Origin of Punchline - READ IT FREE (Tap Dance Killer 1 & 2)

TapDanceKiller

Nikki St Clair was the sweetest, most talented actor in the city until she was cast in a horror show musical as the Tap Dance Killer. Now, unable to shake the role, this 1920s-esque bizarre mobster assassin is out on the streets dealing damage with a theatrical flair that leaves 'em, quite literally, slain in the aisles! These first two issues also feature the first appearance of a knockout new villain -- the murderous clown PUNCHLINE! Get a ringside seat as this menacing new hard-hitter steps into the squared circle and starts punching tickets on his revenge tour!





F

THE TiTLE OF THiS SERiES

MiGHT HAVE YOU WONDERiNG

iF THiS iS THE STORY OF A

HERO OR A VilLAiN.

THE SHORT ANSWER iS --

-- iT’S COMPLiCATED.

OKAY, NikKi, YOU

GOT TWO CHOiCES --

STAND HERE AND GET

SHOT in the asS --

-- OR TAKE A

RiDiCULOUS

LEAP OF FAiTH AND

HOPE FOR THE

BEST --


not

much of a

choice.

at least

this way I got

a shot to NOT

get shot.

OW!

OMigOd!

‘SCUSE ME,

EVERYBODY. JUST

FElL OUT OF BED!

YOU KNOW HOW

iT iS!

WHoOPS!

H-HOLD

ON, JASON!

I GOtTA CAlL

THE POLiCE!

NiCE! NOTHiNG CONSPiCUOUS

ABOUT A WOMAN HANGiN’ ON

TO A BOX-TRUCK iN PRiSON

COVERAlLS, RiGHT?

FiVE BLOCKS LATER...

SOrRY TO

BAiL ON THE

FARE, HOKE!

I’lL CATCH

YOU NEXT

TiME!

HOW

YA DOiN’?

C'MON,

BE HERE,

JONElLE!

GoOD.


f

LiFE CHANGED FOR NikKi WHEN

SHE WAS CAST iN A HOrROR SHOW

MUSiCAL TiTLED NOTHiNG LiKE

VAUDEVilLE. SHE LANDED THE

ROLE OF THE STAR AsSAsSiN!*

Don’t want

your love,

DON’T GOT

the Time!

e

I’m the Tap

Dance KilLer,

Where’s the

e

next crime?

p

ALSO iN THE SHOW'S MURDEROUS MOB WERE ACTORS ViNCENT ReED

AS THE CRiMELORD, SiR TErROR, AND KLAUS MiROGOLD AS THE

CReEPY, NECROPHiLiAC WAX MUSEUM CURATOR, FLETCHER.

WHEN WE STRike

the belL --

TerRor

Rings from Top

TO BOtTOM!

f

what is it

WE SElL?

e

v

BEATings,

mutilations,

EVEN KilLs --

WE GOT ‘EM!

e

*As told in that way

ofF-broadway sensation

APama The

Undiscovered Animal

isSues 10 & 11!

A WOMAN WHO CLAiMED

TO REPRESENT THE

MUSiCAL’S PUBLiSHiNG

COMPANY AUDiTED A

REHEARSAL aND GAVE

THE THESPiAN TRiO A

SCATHiNG REViEW --

YOU ARE THE

WORST ACTORS I'VE

EVER SeEN!

WE’RE GOiNG TO

CLOSE BEFORE WE OPEN

UNLEsS YOU THReE CAN

TURN THiS CATASTROPHE

AROUND!

I'M GiViNG

YOU ONE LAST

CHANCE!

LET’S AlL

TOAST --

-- to

MAKING IT

ReEEaAL!

THEY WERE

FOREVER

CHANGED!


THE TRiO EMBARKED ON AN AlL ToO

REAL CRiME SPReE, KiDNApPiNG

ANTOiNE BRUNEtTi -- THE CONSiGLiERE

FOR THE iNFAMOUS ROMERO MOB.

BRUNEtTi WAS MURDERED AND LEFT

ON DiSPLAY AS A WARNiNG THAT A NEW

CRiME POWER WAS TAKiNG OVER.

THE ROMEROS RETALiATED, SHOWiNG

UP AT THE THEATRE ON OPENiNG

NiGHT. ViNCENT ReED WAS SHOT --

-- BUT NikKi CAME READY. SHE DREW

LiGHTNiNG FAST, AND DUSTED THReE

OF THE GANGSTERS FROM STAGE LEFT

BEFORE ANYONE ELSE WAS HURT.

DURiNG THE MELeE A DUDE NikKi HAD RECENTLY STARTED

DATiNG NAMED iLYiA ZJARSKY TACKLED HER iN AN AtTEMPT

TO CEASE HER “AUDiENCE-SHoOTiNG RAMPAGE.”

DESPiTE NikKi'S CLAiMS OF MEMORY

LOsS AND SELF-DEFENSE,

SHE WAS SENT TO PRiSON WHERE

SHE'D BeEN AWAiTiNG HER TRiAL.

iLYiA ToOK A SLUG TO THE ARM THAT

WAS intended for NikKi’S HEART.


BACK iN THE PRESENT...

UH, HEY,

JOjo --

N-NikKi?!

YOU SCARED THE

LiFE OUT OF ME!

H-HOW

DiD YOU GET

HERE?!

LONG STORY,

I’lL EXPLAiN

LATER.

DO YOU HAVE

A CHANGE OF

CLOTHES?

JUST A

SWEATSHiRT, BUT

iT WON’T FiT!

iT’lL BE FiNE.

I NeED YOUR

SKiRT ToO.

WHAT?!!

THReE MiNUTES LATER AMiD A CACOPHONY OF BLARiNG SiRENS --

MAY I

ASK WHAT iN

THE QUeEN’S

NAME iS GOiN’

ON OUT

HERE?!

SOUNDS

LiKE THE

DAMN D—DAY

iNVASiON!

THERE’S

AN ESCAPED

PRiSONER,

MA’AM!

OH, HElL

NO!

