DCAU #123: His Master's Voice

IN THIS ONE... Scarface wants to kill a member of the Ventriloquist's family for dallying with hand puppets.

Written by Ty Templeton; art by Rick Burchett.

REVIEW: I rate the Ventriloquist very highly indeed. He's a villain who's also his own victim, and this issue literally brings that point home. Some of this we've seen before, i.e. the Ventriloquist "cheating" on Scarface with some other puppet, but I like these moments. It shows how he's trying to get better, trying to associate with better friends... and yet, Scarface always drags him back to the old gang. And punishes him for his betrayal.

Stealing the Riddler's means of escape, the master-dummy duo break out of Arkham and off they go to the Ventriloquist's homestead where Scarface aims to kill someone dear to him. A very good way to learn the Ventriloquist's "origin", as it were, and though I was disappointed at first that his family was all mobsters he hated, and unlikely to really hurt him if they were killed (or was Scarface positioning himself to take over the organization?), but then, we find out his mother is in the house. And then yet another twist, that she's been dead a long time, and that Scarface is really after the last surviving picture of her.

This is about objects having power over the Ventriloquist, isn't it? Seems perfect. And to keep us (and Batman, yes he's in this, I guess I haven't mentioned him) out of the loop as long as possible, there's a gunshot, but it's the Ventriloquist who shot Scarface in the head, and himself in the hand. From Batman's POV, a powerful splash page sectioned into panels so that what happened is revealed with more suspense. Great stuff. And though it would seem this outrage would drive a deep wedge between the two parts of this villain, the opposite occurs - it strengthens their co-dependency. The Ventriloquist really doesn't have anyone/anything else in his life.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The details surrounding the murder of the Ventriloquist's mother are as in the comics; in most versions of the story, it was the cause of his dissociative identity disorder.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - It's a fair Ventriloquist story (which means it's above average to begin with), until the powerful ending puts it over the top.



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