Tom King has finished his character-defining run on Batman with the game-changing "City of Bane" arc. That storyline saw Gotham go through a dark and drastic turn as the city was handed over to Bane; not to mention Batman's world being rocked by the schemes of his father, Thomas Wayne, who sided with Bane and murdered Bruce Wayne's confident Alfred Pennyworth in cold blood. Now, as writer James Tynion IV steps in, Batman is setting itself up for big things in 2020 with the upcoming "Joker War" arc - and now Tynion is teasing one of the new Batman villains that'll be a soldier in the Joker War.
While posting his newsletter, James Tynion IV let Batman fans get a first hint of a new villain character, "Punchline". You can get the first tease of Punchline's introductions below, along with a first image of the character:
"Who is this character on the amazing Yasmine Putri BATMAN #92 cover?! (I referred to her as the character to Batman's left on twitter, and people are still giving me crap about it, but also giving OTHER people crap about it which seems weird to me – stop fighting in my mentions!) I obviously meant the brand NEW character… The lady about to stab Batman! To the left of him in the image, not in relative space.
But WHEN does she appear for the first time? Is it BATMAN #89? Is it YEAR OF THE VILLAIN: HELL ARISEN #3? Am I writing her origin story in the JOKER 80th Anniversary Special? Is she Joker's new girlfriend? Is she a part of JOKER WAR??! Who the heck IS this Punchline, and why does she want to stab everyone?!?!?!?!?!?!
Wait, I'm not supposed to say that's Punchline yet, am I? I'm not supposed to say ANY of this! And what about this incredible character design from Jorge Jimenez…? Well, while we're here… Maybe I'll let you be the first to meet her." --James Tynion IV
So this is Punchline. If you're getting vibes of a more Goth and/or anime-influenced version of Harley Quinn, you're not alone. However, according to James Tynion IV, Punchline is just the beginning of the wild ride that will be "Joker War":
"...this is the story that started in the epilogue to Batman 85, and will be the biggest Joker story since Batman: Endgame back during the New 52. This story is going to have huge, huge ramifications for Gotham City. You'll see all the seeds planted for Joker War in the background of THEIR DARK DESIGNS, especially as it hits its climax in April, but the big story starts in May.
It is going to be a very, very scary story. I can't say much about it yet, other than you should probably read it and order lots and lots and lots of copies, just in case you get too freaked up and tear one of them up from the excitement." --James Tynion IV0comments
So far, fans have been mixed about Tynion's run on Batman. Comicbook.com's own Nicole Drum described Tynion's debut in Batman #86 as, "everything is so bad; it's unrelenting. The end result is that Batman #86 feels a lot like Tynion (and to a lesser extent, Daniel) trying really hard to imitate the work of others who came before but not managing to come close...Here's to hoping that that love is enough to improve the series as Batman continues."
Here's hoping "Joker War" gets the ball rolling in much better fashion.