I’lL NeED

TO TAKE

A LoOK

iNSiDE!

OH! UH, {gulp}

G-GOOD MORNiNG

OFFiCER.

iS THERE A

BACK RoOM

HERE?

JUST A L’iL

STORAGE AREA.

I'lL SHOW

YOU.

AFTER A PROMPT, THOROUGH SEARCH --

SO OfFiCER

TYLER, ARE

YOU SuRE YOU

WON’T STAY WiTH US

‘TilL THE COAST

iS TOTAlLY

CLEAR?

SOrRY, NO

CAN DO.

BUT iT

WOULD BE A

GoOD iDEA TO

LOCK THAT FRONT

DoOR AFTER I

LEAVE.

I HAVE

NEVER BeEN

SO SCARED iN

MY LiFE!

fw

HOW WAS I

GOiNG TO EXPLAiN

THAT I HAD NO

SKiRT ON?!

GiRL, DON'T YOU

EVER --


THReE MONTHS AGO.

WElL, WElL,

WElL, CHRiSTMAS

COME EARLY THiS

YEAR. LoOKY

THE BiG-SHOT

ACTREsS!

WHAT DO THEY

CAlL HER AGAiN?

“TWiNKLE TOES

TErROR”?

NAH, SHE’S

THE “TAP DANCE

KilLER.”

AlL I

SeE iS

MONEY.

GET OUtTA

MY FACE. I GOT

NOTHiN’ TO DO

WiTH YOU.

OH, NO? YOU KilLED

THReE ROMEROS,

SiSTER! YOU HAVE A LOT

TO DO WiTH EVERYBODY!

-- USSGHH

I’M GOnNA GET

ELiTE STATUS, TRiPLE

POiNTS FOR TAKiNG

YOU OUtTA COM--

BAD iDEA,

B$&*#!

UnNNgGN!


EiiEEEE!

BREAK iT

UP, NOW! AlL

OF YOU!

YOU'RE

DEAD,

GiRLY!

THERE'S

NOWHERE iN

THiS PLACE YOU

CAN HiDE FROM

ME!

OH, DiD THAT

LoOK LiKE I WAS

HiDiNG?

YOU NAME THE

TiME, AND I'lL

FiND YOU!

ENOUGH,

ST CLAiR!


A WeEK iN THE HOLE.

MAN, if I JUST

SiT HERE AlL DAY

I’lL GO CRAZY!

WHAT --

MEAN?

I'M THE TAP DANCE

KilLER. I GOT TO GET

BACK TO MY GiG.

DOES --

WHAT DOES

iT MEAN TO BE

THE TAP DANCE

KilLER?

iT --

THE HOLE iS iNTENDED TO BE A PLACE

OF PUNiSHMENT AND REFLECTiON --

-- BUT FOR NikKi

iT WAS LiKE

A CHAPEL.

A PLACE

WHERE

SHE

FOUND

THE

ABSOLUTE

CENTER

of HER

BEiNG.

HEY, NikKi,

YOU'RE GREAT

AT THAT!

I’ve beEn

listening for

days, and my jaw

is on the ground

out here!

THANKS,

ALice.

I PLAYED

CLARiNET AlL

MY Life. I KNOW

ABOUT MUSic!

YOU’RE

ON ANOTHER

LEVEL!

Big

Time!


Day six.

HE’S A GoOD MAN,

BUT EVER SiNCE HE

STARTED THiS GAMBLiNG

I’M KiND OF AT A LOsS.

{SiGH} NO PUN

iNTENDED.

iT’S OBViOUS

THAT YOU LOVE

JErRY DeEPLY, AND

iT’S iMPORTANT THAT

YOU SUpPORT HiM,

BUT JErRY

NeEDS TO WANT

TO FiX JErRY. YOU

FeEL ME?

I KNOW THiS

GUARD NOW iN A

WAY I’VE NEVER

REAlLY KNOWN

ANYBODY.

iT feEls

like I CAN

ANTiCiPATE

HER every

MOTiON.

HER SPeECH

PAtTERN, THE WAY

SHE BLiNKS HER EYES,

THE GENTLE SWAY iN THE

WAY SHE STANDS. SUCH

SPECiFiC TRAiTS --

-- UNiQUE AS A

FiNGERPRiNT.

f

p

Um, | --

ALiCE! WHAT

ARE YOU DOiNG? YOU

UNLOCKED THE

DoOR!

WHAT? I DiD?

OH, JeEZ YOU’RE

RiGHT! I, UH, BLANKED

OUT THERE FOR

A MiNUTE.

GoOD

THiNG YOU’RE

SO HONEST.

CLICK

iNTERESTiNG!


PRESENT. THE EUCLiD ARENA...

FLOYD MisSES

WiTH THAT RiGHT!

HE'S BeEN HAViNG NO

LUCK COnNECTiNG HERE

iN THE THiRD ROUND.

C’MON,

DRAYTON!

TAKE HiM

OUT!

FLOYD comes in the heavy

favorite, BUT HAYES iS

HAViNG HiS WAY WiTH HiM!

OH, MY! HAYES WiTH A

DEVASTATiNG UpPERCUT!

WOW!

AND

it’s

OVER!

DRAYTON HAYES

WiTH A THiRD ROUND

KNOCKOUT OF THE

FORMER CHAMP!

AND THE HOMETOWN

CLEVELAND FANS ARE

EATiNG THiS UP!

YOU JUST WiTNEsSED

THE MENACiNG WAYS OF

DRAYTON HAYES!

HOlLOWAY,

YOU’RE RUnNiN’ SCARED

WONDERiNG WHAT’S THE

MAtTER, HiDiNG iN A GLAsS

MANSiON THAT’S ABOUT

TO SHAtTER!

THE NiGHT SoON

COMES WHEN JUST

HALF MY MiGHT’lL

TAKE THE TiTLE!

FROM HiS SECOND ROW SEAT ONE OF HAYES'

NEWEST FANs WATCHES WiTH CUnNinG iNTRiGUE.

