Joker and Harley Quinn are the most iconic villains pairing in comics. But that does not mean the two only ever had eyes for each other. Recently, a new significant other has taken Harley's place in the Clown Prince of Crime's life, the disturbing and villainous Punchline. A recently released comic, The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular features a story that details the character's origin. (Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!)
The short story is titled What comes at the end of the joke?, and is written and illustrated by James Tynion IV and Mike Janin. It opens with the Dean of Students at the Snyder College outside of Gotham. The dean is arguing with emo-grunge enthusiast Alexis, who wore Joker merchandise to a 'Dress like your hero day' event, which goes against the ethos of the campus, and decency in general.
Alexis fires back that the dean only cares about his reputation before blowing a puff of smoke in his face. The smoke is actually laughing gas, and soon the dean experiences its effects, falling to the ground laughing helplessly as his body convulses in shock. In his last moments, Alexis lectures the dean about how her generation had been handed a broken world and then ironically told they could achieve anything. She then reveals she is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals, even if it means hurting others.
The dean dies, with Alexis recording his demise on her phone, after which she changes into her 'Punchline' clothes, and telling the Joker, who had been hiding in her closet, that she hopes he now has proof that she "wasn't just another creepy fangirl".
So there you have it. Joker's new sidekick is a college troll who is clearly a riff on the pop-culture perception of entitled Millennials who believe they deserve everything and don't care how they get it. Hardly the most compelling backstory for the character who is supposed to replace Harley Quinn. But it does give her more agency than simply being a woman who falls head over heels in love with Joker and is willing to become his slave.
Punchline has not had much to do in the DC comics so far, but her brief appearances and her importance in Joker's life have greatly piqued the interest of fans. She is expected to have a much larger role in the 'Joker War' storyline that is coming to comics soon.
With the success of Todd Phillips' Joker movie, there have been talks of an entire Jokerverse being created for the world of live-action cinema that centers around the Clown Prince of Crime, which is where we might get to see Punchline make her live-action debut. Meanwhile, Harley Quinn has tasted considerable success even after breaking up with her Mistah J, both through Margot Robbie's well-received take on the character, and the breakout success of the animated Harley Quinn series. This story comes from ComicBook.com along with insight from DC Comics.