Batman/Scarface: A Psychodrama

Scarface has always been a bit of an odd Batman villain.  Almost a poor man’s Two-Face, Scarface is brutal and unflinchingly violent whereas his controller, Arnold Wesker, is timid and meek.  This comic aims to elaborate on their dichotomous story, posing the question: Is Arnold merely psychotic and delusional, or is Scarface actually possessed?

Generally I would think the concept of “possessed puppet” to be utterly absurd, but Alan Grant actually manages to craft a pretty unique argument.  He writes that Scarface was carved from the Blackgate Hanging Tree, a tree near Blackgate prison that was used to hang hundreds of convicted criminals.  The tree became possessed with the souls of those men, and they are what brought Scarface to life.

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Despite this supposedly supernatural origin, Wesker is trying to forget about Scarface and turn his life around, throwing the puppet into the ocean at the suggestion of his therapist as a means of ridding himself of that delusion.

The method works, at least for a while anyway.  Wesker is released and struggles to make a name for himself as an entertainer.  He creates a new ventriloquist act, centered around his latest creation.

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Wesker seems to really want to stay on the right side of the law.  Unfortunately, Scarface has other plans.

Through a series of bizarre events (or fate. You decide) Scarface makes his way back to Wesker.  Wesker resists, claiming he doesn’t want Scarface to be a part of his life, but ultimately gives in and picks up the puppet again, adopting his Ventriloquist persona once more.

The comic ends with Wesker apologizing to Scarface for his mistakes, as we see Lola floating at the bottom of the river.

Although short, the brilliance of this comic lies in its subtlety.  It is never made clear whether Scarface is actually supposed to be possessed by the souls of long-dead murderers, or whether Wesker is just plain psychotic.  I choose to believe the latter, simply because it makes Arnold Wesker a far more intriguing character.  Imagine that his psychosis is so deep that he not only created Scarface, a persona which utterly controls his every action, but that he then crafted this elaborate story around Scarface to explain the doll’s motives.  The sheer breadth of these delusions is far more interesting to consider than a boring old “possessed doll” story.

The mere 48 pages of this story elaborated more on this character than perhaps any other story he’s been featured in.  Scarface is the main baddie to be sure, but Arnold Wesker is the true villain, a tortured, neurotic soul whose psychological problems run deeper than likely anyone realizes.  It’s clear that much as he tries, he simply cannot exist without Scarface.  Scarface gives his life purpose, albeit of a deranged variety.  If future stories continue to dabble in Wesker’s unstable mental state, I have a feeling I will quickly start to regard the character as a much more realistic threat to Gotham.

-Jess

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