Story Arc: Three Jokers.
Writer(s): Geoff Johns.
Artist(s): Jason Fabok.
Colourist(s): Brad Anderson.
Letterer(s): Rob Leigh.
Publisher: DC Black Label.
Release Date: November 17th, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating:
We all come from somewhere. With no one having the same starting point as everyone else, it’s what comes next that shapes us into the being we are today. For some, their origin is a mystery far bigger than life and there’s nothing more terrifying than a psychopath, with unknown origins, whose becoming fundamentally questions human nature. Alas, the Joker is one of them and his story has always been a secret until today. Following The Darkseid War Saga during the New 52 Justice League comic book run, Batman discovered a terrifying truth regarding the Joker: there are three of them. Despite being teased for years, lastly during DC Comics’ latest relaunch with DC Universe: Rebirth #1, writer Geoff Johns finally teams up with legendary artist Jason Fabok and colourist Brad Anderson to complete this highly-anticipated, mysterious, and strange story in a three-issue limited series published under the DC Black Label imprint.
What is Batman: Three Jokers about? Three simultaneous Joker sightings have been reported in Gotham City, occurring at distinct locations with different victims, thus indicating specific motives that confirms the Clown Prince of Gotham’s hand in the matter. While the thought baffles the minds of many, one hypothesis remains on the table: the Joker was never one man. Accompanied by Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) and Jason Todd (Red Hood), two former victims of the Joker’s brutal crimes, this Bat Family embark on a journey to unravel this terrifying mystery while revisiting their past tragedies, the very life-changing events that have shaped them into the heroes they are today. Unfortunately for them, this mystery will send them down a highly-emotional trip down memory lane and none of them will come out of it unscarred once again.
“Time heals all wound… If they don’t kill you first…”— Geoff Johns
Shattering sales records, this highly-anticipated story drove every Gothamite to follow the publishing of this limited mini-series during the pandemic as it delivers another controversial chapter in the DC Universe lore, alongside the recently completed story of Doomsday Clock, this time exploring the Joker’s identity. What fans will finally be able to discover with this unconfirmed canonical tale published under an imprint usually reserved to stand-alone and unconnected stories, will, however, leave them divided as this creative team looks to retcon some of Batman’s past adventures, notably Batman: The Killing Joke, to establish a story revolving around the existence of three distinct Jokers.
With countless pages of silent story-telling (little to no dialogue), the story mostly revisits Bruce Wayne, Barbara Gordon, and Jason Todd’s traumas while exploring the coping mechanisms they’ve established as superheroes today, on top of their bond with one another. While one would imagine that this graphic novel would answer many questions that have been floating around the Joker’s origin, it mostly introduces a myriad of more questions for fans to reflect upon, many that will continue to be unanswered, and some that are due to inconsistencies and plot holes that will leave readers baffled by the ludicrous plot developed before them.
“I’ll cut you. I’ll hurt you. I’ll keep twisting that knife until the day we both die together.”— Geoff Johns
Despite telling an unnecessary story that struggles to effortlessly retcon well-established lore, writer Geoff Johns doesn’t fail to build excellent characterization. The suffering of each of these three heroes is portrayed with masterful authenticity, from Batgirl’s fierce determination and enviable sense of justice to Red Hood’s broken self and brutal modus operandi. Even the Joker’s personality is perfected, exploring every delusional and maniacal traits that composes his character, from his love for theatrics to his cynical and anarchic manipulation of others—nothing is left unexplored. Unfortunately, it is the narrative that does not raise to the challenge set by expectations and necessities.
The artwork is also a flawless component to this graphic novel. Artist Jason Fabok, having showcased countless times his ability to draw over at DC Comics with his iconic character designs, displays once again his talent with stunning artwork, especially with his mind-boggling splash pages. Add in colourist Brad Anderson who brings life to these characters in an astonishing fashion, you are continuously scanning these pages in absolute wonderment. It’s not surprising to see that they went with silent story-telling as the artwork speaks for itself, sometimes without much action at all, but the little details, whether it’s in the transition between panels or the subtle nod to old school character designs, make all the difference.
Batman: Three Jokers is an unnecessary retcon serving as a potential origin story for the Joker while exploring trauma, pain, and closure in three of the Clown Prince of Gotham’s victims.