Knight Terrors: Punchline #2 is published by DC Comics, written by Danny Lore, art by Lucas Meyer, colors by Alex Guimarães, and letters by Steve Wands. This is part of the Knight Terrors event. Punchline is dragged inside a computer, running from the monstrous Batgirl, forced to face her demons.
This issue is a huge swerve from the last, taking Punchline’s nightmare in a direction that could not have been seen coming by anyone. The strange silence and intoxicating tension are replaced by a meta adventure into the land of social media and computers. But it is still set within the framework of a nightmare, with this unstable world shifting and bringing out surprises. There are leftover aspects of the first issue that keep the pace moving, notably the freaky, morphed corpse of Barbara Gordon that hunts and prowls after Punchline like the Terminator. But despite this and the repeated attempts by Lore to overwhelm the protagonist, The tension evaporates for most of the issue, and the horror element has evolved completely. Using social media and the internet instead is an avenue of nightmares that has not been explored yet in Knight Terrors, but it’s important to remember that it is a common fuel for bad dreams. The action can be fantastic, and the ending feels satisfying.
What Punchline has to face in this issue is nothing short of relentless. Like with other heroes and villains, sometimes the nightmare has to be altered to find a way to break the victim down. Punchline shows resilience against Insomnia, Batgirl, and the “Anons,” faceless creatures that climb out of the computer screen to swarm Punchline. Trying to fight back is difficult when the rules keep changing. As a character, Punchline is brilliantly resilient. She’s fiery against anyone she comes against, no matter how fearsome they look. When based around the internet and the isolation it can cause, the dialogue lacks subtlety, but Punchline doesn’t have that at all. She’s honest and speaks with a matter-of-fact attitude, able to use her confidence to resist manipulation.
The art in Knight Terrors: Punchline #2 has the opposite effect that the previous half of the tie-in contained. Where the first part was confined and tight, space is abundant in this comic. Punchline appears before a computer screen, with representations of social and video websites behind her. That screen offers space, but there is also an abyss below. The bottomless pit of possible nothingness is part of a wider threat and a theme that has manifested in the latter stages of the miniseries. Punchline is drawn just as phenomenally in this chapter, with more details added as she has taken damage from her brawl with the Batgirl monster. That creature itself is horrifying and is where the tension remains. When it attacks more vigor, the extending wires that increase its proportions dominate the page. Again, it fits with the technological horror that this comic has utilized, but in a much more literal and brutal way.
There are some great examples of movement and evolution all within one large page, as Punchline and the brutalized Batgirl fall through a space that doesn’t always have a place to find your footing. The screen is more than just a backdrop. It becomes something to interact and fight with, leading to some clever moments.
The colors are certainly interesting. For much of the fight, the background shades around Punchline are bright, filled with light blues and whites. This fills the page and channels that space while the prominence of Punchline’s outfit remains vibrant. But then the characters can fall away from the screen, leading to black nothingness. Only as the issue reaches its climax, the colors get more intense, as the background is replaced with a rich red. The lettering is clear in the captions and the word balloons, as the colors alternate for each format.
Knight Terrors: Punchline #2 is a drastic change from the first issue. If it didn’t feature the same two characters at its core, it could be considered an entirely different tie-in. The slow, creepy method that drew me first is injected with pace and action. The influx of space and turning the whole story on its head does give the comic more energy, however, upping the ante and not letting the book finish with a whimper. It becomes focused on a realistic and relatable nightmare theme, carrying more impact overall than if it had stayed on the predicted course.
Knight Terrors: Punchline #2
Knight Terrors: Punchline #2 is a drastic change from the first issue. If it didn’t feature the same two characters at its core, it could be considered an entirely different tie-in.