AH, PoOR

DRAYTON HAYES. iN

AND OUT OF TROUBLE

HiS WHOLE LiFE.

FAiLED DRUG

TESTS, AsSAULT

AND BAtTERY,

ARMED RObBERY --

THE LiST JUST

GOES ON AND

ON.

THEY’lL

NEVER GiVE YOU

THAT TiTLE SHOT,

MY FRiEND, BUT

NOT TO WOrRY.

iVAN P.

FLETCHER HAS

FAR GRANDER

PLANS FOR

YOU!


JONElLE’S HOUSE.

SO YOU FeELiNG

AlL BEtTER NOW?

NiCE’n COZY?

YES, MY

DEAR. THANK YOU

SO VERY --

-- THEN HOW

'BOUT YOU TElL

ME WHAT THE FLYiN'

HElL iS GOiNG

ON!

SURE.

YOU DESERVE

THAT.

AT

LEAST!

I WASN'T MAKiNG ANY FRiENDS iN PRiSON,

AND iT AlL HAD TO DO WiTH THiS ONE LADY --

MY NAME

iS CARLOtTA

ViTAlLi.

AND

YOU --

SOrRY, WAS

THiS SUpPOSED

TO SCARE ME?

‘CAUSE

YOU DON’T

LoOK SO --

-- ARE

DEAD.

-- DON’T

FLAtTER

YOURSELF!

JUST

KNOW iT

WAS ME WHO

ORDERED

THE HiT.

TURNED OUT SHE

HAD A WiDE NET.

HEY, I

GOtTA TALK TO YOU

ABOUT THiS CARLOtTA

CHiCK. iS SHE FOR --

-- OH, NO, NO!

I WilL NOT BE

SeEN TALKiNG TO

NikKi ST CLAiR. I'M

GEtTiNG PAROLED iN

TWO MONTHS.

WALK ON BY,

ST CLAiR.

EVEN THE SERVERS

HAD iT iN FOR ME.

THiS ONE

iS YOURS,

NikKi.

OH, YOU HAD

iT iN THE BACK

WAiTiNG SPECiAL

JUST FOR

ME?

FRigGiN’

GREAT.


AND EVERY TiME HER

GoON-EtTES AtTACKED ME

I WAS THE ONE THAT GOT

TOsSED iN THE HOLE!

ALiCE, I GOT A

LitTLE PROBLEM

HERE, AND iT'S CAlLED

THiS WHOLE PLACE

WANTS ME DEAD.

I'VE

NOTiCED. LET

ME SeE WHAT

I CAN FiND

OUT.

ALiCE, WAS A GoOD EgG.

THE ONLY PERSON iN

THE JOint I TRUSTED.

ONE PROBLEM --

CLiNK

RiSE AND

SHiNE, NikKi.

-- THiS MORNiNG WHEN

THE DoOR OPENED iT

WASN'T ALiCE.

YOU

MiGHT AS

WElL KNOW WHY

I ToOK SUCH

AN iNTEREST

iN YOU.

iT iS

BECAUSE OF

MY LATE SON,

RAMON.

NiNE YEARS AGO

I PLED GUiLTY TO A

MURDER CHARGE iN his

PLACE, SO THAT HE

COULD BE FReE TO

LiVE OUT HiS LiFE --

-- A LiFE THAT

ENDED ON THE

NiGHT OF YOUR

THEATRiCAL

KilLiNG

SPReE!


I HAD EVERYTHiNG TO

DO WiTH YOUR TRANSFER HeRE

AND YOUR DELAYED HeARiNGS.

AND WHiLE YOU’VE BeEN TOUGh

To HAMmER DOWN --

-- iT iS FiNAlLY TiME FOR

YOUR UNFORTUNATE AcCiDENT.

GO GET

HER, TiGERS.

I CAN’T FUlLY EXPLAiN

WHAT HApPENED NEXT.

BUT iT WAS LiKE I COULD

SeE TWO SECONDS iNTO

THE FUTURE.

THiS’lL

ONLY HURT

FOR A --

THE MOMENT PLAYED OUT LiKE A

SONG I’D PERFORMED DOZENS OF TiMES

BEFORE. I KNEW AlL THE PARTS --

THE

iNTRO --

THE VERSES --


THERE’S

THReE OF YOU,

AND ONE OF HER!

KilL HER ALREa--

THE CHORUS --

THE BRiDGE...

D-DON'T HiT

ME. PLEASE...

oOH, I REAlLY

OUGHTA, BUT YOU’RE

JUST A FRAiL OLD

WOMAN!

MEsS WiTH ME

AGAiN, AND SeE

WHAT HApPENS!

OKAY, NikKi,

WHAT NOW?


A COUPLE MORE GUARDS

GOT KNOCKED OUT ON MY

WAY TO THE EXiT --

I had no plan, BUT

KNEW iF I STAYED I

WAS DEADER THAN

DRiFTWoOD --

I RAN. THERE WAS NO

ONE TO EXPLAiN iT TO.

-- MADE it

to the yard --

-- ALARM WAS

BLARiNG!

I RAN STRAiGHT AT THAT

THiRTY-FoOT WAlL --

-- LEAPT HiGH AS I COULD

AT THE MidDLE OF iT --

--THEN DiD ONE OF

THOSE PARKOUR

KiCK-UP THiNGS --

-- AND

REACHED

THE TOP!


YOU JUMPED

OVER A THiRTY

FoOT WAlL?!

WElL, I

KiND OF RAN

AT iT, AND

KiCKED-up

HALFWAY.

RiGHT.

YOU CAN'T

STAY HERE.

JOJO, I ONLY NeED A

COUPLE DAYS. I GOtTA

GET MY BEARiNGS AND --

-- AND WHAT?!

WHERE CAN YOU

GO? MEXiCO?

SWiTZERLAND?

YOU'RE AlL OVER

THE DAMN

NEWS!

I GOT

A PLAN.

GimMiE TWENTY-

FOUR HOURS.

