A mysterious new villain named Insomnia puts the entire world to sleep to search the minds of the DC Universe. The likes of Batman, The Joker, and Black Adam fall fast asleep against their will. Nonetheless, Punchline seemingly finds herself wide awake and nightmare free!
In Your Dreams
No matter what’s going on in the DC Universe, it is hilarious to see that Punchline is still arrogantly tone deaf. Last time we’ve saw her, Punchline was limping away from her solo book onto better things. Typically, Punchline tends to believe that she is an exceptional rogue in Gotham worthy of Batman’s time. In Knight Terrors: Punchline #1, Alexis Kaye continues to pursue her delusions of grandeur by planning a heist. However, her ego blinds her to the fact that something is off about the job at every stage.
Following their mutiny in Punchline: The Gotham Game, the Royal Flush Gang renews their pledge to Punchline. Consequently, an alternative version joins as her muscle. Particularly, this crew is a one-to-one recreation of the “Walker Family” iteration of the Royal Flush Gang from Batman Beyond. Regardless, they look incredible in Lucas Meyer’s style. Sure, their eerie claylike appearance isn’t practical, but their sharp statuesque figures are endlessly cool. Not to mention, the Marlboro-like color palette pops on their off-white skin like a pack of cigarettes or a deck of playing cards.
Batgirl vs. Punchline
The target of the heist just so happens to be Batgirl’s Clock Tower hideout. As far as my unfun recollection goes, the Batgirls abandon the Clock Tower in Batman #116, and then rebuild by Batgirls #9. Yet, as far as Punchline knows, the tower is completely empty and ready to loot. As apart of her increasingly nonsensical plan, The Royal Flush Gang helps her break into a building to get access codes they obtain before they get there. Fortunately for Alexis, she doesn’t have to use any of her “indispensable skills” due to the effects of Insomnia’s spell.
Before Punchline gets off too easily, Batgirl shows up to confront her. Smiling like a ghoul, Batgirl creepily stalks the Royal Flush Gang. Of course this leads to a surprisingly brutal battle with each other that ends in blood. In addition, ghosts haunt her every step. However, because Alexis is such an arrogant character, she ignores every bit of foreshadowing in the scenario. Despite Danny Lore writing out her oblivious thoughts, she doesn’t act on any of her suspicions, and steals Batgirl’s motorbike.
A Newer Nightmare
Gratefully, the book closes with a much needed tonal shift. Since the beginning of the issue, Punchline has been totally clueless to her predicament. Not even a zombie-like Batgirl shakes her delusion of superiority. Alex Guimarães illustrates the dire tone by washing over the panels in horrific blood-red lighting. Even as the creature begins to assimilate with the Clock Tower, Punchline refuses to accept reality. Weird as it may be, I think that’s the point. She’s not afraid of the Bat, but afraid of information she can’t control.
The Clock Tower isn’t just a place where Barbara Gordon keeps her Batsuit, but a place that represents knowledge. Coincidentally, as a student of the Joker, Alexis values the hidden knowledge of the Bat-Family. Although Batgirl can defeat the Royal Flush Gang, Punchline confidently puts herself over them and The Joker. It makes sense that within the confines of her mind, the monstrously omniscient Oracle would haunt her subconscious. Furthermore, her insecurity and obsession with self-importance populates her nightmare. Nothing she knows is useful to her, and she spends the book avoiding the truth as if she were wearing noise cancelling headphones.
- You don’t mind reading another Punchline solo.
- You want to keep up with Knight Terrors.
- You genuinely enjoy Lucas Meyer’s artwork.
Overall, Punchline is a hard sell. There is no fun in reading a meandering mystery with a clueless character we already don’t like. I understand the metaphor, it just isn’t working. However, the artwork is a visual treat and action is pleasing from panel to panel. I especially loved the look of the Royal Flush Gang and the Gothic setting. Though it is unexpectedly ironic how Gleb Melnikov’s cover literally implies Punchline is trash. In fact, my worse complaint is that the overarching concept of Knight Terrors and Punchline aren’t interesting. Despite Danny Lore taking a decent dive into her psyche, readers can only look forward to an annoying story of a villain in denial. I hope part two changes my mind.
DISCLAMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.