I don’t think that single character has been reinvented this well since the start of The New 52. I think that this new Ventriloquist may actually be one of the coolest villains I’ve ever read. Gail Simone has taken a character that I personally was not a fan of, and has changed her into a very creepy, very interesting villain that you would expect out of a horror movie. I hesitate to liken her to The Joker, but it’s hard not to see the similarities.
The back story at first made the character seem like a run of the mill cliche. Shauna Belzer was bullied as a child, and so she became an insane killer. the first page made me groan on the inside, but, man, did they turn it around pretty quickly, with her nearly killing everyone at a birthday party by mixing the fruit punch with weed killer. That’s pretty sadistic, and it seems that she hasn’t changed at all since then, except now she kills people with her Ventriloquist doll.
Now, on to Batgirl. There’s a great panel where she cuts the bat out of her costume. Even without the narration, the symbolism is hard to miss: she feels that she’s no longer worthy of wearing it, because of what she did to her brother. So now, we’ve got two shockingly strong female leads in this book. One, the hero, on the verge of a complete mental breakdown after the events of the last issue, and the other, a sadistic killer that runs around with a creepy ventriloquist doll. And it makes for a really great comic.
Of course, it’s not without it’s faults. One of the biggest issues I’ve found with Batgirl is that issues are wrapped up kind of quickly. Yes, they make sense at all, but Barbara figuring everything out seemed a little abrupt. Maybe it’s just me. My only other issue is that the Jim Gordon page felt shoe horned in, and would have worked better spread over two pages. Or, it could have just been removed in favor of more creepy Ventriloquist material.