The third and final oversized issue of the Three Jokers is here. The series has been intriguing, if not somewhat confusing. It seems to have been building to a point, but will it pay off? The three-issue format of the DC Black Label hasn’t allowed for much frill or exposition thus far. With that in mind, the whole finale of this issue basically had to be an explanation.
Was the finale the explanation we’ve been waiting for?
Right from the start, we get down to the core of the story we’ve been waiting to confirm. The Jokers have been trying to create a “better” Joker. They have a grand plan in mind and left plenty of clues, including leaving Jason Todd alive for Batman to follow. Then we learn that Joe Chill has been writing apology letters to Bruce Wayne for a long time from his cell. Batman then finds the final clue that brings him, Jason and Batgirl, to the Monarch Theater.
I did feel myself get excited when they arrived at the Theater, split up, and stealthily entered. I also realized that this would be all the exposition likely from the Joker that I’d been expecting. At this point, I knew they were creating a better Joker, but I didn’t realize there would be more twists to come. The setup in the Theater is The Criminal Joker holding Chill over a vat of chemicals while playing a prerecorded video of Chill explaining the night he murdered the Waynes. The Comedian is keeping Jason and Batgirl busy so that the other scene can play out without interruption.
So what ends up happening?
Batman saves Joe Chill from becoming the next Joker as the building begins to crumble around them all. Joe Chill thanks Batman and Batman replies, “You’re welcome.” Without warning, The Comedian Joker kills The Criminal and turns himself into Batman. Batman escorts Joker to be locked away again and asks him why he did all this? Joker explains he didn’t want to make an identifiable “better” Joker; he wanted to be Batman’s everything. He allowed Batman to heal his wounds with Joe Chill, so Joker could be Batman’s worst pain and evil.
Meanwhile, Jason leaves a love letter promising reform to Barbara that unknown to him never actually gets to her. Later Bruce Wayne accepts Joe Chill’s apology at Chill’s deathbed. Finally, Batman admits to Alfred he’s always known the Joker’s true identity but doesn’t want to endanger Joker’s family.
What did we learn?
So although we learn there have been multiple Jokers over the years, we don’t know who is the original Joker. This seems to not matter, though, as the current Joker just wants to be the same old Joker we’ve always seen. We learn that the GCPD actually has something to do with creating the Joker by faking his wife’s death to protect her. We realize that Joker is more than a man to Batman, and Batman understands that the Joker’s identity doesn’t matter. We find out that Jason Todd wants to be more and is in love with Barbara, although this will never come to fruition.
So was it good?
I think there were some worthwhile moments in the end. It wasn’t the story I expected or an ending I could have predicted. They ended up really just giving Batman some peace while flaming the fire on his classic relationship with the Joker. I liked trying to figure out the plot along the way, but the time constraints made it somewhat disappointing. The drama and relationship discussions between Jason, Barbara, and Batman were essential topics that really didn’t get the attention they deserved. Every time one of these situations came up, it felt awkward, and nothing really was accomplished. I think, in this series, the whole story was in the finale at the Monarch Theater. That was where all the action, reveals, and drama really took place. The rest of the story felt like an amble towards that moment. Never confirming the original Joker and making the whole plot just revert to chaos took something away from this story while bolstering the psyche of the Joker we are familiar with.
Despite some twists and turns, the series didn’t really stray too far from the norm. It’s all about Joker and Batman being alone together forever. Everything else that was brought up faded into the background or didn’t actually amount to anything. This story truly lost its shock and awe due to all the other Joker stories and turns we have seen as of late. The most intense moment is Joe Chill apologizing to Batman and Bruce Wayne forgiving Chill. That moment though, will likely be forgotten over time. Instead, multiple Jokers and a story about them will live on for much longer.
How many Jokers?
I give the Three Jokers Book Three, 3.5 out of 5 Jokers. I recommend the book to those that don’t want to read all three issues but want the really juicy stuff. It is a book for Batman and Joker fans alike and probably more impactful as a single issue when it comes down to it. I give the series overall 3 out of 5 Jokers because although the premise is interesting, the books weren’t as riveting as anticipated. In a way, I wish another rogue Joker would show up again in the future somewhere. Still, I don’t want to see a multi Joker series out there running amuck either.