There’s a lot to like with Batman: Three Jokers #2. The first issue of this series was a bit of a mixed bag, but underneath the stilted dialogue, there’s concepts that show promise. And that might describe the entire series, a lot of interesting concepts that show promise. The execution, that’s another thing.
Written by Geoff Johns, the concept of the series is that there are multiple Jokers. It explains such varied takes on the character and why at times it feels like he can be at multiple places. Dubbed “The Criminal,” “The Comedian,” and “The Clown,” each are distinct in their style. They also seem to want to add to their ranks.
While the series revolves around these Jokers, the second issue is a bit clearer in Johns’ initial focus for the series, the trauma each has lead to. The debut issue circled around Jason Todd’s death and resurrection while the second issue dives further into the trauma of that. Todd’s experience with the Joker is played off of the experiences of both Barbara Gordon and Bruce Wayne, each having their own traumatic experiences.
And that’s actually interesting.
Johns focuses in on a trio of characters who are all attempting to recover and heal from their pasts in their own way. Some have done so better than others. And, in many ways the trio hurt each other. Batman’s cold distance from Jason upon his return only drove him further into the Red Hood persona. Jason’s adoption of that persona, which was once the Joker’s, is a hot topic.
These are all things that are worthy of a story. But, Johns depiction of it all feels cold and distant. There’s a lack of emotion in some ways that makes the result feel rather clinical. That might be due to the actual coldness of Batman, the “detective” aspects of the comic, or that it’s just written that way. But, there’s a lack of connection to the characters. We watch them deal with their pasts from a distance as readers as if watching a play going through the motions but not connecting with the audience.
Part of the emotional oddness of the comic is that it’s very much a “horror” comic. Jason Fabok‘s art, with color by Brad Anderson, is one of nightmares. Continuing a modern-Watchmen like riff in the style, the comic features the hunt for the two Jokers and a discover of failed conversions with a suffocating like attack. Add in yet more torture of Jason Todd and it’s a comic that’s just not very uplifting. The colors look beautiful but are dark with a sickly tint to everything. Batman isn’t necessarily known for a cheery style but this feels a bit gloomy even for that line of comics. Rob Leigh‘s lettering stands out especially as the lettering navigates the Joker’s moods. The lettering is what really drives those moments.
Batman: Three Jokers #2 isn’t a bad comic. There’s a lot to like. But, there’s also something stilted and cold in its execution. Where we should feel empath, we don’t. Where we should be shocked, we’re not. The issue wants to be mature but also never feels like it full grasps the adult nature of the themes and concepts explored. There’s something to say about Batman replacing Jason with more Robins. There’s a very twisted aspect to that.
There’s something to say about Jason’s path in general. There’s something to say about recovery from trauma and while we all have our own path, we still need support. All of that is there but it’s never feels like any of it is really discussed or explored, it’s all surface deep. Hopefully we get a bit more of these interesting ideas but as is, this is a series that feels like it knows what it wants to say but not how to say it.
Story: Geoff Johns Art: Jason Fabok
Color: Brad Anderson Letterer: Rob Leigh
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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