It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a mania in the comic book collecting hobby that rivals the arrival of Punchline. This article will review the current status of her first two appearances and touch on the future of the character.
I can’t remember a more polarizing event in comics than the emergence of Punchline. Many grizzled comic veterans were annoyed by the hype and fervor surrounding the character. Comic book stores saw hundreds of new people come through their doors hurting for this character. From my perspective Punchline is a good thing for the hobby and I think ComicTom101, Nick Coglianese, and Jeff Itkin summed it up perfectly in this video.
I wrote a piece back in February discussing Punchline’s first two appearances, debating which one would be the book investors flocked to. While Hell Arisen #3 appears to be her first full appearance according to CGC, Batman #89 continues to fetch similar prices in the secondary market. Grades at 9.8 for both books sell for around $130 with raw copies in the $35 range.
Seeing that the print run for Hell Arisen #3 is relatively small at 36,250, about 1/2 of Batman #89, I would expect to see it run away in price at some point as demand outstrips supply. Cover A with the Joker on it is currently the book that is catching the collector’s eye. That said, the card-stock Cover B variant is the one that I find most interesting. The DC card-stock cover B variants cost an extra $1 per issue and as a result, are significantly under ordered by retailers. If the hunt for Punchline continues, I expect the cover B variant to increase in price due to its scarcity. You can currently find cover B for about $5 to $10 less than cover A.
Batman #92 is set to be a very hot book (as soon as we begin distributing comics again). Punchline will make her first cover appearance in this issue and be a central figure in the story. As a result, orders for this book will be extremely high, making its collectability relatively low. Well, that is what we thought anyways… DC quietly announced that there would be a 1:25 ratio variant for Batman #92 and thus the game changed.
I expect the print run for Batman #92 to be as high as 200,000 to 250,000 issues. This would imply that there will be around 8,000 to 10,000 copies of the ratio variant in circulation. This is a relatively low number for a character as hot as Punchline. I expect to see the prices for the Batman #92 ratio variant to meet or exceed Hell Arisen #3 and Batman #89.
It is impossible to say what the long-term appeal of Punchline will be. I don’t think DC will let her fade away at this point. The character has brought new excitement to the hobby and this is a very good outcome in my opinion. New people coming into your LCS is a great thing for the long-term viability of the hobby. Comic book speculation should be fun and hopefully, none of us are taking it too seriously. I personally can’t wait to see how the future of this character unfolds and what she brings to the hobby.