Punchline is the newest entrant into Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Her 1st appearance is causing a wave of speculation for two current books with more coming. This article will discuss how collecting modern 1st appearances is evolving.
1st Appearance vs. 1st Cameo
I will do my best to summarize how the comic book market distinguishes between these two very similar events. This is a debate that won’t be settled here. 1st appearances for characters have historically been books where the character is featured throughout the story and is clearly visible head to toe. A 1st cameo is the first time a character appears in a comic book story and their appearance is limited to a few panels. By these definitions both Batman #89 and Hell Arisen #3 are cameo appearances for Punchline.
Punchline’s creator, James Tynion, IV has publicly said that her full 1st appearance will be in Batman #92. Batman #92 can still be ordered and I anticipate that the print run on this book will be massive, likely killing its collectibility. Don’t get me wrong, this will be a very cool book to have in your collection. Punchline will be featured on the cover, but I don’t see the price moving very much on this book.
What is THE book to get?
This brings us back to Batman #89 and Hell Arisen #3 which for the most part were surprise appearances of Punchline. Both books have relatively modest print runs. It is hard to know which book the market will crown as THE book to get for Punchline. My instincts tell me it could go either way (I have no dog in the fight here, I have both books).
In Batman #89, Punchline appears in just two panels. In one panel she is in the shadows and the other is an extreme close up of her face. She has a speaking role in this issue and we get a good sense of her relationship with the Joker. In Hell Arisen #3 Punchline has no speaking role but, we do get a full-body shot of the character in a few panels. While we get to see more of her, we don’t get any real new information about the character. That said, the rumored print run is less than a 1/3 of Batman #89 in the 25,000 range. If true, prices of this book could explode upward if the character takes root.
I think both Batman #89 and Hell Arisen #3 are great books to have in your collection. As the market digests Punchline’s role in DC comics going forward (and I suspect they have big plans for her) we will likely see either Batman #89 and Hell Arisen #3 pull ahead. That said, I expect both books to be worth more than Batman #92 because of their low print runs. So, while historically a character’s first full appearance has been the book to carry the most value, in the Modern Age we may be chasing cameos.
This is due to the way that creators introduce characters slowly over a story arc rather than all at once. Building anticipation allows publishers to create a buzz for a character’s first full appearance. Collectors are now aware of this approach and the opportunity gets washed away as everybody pre-orders the book. This leaves the under-printed cameos as the books to get. However, be careful of paying too much for either of these books. Who knows what the future holds for Punchline.
Thanks for reading,