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The Ventriloquist
338704-148690-scarface
General Information
Real name: Arnold Wesker
First Appearance: Detective Comics #583
Created by: Alan Grant
John Wagner
Norm Breyfogle
Affiliations: Scarface
The Society
Justice League of Arkham
Abilities: Criminal genius. Suffers from dissociative identity disorder, which manifests in his psychotic dummy, Scarface. Can throw his voice.
Portrayed by: George Dzundza (voice)


Arnold Wesker is a ventriloquist with multiple personalities. His puppet is a gangster named Scarface. Under the puppet's psychological influence, Wesker is a dangerous and ruthless criminal and crime boss. It has been implied that the Ventriloquist suffers from multiple personality disorder. Wesker was originally a timid orphan whose deep repression erupted into a barroom brawl, resulting in him being sent to Blackgate Prison. There he encountered the ventriloquist dummy Scarface and promptly murdered the man who'd carved the dummy. The two are now inseparable, directing a series of criminal activities. While most believe that Scarface is a tool by Wesker is simply acting out a dark side to his personality, the Ventriloquist sees himself as a reluctant lackey who is forced to do Scarface's bidding.

History

Ventriloquist02
A meek, quiet man, Arnold Wesker plans and executes his crimes through a dummy named Scarface, with the dress and persona of a 1920s gangster, complete with pinstripe suit, cigar, and Tommy gun. His name comes from the nickname of Al Capone after whom Scarface is modeled. Even as a child, Wesker was a meek and timid human being. When he was very young, his parents took him to the Gotham City shipyards to see an albatross. The albatross was something of a local attraction, but Wesker was terrified of it. He yelled at his father, demanding that he take him home. A Spivey's Display Dummies truck screamed down the street striking Arnold's parents, instantly killing them before the young boy's eyes. Wesker was convinced that the albatross was an omen that brought doom to his family. The shock of witnessing his parents' death forced Arnold to repress all emotion. He bottled up his anger and hostility for many years to come.
Ventriloquist

Batman Villain

As an adult, Wesker suffered a psychotic break and killed a man during a bar-fight (by Wesker's own account, the murder was completely accidental). He was arrested and sent to Blackgate Prison. The prison staff placed him in a bunk with a cellmate named Donnegan. Donnegan had built a puppet for himself named Woody, Woody was carved from the Gotham Gallow tree where Blackgate Prisoners were given the ultimate punishment. He had been mastering the art of ventriloquism. Wesker became enamored with the puppet, but Donnegan was very protective of Woody and refused to allow Wesker to touch him. One day, Arnold found himself alone with Woody. When Donnegan discovered them, he punched Wesker in the face, shouting that nobody touches his puppet.

Wesker eventually grew despondent with prison life and prepared to hang himself from the ceiling of his cell while Donnegan slept. Despite the fact that Donnegan was unconscious, Woody began talking to Wesker. Arnold ignored him at first, believing that Donnegan's subconscious was acting through the puppet, but Woody insisted that he was acting independently of Donnegan's control. He convinced Arnold to forego suicide in favor of escaping from prison. He revealed that Donnegan had been secretly digging an escape tunnel from his cell for the past fifteen years, but he eventually gave up after becoming institutionalized.
Ventriloquist 03

The Ventriloquist and Scarface.

While the two spoke, Donnegan awakened and attacked Wesker, brutally beating him down onto the floor. He also stabbed at Woody with a corkscrew, creating a long scar across the right hand side of the puppet's face. Arnold fought back and smashed Donnegan along the side of the face with a loose brick. He strung his body up on the noose that he originally intended to use for himself, and Woody and he made their escape through Donnegan's tunnel.

The tunnel led to the shoreline of the island near the prison boathouse. At Woody's urging, Wesker picked up a riot shotgun and killed two guards, before stealing a raft. They paddled to the mainland of Gotham City and acquired a fresh set of clothes. The puppet, unsatisfied with the name that Donnegan had given him, decided to provide himself with a new name; one more befitting an angry criminal mind with high ambitions – Scarface.

