Charting the first appearance of Punchline, her origin, and rise to being a major Batman foe in 2020

(Image credit: DC)

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.

Art by Guillem March (Image credit: DC)

Even before her official debut in February 2020's Batman #89, 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, 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.

Batman #92 variant by co-creator Jorge Jimenez (Image credit: DC)

Punchline made her first full appearance in Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #3, 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 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, Punchline and the Joker try to convince Deathstroke to join his war. 

(Image credit: DC)

Over in Nightwing #72 and #73, Batgirl and Ric Grayson meet Punchline for the first time. 

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 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.

For more on Punchline and 'The Joker War,' read our interview with Tynion about the event (and what comes next).

Kat Calamia

Kat has been working in the comic book industry as a critic for over a decade with her YouTube channel, Comic Uno. She’s been writing for Newsarama since 2017 and also currently writes for DC Comics’ DC Universe - bylines include IGN, Fandom, and TV Guide. She writes her own comics with her titles Like Father, Like Daughter and They Call Her…The Dancer. Calamia has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and minor in Journalism through Marymount Manhattan and a MFA in Writing and Producing Television from LIU Brooklyn.