CAN'T

WEAR OUT

MY WELCOME

WiTH joJO.

SHE'S A GoOD

FRiEND, AND THERE'S

NO NeED TO MAKE HER

AN AcCOMPLiCE. SHE

DOESN'T NeED TO KNOW

EVERYTHiNG.

TRUTH iS I

HAVE OTHER

FRiENDS --

HEY,

BOYS.

-- AND WE GOT

UNFiNiSHED

BUSiNEsS.


WHOBODY GOES

HERE? ONE FALSiSH

MOVAMENT AN’ I BLOW YA

TA SAH-MiTHEReENS

EVEN!

NikKi! WE WERE

HOPiNG YOU --

EASY UZi. THiS iS

A beloved friend.

RAViSHiNG AS

EVER, MY DEAR.

HuuGGhhrkk!

-- SCUSE ME,

MADE iT OUT iN

THE CLEAR.

YEAH, AND WHEN THE NEWS

BROKE THAT Vince WAS KiDNApPED

FROM the HOSPiTAL

BY A CLOWN --

-- I KNEW

Y’AlL WERE

GEtTin’ BACK

TOGETHER.

LoOK, I'M

DYiNG TO GET BACK

TO WORK. I NeED

AN ADVANCE.

BUT OF

COURSE.

HENRY,

SeE TO iT THAT

MZ. ST CLAiR HAS

EVERYTHiNG

SHE REQUires.

AND I'lL NeED A

PHOTOGRAPHer

to --

HWWAuuUGGZZZ

YOU GOT

iT, SUGAR.

PoOR THiNG.

iT'S JUST NOT

WORKiNG OUT

WiTH HER.

WHAT'S NOT

WORKiNG OUT?

OH, YOU'VE

BeEN AWAY FOR

ToO LONG.

WE'VE GOT A

LOT OF CATCHiNG

UP TO DO --

BUT

FiRSTLY --

OKAY, GoOD

TO YOU SeE YOU

ToO, KLAUS.

PLEASE, CAlL

ME FLETCHER.

I'VE GOT SOMETHiNG

TO SHOW YOU.


I HAD

FAiTH YOU’D

COME BACK.

THAT'S NOT

ONE OF YOUR

DEAD ONES,

iS iT?

HEAVENS, NO. iT'S

JUST A MAnNEQUiN.

LET ME TElL YOU

ABOUT SOME OF THE

iMPROVEMENTS.

OH.

THE FABRiC iS

A BUlLETPRoOF,

COMPOSiTE

POLYMER.

THE CANE is OF

a STRONGER, yet

slightly lighter,

AlLOY THAN THE

PREVious.

AND our new

costumer, Gaspard,

insiSted on THAT

design patTern.

LOVE

iT!

THAT iS

SOME Tight

S%&$

THERE,

BOY.

There’s an

entire Arsenal

being put

together, but

this --

-- THiS iS A

customized 1924

SMiTH & WEsSON

HAND EJECTOR

44 SPECiAL.

I BELiEVE iT'S

THE FiNEST REVOLVER

EVER MADE.

BANG.

WE'S ABOUT

TO HAVE SOME

FUN. THANKS,

FLETCH.

ANYTiME,

DARLiNG

NikKi.

I

WOUlDN'T

CAlL ME

THAT.

APOLOGiES,

I FiGURED YOU

FOR A PRiNCE

FAN.


YES, TO

THiS... YES,

TO THiS...

AnNND

THiS.

I THiNK THiS

SCARLEtT PEONY

WOULD BE NiCE

ON YOU.

SHoOT,

CAN’T DECiDE.

I'lL JUST

TAKE ONE OF

EVERYTHiNG.

HOPE YOU'RE

ON COmMisSiON.

YOU TOTAlLY

REMiND ME OF

SOMEBODY.

{SiGH} LATELY

PEOPLE KeEP TElLiNG

ME THAT I LoOK LiKE

THAT ESCAPED CONViCT

NikKi SiNCLAiR!

CAN YOU EVEN

BELiEVE iT?

HA! NO,

THAT'S NOT iT.

HmMM... iT'lL

COME TO ME.

LoOKiNG

GREAT,

NikKi, HOLD

THAT.

you

sure you

don’t want

to smile

for this

one?

Nah. I’m

goOd.

WHAT ARE

YOU DOing

with alL these

ANYWAY?

JUST

NEVER YOU

Mind.

CLICK

CLICK

CLICK


ROCKWElL GYM. DRAYTON HAYES

iS NEARLY COMPLETE WiTH HiS FiNAL

FiVE MiNUTE REPETiTiON...

iT WOULD BE A LiE TO SAY

THE ONLY THiNG ON HiS

MiND iS A TiTLE SHOT.

THE DEBTS HE’S AcCRUED

HAVE TEMPTED HiM TO

THROW A FiGHT, BUT HE --

WHAT

iS THiS?

W-WHO..?

HElLO,

DRAYTON! THEY

CAlL ME UZi

CLOWN! THE

PREsSURE’S

AlL MiNE!

THEY’RE ABOUT

TO CAlL YOU

WHoOPED --

Here

it comes,

here it

comes --

YOU WHizZBAlL RASCAL!

I WAS TWO-HUNDRED PERCENT

POSitive HE WAS GOnNA TURN

ME TO SUSHi!

WHAT

DiD WE BET

ON THAT? FiVE

BUCKS?

Fifty.


THE iNFERNO

BEHiND ME iS THE HOME OF

ESCAPED CONViCT, NikKi

ST CLAiR, AKA THE TAP

DANCE KilLER.

thE HOME, WHiCH

HAD BeEN BOARDED

UP, WAS SET ABLAZE

some hours ago.

it iS ToO EARLY

TO SAY WHAT CAUSED

THE fire -- -- BUT iT'S

WElL DOCUMENTED

THAT ST CLAiR SHOT

AND KilLED THReE

PEOPLE AlLEGED TO BE

AfFiLiATED WiTH THE

ROMERO FAMiLY.