Scarface became the vehicle through which Wesker could express all of his years of bottled up rage. It was clear early on however, that Scarface was the dominant partner in their relationship, and Wesker always maintained a subservient and obedient countenance. Wesker let Scarface do the dirty work, including robbery and murder. He became dominated by Scarface, who barked orders at him and degraded him with verbal abuse. Wesker was also unable to enunciate the letter "B" while throwing his voice, and replaced them with the letter "G" instead. For example, Scarface often calls Batman "Gatman."

Calling himself the Ventriloquist, Wesker became a powerful drug lord in Gotham City – but it was actually Scarface calling all of the shots. They operated out of a trendy hotspot on Electric Street called the Ventriloquist Club. The bouncer of the Ventriloquist Club was an over-sized leg-breaker named Rhino. Like many of the Ventriloquist's underlings, Rhino paid very little attention to Wesker himself, but was devoutly loyal to Scarface.

Profile-ventriloquist

The Dummy and his dummy

The Ventriloquist and Scarface made their marks in the Gotham underworld through the sale and distribution of a designer drug called Fever. Processed in Tijuana, Mexico, they had the drugs smuggled into Gotham City inside of human cadavers. This earned them the attention of Gotham's nocturnal vigilante, the Batman. The Batman raided Rizzo's Funeral Parlor, where the Ventriloquist and Scarface were busy extracting drugs from the remains of a dead gangster named William Henry "Fatman" Cherry. Batman fought through the Ventriloquist's armed men and apprehended the drug lord and his puppet master.

Wesker spent very little time in prison however, and before long, Scarface and he were reunited and back in operation at the Ventriloquist Club. Wesker actually wanted to retire from a life of crime, but Scarface wouldn't hear of it. They discovered that while they were serving time, a criminal gang known as the Street Demonz had taken over Scarface's drug operations. One of Scarface's closest enforcers, Bruno, betrayed his former employer and threw his lot in with the Street Demonz. During a gunfight between Wesker's men and the Street Demonz, Scarface's body was riddled with bullets. For a brief moment, Wesker felt that he was finally free of the puppet's control. He even built a small coffin for his damaged wooden partner. Even from beyond the proverbial grave however, Scarface still had control over the Ventriloquist. Wesker heard the dummy's voice from within the coffin, and set him free. He repaired the damage from the bullets and Scarface was back in action.

Ventriloquist03
Following another resounding defeat at the hands of the Batman, the Ventriloquist was apprehended and sent to Arkham Asylum. Time passed until one day a criminal known as Bane masterminded an elaborate scheme to weaken the Batman's resolve by blowing up the side of Arkham, setting dozens of psychopathic felons free. Wesker was but one of many violent patients to escape from Arkham during the chaos. Although no longer confined to a cell, he was still lost without the commanding presence of Scarface.

Desperate to compensate for Scarface's absence, Arnold briefly took to using an old sock as a hand puppet, naming it (appropriately enough), Socko.

Wesker and Scarface were reunited soon after and attempted to gain a foothold in the Wharfdale area of Gotham by eliminating a rival gangster named Marty Vetch. Scarface made a severe impact in Vetch's operations by killing one of his main drug suppliers and by contaminating a shipment of heroin that belonged to his cartel. The feud between Scarface and Vetch came to a head outside of the Ventriloquist Club. During this time, Bruce Wayne had relinquished the role of Batman and passed the mantle along to his first ward Dick Grayson. As Batman, Grayson and Robin (Tim Drake) raided Marty Vetch's penthouse and fought with the Ventriloquist's thugs. Wesker attempted to flee down a fire escape and Scarface and he were separated. The Ventriloquist was captured once again and sent to Blackgate Prison for psychological evaluation.

Ventriloquist Dead

Wesker and Scarface dead on the floor.

