An idea first introduced way back in 2015’s Darkseid War crossover is finally explored in Batman: Three Jokers, the much anticipated miniseries by Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, and Brad Anderson. The mystery begins here, and it was well worth the wait.
Let’s go back in time to Justice League #42, which was published back on July 15, 2015. In that issue, we see Batman take a seat on the Mobius Chair, and the first thing he does is ask it who his parents’ murderer was to verify the truth of the knowledge it gives. After that test is passed, we hear Batman ask the big question: “What’s the Joker’s true name?” When Batman hears the answer, he claims, “That’s not possible.”
The idea was hinted that we might learn the true name of the Joker, but it didn’t stop there because as the Darkseid War ended, Green Lantern talks to Batman about that question, where it is revealed there are actually three Jokers. What does that mean? We don’t know, but as Batman promised, he was going to find out. It all starts here in this gorgeous first issue.
Right from the credits page that evokes The Killing Joke with its layout and black and white colors, the mood is set by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson. They don’t stop there, either, as the next eight pages show Batman coming back home after another rough night of crime fighting.
There is very little dialogue in these pages, and that is a smart move by writer Geoff Johns. A great writer knows when to let their artists shine, and that is executed perfectly in these pages. We are treated to a flashback of pain all across Bruce Wayne’s body; these six panel pages show a scar or worse, and then the story behind it. This is excellent because we get to relive moments across Batman history and see panels redrawn — for example, Fabok and Anderson’s take on the breaking of the Bat by Bane.. I really enjoyed that trip down memory lane and it has inspired me to check out my back issues — even after I finished reading it, this comic continued influencing me. Trust me, you are going to want to check your back issues when the Joker’s victims are named, but I’ll share more on that with you later.
The mystery that Geoff creates here is spellbinding. I was talking with AIPT’s own David Brooke, and he nailed it when he said, “it has that Doomsday Clock/Watchmen feel of hints and secrets all over.” This comic really does give off a dark, moody, ’80s vibe, which is fantastic for this mystery. We are starting with Batman’s pain from his war on crime, which then turns to Barbara Gordon’s fear of pain, finally landing at Jason Todd’s anger at his pain. These are all beautiful character studies and intros that remind us of their connections, not just by way of Bat and Justice, but because of the Joker. In Barbara’s portion, we see her running on a treadmill while watching a commercial about restless leg syndrome; so cruel, as flashbacks to The Killing Joke remind us.
I won’t spoil anything much more, but I will tell you the art is amazing and you will get to relive classic moments and panels in the art. Jason Fabok really went all out to give us an instant classic, and my only fear is that the rest of the series won’t be able to live up to the high standard this issue sets. I was worried about DC’s overuse of Joker, especially with Joker War and other minis going on, but this comic is on a level all its own.
Jason Todd fans will get something so beautiful that you know you want to see, but you will also see what it does to Todd’s inner psyche and the price. The title isn’t lying about there being three Jokers, but the best part is the mystery of how that can be. Who are the criminal, the comedian, and the clown? How are they connected? I can’t wait to see how Geoff answers this.
Just in case you want to know more about the victims as mentioned earlier, I would suggest reading Lew Moxon in Detective Comics #235, Fatman in Batman #113, and Roger Huntoon in Swamp Thing #66. Those victims were named intentionally, so the question is, why them? These are their first appearances, so maybe some of the clues are there. This mystery already has me going back to decades-old issues to hunt for clues — a huge success in my book.
The hype behind Three Jokers is real. I know a lot of us have been waiting a long time for this miniseries to be released, but the wait was worth it. Excellent artwork presents a mystery that will leave you with lots of questions in the perfect opener for a story that may change what we know about the Joker.
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