THE ROMERO FAMiLY

HAS LONG BeEN BELiEVED TO

HAVE TiES TO ORGANiZED

CRiME AND --

-- THiS COULD

iNDeED BE A FORM

Of RETALiATiON.

iT'lL BE

OKAY. iT'S

JUST A --

MY LiFE

WAS iN THAT

HOUSE,

JOjo.

AND NOT

JUST THE JOBS

I HELD TO PAY

FOR iT --

MY ARTWORK,

COSTUME DESiGNS --

THEY WERE AlL

iN THERE.

I KNOW.

YOU JUST

STAY HERE AS

LONG AS YOU

NeED.


I HAVE NO CHOiCE.

ME AND EVERYONE I KNOW

ARE GOiNG TO BE SitTiNG

DUCKS iF I DON'T

FACE THiS HEAD ON.

BESiDES

SHE WANTS

THiS --

WHO AM

I TO TElL

-- THE

HER NO?

OTHER ME.

-- SO THiS AlLEGED GOLF

DOCTOR TAKES ME iN A

RoOM, AND SHOWS ME A

ViDEO OF MY SWiNG

WHiLST CRAbBiN’ ABOUT

MY TECHNiQUE --

A ViDEO?

THAT AiN’T GoOD,

LOUiE. WHAT’D

YA DO?

I SAiD, I DON’T

CARE iF YOU’RE TiGER

WoODS’ OWN PERSONAL

PROCTOLOGiST --

DELETE iT NOW, OR

I’M GOnNA --

N-N-NOW

H-HOLD ON.

W-W-WE --

HEAR ME

OUT, SeE!

NO ONE SO MUCH

AS TWiTCHES OR I

UNLOAD ON THiS

FiSH BArREL!

GOT iT?!

S S

S

S

HOW Did SHE

GET BY SECURiTY?

DON’T MAtTER --

SHE’S ABOUT TO

GET DRilLED!

I SAiD NO

TWiTCHiNG!


NOW, THiS

GUY, HE GETS

iT! THAT’S

WHAT I --

-- ApPRECiATE!

THE

FUN

WAY iT iS

THEN!


YaARGH!

AND I ONLY

CAME HERE TO

TALK!


BACK iN VAUDEVilLE TOWN...

FLETCHER, YOU’RE

A GENiUS! Just wait

tilL THOSE PidDLY

WANKSTERS GET A

LOAD OF --

I GOT

THAT ADVANCE

COVERED, AND

THEN SOME!

JUST DON’T

EXPECT THE

ROMEROS TO BE

DROpPin’ OfF NO

FRUiT BASKET

NEXT CHRiSTMAS.

TAP, YOU

SHOULDN'T GO

ROGUE LiKE

THAT! WE'RE

FAMiLY

HERE.

-- HEY ViNCE!

I CAN

TAKE CARE OF

MYSELF.

NONSENSE!

I WON'T HAVE YOU

GOiNG OUT WiTHOUT

SUpPORT AGAiN.

FLETCHER,

I BELiEVE AN

iNTRODUCTiON

iS iN ORDER --

ABSOLUTELY!

MiSTER

HAYES, WOULD

YOU Kindly JOiN

US iN THE

PARLOR?


NiCELY

DONE, DRAYTON!

CARE TO TElL NikKi

YOUR NEW

NAME?

HE CAME

UP WiTH iT

HiMSELF.

MY NAME’S

PUNCHLINE!

AND |’M

JUst THE

CLOWN--

to

WRECK

THIS

toWN!

NikKi --

-- SAY HElLO

TO YOUR NEW

PARTNER!

WHAT--

THE --

ACTUAL --

F$%@?!

great question, nikKi, but

unfortunately it’s time to

punch the clock on this

CHAPTER! The answer wilL

be here in isSue 2!



LoOk,

you big --

CLOWN, this is

MY COMic!

so if you'd

kindly {uRGh} move

over ABOUT five feEt

or so, we’lL Be able to

get a Respectable

{uUhN} cover shot!

FLYing

FiSTS of

devastating

Fury

TO AMAZE

AND THRiLL!





THE OfFiCE OF CY FiSHER,

COUNCiLMAN FOR WARD Seven.

LiSTEN’A ME, CY.

WE CAME THROUGH

WiTH OUR END OF THE

DEAL. WE OUTSPENT

YOUR OpPONENT BY

FOUR TO ONE.

YES DEnNY,

BUT you esSentialLy

scared ofF her

funders. That’s not

what I was ENVisioning

When we made

our deal.

There’s nothing

but suspicion

around me. I neEd

GRAsSRoOT

SUpPORT To --

GRAsSRoOT,

AsSRoOT!

YOU WON THE

DAMN ELECTion!

YOU promisED

you’d make

things

hapPen!

The

bridge

deal!

WE NeED

TO SeE THAT

BRiDGE DEAL

NOW, CY.

OH, I CAN

SHOW YOU THE

DEAL, I JUST

CAN'T GET iT

SiGNED.

is that a joke,

CY? I got a FunNy

joke for ya in my

jacket herE.

GimMiE

A BREAK,

DEnNY.

LiKE YOU’RE

ACTUAlLY GOing

to ShoOt

ME.

I have

beEn given

carte blanche,

and am fulLy

prepared to --


CHANGE

OF PLAN,

COUNCiL-MAN.

THERE'S A NEW

Pit bosS iN

TOWN who’s KeEN

to have a word

with you.

DEnNY AND

MARio, YOU are

DiSMisSED. I

SUgGEST YOU EXit

two minutes

ago.

SUgGEST?

No, You don’t

sugGest nothin’

to me, chickie.

Then let’s just play the

‘who can draw faster’

game. that’s my

favorite.

WHat'S THis

SUpPOSED TA

BE?

PUNCHLiNE.

PUNCHLiNE?

WHAtTAYA, SOME

KiNDA JO--


GReETings CY, THEY

calL me Sir terRor.