While Wesker languished away in prison, Scarface wound up in the hands of his old enforcer, Frederick Rhino. Rhino attempted to operate the puppet, but Scarface wouldn't respond to him. After numerous attempts however, Scarface began to communicate through Rhino, who instructed him to make a deal with The Penguin in order to stage a prison breakout. The Penguin agreed, and before long, the Ventriloquist was free.

Wesker later appears as one of the members of the Secret Society of Super Villains that faces the Jade Canary, who pitches Scarface off the top of a roof.

The two resumed their old lifestyle and crossed paths with the Batman on several more encounters. Following the Cataclysm, the trauma of the earthquake apparently caused another personality to take control of Wesker in the form of the Quakemaster, who claimed that he had been responsible for the earthquake, but his deception and true identity were uncovered when Robin noted the Quakemaster's deliberate avoidance of words with the letter 'B' and the seismologist Wesker had captured to provide him with information about earthquakes gave Quakemaster inaccurate scientific data to lead the detectives to the area where she was being held. In one instance, a crazed Batman nearly killed the Ventriloquist after Scarface killed Matches Malone- a criminal whose identity Batman had been using for years, assuming that the real Matches had died early in his career-, but instead opted to destroy Scarface instead. The Ventriloquist repaired Scarface yet again, only this time the criminal duo set their sights on their competition, notably the Penguin.

Not long ago, a rising star in the Gotham City underworld known as the Great White Shark sent his assassin, the Tally Man, on a citywide spree, murdering many costumed criminals. The Tally Man targeted the Ventriloquist and fired a fatal shot into his head.

Blackest Night

Arnold Wesker's remains were reanimated, along with the bodies of several other Gotham corpses (including Abattoir, KGBeast, Blockbuster, King Snake, The Trigger Twins, Deacon Blackfire and Magpie) by a black ring, transforming him into a Black Lantern. He creates several black energy constructs of Scarface to kill various people in Gotham.

Black Lantern Scarface

Black Lantern Scarface

DCnU

After the events of Flashpoint, the DC Universe was drastically changed. Arnold Wesker is still alive and is still the Ventriloquist. He fought against Robin and Nightwing.

Powers and Abilities

Wesker is a skilled ventriloquist and his Scarface persona is a skilled criminal strategist. The Ventriloquist usually has a handgun of some kind, whilst Scarface carries his trademark tommy gun. The Ventriloquist is a delusional schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder, and is thus obsessed with his dummy, Scarface, which he puppeteers with unsettling skill. When teamed with Scarface, the two operate as a criminal mastermind. Scarface, animated with eerie verismilitude by the Ventriloquist, frequently wields under-sized but lethal weaponry. When teamed with Wesker, Scarface acts as an old-fashioned mob boss with a sociopathic disregard for human life.

Weaknesses

The Ventriloquist has no superhuman powers and is not a good hand-to-hand combatant. He cannot pronounce the letter "B" while throwing his voice and is completely dependent on his puppet, Scarface.

Paraphernalia

  • Equipment: Scarface
  • Weapons: Traditionally some sort of classic 1920's gangster looking Handgun or Tommy Gun.

Notes

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Scarface

It has never been clear whether Scarface was actually just an aspect of Wesker’s Multiple Personality Disorder, or if he had actually somehow gained sentience. There have been several instances where Scarface has functioned independently of a human controller, but this may also be a reflection of the controller's mental state at the given moment. On occasion, Scarface has been animate during times when Wesker was asleep or unconscious, or not even present at all. One of the strongest arguments for suggesting that Scarface may be a separate consciousness is the fact that he always maintains the same personality no matter who is operating him. In the case of Donnegan however, Scarface's diction was much better, and he didn’t replace the letter "B" with a "G" as was the case with Wesker.

