Overview: In Knight Terrors: Punchline #2, the titular character continues to fight for her life in the Nightmare Realm.
Synopsis (Spoilers Ahead):
Knight Terrors: Punchline #2 picks up where the last issue ended. Punchline (Alexis Kaye) is in the grasp of the techno-zombie Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) in the clock tower. Punchline is forced into the glowing computer terminals into another Nightmare Realm of the computer. She first falls into a chat room of a site that is run by fanboys who have nothing better to do than spread rumors about Punchline. Alexis is not impressed; she even says that hating on her is the same as fawning over her. Suddenly, she is attacked by gray-faced anons. This appears to be a representation of the comments to the posts about her. All the anons say as they attack is “liar” and “fake.”
Punchline tries to pull the block button, but she finds that it is useless. It is like a concrete brick weighing a ton. However, she is able to pull the reply button out. She uses it to beat these things. This proves to be fruitless, as Punchline now sees her adversaries divide. All she can do is hit harder and faster. Eventually, she gets the better of them, and they vanish.
Punchline’s time is not over. The monster Batgirl, now larger and presumably more powerful, attacks again. This attack knocks Punchline out of the chat room, and she wills herself to fall into the nothingness, hoping not to land in the comment section. The creature loses its grip on Punchline and falls into the infinite scroll.
Now Punchline is faced with a new video; this time it is the two-hour rise and fall video. She hears a voice saying that she missed the best part. Now we meet the mastermind of this maze, a more twisted version of herself. After a period of banter between the two, the monster turns off all the sound, effectively silencing Punchline. All she can do is watch the comments flood in. The monster Batgirl returns. She starts to take Punchline apart. As Punchline waits to be finally beaten to death, she starts to remember a dream. This reverie snaps her out of it. She realizes that dreams and nightmares are just bad jokes the brain comes up with to fill the silence. This gives her the resolve to continue fighting, and she starts to beat back the monster Batgirl. Punchline is able to get the final blow with a scream. She starts to climb out of the void and kicks the like button for good measure. Punchline is finally able to hit the red X, and she suddenly wakes up.
She finds that she is still with the Royal Flush Gang. All are waking up. She sees her reflection in the window and realizes she is back in the real world. Her experience, however, has not left her.
It is easier to create the Nightmare Realm for this world. The characters cavort around a large computer monitor, and that seems to be the sole backdrop and setting of this world.
However, the design for the twisted nightmare version of Punchline is interesting, though I am not sure what the artist is trying to portray. This nightmare Punchline is designed to look like an older version of her. Her costume is an exact replica of Punchline’s, even down to the tattered and torn bodysuit she typically wears. Her face is older with wide eyes. It looks like her eyelids have been cut out, and she has short white hair. Punchline is not disgusted by this representation of herself; she is defiant and argumentative, which prompts the silent treatment.
This appears to be the ringleader of this realm, but Punchline does not fight it. The final boss battle is the techno-zombie Batgirl, and this monstrosity is the real recipient of Punchline’s fury.
These ideas and motifs change the nature of the story from Knight Terrors: Punchline #1. The previous issue culminated in a battle with the undead Batgirl, but this story is more of Punchline’s battle with the internet and public opinion. It’s a public opinion she claims to not care about, but nonetheless, it gives her the most conflict in this story. It is the change over in topic that makes me wonder if this is loaded with more filler than anything else. It may have been better if this was reduced to either a backup arc or a one-off issue.
While I like some of the insight into Punchline’s characterization, at the same token, there isn’t really much here either. It feels hollow, though I am left with the impression that Punchline cares more about what others think about her than she lets on. Does she have her own character or is she defined by others? The answer to that question could be interesting, but we don’t really see a resolution.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with an advanced copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.