REVIEW: ‘Batman: Three Jokers’, Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman: Three Jokers

Batman: Three Jokers #1, written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Jason Fabok, colored by Brad Anderson, and lettered by Rob Leigh, is published by DC Comics under their Black Label imprint. Batman recently learned that there were three different versions of his arch-enemy the Joker. Now, these three Jokers have united for a mysterious scheme. The Dark Knight races to solve his greatest case yet, with Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and Red Hood/Jason Todd along for the ride.

Three Jokers acts primarily as a showcase for Fabok’s art. The book was delayed so that Fabok could illustrate all three issues; his work was worth it. Fabok often favors nine-panel grids in the style of Watchmen; this helps him depict actions such as one of the Jokers stealing a truck, or the Bat-Family reliving their many injuries at the hands of the Joker. Perhaps one of the most visually arresting scenes comes at the beginning, where Batman heads back to his cave and Alfred treats his wounds. Several pages are depicted to showing off the various scars Batman has received over his career, and how he got them.

Fabok also has the chance to put his visual stamp on other characters. Red Hood sports a new black and red ensemble that features a black jacket over a red hoodie and black utility belt; Batgirl, on the other hand, has a costume that hews to her 1970’s appearance. The three Jokers are also separated by their clothing as much as their behavior; we see “The Comedian”, “The Criminal”, and “The Clownish” wearing clothing that reflects their various personalities.

Anderson’s colors make Gotham feel appropriately dark and gothic. It’s almost perpetually night and raining thanks to his muted palette; this adds an insanely creepy vibe to a scene where the Bat-Family enters an aquarium and comes face to face with a Jokerized shark. I’ve always felt that Gotham should look and feel like a place no one in their right mind wants to set foot in. Fabok and Anderson nailed that vibe.

The weak spot of the issue is Johns’ writing. While he set up the plot point of the three Jokers in DC Universe Rebirth, Johns doesn’t give us much to work on. Also, while I enjoy the artistic juxtaposition of the Bat Family’s wounds with the Joker’s malefic presence in their lives, the story often feels like it’s trying to ride on the coattails of the classic Joker stories including A Death In The Family and The Killing Joke. Batman also feels like a supporting player in his own book, which is weird given that the Joker is his deadliest foe.

However, there is a genuinely great conflict between Red Hood and Batgirl. They have suffered the most at the Joker’s hands; things come to a head after they corner one of the Jokers. How it ends was a surprise, and made me wonder if this book wouldn’t have been better if they were the focus.

Despite a subpar story, Batman: Three Jokers #1 is a visual treat. I would recommend this for Jason Todd fans, as he remains the highlight of the book. With two issues left to go, I hope Johns picks up the pace and justifies this story’s existence.

Batman: Three Jokers #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

Batman: Three Jokers #1
3.5

TL;DR

Despite a subpar story, Batman: Three Jokers #1 is a visual treat. I would recommend this for Jason Todd fans, as he remains the highlight of the book. With two issues left to go, I hope Johns picks up the pace and justifies this story’s existence.