Punchline: The Gotham Game #6 Review

Writers: Tini Howard and Blake Howard
Art: Gleb Melnikov and Max Raynor
Colors: Luis Guerrero
Letters:  Becca Carey
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 28th, 2023

Punchline: The Gotham Game #6 is the final issue of the miniseries and everything is resolved here!  The Joker and Punchline are reunited, but Punchline has no time for his antics, because there’s a war going on in Gotham City, a four-way conflict between The Royal Flush Gang, Punchline, Batman (and Bluebird) and Black Mask and his gang, and nobody’s getting out of it unscathed.

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The Story

Punchline: The Gotham Game #6 puts the final nail in the coffin of Punchline and Joker’s relationship.  Though Punchline started off much like Harley Quinn, as a lover and disciple of The Joker, she’s grown to become a warlord herself, more visionary and goal-driven than The Joker, and this issue closes their story in a very satisfying way. I’ve never been a fan of The Joker.  Despite DC’s attempts to make him multi-faceted and give him depth, I’ve always felt he was just a one-note villain and not even the most interesting member of Batman’s Rogues Gallery. So thankfully, his appearance here is brief, as he stitches up Punchline at the beginning of the issue (after she was seriously wounded in a fight with Black Mask and his gang last issue).    It really makes no sense why The Joker would go out of his way to patch her up, it seems like a plot device that’s way too convenient.   But I really didn’t mind him being a bit out of character here, because it gives Punchline the opportunity to tell him how she REALLY feels about him now, and she’s brutal.   It’s a joy to read as The Joker, who always dominates every situation, gets a physical and mental thrashing from Punchline, who’s sick of him and sees him as an embarrassment now.  Au revoir, Joker!

After this scene, the remainder of the book shows all the characters from the miniseries converging in a final stand-off, with tons of great action.   There are double-crosses galore and Punchline really shines here.  As the old saying goes, Punchline’s playing Chess while everyone else is playing Checkers. Though Black Mask comes off as one-note and boring as The Joker, The Royal Flush Gang’s members The King and Queen of Hearts are as fascinating as ever.  Starting off being retired, living a peaceful and loving life together, they were pulled back into action by an offer from Punchline.   But over the course of the miniseries (including this issue) they’ve become more unpredictable than The Joker.  You never know when they’ll turn on Punchline or side with her and it always keeps things interesting.  The Queen of Hearts especially can go from sweet to devastatingly brutal out of nowhere. Batman and Bluebird make a good team and I enjoyed seeing them fighting together.   I had to chuckle at one point though, because it seems the Batmobile’s capable of doing ANYTHING, and that’s shown here.  It reminded me of the old 1960’s Batman show, where Batman always had a “shark nullifier” or a “universal anti-poison” remedy in his utility belt. When this miniseries first started, I wasn’t super interested in Punchline, but I’ve grown to really love the character over these 6 issues, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.  She’s ice cold, logical, brilliant and I can see her ascending to be a major crime lord in future stories.

The Art

Gleb Melnikov, Max Raynor and Luis Guerrero’s art on Punchline: The Gotham Game #6 is consistently dark and moody, emphasizing the difference between Punchline and Harley Quinn in that Punchline is all about business, with no time for hijinx. The battle scenes are drawn as pure chaos (in a good way) and makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the conflict. If Punchline gets a regular series, I hope this art team returns to continue her stories.

Final Thoughts

Punchline: The Gotham Game #6  concludes the miniseries with a great scene between Punchline and The Joker, as well as a final battle in Punchline’s war with Black Mask.  Punchline is a wonderfully complex and fascinating character who has left The Joker eating her dust as she plots, kills, and double-crosses her way to the top of the Gotham City crime scene.  I look forward to seeing where she goes from here.


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