If Arrested Development’s Ann Veal grew up to be Stephen King’s Carrie and then got a bad case of celebrity-worship you’d have the New 52 Ventriloquist. If that sounds interesting to you then by all means, have at it! This issue is all about the origin of the rebooted New 52 villain, but personally I really miss Arnold Wesker and Scarface.
I think that writer Gail Simone does a fine job of establishing a creepy vibe and the fame-seeking motivation for Shauna, the new Ventriloquist, does make her a unique villain, but I absolutely hate everything else about the character. I don’t like the witch-like appearance, I don’t like the SAW-like dummy that sprouts drills from its hands, and I don’t like the telekinetic powers. The Ventriloquist was one of Batman’s most disturbing and psychotic villains, a fine example of the sort of lunatics Arkham Asylum had to offer. This new incarnation, while suitably crazy, would have fit better into the Batman mythology had she not possessed a superpower.
The larger Forever Evil plot isn’t touched upon much outside of the disaster-zone setting of Gotham and the way Simone writes it definitely gives the feeling that the blackout and Arkham-takeover has lasted for a very long time. We’re talking weeks or maybe even months of a No Man’s land-esque scenario and I think that that’s the event’s biggest failing so far: failing to establish a timeline. I also can’t help but wonder if this city-wide disaster is going to take the wind out of the sales of Zero Month when that comes about in November.
The artwork by Derlis Santacruz fits the story nicely. There’s plenty of detail put into the backgrounds, some nice camera angles that drive home the horror film atmosphere Simone is striving for, and the colors by Brett Smith are appropriately dark and dingy so each page is creepier than the last.
- You actually liked the New 52 Ventriloquist introduced in the pages of Batgirl
- You’re in the mood for something creepy
- You enjoy blood and gore
I don’t like this villain at all, but she does have a unique motivation and the artwork is quite spooky. If you wanted to know more of Shauna the Ventriloquist’s story and actually liked that character the first time around then you won’t be disappointed by this. But if you miss Arnold Wesker then this is just going to give you a migraine. So I’ll give it a lukewarm 5. It’s not for me because I’m a steak and potatoes sort of Batman fan but it’s not a poorly put-together book.