Writers: Tini Howard and Blake Howard
Art: Gleb Melkinov and Luis Guerrero
Letters: Becca Carey
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 25th, 2022
Alexis Kaye (AKA Punchline) has been acquitted and is back on the Gotham City streets in Punchline: The Gotham Game #1, and her first objective is to reform The Royal Flush Gang. And she’s not getting them together to start an improv group! Will she be able to reform the gang without them killing her first? And what’s the deadly new drug circulating around Gotham that Punchline’s so obsessed with?
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Punchline: The Gotham Game #1 opens with a great satire of today’s “media influencers”, with an influencer named Khavy broadcasting live from a concert and eventually running into Punchline herself, all while Khavy’s followers make hilarious and cruel comments on his feed (like “He used pepper spray like a girl! Lol” when Khavy is trying to fight off a seriously harrowing attack from men who are trying to kill him). It felt very realistic and of this time, I could see people these days actually making those hideous comments while a guy is assaulted. I kind of wish this had continued throughout the whole issue, had been a full-blown attack on the whole “media influencer” thing, but alas, the story has to switch to Punchline’s POV at some point, right?
As for Punchline herself, she’s back in action here, kicking ass and taking names. She’s the antithesis of Harley Quinn. Where Harley’s all about jokes and anarchy, Punchline’s deadly serious, cerebral, and plans everything three moves out like the world’s her chess game.
She has no time for the silly sidetracks Harley usually goes on, she’s laser focused on her goals, and her first goal is to dominate the Gotham drug market with the drug XO.
Punchline is a fascinating character. Throughout the issue, we really see how cold-blooded she is, and she’s never above using torture and murder to get what she wants, and she doesn’t suffer fools. What she does to Khavy, the aforementioned media influencer, is downright bone chilling. She’s much more in line with Batman’s Rogues Gallery than Harley Quinn is. Harley, even though brutal and violent at times, is downright squeaky clean compared to Punchline.
We see two members of The Royal Flush Gang this issue, and they seem amazingly down-to-Earth. These two aren’t moustache-twirling villains, they’re just two people wanting to live the best life, and they seem constantly wary of Punchline, but intrigued by her also.
The plot tantalizingly sets up a possible confrontation with Catwoman and Yakuza boss Eiko Hasigawa in the future, which I hope comes to fruition in the coming issues. Seeing a three-way turf war between Punchline and her Royal Flush Gang, Catwoman and Hasigawa would be amazing.
Gleb Melkinov’s art on Punchline: The Gotham Game #1 brings the grungy underworld of Gotham City to life. Every panel seems drenched in grit. In this book, Gotham’s a dirty city filled with nasty people. Punchline herself, despite her costume (which I personally have never liked), is drawn in a realistic way and with an imposing physique. I especially loved the fight scenes, where Punchline does good old-fashioned street fighting to decimate her opponents (including lots of great palm strikes and using her knives a LOT). The art style is quite unique and complements the story perfectly.
Punchline: The Gotham Game #1 is a great beginning to the series. We get to see Punchline in action, both in combat and in setting her plans in motion. She’s so completely different from Harley Quinn that it makes her super interesting, and her penchant for dealing with everyone brutally makes her a formidable presence. I look forward to reading the next issue.