Batman: Three Jokers #1 published by DC Comics/Black Label
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jason Fabok
Colors by Brad Anderson
Letters by Rob Leigh
30 years after Batman: The Killing Joke changed comics forever, Three Jokers reexamines the myth. Who, or what, the Joker is and what is at the heart of his eternal battle with Batman?
One night, 3 crimes occur and all of the evidence points to the Joker. Batman and the GCPD investigate how the Joker could commit them all at the same time. Meanwhile, Batman is not the only one hunting down the clown prince of crime, as the Joker has hurt many people along the way.
Three Jokers offers a second look at a mystery set up during the events of Rebirth, in 2016. As the story begins, we’re reminded of the Cape Crusader’s trauma, physical and emotional. Batman is not the only one who has been hurt by the Joker which is the driving force of this story. Who will find the Joker first?
Beginning the issue with a slow recap of who Batman is, this book can stand alone for new readers, while rewarding long time readers with familiar moments, long time not seen characters and memories of some of the more celebrated Batman moments. None of this takes away anything from the current goal of finding out who or why the Joker appears to be in different places. The book then kicks into high gear about a third of the way in. Johns not only partially answers the main question but shifts focus to the deeper mystery of why there are three Jokers, what are they planning and can they be stopped before it is too late. The story also addresses how different characters deal with the trauma the Joker has inflicted upon them and what happens when confronted with Joker once again.
Fabok and Anderson, long time collaborators on art and colors respectively. Fabok’s art is very specific, deliberate and controls the pacing of the story as much as the writing. Slower beats full of details that need to be carefully reviewed, and in contrast bigger panels full of action. The use of smaller panels helps the story to be more dynamic. Anderson’s coloring transports the reader through some of the flashbacks with more muted and almost monochromatic panels. In contrast the current events are filled with a more vibrant palette still representative of more serious Batman stories.
This first issue allows the reader to dive deep into the mythology. It is grittier and more violent in some places, which makes it very well suited for its place in the Black Label. This issue is successful in setting up what appears to be a book more focused on Batman being a detective and testing the Dark Knight mentally. There are big consequences as the issue comes to a close. Long time Batman readers rewarded with all sorts of references without alienating new readers.
The Three Jokers #1 invites readers to try to solve this mystery along with the team. Fabok’s art makes this book worth the wait. This book is now available wherever DC Comics are sold.