Batman: Three Jokers #2 is written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Jason Fabok, colored by Brad Anderson, and lettered by Rob Leigh. It is published by DC Comics under their Black Label imprint. After the events of the last issue, Batman and Batgirl try to track down Red Hood. Meanwhile, the remaining Jokers continue their grand scheme, which involves a figure from the Dark Knight’s past.
There are 48 pages in this issue and over half of them are filled with glaringly obvious shoutouts to A Death In The Family. Jason Todd is tied to a chair and beaten with a crowbar and I couldn’t really bring myself to feel anything because I’d seen it done before, and done better. A criticism of Johns as a writer is that he feels too enamored with the past, and goes out of his way to constantly reference classic DC stories and heroes. In the case of Three Jokers, he seems to be relying on visual references to stories including The Killing Joke and A Death In The Family rather than taking a new direction with the Joker.
More frustrating elements abound throughout the issue. The Jokers’ plan remains unclear, and so far amounts to little more than an excuse for Johns to write jump scares. The mystery behind the three Jokers remains vague as well. When Batman first learned about the three Jokers, it was set up as a major revelation. Now it just feels like a gimmick.
And to make matters worse Batman feels like an afterthought in his own book, with Red Hood continuing to be the biggest standout. After killing the “Clownish” Joker, it’s natural that he would want to track down the other Jokers and put an end to them. This leads to a rather harsh confrontation with Batman, and a moment with Batgirl that fans will potentially be divided by. It only further cements my suspicions that this story would work far better if Hood was the protagonist.
Despite all this, Fabok and Anderson continue to shine with their artwork. Fabok continues to draw chilling images, particularly in the opening with a suburban setting. The “Clownish” Joker walks into a house, where a woman and her son apparently are waiting for him. It’s unsettling from beginning to end, especially when a gruesome twist is thrown in. Fabok also places Easter eggs in certain panels; one involves Red Hood breaking into an abandoned warehouse. As he shatters the chains holding the door, the broken links form a crooked “smile”.
Fabok also gives each Joker a visually distinct look. The “Criminal” Joker is never shown smiling and has wrinkles collecting under his eyes. The “Comedian” Joker has wild hair and a garishly bright suit. The “Clownish” Joker is…the worse for wear after the last issue. These touches help separate the three Jokers and pay homage to the Clown Prince of Crime’s history. Anderson continues to paint Gotham City and its residents in shades of black (and very dark grey, where Batman’s suit is concerned.) The aforementioned opening scene is especially jarring because it uses bright blues and greens; a far cry from the darkness and steel that defines Gotham.
Batman: Three Jokers #2 features stellar artwork, but its story is severely lacking in terms of momentum and feels weighed down by fanservice. With only one issue left, Johns needs to step up his game because good art can only carry a comic so far.
Batman: Three Jokers #2 is available wherever comics are sold and through Comixology using our affiliate link.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.