DC Black Label, known for publishing mature titles, has provided some refreshing new takes on the Batman mythos, with stories such as Batman: White Knight and Batman: Damned. Characters like The Joker have been reimagined in new ways and that trend has continued with Batman: Three Jokers, which presents three different versions of The Clown Prince of Crime for the Batman family to overcome.
Produced by the superstar trio of Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson, Three Jokers brings together the three members of the Batman family who’ve been most effected by Joker’s actions: Batman, Red Hood and Batgirl.
A story of trauma and old wounds
The story begins with three murders committed by Joker, with Batman, Red Hood and Batgirl all investigating separate leads. Each incident has a connection to one of Joker’s past crimes and over the course of the narrative it’s revealed that there’s a trio of Jokers working together called The Criminal, The Comedian and The Clown.
The Clown embodies the classic Joker who used gags like acid-spraying flowers and laughing fish, while the Comedian is all about sadism. The Criminal is more controlled and appears to be calling the shots. What’s interesting is how each of the Jokers corresponds to Batman, Batgirl and Red Hood, dredging up old wounds and forcing them to confront the trauma that they’re still trying to overcome.
The relationship between Batman and his wards is the most well-executed part of the story. Jones makes it clear that this isn’t just Batman’s show. Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon both get their moments to shine, with a particularly brutal act from Jason early on setting the tone for the rest of the graphic novel.
The dynamic between Jason and Barbara descends into a romantic subplot, which will divide opinion, but I thought it made sense in the context of the story. Both characters share a bond that’s different from the rest of the Batman family. Both have been broken and reshaped by Joker and it was good to see them lean on each other for support, despite the complexity of their relationship.
Another intriguing part of the story is the reintroduction of Joe Chill and his hand in the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. It pushes Batman to confront his two greatest nightmares in the form of his nemesis and the murderer of his parents.
Phenomenal art and action
Fabok and Anderson are a dream team when it comes to creating beautiful comic art. Every panel pops with colour and life, from the twisted expressions on Joker’s face, to the moody backdrops of Gotham City.
The movements of each character come off as fluid and natural. We’ve all read comics that feature characters who look like they’re moving around with a stick up their ass or have bones in all the wrong places. There’s none of that with Three Jokers. All the panels are carefully constructed to deliver a compelling narrative.
What is important to point out is that the story doesn’t do much to add to the mythology of The Joker. The ending is satisfying, but doesn’t reveal any new information, or match the hype that Three Jokers was given in the lead up to it being released.
Where Three Jokers does succeed is with character relationships and reinterpreting the trauma of being tormented, crippled and killed by the Clown Prince of Crime. It’s an impressive addition to DC’s Black Label line-up and well worth the read for Red Hood and Batgirl fans.
Get your copy now and let me know what you think!