Review of Punchline: The Trial of Alexis Kaye

Punchline: The Trial of Alexis Kaye by James Tynion IV

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having previously read Joker Wars, I was curious to see how Mr. Johns and Mr. Tynion IV would handle the fallout surrounding Punchline. The entire debacle of the Joker Wars was a disaster to begin with, pitting the usual hotbed that is Gotham against a political debate. While the obvious plot of “good versus evil” existed (evil having questionable tactics), I walked away wondering about their messaging. And that’s precisely what this creative team ran away with.

Is there a criminal without evidence of their crimes? And how do you combat public opinion in an age of social media and social pressure?

There’s never any question about the character of Alexia Kaye, yet doubt crops up at every turn. And the manipulation she wields is a thing of beauty. (Or is that horror?) The volume turns her into a perfect foil for the Joker in a way that immediately sets her apart from Harley Quinn – for which I’m eternally grateful. Every calculation is made five steps ahead, leaving little need for improvisation. There’s zero question of her falling into the “villain” column, and her underhandedness is chilling. As is her ability to pluck the strings of the people around her.

She’s everything society’s sweetheart is meant to be. And it speaks volumes about how we treat our celebrities, regardless of their behavior. (Did the team intend this to be a social commentary? Maybe not, but it works well when you hold it up to the light) She is the perfect sociopath. It’s hauntingly precise, and the team deserves applause for their work.

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