Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs begin a 2-part story that explains all you need to know about the new Ventriloquist in Detective 843 (June 2008).
Mobster Johnny Sabatino is opening a club, and when sabotage hits it, Batman suspects the Penguin. But visiting him, it becomes clear the Penguin sees Sabatino as no competition.
Sabatino enlists Zatanna as the headliner as the Volcano Club opens. Zatanna has her own reasons for wanting to return to Gotham. Bruce plays audience stooge for her act, but both are keeping one eye on Sabatino.
The Ventriloquist impersonates Zatanna’s voice, calling Johnny to the backroom, where she and Scarface confront him. Scarface tries to shoot Sabatino, but he flees, and the sound brings Zatanna running.
Johnny Sabatino gets away, and the Ventriloquist lights the club on fire, and takes Bruce Wayne hostage, leaving Zatanna to put out the blaze.
Bruce realizes that he knows the Ventriloquist. She is Peyton Riley, the daughter of a crime boss, and one-time girlfriend of Matthew Atkins, Bruce’s friend who got murdered a few issues back. She seems to be almost a different person when she lets go of Scarface, a possessed victim, but she grabs the doll and Scarface re-exerts control over her. Or appears to.
Jealous of her interest, Scarface shoots at Bruce point blank! How will they get out of this without cheating?
The story concludes next issue.