Forget about Arnold Wesker and Scarface! This is Batgirl as Ventriloquist. And she is as creepy as it gets!
Having read The Dark Knight #23.1 Ventriloquist after I watched The Conjuring, the creepy tone of this story was made a lot scarier. The Ventriloquist is one sadistic, crazy person that says one thing but does the other, always at the expense of the lives of others. She is completely mad. Unlike Wesker, who put his split personality into a puppet, she has no split personality at all. She has the superpower of being able to control inanimate objects. So basically, what Gail Simone has done is given someone that is totally insane some telekinetic powers and the right to go on a rampage in a defenceless Gotham. This story does not really tie in with Forever Evil, it mainly focuses on the fame seeking Shauna (Ventriloquist) and her various complexes.
Derlis Santacruz gives us some great penciling in this issue. The horror feel is strongly present. The use of angled frames is a great addition to the great panels and backgrounds. Faces are well drawn, especially Shauna’s – you can feel the madness she exudes! The art does a great job of conveying the story. In fact, you could go as far as to say it tells the story better than its script does! Brett Smith’s colouring is great and ensures that the story gets creepier as you progress through the issue.
This concept suffers from the same thing that the Lobo reboot suffers from and that is the question “Why?” Was it really necessary to change Arnold Wesker and Scarface to the point where they no longer exist? The new ventriloquist is creepy looking but in a cliche way and the new puppet looks like the one used in the Saw franchise to me. Was it necessary to create a super powered villainess, when Arnold Wesker is so much better suited for the Batman? It was great to see another psychotic villain on the loose. These are the characters that Batman is at home with, as he is also far from being a stable individual. Look at the likes of Two Face, The Joker or even the Penguin. All of them are unstable in their own special way, but they do not need superpowers in order to become a thorn in the side of The Dark Knight. Much like the new Mr. Freeze being able to freeze people on contact, a telekinetic Ventriloquist is a bit unnecessary. She could have been introduced as a new character with a new name and featured in the Batgirl series. There was no need for her to replace Wesker and there is no need to really give her a Villain focus. Even though the story is passable it is not memorable.
All in all the book is decent, our villainess has a different sort of motivation, one which is rather unique within the Batman universe and sends us on a rather dark journey, one that will send chills down your spine. So if you are into blood, graphic violence and menacing little puppets, this is definitely one for you. Ventriloquist’s backstory is told well and the art really sets the tone to the events that occur in the story. All this and it still manages to end on a twisted little note.