Inside BATMAN's Breakout New Character PUNCHLINE (And the Coming of CLOWNHUNTER)

Punchline character design
Credit: Jorge Jimenez
Batman #92 variant
Batman #92 variant
Credit: Stanley "Artgerm" Lau (DC)

Interest in apparently high in the new DC character Punchline, with retailers and fans making her surprise debut in February 19's Batman #89 a hot commodity on the secondary market. Batman writer James Tynion IV says it's "an extraordinarily gratifyling feeling, but apologizes "if Punchline mania has gotten you down."

In the most recent edition of his newsletter, Tynion has shared how he came up with Punchline - and what comes next.

"So, back in December, when discussions were starting about 'Joker War,' I knew I needed Joker to have a lieutenant in that war. A Number Two," Tynion wrote. "We started cooking up the idea of a polar opposite to Harley Quinn, and Jorge designed Punchline. The design was fucking awesome and I didn’t want to wait to use her in a comic."

That design was by Jorge Jimenez, who also designed the "Rebirth" era Superboy.

Credit: Jorge Jimenez

"I had written in some generic gangsters helping out Joker in Hell Arisen #3, so I emailed my editor on that book and said that rather than a generic person in a clown mask, let’s slip Punchline in there," the writer said, referring to Batman group editor Ben Abernathy. "Then I realized that she was going to appear in Hell Arisen #3 a full month before she showed up in Batman, which wasn’t going to happen until issue #92.

"Thanks to the joy of double-ship comics, #89 hadn’t been written yet, so I decided to slip her in there, because it felt weird for her to pop up in an event mini that didn’t really tie directly into Joker War. So we snuck her in a couple panels to set her up in Batman first and foremost, in issue #89," Tynion continued. "Then I got permission to post her design online, and everything went nuts. Books started selling out, and I made the dumb comment that I was excited for her real first appearance in #92 (by which I only meant her entering the story and interacting with the other characters), and then folks were saying I was trying to say Hell Arisen wasn’t her first appearance, so on and so forth."

So why does he think Punchline struck such a chord with readers and speculators?

"The real truth is that new characters don’t always equal buzz. I think it’s the power of the design, the power of a dark new rival for Harley, and the excitement for a Joker story where readers don’t know what’s going to happen," he said. "Because now there are new elements in the mix with the potential to change everything. We weren’t expecting it, but we’re thrilled it’s captured folks attention and interest."

Batman #94 variant
Batman #94 variant
Credit: Francesco Mattina (DC)

As for what's to come with Punchline? Lots, says Tynion.

"But honestly, that’s what I am most excited about with Punchline. It’s all the incredible story potential I get to tap into in the book," the writer said. "It’s how she changes the dynamic of a massive Joker attack on Gotham City and Batman. It’s her first encounter with Harley. Her first encounter with Batman. Her first time on the page interacting directly with the Joker. All of that is why I was excited to create the character in the first place… And I am very very excited for you all to read her origin story in the Joker 80th Anniversary special. Mikel Janín knocked it out of the park."

Tynion also teases another new character coming: Clownhunter.

"Jorge and I just created a new character named Clownhunter, who shows up in Batman #96, part two of 'Joker War,'" he explained. "I am very, very, very excited about him, and the absolutely brutal wrench he’s going to throw into the mix of that story."

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