Professor Pyg makes a house call.
The story featured in Batman #61 would have been a disappointing addition to the series regardless, but the fact that it served as such an abrupt, unexpected shift from issue #60’s cliffhanger ending certainly didn’t help. At some point, DC opted to flip-flop the contents of Batman #61 and #62. Had this issue been published first, as originally intended, it would have helped ease the transition between storylines. But better late than never.
Batman #62 is notable for two major reasons. First, it reunites writer Tom King with artist Mitch Gerads, resulting in one of the best creative duos in the business. Second, it offers King his first chance to tackle Professor Pyg, one of the more distinctive Batman villains introduced in the past decade. Both of these facts are strong selling points.
Gerads’ presence is key in this issue. Tonally, this story isn’t so different from King and Gerads Mister Miracle. As in that series, readers are forced to question the reality of the situation at hand. Is Batman truly locked in battle with Pyg, or is there something stranger at play? Both the off-kilter approach to Bruce’s narration and the surreal, even psychedelic approach to the visuals contribute to a sense of madness. As much as any recent chapter of the series, Batman #62 speaks to the fractured state of Bruce Wayne’s psyche.
On one hand, it’s a little disappointing that King keeps Pyg at arm’s length throughout the story. Everything is framed from Batman’s point of view, and the narration drowns out the dialogue for the vast majority of the story. Yet in the end, King is still able to lend new insight into this kooky villain. As Batman reflects on the the myth of the sculptor Pygmalion, this issue cuts to the core of who Lazlo Valentin is and how he mirrors Bruce Wayne in his own, twisted way.
And again, Gerads’ art really cements the unsettling tone of the story. The colors alone enhance the deranged tone of the story as much as anything. Gerads is able to paint Pyg as a frightening, inhuman figure despite being nothing more than an overweight man in a pig mask. Gerads’ approach to page structure stands out as well. While he sticks to a very geometric approach here, rather than rely on the usual nine-panel grids, most of his pages are structured as three widescreen panels instead. This maintains the methodical flow of King’s writing while giving Bruce’s narration the physical space it needs.