These are my partners,

Tap Dance KilLer

and PUnchline.

the goOd news

is you don’t have

to worRy about the

romero mob

anymore. they’lL

be finished in

a month.

the

betTer news

is now you

get to deal

with us!

and our

customer

service rating is

through the

roOf.



The next Day, cleveland, buckeye neighborhoOd...

GReETings,

mister Crawford.

My name is

Becky hilL.

I’m your

neighbor from

a couple streEts

over on

WoOdland.

may I

borRow just

a moment of

your time,

dear?

I’m colLecting

SiGNATURES TO seE if we

can get a four way stop

sign at the corner of

Notre Dame and

111th StreEt.

OKAY.

YEAH?

the cars just go

whizZing by, and what

with Mount Carmel SchoOl

being so close --

abso-toOt-ly

WOW,

YOU'VE GOT

A LOT OF

SiGNATURES

HERE!

THANK YOU.

HAVE A BLEsSED

DAY NOW!

ALRight.

You toO!

-- I worRy

about the

safety of

our kids.

can I

count on

you today?

May I

HELP YOU?

Hi, mRS. St

ClaiR. My name is

MisS Becky hilL,

I’m your neighbor

from a couple

streEts over on

WoOdland.

could I

borRow just a

moment of

your time?

SeE, I’m

colLecting

SiGNATURES TO

adD a four way

stop sign at the

corner of Notre

Dame and 111th

StreEt --


certainly.

WOULD YOU

CARE TO COME

iN?

THAT WOULD

BE DELiGHTFUL,

YOUNG LADY.

You must have

read my mind. I’ve

always said there

should be a four way

stop there.

cAN I GET

YOU something

to drink?

COfFeE?

Oh no,

I’m quite

fine.

SO, I was a

trafFic guard AT

mount carmel

schoOl --

-- and saw,

first hand,

tHeSE cars

zipPing by.

HOw is it

THAT we haven’t

met before?

actualLy, I

think I’ve seEn you

and your family at st.

Elizabeth’s, right?

... Nikki ..?

AW, MA!

I wanted to

SURPRiSE

YOU!

OH, You’ve

acComplished

that.

DAD

HERE?

NO. HE'S

With YOUR

NANA.

poOr

NANA’s gotTa

be worRied

sick.

Yeah, that’s

why I wanted to

stop by and let

yOU know that I’m

doinG fine.

GReat,

in fact.

Um, We

alL are.

and the

police calL

daily, and have

beEn here

five times

now.


GREAT?

AS in,

‘ESCAPED

CONViCT’

GREAT?!

YOU NeED TO

TURN YOURSELF

iN AND --

MA, THEY

WERE GOnNA

KilL ME iN PRison!

WHAT COULD I DO?

I HAD TO GET

OUT!

I thought

I’d never seE

you again.

HOW DiD

THiS HApPEN TO

YOU OF AlL

PEOPLE?

EVERYTHiNG’S

GOnNA BE

ALRiGHT, MA.

I GOT A SWeET GiG. MAKiN’

MORE CAbBAGE THAN I EVER

WOULD'A WiTH THAT ACTiN’

BiT. even brought

yA something.

CAlL iT A

MOTHER'S

DAY CARD.

JUST DON’T

ASK WHERE iT

CAME FROM,

RiGHT?

Wh-What? I don’t

want this! What have

you gotTen yourself

involved in?

Yup. SHOULD'A

FiGURED AN OLD

BiRD LiKE YOU

WOULDN'T GET WiTH

THE PROGRAM.

I’m late

for the

doOr.

NikKi WAiT!

DON’T GO! I WANT

TO HELP YOU! WE’lL

CAlL THE --

-- YOU’lL CAlL

NOBODY!

TElL THE OLD

MAN I SENT MY

REGARDS. LATER ToOTS.

I MEAN, UH, THANKS FOR

THAT SiGNATURE!


cleveland city jail --

CarlotTa VitalLi is

also atTempting to

decipher the imposSible

puzZle that is

nikKi st clair.

The romero mob has

ruled this city for two

generations. They are

proud and to be feared.

MORE

BAD NEWS,

CARLOtTA.

This is

kind of --

-- UNBELievable.

they are not to be taken

out by some pretTy girl

actresS in a ridiculous

vaudevilLe getup --

WHAT

NOW?

MARio

WAS HiT.

HE WAS

apParently

tosSed up into

some ceiling,

AND...

-- His head

GOt lodged,

AND HE HUNG

TO DEATH.

it Was

ST CLAiR.

TALK TO

CASEY. HE HAS A

ViDEOTAPE. TElL

HiM TO LEAK iT

TO THE MEDiA. I'M

getTing

out of

here.

A GANG

Now...

AND HER

GANG.


Two weEks ago --

GAuUUGhHH!

EASY

LizZY. eEeaSY,

My dear.

-- a drugGed,

and grogGy

drayton hayes

begins to stir.

WH-WHERE

AM I?

AH, Mr

Hayes. YOU’VE

AWOKEN!

WE HOPE

YOU’lL FORGiVE THE

SOMEWHAT BoORiSH

METHOD with which

WE ApPLiED FOR

YOUR DiSPATCH.

THERE WAS

NO TACTFUL

WAY TO DiSCUsS

THiS iN A

GYMNASiUM --

WHAT iS

THiS? GET ME

OUtTA HERE!

NOW!

A COMPLETELY

UNDERSTANDABLE

REACTiON. AlLow

ME to --

-- I'M

GOnNA KilL

YOU!

FLETCHER,

iF I MAY --

WHAt I’M ABOUT

TO TElL YOU HAS

NOTHing to do

with us!

it instead has

alL things to do

with the magnificent

drayton hayes

reaching his

potential!

I want

you to think

about AlL the

hurdles in

your life.

we PLAN to

obliterate those

hurdles, and award

you an existence

like NO other!


TWO HOURS LATER...

-- adDitionalLy you’re earning

FiVE PERCENT OF THE GROsS profits,

as we’re GRANDFATHERing YOU iN at

the top level.

But financials

only get us

so far --

SAY

HElLO,

LizZY.

