What I am saying is that you don’t want Professor Pyg to catch you beneath any circumstance, ever. There are loads of fates worse than your common run-of-the-mill crime in Gotham, however falling into Pyg’s arms may very properly be one of many worst.
And simply to make issues even scarier? He has no actual rhyme or purpose for his crime. He’s actually solely motivated by his artwork—there’s no vendetta or plan or larger objective. Pyg does not comply with a sample and even construct as much as a punchline. He’s not likely angling for pure chaos just like the Joker, however he is additionally not systematic like Victor Zsasz. He simply needs to unfold his personal twisted concept of “perfection” in his work, regardless of the price. And he often does it whereas babbling virtually incoherently, singing opera with phrases he is principally making up (“Pyg~ will make~ you good~”), or reciting nursery rhymes whereas doing his absolute best actual-pig impression. Oh, and do not forget all of that is occurring whereas he is acquired a butcher knife or a scalpel or a bone-saw in his hand.
In different phrases, he may truthfully be the scariest individual in Gotham, which, all issues thought-about, is not any small feat. Look, I do know he will not be as extensively generally known as the Scarecrow, but when I needed to decide whether or not I might need to run into Dr. Crane or Lazlo Valentin on the road, I might decide Crane any day of the week.
Honestly, Pyg is horrifying sufficient that he might anchor a horror collection all his personal, or, on the very least a mini. We know that the residents of Gotham are terrified of individuals like Joker (and clearly, they need to be) however you’d assume as soon as the GCPD received phrase of a crazed “artist” surgeon kidnapping and mutilating individuals, even probably the most jaded Gothamites would begin to double-check their doorways and home windows. After all, in a metropolis filled with issues that go bump within the night time, a factor that gleefully squeals and sings off-kilter nursery rhymes is…nicely, one thing that is even worse.
I am not saying Professor Pyg ought to, on the very least, anchor this yr’s Halloween particular, however I am additionally not not saying that. I imply, come on! Think of all of the potential (and all the doubtless misplaced sleep)! Until one thing like that’s greenlit, nevertheless, we’ll need to content material ourselves with the occasional disturbing Batman storyline or one-shot, just like the one Tom King and Mitch Gerads have provide you with for Batman #62.
Just do your self a favor. Don’t learn it whereas consuming.
BATMAN #62 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads is now obtainable in print and as a digital download. For one other nice (and significantly disturbing) Professor Pyg story, take a look at BATMAN AND ROBIN VOL. 1: BATMAN REBORN by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Philip Tan.
Meg Downey covers films, TV and comics for DCComics.com, and writes about Batman every month in her column, “Gotham Gazette.” She’s additionally a daily contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly tv column. Follow her on Twitter at @rustypolished.