Punchline and the Vaude-Villains #1 Continues Hero Tomorrow Superhero Saga

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Punchline and the Vaude-Villains #1

Here's the thing about streaks: When you're on one, it's increasingly harder to stay on it. Eventually -- inevitably -- there will come a moment when that streak sputters, stalls, and ends.

For the publishers at Hero Tomorrow, PUNCHLINE AND THE VAUDE-VILLAINS #1... ain't that moment.

Continuing the story begun in APAMA, THE UNDISCOVERED ANIMAL and spinning out into the wildly successful TAP DANCE KILLER, PUNCHLINE shifts the storytelling focus over to the point of view of Drayton Hayes, a former heavyweight contender who left the sport in disgrace after his own promoter both drugged and juiced him, so that he'd take a fall in a critical match and test positive for steroids. Recruited by the Vaude-Villains, he was given enhanced strength by the mad scientist of the group, Fletcher. Now going by the moniker Punchline, he's the killer clown who can take anyone down.

In this first issue, the team is still dealing with the fallout of the mob's attack on Tap Dance Killer's mother and the recent acquisition of a baby orphaned during a bombing trap set to eliminate them. While TDK tries to reconcile all this to her father, Drayton is off getting information, in his own brutal way, on a secret floating casino that caters to the underworld, offering up grand prizes that go beyond mere monetary rewards and well into true depravity. The Vaude-Villains plan to strike at it -- but they're not the only ones.

Not seen throughout the saga of TAP DANCE KILLER, Cleveland's superhero is finally on the scene. Apama, who can talk to animals (and, oh, the mouth on some of them!), has also learned about the illegal operation, setting the stage for good versus not-so-good versus evil in a battle that's going to go down as one for the ages.

PUNCHLINE AND THE VAUDE-VILLAINS #1 was made possible through a Kickstarter effort, but will also be available in a standard format at your local comic book shop, so you should get it on your pull list early. The story from Ted Sikora, illustrated by Donny Hadiwidjaja, continues to evolve into a bigger and better product. This Kickstarter issue includes bonus content that delves into the design and development of some of the pages, several concept drawings of Punchline and the alternate looks he went through before landing on his current image, and some outstanding pinup artwork of the hard-hitting harlequin. Even the back cover is a treat, showing the black-and-white line art of the incredibly talanted Caanan White. Make sure you tell your Local Comics Santa that you want this one pulled for your stocking.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0