When it was announced Batman: Three Jokers switched over to being released through DC’s Black Label imprint, I was a little disappointed. After reading the first two parts, it’s clear why this was the best move DC could have made.
There have been numerous stellar Joker stories told over the years. Three Jokers really gets to the heart of what makes him such a terrifying and sadistic character. Rarely have we seen Joker in his own element without trying to unleash a diabolical scheme against Batman and/or Gotham City. It’s not necessarily how you think things would be.
While the first issue showed some of the physical scars Joker has caused, this issue digs deeper into the psychological torment characters have had to deal with — Jason Todd in particular.
Joker has always been a layered and complex character. With the idea of there being three separate Jokers with slightly different personas, everything we thought we knew got flipped upside. Even though we’ve had a few years to prepare for this concept of three Jokers, it’s still a disturbing spectacle to see the events unfold.
The opening pages are a perfect example of just how unsettling being in Joker’s proximity can be. We witness Joker arrive at a seemingly average suburban home. Inside we see…Joker’s wife and son?!? How the heck can this be possible?
This just goes to show you never know what Geoff Johns is going to throw at us next. Everything isn’t always as it seems.
As if seeing a conversation between more than one Joker on the same page wasn’t dismaying enough, we also have to consider what Jason Todd did last issue and what he’s willing to do here. Barbara Gordon is deeply troubled by what Jason did. Batman is almost at a loss of words because he feels responsible for having failed Jason. The scars run much deeper than what we can see on the skin.
As Jason continues his hunt for the Jokers, all his years of planning revenge aren’t enough to prepare him for what he comes across. This is another reason the Black Label is a great platform for this story. In the regular books, there’s a certain amount of safety the characters are allotted. There’s a sinking and almost nauseous feeling as you continue to turn the page. What will be the fate of our heroes?
Jason didn’t just die years ago at Joker’s hands, he was broken. He may have returned from the dead, but has he been able to truly heal? How far will the Jokers go when they get their hands on him? How come Batman hasn’t done more to try to help him after all this these years? Johns raises some interesting questions.
If witnessing Jason’s trauma wasn’t enough, it looks like Joker is ready to rip open Batman’s biggest scar he ever suffered. We have an intriguing cliffhanger with the possibilities of where Joker’s action will take everyone next.
The icing on the cake is the art and colors by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson. This is the kind of storytelling that should be studied in college art courses. Fabok uses the (in)famous nine-panel layout often and switches things up to highlight different scenes. The expressions on the characters faces often mirror our own unsettled feelings. Anderson superbly accentuates the different scenes by adding an amazing level of lighting. Seeing shadows and different shades of color on the pages is something I don’t often think about in other comics even though it’s an element that fascinates me in movies.
I am so thankful for the brilliance and talent this creative team delivers with the story.
Batman: Three Jokers #2 is another successful chapter in one of the darkest and most distressing Batman stories we’ve ever seen. It’s a story that just punches you in the gut with its powerful depiction of physical and psychological pain and torment a character has to deal with. Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, and Brad Anderson are like wizards with what they’re doing here. I’m equally excited and terrified to see what the final chapter of the story will bring us.