Punchline: The Secret Origin of DC’s New Joker Partner

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This is a sharp contrast to Harley, who fell in love with a different mask of Joker’s, but recognizes that mask for what it is: pure nihilism. Punchline hasn’t seen that yet, and her fanaticism and its foundation on Joker’s quicksand personality will lead to some real conflict. “There are actually two big Harley/Punchline beats,” Tynion says. “One is coming up much sooner in the comics, which is the first meeting between Harley and Punchline, which starts in the next issue, in Batman #92…but then in Joker War, we’re going to see the real knock down, drag out fight between Harley Quinn and Punchline, and that is going to be a brutal one.”

Tynion was roundly praised for his depiction of the Joker in Hell Arisen, the character who pierced Lex Luthor’s veil of righteousness to drive him away from serving Perpetua, the mad goddess of the dark multiverse. It’s that insight that makes the Joker such a great villain. 

“That’s part of the fun of the Joker is that he can see the thing that’s going to hurt you the most and he can play that like an instrument,” Tynion says. “That’s what I love writing.” 

That nihilism and insight was on display even when Tynion first got his hands on the Joker, back during Death of the Family during Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s early run on New 52 Batman. Tynion wrote the backups to those issues working with Jock, sending the Joker around to Batman’s rogues gallery to drive each of them mad. “He knows exactly where to stick the knife. He knows exactly their insecurity that cuts right to a person’s core and the way he is able to manipulate those insecurities and play people is the thing that makes him scary, and he enjoys doing it,” Tynion says of those stories.

But Punchline, a Harley brawl, and the Joker’s entertaining, if unnerving, psychosis aren’t all that Tynion has brewing for Batman readers. “I’m really excited to introduce the world to Clownhunter,” Tynion tells us, “who’s a new character we’re introducing in Joker War, who we’re going to see not only in the Joker War story, but I’m excited for the places he’ll be showing up next in Batman and in some one shots and other stuff.” Come Joker War, we’ll see if Clownhunter lands the same way Joker’s Punchline does. 

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