DC Animated Universe

"Read My Lips" is the 59th episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It introduces the Ventriloquist & Scarface, a new criminal mastermind operation with a bizarre secret.


Newspapers new gang

Newspapers reveal the worry of Gotham.

After a boxing match, the take is transported through the halls but instantly robbed by a trio of muggers. The bandits make a clean getaway by climbing an air vent and then jumping into a getaway truck just as the police arrive. They then go to their boss, Scarface, who claims they'll own the town soon. The gang goes on a crime spree leaving the police baffled.

Later, Batman goes to talk to Commissioner Gordon, about the spree. Gordon is concerned because the boss is too smart, and all his plans easily evaded the police. All he has is a videotape of the gang's latest escape.

The video shows the men leaving a crime scene with masks and gloves so they cannot be identified. However, one of them tears his shirt revealing a tattoo, and Batman identifies him as Charles “Rhino” Daly.

Batman goes to interrogate Rhino, but the police arrive before he gives any information. Batman then follows him to his hideout, where Rhino insists to see the boss, Scarface. One of the thugs goes to get Scarface after hearing that Batman is on the case. To Batman's shock, it is revealed that Scarface is actually a ventriloquist's puppet, seemingly controlled by a small, bespectacled man.

Once Rhino explains how Batman was on to him, Scarface figures that there is a squealer in the team. He goes back to bed, and the thugs talk amongst themselves, letting the newest member know that the Ventriloquist is just hired help and Scarface is the real brain of the outfit.

Batman interrogates the Ventriloquist

Batman interrogates the Ventriloquist for info he psychologically doesn't have.

That night, Batman searches the hideout and finds that Scarface is indeed just a puppet. During his search, he runs into the Ventriloquist and interrogates him. He claims he knows nothing, but Batman believes he is just playing dumb. Suddenly, Scarface wakes up and calls him in. Seeing how frightened the Ventriloquist is, Batman leaves after planting a bug on his bowtie.

Back at the Batcave, Batman plays back the voices of both the Ventriloquist and Scarface, noting that even the computer is fooled into thinking that they're two different people. He deduces that the Ventriloquist suffers from multiple personality disorder and that he and Scarface are essentially two different people in one body. He decides to listen until Scarface reveals his plans.

In his hideout, Scarface explains that there's a shipment of platinum being held on a luxury liner and his men are to steal it. However, he feels that there will be a double-cross from one of them. He doesn't know who it is yet, but he vows to kill him when he finds out.

The thugs head out and make their way into the ship and help themselves to the precious metal bars, but Batman arrives and attacks them. The fight is brief, however, as Rhino shoves a whole stack of metal bars onto Batman, knocking him out.

Ventriloquist & Scarface

Scarface & Ventriloquist are concerned about who's giving the info to Batman.

Batman wakes up tied over a pit of dummies with exceedingly sharp fingernails all pointing up. Scarface explains that the heist was a trap, and he knew of Batman leaving the bug. Batman tells Scarface that he had inside help but he refuses to tell who it is. Scarface orders Batman killed, but he gives in and says that the Ventriloquist is the traitor. The Ventriloquist denies it, but Batman starts using his own ventriloquism skills to make it sound like the Ventriloquist is insulting Scarface. Angered, Scarface orders the Ventriloquist to be killed, but his thugs worry that if they kill the Ventriloquist, they kill Scarface. Scarface decides he'll do it himself, but Batman gets free and throws a Batarang that cuts off the puppet's hand. The thugs then attack Batman, but none of them, not even the humongous Rhino, is a match for him.

Scarface reborn

The Ventriloquist makes a new body for Scarface.

Finally, one of the thugs grabs a discarded Tommy gun and shoots at Batman, but instead hits Scarface, riddling the puppet with hundreds of bullets, much to the Ventriloquist's horror. The thug is knocked out by a Batarang while the Ventriloquist cries over Scarface's punctured body. The Ventriloquist is taken to Arkham, where after a few months, he is given medication that the doctors believe has cured him of Scarface's personality. However, in secret, the Ventriloquist has been crafting a new body for Scarface.


Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production notes[]

  • Joe R. Lansdale has stated the episode took him one week to write. The script was written at his home in Texas and FedEx'd to Michael Reaves office back in California.[1]
  • Lansdale has cited the 1945 film Dead of Night and The Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy" as sources of inspiration when discussing this episode's slant towards horror.[1]
  • Lansdale's original script only had Batman knocked out by one or two of the silver bars rather than the entire pallet being pushed onto him. "It would've crushed him like a fly. That's maybe carrying it too far".[1]



Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne/Batman
Bob Hastings Commissioner Gordon
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Alfred
Earl Boen Rhino
George Dzundza Ventriloquist/Scarface
Joe Piscopo Manager
Mugsy (uncredited)
Neil Ross Ratso

Uncredited appearances[]


Rhino: I ain't scared of you, but you ain't gonna trick me into taking a swing at you. You got nothing on me.
Batman: You seem to have me confused with the police, Rhino. I want information and I'll get it any way I please. Who's your boss?
Rhino: You want information, watch the news.

Batman: You've got a hard head. How about using it for something other than a blunt object?

Police 1: A guy like that, I'm not sure a bullet would stop him.
Police 2: Hey, I'm not so sure a tank would stop him.

Scarface: This better be good, youse mugs.

Alfred: You've had your share of odd opponents, Sir, but this one does take the biscuit.

Scarface: Don't put words in my mouth!

Rhino: It ain't me, Boss!
Scarface: I know it ain't you, Rhino! You're too stupid to be a traitor.
Rhino: Oh, thanks, Boss.

Batman: (Ventriloquist's voice) Shut up, you blockhead!
Scarface: What did you say?!
The Ventriloquist: It wasn't me! I didn't say that! My lips didn't move!
Scarface: So what? You're a ventriloquist!

Batman: (Ventriloquist's voice) You're going up the river, sawdust-for-brains!