Friday, September 4, 2009


The title of the issue is "Mommy Made of Nails".

And in Professor Pyg's lair, sure enough, he's got a freakish frame of a "woman" made out of sticks with dozens of nails sticking out, and a doll face for a head that demands perfection out of him. Major Mommy issues.

Pyg is exhibiting some textbook Alfred Hitchcock presents: "Psycho" Norman Bates motivation here, albeit using a corrupted version of Pygmalion who was a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he had made. Ironically, in Pyg's case, the doll he had made ended up taking on the persona of his mother in an atypical schizophrenic association. There's possible Oedipus Rex connotations there as well.

His attempts to make the entire rest of Gotham City "sick" is first of all a great joke at the expense of Swine Flu, and secondly, probably an attempt to make everybody else sick so that he won't be sick in his "mother's" eyes - he'll just be normal, like everyone else.

He's operating out of Joker's old Funland Theme Park from The Killing Joke, which may connect him with Joker (he's also using toxic chemicals) but more likely he just set up shop in Joker's abandoned haunt. Still, this is the second time Morrison has gone back to that Theme Park, the first being in the all-prose issue, The Clown at Midnight, where Gordon mentioned that he hated the two midget henchmen Joker had sent Harley to kill, Solomon and Sheba, because they were the ones who had tortured him in The Killing Joke.

Interestingly enough, the Dollotrons aren't unprecedented either. There was a TV series that was loosely based on the idea of Pygmalion called My Living Doll and starring none other than Catwoman herself, Julie Newmar, as the titular robot who was an attempt at making a "perfect human". There was also that JLU episode with Galatea - the Power Girl-esque clone of Supergirl.

One major Pygmalion-influenced work was My Fair Lady, and frankly, I was surprised when Professor Pyg didn't utter a "Daaaamn ... daaaaamn ... damn ... damn ... I've grown accustomed to her face."

There's also Agalmatophilia to consider, which is a paraphilia concerned with the sexual attraction to a statue, doll, mannequin or other similar figurative object.Agalmatophilia may also encompass Pygmalionism (from the myth of Pygmalion) which describes a state of love for an object of one's own creation.

Lastly, his freakish monologue. I can't claim to understand all of it, but first, I took "Look who came back from Dreamland." to be a subtle Neil Gaiman reference. Especially since the first thing to follow was mention of Mormo, a chaos god who Gaiman has apparently used in Stardust (Which I have yet to read or see).

At any rate, he seems to be talking about his mother. On Monday she's Mormo, a chaos goddess which starts with "M". On Tuesday she's Tiamat, a chaos dragon which starts with "T". Tohu va bohu, apart from being from the Hebrew bible and therefore sharing common roots with Tiamat, is also a French idiom for "confusion".

Wednesday she's the Gorgon Queen. The Gorgon Queen was Medusa (As indicated by the forked tongue snakes as hair reference). Sigmund Freud had some interesting things to say about Medusa, as the legendarily man-hating Medusa was the basis for his Das Medusenhaupt - which presented Medusa as a symbol of male castration or sexual repression after childhood discovery of maternal sexuality. Again, major Mommy issues, although I don't really care to speculate whether Pyg's mother was a whore or just hated men but sexually abused her own child for some reason.

His referencing growing upside down in a world where a hug is a crucifixion could be talking about his mother's judgmental nature, which he's now projecting on this freakish statue-icon. But outside of that context, it's Morrison referencing himself - namely, later on Damian remembers this, and in Batman # 666, Damian crucifies Pyg upside down.

Pyg's next mention about "this little gent could make a well-spoken lady out of a monkey or a flower girl out of a snail" is a line directly from My Fair Lady.

As for his disco striptease ... I don't know. Most of it seems genuine (and effed up). He's asking a hypothetical about "one tiny little flaw" to Robin, makes some mentions of medicine and anti-psychotics which are probably totally genuine.

So it seems like, Pyg has given up his medication so that he can pursue his art - a common theme in storytelling (and real life, but for quick example, see Will Magnus of Metal Men fame) ... only his art in My Fair Lady or Pygmalion or She's All That style is taking nobodies and making them into perfection, but his corrupted version of that is making them into dolls.

It's as if he's seen way too many movies with similar motifs on TV and without his anti-psychotics, he's mixed them all together in his head.

Batman's later explaining what Pyg has done, and that he's invented an addictive, identity destroying drug in the form of a virus. It seems likely that he may have somewhere along the lines been influenced by his own drug, and that the "something happens" between him being a circus boss with mommy issues to being a sicko like Pyg involved him being dosed with his own identity-destroyer and then associating with TV.

Later, Pyg talks about "what happened to me has happened to Gotham". Well, Pyg has lost his identity. His talk about looking away from mirrors for just a moment, looking back and finding that sickness has crept in is almost a literal way of looking at Gotham ... which when Batman died lost its identity. But in the context of this 3-issue arc, thanks to Dick and Damian, Gotham is getting its identity back.

The domino is part of the greater, over-arcing plot - in an interview, Morrison had mentioned a "Domino Killer" being the greater mystery. Pyg seems to have some idea about it, specifically mentioning dominoes.

Le Bossu is actually probably unconnected, and is rather a throwback to R.I.P. "You're wrong, Batman and Robin will never die!", the flash-forward that first revealed a new Batman and Robin. He simply ensures continuity, and also refreshes the notion that many of the Club of Villains and Doctor Hurt are still out there. Then again ... it's Morrison, so everything is probably connected.

All of the final stuff - Sasha going nuts, Alfred being spied on by probably Jason Todd as he arranges portraits of all the other Robins, and Red Hood showing up are basically just leading directly into the next arc. I'm hyper-excited to see Morrison tackle Jason Todd. So far, I am crazy about the costume and like the "scourge of the underworld" arrogance.

1 comment:

  1. "Mommy made of nails" and "growing upside down in a world where a hug is a crucifixion" are both references to Harry Harlow's horrific monkey experiments.