Review: Punchline #1

"Center Stage"

Writers: James Tynion IV and Sam Johns
Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Color Artist: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer: Gabriela Downie
Review by Steve J. Ray

Punchline #1 expands on the backstory of Alexis Kaye, exploring in more depth both her connection to the Joker, and her own plans for the future. The issue serves as an epilogue to the sprawling “Joker War” event, and as a prelude to the character’s own story, which looks to continue in 2021.

There’s no doubt that this character has become incredibly popular in an extremely short space of time. In fact, her predecessor Harley Quinn’s success was not anywhere near as overnight. Harley was clearly a victim of Joker’s insanity, and abuse, but Alexis’ story is almost the reverse. The fact that she’s saying the opposite to the media and the courts in this issue proves to be remarkably ironic in the circumstances. I’ve always hated the fact that in recent years I’ve felt a small modicum of sympathy for the Joker, as he’s clearly unhinged. This issue has made me fear, and actually really dislike the woman behind Punchline’s makeup.

While this issue did delight me by featuring Leslie Thompkins, and the dearly loved (and greatly missed) Harper Row, the name of the title character on the cover is Punchline, not Bluebird.

Comedic Timing

James Tynion IV is one of my favorite writers, so his work here with Sam Johns initially had me excited for this issue. As you may have guessed, the end product didn’t really set my world on fire. Yes, Punchline is different to Harley, and this is a plus, but she’s truly irredeemable in my eyes, and no amount of great art or character design can now shake that feeling of disgust I now feel toward her. She has now joined Lobo as one of the few DC characters I will actually find it difficult to keep reading about.

Negatives aside, the art in this issue is very good indeed. Of course, Mirka Andolfo and Romulo Fajardo Jr. are proven entities in this industry, and true pros. They do a great job with both the action and the character moments, particularly with their beautifully expressive faces. The flashback sequences where Punchline visits all the major Joker crime scenes (a great history lesson/walk down memory lane, depending on how long you’ve been reading comics) was brilliant.

Gabriela Downie also did a great job with the lettering. Even though I didn’t love the story, the work put in by the visual creative team was all of a very high standard.

Conclusion

Punchline #1 delivers lots of good moments, but at the end of the day left me cold. I actually left the issue liking the character a hell of a lot less than I did going in. So far, I actually think that I far prefer the way that Dan Jurgens wrote her in Nightwing (#72, #73 and #74), than in her own book.

Let’s hope that whatever 2021 brings for the character delivers more than her premiere issue did, because as of right now, I hope the Gotham judiciary system finds her guilty and fries her.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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