In a new DC comics featuring Punchline, it’s revealed that the Joker’s new girlfriend began her obsession with him the same way Harley Quinn did.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Punchline #1
In the new Punchline #1 from DC Comics, the Joker’s new girlfriend is dealing with the aftermath of the Joker War. Having been arrested, Punchline opts to plead not guilty to her crimes, as well as having a doctor diagnose her as sane enough to stand trial, rather than immediately being sent to Arkham Asylum. Furthermore, her origins are revealed in-depth, revealing that her obsession with the Joker began in a very similar fashion that of Harley Quinn, Joker’s first girlfriend. Both obsessions began with curiosity.
Punchline is playing the long game, getting the public to sympathize with her, and see her as a victim of the Joker, rather than as an accessory to his crimes. While she initially depicts herself as the girl underneath the makeup, Alexis Kaye, she eventually doesn’t need to, as the world soon embraces Punchline and her message over time. This message (which eventually became Joker’s) was incredibly public over a period of years, taking the form of a podcast and blog, where Alexis would study and analyze different crimes of Joker’s with each episode, sharing her findings and feelings for the world to hear. After meeting Joker in person, Alexis had to understand his jokes and the message behind them, and over time her obsession grew where the mere study wasn’t enough. She had to create jokes of her own in order to better understand the Clown Prince of Crime, even creating her own blend of Joker toxin. This gained his attention, and their relationship began.
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The origins and Joker obsession of Alexis in Punchline #1 from James Tynion IV, Sam Johns, and Mirka Andolfo mirrors the original obsession held by Harley Quinn when she first encountered the Joker. The major difference between the two is that Harley’s obsession was focused on the mind of the Joker. Harley hoped to unravel the complexities of his dark psyche which she eventually construed as tortured and misunderstood, leading to her love for him. For Alexis, the obsession focused more on the meaning behind his jokes, the dark actions he took, and their potential meaning and comedy behind them all – hence the name Punchline. She wants to help the jokes be heard by everyone.
It’s hard to choose which of the two girlfriends are the more disturbed in their respective obsessions. At least Harley has managed to get over hers and has been over the Joker entirely for awhile now. She was even ready to kill him at Joker War’s end. At the moment, it’s hard to say how Punchline feels about the Joker, and harder still to determine why she’s taking the steps she is to gain public support in her favor. Is she doing it the Joker’s name, or has she risen above the Clown Prince of Crime, seeking to make his chaotic message her own, but with a greater range, effect, and direction?
This issue is incredibly captivating for multiple reasons but the most engaging has to be not just Alexis’ transition into Punchline, but how many people she’s managed to reach with her podcast along the way, convincing them to support her. It’s this level of influence she now wields that potentially makes her even darker and more dangerous than Joker ever could be. If Harley Quinn and her obsession is the foundation that shows how one can be corrupted and swayed by the Joker, Punchline is the evolution, showing how one can not just be swayed and corrupted, but can then use that transformation to sway and corrupt others in kind.
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