The Joker War continues this week in Batman #96 and while the issue takes readers deeper into the epic battle between Batman and long-time nemesis The Joker, the issue also introduces readers to a brand new character with the official introduction of Clownhunter, a character who takes matters into his own hands as the Joker's plans for Gotham City begin to run wild.
Spoilers for Batman #96 below.
In this week's issue, readers learn that Batman has been unconscious for three days since he was attacked by Punchline with a modified Joker Toxin in Batman #95 and, as Harley Quinn -- who is revealed to have survived her fight with Punchline -- explains, Joker has taken over Gotham fully in those three days. The gangs and criminals now have all the gadgets and the power and are using it to terrorize and murder citizens. With the police and heroes not doing anything to stop it, regular people are stepping up. Enter Clownhunter.
His introduction is brief, just one page in which we see the mysterious young man take out one of the Joker gang's baddies with a baseball bat modified with a Batarang -- think of it as a very Gotham version of Negan's Lucille from The Walking Dead -- but it's enough to establish that not only is this kid not "okay", but he's determined to kill a lot of clowns.
As Batman writer James Tynion IV has previously explained, Clownhunter is a POV character that shows just how badly things have gone in Gotham as well as represent the change in how Gotham sees itself.
"There wasn't a POV character on the ground in Gotham City, seeing the city go to hell around them. Joker War is meant to represent a shift in how Gotham sees itself, and be a catalyst for a bold new Gotham City that's building in its wake… I needed a character who represented that change," Tynion explained in a recently Tiny Onion newsletter. "A character who takes things into his own hands because he sees the city needs it, but not by Batman or Joker's terms. A supporting cast member that wasn't part of the Arkham Rogues, or part of the Bat-Family. Something new and different."
"CLOWNHUNTER is a quiet, weird kid who lives in the Narrows. He mumbles jokes to himself under his breath but doesn't speak up in class or while he's gaming late at night. When he was a kid, he saw his parents killed by the Joker, and his life was saved by Batman," Tynion continued. "He idolized Batman for years. But when Joker War starts, and Batman can't stop it out the gate, he picks up a baseball bat, hammers in the Batarang Batman gave him as a kid and goes out to start killing the Clown gang members terrorizing his neighborhood."
"He's a different sort of vigilante. Vigilantes in Gotham normally come with high tech costumes and gadgets. He's more lo-fi, and more willing to cross the lines that the usual vigilantes don't," he continued. "There's a dark, young city brewing underneath Batman's feet in Gotham… On one hand we have Punchline, who represents a new kind of villain, a kind of young person radicalized into believing something deeply dangerous… On the other hand, we have Clownhunter, who sees himself as a hero, but has tossed out the entire moral playbook of Batman and doesn't respect his old ways of looking at the world."
While Batman #96's introduction to Clownhunter is brief, readers will get a chance to find out more about the brutal anti-hero in his official debut in the upcoming Batman: The Joker War Zone, which will be published on September 29th.
Batman #96 is available now.
What did you think of this brief introduction to Clownhunter? Let us know in the comments.