H-HOW

DiD SHE..?

FLETCHER iS

A GOD-DAMNED

GENiUS!

THAT'S HOW!

and if she can do

that, imagine what you

can acComplish when we

adD such force to your

own devastating

Why,

craft!

MR. HAYES,

Just think

about it --

-- more

BANK than

you can

spend!

-- power

like you’ve

never

imagined!

-- and a

family of rogue

rascals that love

and, let’s face it,

deserve each

other.

BUT

WAit -- there’s

more!


AREN’T THERE

SOME BASTARDS

WiTH WHOM YOU’D

LiKE TO Dish out

A LitTLE --

-- PAYBACK?

We have

alL the names...

tony shapiro,

Slade isley,

BEnNY simMs,

and we’re ready

to act.

BUT

HERE’S THE

THiNG --

-- iF YOU

DON’T WANT

THiS, WE DON’T

WANT THiS.

SO iF YOU

PREFER --

-- WE’lL PUT YOu

Back TO SLeEP, AND

YOU'lL AWAKEN iN THE

GYM WHERE YOU CAN

GO BACK TO THE

LiFE YOU HAD.

LET'S

DO THiS,

asSholes.

SoON...

how are we

feEling now,

drayton?

rEEeally...

tired...

THiS iS the...

THE WEiRDEST-Ass

NiGHTMARE... I’VE

EVER...

Nighty

night,

then.


as DRAYTON goes under, his THOUGHTS

drift back to the night when he bet

everything he had — and didn't have

— on himself to beat KeEnan TanNer!

this is it! the

number five ranked

drayton hayes

versus number

TWO, tanNer!

the victor was

on their way to

a title match.

HE WAs

never more

focused and

determined!

remember,

stay to his

left! YOU GOT

THiS, DRAY!

keEp hydrated,

BRO!

THanks,

benNy.

But there

was something

strange in

the air that

night --

EVEN stranger,

the water --

TAnNER iS JUST

COVERiNG UP! HE’S iN

SHELTER MODE AND

NOTHiNG MORE!

drink up!

you don’t

WAnNA Be getTin’

thirsty out

there!

enough

with the water,

benNy! we don’t

neEd him getTin’

bloated!

a win tonight would

finalLy get him out

of debt from loan

shark, slade isley.


alL of a

sudDen TAnNER HAS

comE alive!

TAnNER NOW

pumMeling

hayes!

HAYES is

in trouble!

WHO COULD

HAVE SeEN THiS

COMing?

Hayes is

down! it’s

over!

His dream of

a title shot

wilL have to

wait --

then two weEks

later another

shocker --


I can’t get

you a fight,

drayton.

NO ONE

WilL TOUCH

YOU.

YOU OWE

ME BiG TiME,

HAYES.

Slade

isley ALWAYS

COlLECTS.

I’m sick

of waiting for

the “big payout”,

while you keEp

losing alL our

money, dray!

I’m

gone.

Dylan,

THAT’s DRAYTON

HAYES. He was

gonNa be champ

of the world.

loOk at

him now.

it’s not exactly

the boxing you’re

known for, but if you

can do thirty of

these iN AN HOUR

YOU'lL BE floOr

champ.

YO, iT’S

DRAY!

BEnNY!

WH-WHAT ARE

YOU DOiN' WiTH

iSLEY?

SOrRY THiNGS

HAVE GONE SO

SOUTH, BRAH. YOU

LoOK LiKE YOU COULD

USE A DRink.

I’d hoOk

you up, but I’m

Retired from the

water-jockey

businesS!

Know what

I’m sayin’?


‘WATER

JOCKEY...?’

GET OUT

HERE, BEnNY!

I Know what

you did!

YOU

BACK-STAbBin’

PUNK!

I’m not

sure what

This waS ABOUT,

OfFiCERs --

-- BUT I wilL

be presSing

charges.


This is Sarah

livingston outside

the City courthouse

where CARLOtTA

ViTAlLi is soOn

expected to walk

out a freE woman.

seven years ago she

confesSed to the

murder of Alfonze

rutigliano, but a

recently surfaced

surveilLance

video has changed

everything.

the tape shows

rutigliano being

shot to death in

his hot tub by

CARLOtTA’S SON,

ramon vitalLi.

the shoOter then

has what seEms to

be a mental

breakdown,

clearly distraught

for nearly thirty

minutes --

-- until his mother

CARLOtTA VitalLi

arRives, and is seEn

taking his gun.

carlotTa is

left holding

the weapon as

police arRive.

Minutes ago, judge

Porter ruled that

calotTa has served

more than her

sentence for what

amounts to wrongful

confesSion and

perjury.

Ramon

then

leaves.

WHY'D

YOU DO iT,

CARLOtTA?

HE WAS MY

SON. iT WAS

THE ONLY THiNG

I COULD THiNK TO

DO TO PROTECT

HiM.

DO YOU HAVE

ANY iDEA HOW THiS

TAPE MiGHT HAVE

SURFACED?

WHAT

WilL YOU

DO NOW?

NONE.

I’m JUST...

mortified, and

so sorRy to

those afFected

by MY

deception.

I’ve beEn

in mourning

ever since my

son’s death,

but it’s time

to turn the in the coming

page. weEks I’lL be

forming a charitable

foundation with a

misSion of lasting,

positive impact

on our beloved

city.


HEY NiK, I’m

home! I WAS

THiNKiNG SUSHi.

YOU DOWN?!

HElLZ TO

THE YEAH! I'M iN

FOR FOR A RAiNBOW,

SCORPiON, AND A

WoNTON SOUP.

HAVE 'EM

HOLD THE SESAME

SeEDS, AND I'M

BUYiN’.

OH, YOU

HAVE MONEY

NOW?

YES, WElL

I, UH, I SAW

MY MOM

TODAY.

THAT'S...

GREAT?

HOW iS

SHE?

NOT

GoOD. SHE'S

FREAKiN' OUT.

DO NOT LET

HER KNOW

I'M HERE.

