As hundreds of victims and thousands of fans would tell you, it’s not a good idea to ignore Punchline. Alexis Kaye is more than the Joker’s partner, she’s a rising star in the Gotham underworld. After memorable appearances in Bat-events like “The Joker War” and “Fear State,” as well as a regular backup feature in The Joker, she’s graduated to her own limited series. Punchline: The Gotham Game makes its wild debut next week, and if you’re thinking of skipping it, ask yourself this—how long did it take the Joker and Harley Quinn to get their own titles? Punchline may be a new character, but she’s outpacing her clown-loving contemporaries in ways that can’t be ignored.
But don’t worry if you haven’t been following along. To prepare for her upcoming limited series, we got our hands on her GCPD dossier. What we found was surprising, amusing and sickening. Here are five of the strangest, most striking things we learned.
She Had Her Own Podcast
I suppose this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, since 90% of the world’s population seems to have a podcast. Still, it’s interesting to see a member of Batman’s rogues gallery try their hand at the medium. I always thought if anyone from Arkham would start a podcast, it would be the Riddler—that dude loves to hear himself speak. Punchline’s podcast was light on riddles, but was far more unsettling. In Punchline #1, we learned that years before she became the Joker’s partner, Alexis Kaye had her own podcast dedicated to the Clown Prince of Crime. Each episode had her exploring pieces of the Joker’s life, examining his old crimes, and trying to figure out how it all made sense. In other words, another true crime podcast, except this one eventually drove the podcaster to become her subject’s partner. I wonder how many subscribers it had?
She Had Her Own TikTok Challenge
Punchline is kind of a big deal on social media. Alexis has a huge following and for some reason they’re willing to overlook the fact that she’s a murderous psychopath. In fact, 2021’s The Joker #2 revealed that there is an entire TikTok challenge devoted to her. The TikTok trend (called TikTak in the story) involves users uploading videos where they describe their own personal encounters with Punchline. Some of the videos were created by people who were horrified by Punchline’s actions, but others proved that plenty of Gothamites admired and even drew inspiration from her actions. The moral of the story is that even in Gotham, social media brings out the worst in people.
She Left a Nasty Surprise in Her Roommate’s Bed
Living with roommates can be difficult, but imagine what it would have been like to share a dorm room with Punchline. During her days attending Snyder College, Alexis roomed with another student named Sarah. When the Joker murdered three factory workers, Sarah learned that the men had once met her brother and used the connection to gain sympathy, exaggerating her brother’s connection with the victims. This annoyed Alexis, who then had what some would call a disproportionate reaction.
In The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular, Alexis drugged the college dean with Joker venom and left his corpse in Sarah’s bed. Alexis said that if Sarah was going to pretend to be afraid of the Joker, then this should make fear real, ensuring that the dean’s smiling corpse would haunt her nightmares for years. This wouldn’t be the first time a college student left something problematic in their roommate’s bed, but as usual, Punchline took things to a disturbing new level.
She Has an Inappropriate Way of Attacking the Bat-Family
Traditional Gotham villains like Penguin and Killer Croc will attack the Bat-Family with their fists or weapons. Punchline has a method that is a bit more unconventional. During the “Trial of Alexis Kaye” storyline (running in 2021’s The Joker #1-15) Punchline noticed that Harper Row (aka Bluebird) was snooping around her past, so she dealt with the problem.
Using her connections to the Royal Flush Gang, Alexis sent one of their members to seduce and corrupt Harper’s younger brother Cullen. The gang member began chatting with Cullen online, getting him hooked on Punchline’s podcast. From there, he drew Cullen further into the Punchline fandom, convincing him to show up at the courthouse with signs supporting her.
Can we just take a step back and look at this? Punchline struck back at Bluebird by having one of her henchmen sleep with the vigilante’s brother. That is diabolical.
She Gaslit the Court System into Letting Her Go
You know how it works with Batman’s villains. The Dark Knight captures them, they’re sent to Arkham, they break out, and the cycle begins again. Still, while that system seems to work fine for the rest of Gotham’s underworld, Punchline had a different idea—why break out of prison when you could just gaslight a jury into letting you go? That’s essentially the legal strategy she used in the “Trial of Alexis Kaye” storyline.
Punchline’s defense was simple—the Joker was the guy who killed everyone, she merely stood next to him when he did it. If she was going to be punished for standing nearby while the Joker committed crimes, then what’s to stop the judicial system from going after other citizens? Alexis argued that she was just as much of a victim as the other citizens of Gotham. Sure, she was fascinated by the Joker, but she pointed out how that’s true of most Gothamites and being a fan isn’t a crime. This legal defense ignored the many crimes she did commit, like the previously mentioned college dean, but the jury bought it. Punchline was acquitted and is now a free woman.
That’s quite a dossier and what’s even more chilling is that Alexis is just getting started. And as we all know, the Punchline always comes at the end…
Punchline: The Gotham Game #1 by Tini Howard, Blake Howard and Gleb Melnikov is available in print and as a digital comic book on October 25, 2022.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.