Comic Corner: Three Jokers #3

Previously- Three Jokers #2 |Coming soon- Criminal Sanity #5

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.

What do you need to know?
There are two Jokers still at larger, The Criminal and The Comedian, though it seems like the former is the leader. The plan is to create the perfect Joker They tried with Jason, and The Criminal beat him to within an inch of his life, which Jason is trying to recover from. Jason and Barbara shared a little kiss. The Comedian has Joe Chill, aka. The man who murdered Batman’s parents.

Cover of #3 shows The Comedian Joker from The Killing Joker. He holds one leather glove cover hand up to his eye. His fingers circle his eyes as though looking through them. He looks more insane than vicious.

The book begins in the Batcave where Bruce is, shockingly, sharing information with Jason and Barbara. I like the layout of panels here. On the left, we have a full-page panel consisting of pictures of various jokers. The three Jokers of the series are in the centre with larger full-colour photographs. Surrounding them are smaller black and white images of failed Jokers who are tagged with their job descriptions. Just as the three main Jokers are referred to The Clown etc. these are described for instance as 20) The Stalker or 9) The City Planner. It gives us the sense that anyone could become the next Joker. Opposite this panel, on the next page, we have one large panel showing Batman, Batgirl, and Red Hood around a table surveying the images. Underneath each of them have their panel with dialogue. I love the way that the combination of panels mirrors the concept of three Jokers and is repeated throughout the three books.

Unfortunately, this impression of our heroes working together is dispelled pretty quickly as it develops into a confrontation between Bruce and Jason. You can feel the way that the tension between the two of them explodes off the page, exactly like the way it explodes into a physical fight between the two of them. The crux of this is that familiar argument from Under the red Hood where Jason cannot understand why, after everything that the Joker (or Jokers) have done Bruce can let them walk away. This argument does get repeated a lot in Red Hood books, but I still find it such an interesting question, both in term of ethicality and morality, that I never mind seeing it rehashed. It shapes the relationship between Bruce and Jason, between Batman and Red Hood, so I believe it is crucial to read these characters.

Batgirl, Batman, and Red Hood (sans helmet) arrive at the Monarch Theatre. The Theatre looks abandoned except for the announcement boards which proudly states "One night only: The New Joker".
How about a movie and some dinner?

The plot eventually takes us back to the Monarch Theatre, which is the theatre that Wayne’s visited before Joe Chill murdered them. The fact that the three of them have been led here suggests that Joker knows Batman’s identity, because of the connection with this theatre. Our three heroes spit up inside the theatre; Batman takes on The Criminal who has Joe Chill, Batgirl faces The Clown, who wears the iconic Killing Joker camera around his neck, and Jason take on a small army of Jokers dressed like theatre ushers. Throughout the three issues, there has been a great balance between characters, and nowhere is that more evident than inside the Monarch Theatre.

The Criminal believes that Joe Chill will make the perfect Joker, because of his connection to Batman. This implies that the Joker’s relationship with Batman is a crucial piece of his identity, not just as a criminal but as the Joker in particular. Batman saves Joe Chill from the Joker twice, which shows the intention on his part as opposed to a reflex reaction. The Criminal says, “I can be everything to you [to Batman]. […] He [Joe Chill] can be the Joker that matters”. This implies that The Criminal is frustrated by Batman’s coldness towards them, the distance that he creates between himself and others. This is interesting because it’s already evident between Batman and his own found family, also between Batman and the Joker. The Criminal also says that once Chill is reborn then The Criminal is obsolete and hints that he will blow himself up with dynamite.

Jason fights his way to Barbara, though The Comedian shoots him through the shoulder. Shortly after Barbara smashes the camera into the Comedian’s face which was a long time coming. The sequence of events shows her follow through on this, her more violent action after she sees Jason (once more) in harm’s way. This may suggest that the kiss they shared in the previous issue may develop into something more serious.

A close up of Barbara/ Batgirl smashing the Joker's camera into his face. 
Text bubble reads: 
They’re having a smashing time.

The chemical vat catches fire as Batman saves Chill and that fire spread to the theatre. This leads to the imagery of the world on fire around our heroes and a gorgeous orange/yellow colouring on the following fighting panels.

Batman makes it outside with Chill and it seems they may be in Crime Alley, where Chill killed his parents. The following scene between the two of them is really lovely, and both characters show remorse and growth. Bruce’s ability to forgive Chill shows that for all of The Criminal’s planning it never would have succeeded. I like to think that Bruce cares more about stopping crime, in this case, the remaining Jokers, that he does about petty revenge. Unlike Robert Pattinson’s Batman (I am Vengeance) this one I older, and more mature in his world view.

After a confrontation, The Comedian murders The Criminal. This took me by surprise because we were led to believe that The Criminal was the leader, and ringmaster of everything that was happening. The Comedian turns himself over to Batman, and the Gotham City Police Department show up.

The Comedian and Batman have one of the best conversations of the series in the back of the police van. It is exposition but it is done brilliantly, as The Comedian reminds us that the Joker HAS to be nameless. Therefore, Jason, Chill, or other attempts would be worthless. During this conversation the final Joker, The Comedian appears increasingly, and terrifyingly, insane. It’s a fantastic set of panels, and we get to see just how much more involvement The Comedian had in the grand plan. It seems that he was the puppet master this whole time, which begs us to question the validity of his insanity. He is insane, but it also seems that he is a functioning lunatic.

A close up of The Joker dripping with blood. He looks extra insane. 

Text bubble reads: 
I'll cut you. I'll hurt you.
A romantic declaration from the Joker

The story wraps up with Joker presumably deposited at Arkham as usual, and Joe Chill passing away from his illness.

Jason attempts to further his relationship with Barbara, but they are thwarted by fate. I prefer this ending to their story as they weren’t my cup of tea as a romantic pairing.

The final sequence is Bruce driving through the snowy countryside, as he reveals that he knew the Comedian’s name this whole time. The twist is that, by rewriting parts of The Killing Joker, the Joker’s wife and child are alive and well. Bruce’s reluctance to antagonise the Joker is linked to his promise to the family to help them and hide them. I love how this seems to draw us back to The Comedian’s imaginary dinner in the previous issue. Essentially Bruce sacrifices himself for Joker’s family which deepens that relationship fascinatingly. That said it would be nice if he could do the same for his own family, Jason could benefit for a modicum of the support that he seems to give others.

So, what do we think overall? I enjoyed this series and appreciated that it was trying to give us a different Joker story. I wholeheartedly recommend it if you’ve read Death in the Family and Killing Joke. I do think that the strongest book was the first one, but maybe that’s because Jason is my favourite, and he was more present earlier on in the story. I would love to know what you think of Three Jokers, good and bad.

Three Jokers #3 is available from Comixology, Forbidden Planet, or your local comic book store.

Alternatively, you can also now pick up the Three Jokers hardcover from Forbidden Planet, or your local comic book store.

Coming Soon… Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #5

In the meantime, why not check out… Three Jokers #1, Three Jokers #2 or Under the Red Hood.

A/N: I hope you have enjoyed my first Comic Corner of 2021. If you’re already familiar with the segment, then you may have noticed that it is a little different this year. I have not shied away from talking about the plot in more depth. Whether you are a new reader or a familiar face, then I would love to know what you think of this segment. Feel free to leave your comments down below. You will notice that I am currently working through a backlog of 2020 titles, but feel free to let me know if there is a title in particular that you would like to see featured and I will do my best to include it. If you have made it to the end of this post, and this note, then consider this a big hug from me. I hope you will stick around for the rest of the year!

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