Review: Batman: Three Jokers #1
Teased since the beginning of DC Rebirth, Batman: Three Jokers #1 begins to explore the Clown Prince of Crime and his various incarnations. The comic is an interesting one delivering a story that’s both expected and unexpected. The direction, so far, is a simple one giving us what is the simplest answer for the numerous variations on the same character. That simplicity also opens up a lot of questions distracting from the story.
Written by Geoff Johns, Batman: Three Jokers #1 reads similar to his take on Watchmen in Doomsday Clock. The writing at times feels stilted forgoing a natural flow. Jokes land with the seriousness of a doctor delivering grim news. The comic is generally joyless. But, it’s also interesting in that it attempts to answer a question no one was really asking and deliver an answer that’s not needed.
The Joker has been depicted as many things and often it’s just a force of nature. He’s chaos in human form and one that takes on whatever is needed at the time. In this concept, there are literally three Jokers. While some would consider that a spoiler, it’s something that’s been made clear for quite some time in the lead up to this debut. It takes what is a character that can morph into so many iterations and creates what is multiple and numerous distinct incarnations. While Batman can change over time, apparently his greatest rogue can not and in this being presented as is, it hurts the dynamic and connection between the two.
Where Johns makes things slightly interesting is the focus on the three Bat-family members most impacted by the Joker. Batman, Batgirl, and Jason Todd as Red Hood are the Bat-trio to take on the Joker-trio. Each of them face the Joker from their trauma. But, Johns falls into shock rather than exploration with the most surface level reading and reaction. Spoilers already abound as to what has happened but Johns takes us to the most base level of characters instead of delivering a more interesting and deeper exploration of the characters and their trauma. The answer to violence is apparently more violence.
The art by Jason Fabok with color by Brad Anderson and lettering by Rob Leigh is the most interesting thing about the comic. The design and look is solid. There’s a dark cloud that hangs over the comic giving us a proper “dark” in the Dark Night. The Jokers also differ enough from each other and update their classic designs into one style well. But, the issue’s art has similar issues the story and dialogue fall in to. There’s a stiffness to it all. Pages mostly are in nine page panels as if there’s an attempt to deliver a Watchmen visual experience. The comic could benefit from breaking the panels and delivering a more dynamic visual experience.
Batman: Three Jokers #1 isn’t bad in any way. It’s also not exciting. There’s a joyless stiffness to it. The comic takes itself a bit too seriously and comes off stilted and honestly boring. There are some interesting ideas that may flesh out as the story progresses. But, the first issue doesn’t excite me to move on. Like Doomsday Clock, it’s a story that has some interesting concepts but filters them through a filter that sucks out any of the fun and entertainment. It’s soulless. After so long of a wait, it’s hard to not get to the end and think “that’s it?”.
Story: Geoff Johns Art: Jason Fabok Color: Brad Anderson Letterer: Rob Leigh
Story: 6.5 Art: 7.75 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review