It took Harley Quinn years - decades even - to become an 'overnight success,' but Joker's new sidekick Punchline is already giving her predecessor a run for her money.(opens in new tab)
Even before her official debut in February 2020's Batman #89 (opens in new tab), Punchline had struck a chord with retailers and collectors with prices for her first appearance charting high on the secondary market even before it came out.
Punchline was the first major addition that writer James Tynion made to the Batman mythos upon taking over that title in January. His run, which began in Batman #86 (opens in new tab), was framed around the debut of a new villain named the Designer - but Punchline ended up stealing his spotlight as well.
Punchline's Batman #89 debut was pretty brief - only her mouth was shown, ask she talks to Joker about his impending plans in the then-forthcoming 'The Joker War' crossover.
Punchline made her first full appearance in Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3 (opens in new tab), also penned by Tynion. It's small but significant, as the Joker (with his sick sense of humor) says that Punchline is the funniest girl he's ever met (sorry, Harley!); a foreshadowing to the chaos she would later ensue in the Batman flagship title.
June's The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 (opens in new tab) gave readers her origin story - relatively quickly, considering how some character's origins are shrouded for years or decades even.
The short story opens up on Snyder College (a nod to Tynion's old professor and fellow Batman writer, Scott Snyder). It's 'Dress Like Your Hero Day' on campus, and Alexis (the future Punchline) decides to wear a Joker shirt. The dean sits the fresh-faced student down to talk about her disturbing choice of a 'hero,' and how it could affect the people around her. Punchline doesn't care about other people's feelings and shows this psychotic nature by releasing laughing gas – humiliating her dean on social media. She delivers a classic villain monologue as she dresses up in her now-iconic makeup with the Joker joining her for the final 'punchline.'
Following these two foundational stories, Punchline proceeds to pop up across the Bat-family of titles. In the recent Batman: Secret Files #3 (opens in new tab), Punchline and the Joker try to convince Deathstroke to join his war.(opens in new tab)
Punchline's main haunt these days is the primary Batman title, however. Her most prominent scene to date has been her brawl with both Harley Quinn and Catwoman. The fight allows for both those anti-heroes' heroic sides to shine, but all for a price as Catwoman and Harley Quinn are left for dead. This showcases just how vicious Punchline can be as the Bat family's lives hang in the balance. This allows Tynion to set the stage for the Joker's new sidekick to be much more than a Harley Quinn rip off.
Punchline's slated to continue appearing in Batman (opens in new tab) at least through the finale of 'Joker War' with issue #100. But that's not all, as DC has already announced a solo one-shot for her coming this November (opens in new tab).
For more on Punchline and 'The Joker War,' read our interview with Tynion about the event (and what comes next) (opens in new tab).