Another of this month's DC villain one-shots, The Ventriloquist focuses on Shauna Belzer, the New 52's excellent replacement for Arnold Wesker. Presumably set just after the events of Forever Evil #1, Beltzer embraces Gotham's city-wide power cut and takes over an abandoned theatre where she lures desperate members of the public. It reads like Batman as if written by Stephen King, and considering some of the stuff that happens I'm frankly amazed DC got away with given it a Teen Rating. Belzer is an interesting character with mental instability unusual for even a Dark Knight rouge, her sanity levels coming in at about the same as Mad Hatter's, if not a bit less. The story is deeply creepy and a pleasure to read, but it does have a few unfortunate problems contained within its pages. First off, if you don't know Shauna Belzer has telekinetic powers before reading it (which I didn't) the second half of the tale is pretty confusing, though vaguely explainable if you pretend Shauna thinks she's the dummy. Aside from that there are a few moments that come across as a little silly, spoiling the sinister atmosphere the writer had worked so hard to build up. This can be quickly forgiven when reading on, but it nevertheless is a bit of a nuisance and detracts from the story in a way that could've been easily avoided. The origin story we're told show's Belzer to have an extreme inferiority complex on account of how much more attention everyone gave to her twin brother compared to her during their childhood, which is a good explanation as to why her Dummy talks about how good she looks all the time, with its personality being an abstract part of her imagination and all. Having never read an issue with the character in before it as sparked my interest in her, but if you can only buy a few comics this week and you're not a big fan of the character/concept then I'd advise giving this one a miss. Have you read this issue yet? If so, share your thoughts about it in the comments below.
Oldfield is a journalist, reviewer, and amateur comic-book writer (meaning he's yet to be published). He's a man who'll criticise anything, even this biog, which he thinks is a bit crap.
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