Previously- Robin 80th Anniversary Spectacular|Coming soon- Three Jokers #2
Three Jokers was written by Geoff Johns, with art by Jason Fabok. The colours are by Brad Anderson and letters by Rob Leigh.
What do you need to have read?
As it is part of DC’s Black Label imprint you do not need to have read anything to read Three Jokers. However, I do think that your reading experience will be enhanced if you’ve read The Killing Joke, Under the Red Hood, and A Death in the Family. If will be impossible to talk about Three Jokers without spoiling these books so please be aware of spoilers.
First thing’s first. Let’s talk about the cover because it references the Joker who killed Jason Todd. He’s holding the murder weapon, a bloody crowbar. The design of the Joker draws on Jim Aparo’s design from Batman: A Death in the Family and is appropriate because this is the first of many references to that in this story. It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re someone who appreciates a variant cover this series has a million of them, which are worth checking out.
We get a very quick tour of the Batcave, which is pretty standard to what we’re used to seeing. The one thing that I do want to draw your attention to is the three Joker cards on display. Each card has a different style of Joker on it, clearly referencing this existence of three separate Jokers which is the crux of this story. This is a blink-an-you’ll-miss it sort of detail, but those are my favourite details and I adore people drawing my attention to them.
Bruce arrives back at the Batcave and we see his naked torso which is covered in various scars. This is significant because it then shows us which scar came from what villain, which implies that each villain leaves a different mark on him. This leads on to a flashback from the murder of his parents, where they were killed by a man named Joe Chill, which has also left a scar on him. While it’s not physically represented on his flesh as with the others, it cut much deeper. You could read this as not being able to see all how he is scared. Or you could read it through the lens that the existence of Batman is a scar in itself.
We also get a flashback from Barbara’s point of view, as she works out on a treadmill and recalls the events of The Killing Joke, which left her paralysed. Then we take a look at Red Hood fighting some Joker goons in a graveyard, and we get flashbacks to his death in A Death in the Family.
So far the book has established our three primary heroes and their relationship to the Joker. It is a pretty nice set up because it’s informative enough that you don’t have to read the books I’ve previously mentioned, but if you have it uses character moment, i.e. examining scars, to keep things interesting for a more experienced reader.
Next, the three jokers themselves are established. To separate one from the other they are referred to as The Criminal, The Comedian, and The Clown. Given that they are sort of the same character the writer does a great job of keeping them as distinct as possible. It’s also clear that each Joker has a different focus while they embark on a plan together.
An investigation into this plan draws our protagonists together, even though Jason has very different ideas to Batman and Batgirl as it traditionally seen in the cannon. One of my favourite moments in this book is getting to see Jason be saved from this Joker because it is a nod to the fact that Bruce wasn’t there to save him before. It is a very emotional moment because it feels like a balance being restored. Jason’s murder didn’t just affect him, it also had a profound effect on Bruce, which makes this moment cathartic for him also.
However, things to do go downhill by the end of the issue. I support Jason’s action 110%, but it makes me nervous about what’s going to happen next.
Overall, I adored this issue and thought it was fantastic. It gives you everything you need from the start of a series, such as a background and a story set up. Additionally, we’re blessed with hard-hitting emotional beats, such as Jason’s rescue, that I did not see coming, and brought a tear to my eye. Honestly, if you could add a couple more panels I would happily have read this as a one-shot Jason story. I cannot recommend it enough, and it’s only three issues so what are you waiting for.
Alternatively, you can also now pick up the Three Jokers hardcover from Forbidden Planet, or your local comic book store.
Coming Soon… Three Jokers #2