Now, when I first thought up the name Clownhunter, I was thinking about a story that was going to follow Joker War (I don’t even think Joker War was called Joker War at that point). There was a story that was going to come out of the event, and I wanted to create this mysterious clown hunting character… And then Punchline happened, and the particular story I was introducing Clownhunter for evaporated, and I was looking at my plans for Joker War and noticed that I was missing something pretty big in the story.
There wasn’t a POV character on the ground in Gotham City, seeing the city go to hell around them. Joker War is meant to represent a shift in how Gotham sees itself, and be a catalyst for a bold new Gotham City that’s building in its wake… I needed a character who represented that change. A character who takes things into his own hands because he sees the city needs it, but not by Batman or Joker’s terms. A supporting cast member that wasn’t part of the Arkham Rogues, or part of the Bat-Family. Something new and different.
And I went into C2E2 with that problem in my head, and then I actually saw the response to Punchline in person, and it confirmed something that I’ve been suspecting for a while, but has become clear ever since I started both Something Is Killing The Children and my Batman run… I think the current generation of comic book reader is HUNGRY for its own generation of comic book characters. Characters they get to participate in the introduction of, and they get to learn the origin of, and see how other characters react to them… Characters that haven’t appeared in multiple video games, and tv-shows, to the point where there are five competing canons that exist for them.
The comic book readers want to own these characters and know the most about these characters, and if they show up down the line in other media, they’re the ones who were participating in their introduction from the beginning. And that’s an exciting place to be! So Jorge and I got to do that with Punchline, which seems to be going over very well… and It’s served me well in creating Erica Slaughter over in Something Is Killing The Childrn
So It felt like I should weaponize that POV character that I saw Joker War needed, and take the cool name from the defunct project, and create a new Clownhunter character to introduce in the book. So I wrote a quick scene in issue 96, the second part of Joker War… And I realized I had something interesting. So with permission from my editor, I reached out to Jorge to help bring together all my crazy ideas for this new character and build something new from the ground up…
And this is where we landed.
I desperately want a statue of him wailing on a Clown Gang member, so I hope you all like him as much as I do, and we can will that statue into existence. I deeply, deeply love the design Jorge gave him, and how unlike any other Bat-character he looks. He’s exactly the kind of crazy element I want to introduce into the Gotham books to dial up the possibilities of stories we can tell in their pages.
CLOWNHUNTER is a quiet, weird kid who lives in the Narrows. He mumbles jokes to himself under his breath, but doesn’t speak up in class or while he’s gaming late at night. When he was a kid, he saw his parents killed by the Joker, and his life was saved by Batman. He idolized Batman for years. But when Joker War starts, and Batman can’t stop it out the gate, he picks up a baseball bat, hammers in the Batarang Batman gave him as a kid, and goes out to start killing the Clown gang members terrorizing his neighborhood.
He’s a different sort of vigilante. Vigilantes in Gotham normally come with high tech costumes and gadgets. He’s more lo-fi, and more willing to cross the lines that the usual vigilantes don’t. There’s a dark, young city brewing underneath Batman’s feet in Gotham… On one hand we have Punchline, who represents a new kind of villain, a kind of young person radicalized into believing something deeply dangerous… On the other hand, we have Clownhunter, who sees himself as a hero, but has tossed out the entire moral playbook of Batman, and doesn’t respect his old ways of looking at the world.
As Joker and Batman go head to head as Gotham turns into a War Zone, we’ll see that Clowns are terrified to go to the narrows, all because of this kid who isn’t afraid to kill them. There’s a Clownhunter story in a one-shot coming out in September with an artist that I am flipping out I get to work with, and he’ll continue to play a key role in the book after Joker War. That’s the big thing I want to hammer in with both Punchline and Clownhunter, I have real plans for these characters, and we want to see if you’ll fall for them, too. These are not meant to be flash in the pan sales points, these are new characters that open up stories to tell that we couldn’t tell with other characters in the Batman Mythos. And I’ve got plans to tell those stories.
I keep saying he’s one part Kaneda’s Gang from Akira, one part Casey Jones from TMNT, and one part Deadpool (in terms of a kind of amused detachment from reality). His first appearance is in Batman #96 (and that is his ACTUAL, 100% first appearance, no minor appearances in the background of a previous issue – He shows up for the first time from whole cloth in #96).
He and Punchline are the first children of a new Gotham City Jorge and I are building in the pages of Batman. So far it seems like you’re along for the ride, but I hope you stick with us. I have lots of even bigger, even crazier plans to come, and I can’t wait for them to come to light.