The Three Jokers by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok has been in the works for a long time. It was likely still following Jared Leto’s Joker’s hype in Suicide Squad when its conception began. At this point, it doesn’t matter what the comic is about because the wait has been years and concerns two of DC Comics’ biggest stars. The main plot of the story, though, is that Batman may have faced three Jokers over the years instead of one.
As a Batman fan and someone who follows comics, of course, I’m excited for Three Jokers. Still, the Joker War is taking place in the main Batman continuity, and the Batman Who Laughs just became an even more significant threat and is the star in Dark Nights Death Metal. These concurrent appearances seem to preemptively dull the sting of anything in this third Joker centric series. It’s just a little too much that’s similar yet conflicting at once. Then add a few more Jokers into the mix. Oversaturation aside, it is a story that Batman fans can’t miss.
Although it’s part of the DC Black Label, it certainly seems to be a part of DC’s main continuity. The story references iconic Batman and Joker events and comic issues. It’s a new story involving a lot of old pieces. I like that there is plenty for Batman fans to take in and maybe even research and read again. There are retellings of past scenes as well as new subtle notes and additions to the classic lore that play into the current tale.
The story starts kindly enough, introducing the reader to Batman’s history and bringing us up to speed. Then we dive right into a Gotham city caper taking place right now that needs solving. It’s great watching Batman do his thing and be a detective trying to solve the crime. Then we get to see that Batman won’t be working alone and that this time the question is not Who did it?, but Why?
The art is excellent and lets the reader focus on the mystery. Jason Fabok does a great job of making a modern Batman look iconic. It’s clear he is grabbing inspiration from other classic Batman scenes and issues at times, but it feels appropriate. We know we’re in a familiar world, but learning new things.
I am sad that this series has only three books. The way the first plays out seems like the formula for the next two has already been revealed. If there are three Jokers and three issues, then there better be some concise and expository writing. I want the series to be a success, but it has to make sense. I am excited to read issue two and see if the tension continues now that the long wait and anticipation for the series is over.
I was not too fond of the retelling of Batman’s origin in this issue. It only took up one page, but for some reason, it still felt like overkill. It took me out of the excitement of reading the new story and made me feel like boxes were getting ticked. In the same issue that Batman’s origin gets retold, we get multiple pages of the Red Hood without explanation. Who’s the Red Hood? It just didn’t feel relevant to me this time around, but perhaps that’s all the Joker series hitting simultaneously.
I did enjoy the Joker’s dialogue with the Red Hood. I felt that we learned some things that we never realized before about their relationship and Joker’s brutal attack. I don’t know if they’ve ever had an in-depth revealing talk like this in previous Batman history. It felt fresh and is something you’ll want to reread to make sure you read that right. The Joker’s characterization makes up for some of the other dialogue that seems like it is moving the story along. Although it’s only the first book, I can’t tell if the Joker at the end of this comic is the real one or not, and that’s a good thing.
The issue follows the format of a classic detective/murder mystery plot. Those who have experienced the Joker before, though, have a little more to enjoy. There have been many versions and portrayals of the character who has no actual name and history across different mediums. So it’s a strange situation to be in, but we all know something a little different about the Joker, and that adds to this story. I think anyone can open this book, dive in, and find themself interested. While it’s a welcoming and engaging multiple murder story, it’s also a trip down memory/fact check lane for Batman fans.
I like what the issue adds to the Batman lore. Hopefully, the following installments don’t try to go too far and change Batman’s history. I am all for a new, edgy story, but the past has happened and is over. Going back at this point to change that feels a little disrespectful. So far, though, I am enjoying a new Batman story with some exciting new ideas. I give Three Jokers 4 out of 5 smiling sharks(you have to read the issue) and recommend it to Batman fans and those who enjoy a good mystery.