Henchmen

  • Billy - A henchman of the Ventriloquist that was imprisoned at Blackgate penitentiary.[1]
  • Mugsy - Mugsy is a smaller person in size, but is a reliable criminal who is often partnered up with Rhino. Mugsy appears to be the more subtle of the two. A tall, thin, wide-eyed man, Mugsy is apparently the only member of Scarface's gang who fully believes that the Ventriloquist and Scarface exist as two separate personalities in the same body (that of the Ventriloquist).
  • Rhino - In many stories, Wesker is accompanied by a fanatically loyal bodyguard named Rhino who starts out as a bouncer at the Ventriloquist Club on Gotham’s Electric Street. Rhino is sometimes portrayed as genuinely believing Scarface to be the boss, but more often is shown as humoring Wesker (and sometimes forgetting and addressing the Ventriloquist directly, to Scarface's outrage). Rhino, as his name implies, is a massive, musclebound thug. During an appearance in Legends of the Dark Knight, Rhino briefly takes over the role of ventriloquist to Scarface until the puppet could be re-united with Wesker. Rhino is also always partnered with another member of the gang named Mugsy. His real name has been referred to as Charles "Rhino" Daily in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Read My Lips".
  • Moose - Rhino's sister who is nearly as strong and loyal as he is. She takes his place on Scarface's team, in place of her brother who is currently in prison.
  • Street Demonz - A criminal gang that operated outside of Gotham City and are allies of the Ventriloquist.[2]
    • Andy - Member of the Street Demonz.
    • Bad Sam - Member of the Street Demonz.
    • Dallas - Member of the Street Demonz.
    • Kendo - Member of the Street Demonz.
    • Pete - Member of the Street Demonz.
    • Stonk - Member of the Street Demonz.

In other media

Television

Batman: The Animated Series

See: The Ventriloquist & Scarface (Batman: The Animated Series)

The Batman

See: The Ventriloquist & Scarface (The Batman)

Film

Batman and Robin

The Ventriloquist does not appear in Joel Schumacher's 1997 film Batman & Robin, but a scarred puppet can be briefly glimpsed in Arkham Asylum's storage room, behind the Riddler's costume, which is a possible reference to Scarface and Arnold Wesker.

Video games

Ventriloquist Batman Dark Tommorow 01

The Ventriloquist on Batman: Dark Tomorrow.

  • Ventriloquist appears as a boss in the Batman: Dark Tomorrow game, engaging in a gang war with Black Mask before his gang is defeated by Batman in a fight at the Gotham docks.
  • Ventriloquist is set to appear in the upcoming video game DC Universe Online.
  • He is also featured in the "Villain Hunt" minigame in the Nintendo DS version of LEGO Batman: The Video Game.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Pen-riddle-2--article image

Ventriloquist's tommy gun in Batman: Arkham Asylum

See Also: Scarface (Batman: Arkham Asylum)

Although Wesker himself doesn't appear in the game there are references to him. The most obvious being the appearance of Scarface, Wesker's puppet. A tommy gun is mounted which solves a riddle relating to the Ventriloquist. His name also appears on the party list.

Psychological Profile (by Dr. Young)
The Ventriloquist

Ventriloquist's photo

The Ventriloquist

Real Name: Arnold Wesker

HOW DOES HE MAKE THE BILABIAL SOUNDS? IT’S UNCANNY.

Psychological Profile: Wesker is a very special case; previously he was a classic example of avoidant personality disorder, which intensified into a violent outbreak that led to his incarceration at Blackgate Prison. While there, he graduated into a fully realized delusion that his ventriloquist dummy, "Scarface", is an independent personality exerting control over him. It is possible that Wesker is a legitimate example of multiple personality disorder. To probe this further, I've requested that he no longer be separated from his dummy during the treatment sessions.

Additional Notes:

It can be very difficult to question Wesker due to constant interruptions from "Scarface".

Wesker's delusion has led him to create a complicated backstory for "Scarface", whose personality Wesker seems to have created from poorly written, old-fashioned gangster films.

Trivia

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum is set before Wesker's death as seen by Doctor Young's notes on him.
  • Wesker is confirmed as being alive in Batman: Arkham City.

References

  1. Detective Comics #610
  2. Batman #475

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