ARgGH! WHAT

AM I GOnNA DO

WiTH YOU? I AM THE

WORST LiAR. SO ARE

YOU JUST GOnNA LAY

LOW TONiGHT?

ACTUAlLY I WAS ABOUT TO ASK iF

YOU WANTED TO SNEAK OUT WiTH ME

TO PLAYHOUSE SQUARE AND SNAG

A COUPLE SEATS TO FREAKY

FRiDAY — THE MUSiCAL.

CAN'T.

TONiGHT'S THE VOTE

AT OUR NEiGHBORHoOD

COmMUNiTY FOUNDATion,

AND YOURS TRULY

iS ON THE

BAlLOT!

OH RiGHT!

TOMOrROW

THEN?

LoOK, I REALize

YOU'RE THis CoOL

MASTER OF DiSGUiSE,

-- ET CETERA, ET

CETERA --

-- BUT I

ALSO KNOW YOU'RE

NikKi ST CLAiR, the

notorious ‘g’, AND I

WOULD BE like, ‘WORST

NiGHT OF MY LiFE,’

TErRiFiED.

OKAY. FLYiN'

SOLO, but

you’re gonNa

misS out on

alL the --


-- FUN!

PUNCHline

ToOK A huge

RiSK in joining US,

AND NOW WE’re

gonNa DO RiGHT

BY HiM.

THERE'S BeEN A

LOT OF LoOSE LiPS

AROUND WHAT HApPENED

WiTH YOU, DRAYTON, SO

TONiGHT we setTle

AlL scores!

iT STARTS WiTH A

ViSiT TO TONY SHAPiRO!

HE WAS THE BoOKiE THAT

ToOK THE BET FROM

DRAYTON BEFORE THE

TAnNER FiGHT.

SHAPiro set

the whole plan

in motion.


THE DRUGS

iN YOUR WATER

WERE FROM A GUY

NAMED CHASE

SANCHEZ.

it was a mix

of a sedative

with a steroid,

which is why you

failed your

drug test.

HiS DEN

iS AT EAST

55TH AND PAYNE.

Sanchez ALSO

MADE A FORTUNE

ON THE FiGHT.

NEXT STOP, THE

HARVARD CLUB.

That’s where you’lL

find your favorite

loan shark,

Slade isley!

you guys

had a history

of bad bloOd.

he was determined

to not let you

become champ.

shapiro told

isley about the

wager you placed

on yourself, and

isley came up with

the scheme to end

your careEr!



I'M TElLiN’ YA BEnNY.

THE TAP DANCE KilLER

WAS THERE, BUT iT

WASN'T HER! iT

WAS THiS BiG-AsS,

MOTHER-fuckin’--

iSLEY’s DEAD

ToO? BOTH

OF 'EM?!

YOU-YOU

GOtTA BE

KidDiN' ME!

WHO DiD iT?

-- CLOWN!


DRAY-HAY,

i-is that

you?

D-DRAY..?

DUDE,

iT iS YOU.

L-LoOK

MAN--

I DiDN'T

KNOW THE

WATER WAS

POiSONED --

C'MON, MAN,

I CAN G-GET

YOU iN ON THE

ACTiON.

I G-GOT

LOTS OF --

OF ANYTHiNG

YOU NeED.

i-iF THAT'S

EVEN W-WHAT

THiS iS {urk}

ABOUT.

H-HEY REMEMBER WHEN WE

WERE iN FOURTH GRADE?

ON OUR BiKES, T-TAKEN A

SHORTCUT THROUGH THAT

MACHiNE SHOP?

THE OWNER

S-SCREAMiN'

AT US?

YOU

R-REMEMBER

THAT STUfF --

-- D-DON'T

YOU, DRAY?

OR, OR

HOW ‘BOUT THAT

CHRiSTMAS WHEN

WE PUT AlL OUR

TRANSFORMERS

TOGETHER?

and that night

we hoOked up with

ashanté and {urp}

karen from

garfield...


YEAH, I

REMEMBER!

-- and it

meaNT a lot

more to me THan

it ever did

to yOU.







fletcher!

you were

supPosed to get

rid of that

blue-faced

ABOMination!

first

I’m going to

prove that

under my

supervision --

HurRicane

LizZy

is gentle as

a LAMB!

shocking

truth

about




Creating Characters

This was my original

concept design for

the modern version

of The tap Dance

KilLer.

the face-paint

ended up switching

to her right side,

and the reason

I prefer that

is based on

a scientific

Hypothesis

of sorts.

Because we

westerners

read things

from left

to right, is it

posSible that,

on some

subconscious

level, we also

seE the world

and people from

left to right?

if yes, the Tap

Dance KilLer

should lead

with the Paint

side on her right

(being seEn on

the left) to

DifFerentiate

from her

NikKi St Clair

alter ego.

I knew early on that

I wanted her named

after Cleveland’s

St Clair Avenue.

I was strugGling

Mightily with the

first name.

Epiphany St Clair?

Tia St Clair...?

Diane and Jada loOked

at some of the early

images and said,

“she loOks like

a NikKi.”

NikKi St Clair...

Yeah, that’s got

a serious ring

to it.

NikKi wilL

be short for

NicoletTe.

Her midDle

name, Sarah,

is tribute to the

greatest jazZ

vocalist of alL

time, which is not

up for debate.


I had the idea for a

heavyweight boxer who becomes

a super-powered clown named

Punchline several years

before Tap Dance

KilLer #1 debuted.

I thought he’d make

for a sweEt vilLain in

our Apama THE

UNDiscovered

Animal series,

but then when the

whole vaude-vilLain—

Apama story

hapPened it

opened up a nice

opPortunity for

PUnch’s origin

related to the

science of

fletcher.

this is my final

concept ilLustration.

The costume toOk

forever. There’s

about ten difFerent

versions.

I found a completely

badasS tony atlas

photo that inspired

the body pose here.

And oh, yes,

Punchline and

apama are

gonNa have

THE throwdown

one of these

days.






Josy Jones