‘Batgirl’ #20: The Comic You Should Be Reading This Week

Batgirl just wrapped up a major arc, and Barbara is a mess due to various events we won’t spoil here. So now would be a very, very bad time for a new psycho killer to show up. Unfortunately, the Ventriloquist has never been noted for his, or rather her, sense of timing.

Really, this is a textbook way to reboot a Batman villain. The original Ventriloquist was very much a character who could be interesting, depending on the writer, but ultimately he was a bit cheesy, and it was never quite settled whether Scarface was a ghost, an alternate side of his owner’s personality, or both.

Here, Gail Simone completely changes the villain and substantially amps up the creepy factor. Part of this is thanks to the work of Daniel Sampere and Carlos Rodriguez’s pencils, and the inking of Jonathan Glapion because, well, look up top and see for yourself. They do a masterful job of communicating just how completely insane this Ventriloquist is, vacillating from a little girl with crushed self-esteem to full-on homicidal maniac:

It helps that the Ventriloquist now has actual powers, although what those might be are left a bit up in the air. Either way, it’s not a matter of getting through her mooks: She doesn’t need any.

Meanwhile, Simone continues to demonstrate why she’s such a popular writer. Barbara is not dealing with her emotional problems, and the push-and-pull of Barbara trying to talk to her therapist while hiding her secret identity is a clever thread that highlights the conflicts of Barbara’s double life.

The art team’s fine work, and Simone’s strong characterizations, make this a book you can’t miss. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of the new, creepy Ventriloquist.