Batman: Three Jokers #1 Review - Red Hood's Bane
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
• Get it Now from Green Brain Comics
Three Jokers was hinted at the outset of DC Rebirth during Darkseid War. During that storyline, Batman sat on the Mobius Chair (Don't ask) and obtained Godlike abilities and knowledge. He asked the chair to confirm the identity of his parent's killer, which is common knowledge to Batman in-universe and the reader. The book then threw the curve-ball of the massive Joker reveal.
Since that time DC Rebirth has come and gone. The Watchmen have been successfully integrated into DC continuity via Doomsday Clock. The only lingering plot from Rebirth worth mentioning is the thread involving the Three Jokers.
Joker is all over the place lately and we're constantly being inundated with new and different incarnations of the character. I'm not sure if this version with be canonized going forward but there are enough interesting details presented that I believe that at least some of these plots threads will eventually be made official outside of this series.
I won't spoil the book but what essentially is happening here is that Joker is being turned into a legacy character. We're given three distinct versions of the character. There's the comedian, the clown, and the criminal. We're also being asked to sort out what's going on. The reader is also given context clues regarding which Joker was involved at key trauma points of our heroes. This issue focuses on the Joker and the Trauma inflicted on Batman, Batgirl, and Red Hood.
My favorite aspect of the issue aside from the mindfuck ending is the relationship between the three leads. The personal traumatic experiences felt by our leads drive our heroes in a desperate attempt to stop Joker from hurting others and in the case of Jason Todd shockingly goes a bit deeper.
Batman has been dealing with the Joker since the beginning. The two men probably know each other's civilian identities and have have been playing a cat and mouse game for decades.
Barbara Gordon and Jason Todd both have deep physical and emotional scars that are a result of the Joker's actions but can also be attributed to Batman's refusal to do what needs to be done with the villain. This is highlighted whenever Jason Todd appears on the page. Bruce and Jason have a strained relationship but they love each other and underneath the rough veneer are it's clear that Bruce at the very least understands Jason's point of view on things.
Barbara isn't given as much attention in the issue but I suspect that will change as the series continues. She seems to be a counter-balance to the views of Bruce and Jason who each has wildly different takes on how to handle the Joker.
I won't spoil the ending but this has to be one of the most intense endings we've gotten in a long time and is a masterclass in storytelling and art direction. Jason and Brad have the benefit of working with an amazing script but it can't be understated how much they contribute to the story. The comic feels timeless and at times I can feel Jason channeling Brian Bolland and Neal Adams.
If you're a fan of Batman or have been in and out of the loop with the character throughout the '80s, '90s, or 00's I think you'd still be able to keep up with the events. If you're lost with what's going on you'd be able to get caught up pretty quickly with a few trade paperbacks.
Three Jokers #1 isn't like some other events that seem to exist to generate residuals for the creators. It fits in with what has been established in the continuity and builds. If you pick up "A Death in the Family", Under the Red Hood" or "A Killing Joke", Three Joker's acts as a worthy continuation of all of those events without all of the baggage. You can't lose here. If awards are still given out on merit Three Jokers #1 is easily one of the best single issues of 2020.