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Batgirl #20
Batgirl #20 Review
December 23rd, 2015

To be perfectly honest, I can pinpoint the exact moment that I lost any respect or interest for the New 52 storyline and it was this issue. It's terrible and probably the worst comic I've ever picked up in my life.

I was introduced to the Ventriloquist through Batman: The Animated Series and through the various 90s series. Arnold Wesker was a scary dude because he doesn't act scary. Some of my favourite issues have been Wesker stories because when they're done well, they are done well.

This was not done well. It's horrible. Long story short; this Ventriloquist is a flat, poorly written, uninteresting, unmemorable chick with the most slapped together backstory I've ever seen and a glorified knife in the shape of a doll. This issue gives some backstory - and we apparently learn more in later issues - but its a horrible backstory and nothing is explained with any believablity. Does she have a rough childhood? Is she mentally ill? Was she bullied? Under a spell or hypnosis? Influenced by a cursed puppet perhaps? Who the hell actually knows - not me, for sure. There is no flavour to this girl. Nothing that fleshes her out and makes her a worthy addition to the Rogues Gallery. And the doll. Scarface was great - was he a random doll? Was he special? Was he supernatural? His presense was interesting to read and he was a unique addition to the Gallery. He was basically considered a part of it. This doll - Ferdie? - is none of these things. It's a doll with screws on its hands. Ferdie is a glorified weapon because the only times Ferdie contributes is when Shauna grabs the puppet's hands and then uses the screws attached to kill whoever she dislikes. Ferdie is not a ventriloquist's puppet or a gimmick, the doll is the equilivent of Joker's bang/harpoon gun. A fairly unique weapon but you could remove the doll and nothing would change about the villain (and she's still a sucky villain).

This whole issue falls victim to some of the cheapest writing tricks hollywood has ever produced. Shauna is drawn "sickly" because obviously we should be scared of sick people. She just "goes crazy" because vague(ly) sad backstories justify and completely explain why kids kill people. People are scared of her because "it's a murderer with a weird weapon!" (it's Gotham, they've had murderers with weird weapons for 300 years. Welcome to days that end with Y). Apparently this is a great advesery for Batgirl - Barbara freaking Gordon - because... Shauna... kills a couple of people?? Again, Gotham, it's Tuesday, this is normal, it should be a five-second match because Batgirl is a trained vigilante who knows what she's doing and this is honestly nothing new.

For a lack of a better explaination - I look at this and all I see are authors using cheap fear tricks to make something seem scary or emotionally intense when they don't actually know how to write really terrifying or emotionally invested material. It's every mistake I saw in passing and on the pages and was trying hard to avoid in the New 52 before I read this, except intensified to five hundred. I'd slowed down buying New 52 issues in general because I wasn't liking most of the stuff I read; this was my last try and it turned me off the new titles so fast I almost got whiplash.

I actually bought this issue years ago (I got it the week it came out) and it took over a year for me to buy another n52 comic off the recently released shelf. I switched entirely to back issues and it was literally last month that I started buying new releases with any frequancy - and its all because of this. one. comic.

Hated It


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