Three Jokers: Book Three (10/27/2020)

Geoff Johns can’t resist writing a sequel to a classic. Infinite Crisis after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Thy Kingdom Come after Kingdom Come. Doomsday Clock after Watchmen. Three Jokers after Killing Joke.

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I forgot about Thy Kingdom Come! If you want to point to where the second volume of JSA ground to a halt it was that storyline. It was too long!

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That scene always rubbed me the wrong way. Because it would have taken him like 30 seconds to go:

Batman: What is the Jokers real name?

Mobius Chair: There are 3…

Batman: Oh snap, really? Well what are all three of their names and how are there three?

Mobius Chair: Alright, let me brew you a cup of coffee because this is about to get needlessly convoluted…

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My thoughts on it right now are this. Was the story overhyped? A little bit, probably. Does it feel like a second-rate Alan Moore comic? Certainly.

But you know what? A second-rate Alan Moore style comic is still some pretty good comics. Honestly, in terms of the story itself, I’d say this story is about on the same level as The Killing Joke, and I think actually does end up saying some really interesting things about what the original story was trying to do.

So it’s no A+ comic, but I’d say it’s at least a B-. Hell, Fabok’s art alone makes it high on the list.

That said…while I’m glad that nothing was fully cemented there, but DC…could ya…could ya stop trying to ship Barbara with other Robins? It’s just never going to work.

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I really liked the stuff with Joe Chill. That’s been my favorite part of this mini-series.

This really reminds me of Hush: lots of hype, lots of filler, and the resolution to the mystery doesn’t feel like a resolution at all.

And much like Hush, it will be heralded as “genius” and “an instant classic” with numerous reprints :man_shrugging:t2:

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I enjoyed it overall and thought the art was gorgeous. The ending felt interesting for Bruce/Batman, but I’m not sure what the point of his original question to the chair was. A confirmation of a known answer? Confirmation that NAME was still under there somewhere or if he is just JOKER now?

My favorite parts of the series were the Bat-family character moments. I’ve wanted an exploration of a Babs and Jason friendship/connection for a while. I think an exploration of their trauma by a shared tormentor and how to navigate recovering fro that could be very interesting and inspiring… and I thought we might be getting that here, but instead there was a desperate (whether a cry for help by someone affection starved and latching on or a poor manipulation attempt - I choose to believe the former) note with wimpy tape. Honestly, I wish Babs had seen the note, smacked Jason upside the head, then pulled him in for a hug and invited him to her group therapy or sat him down with some more books to be their own recovery book club buddies. Friendship bonding is totally a thing…

I mean, other books hinted at a closeness between Babs and Jason, sometimes romantic and sometimes not, so this didn’t come totally out of the blue for me, but it felt incomplete. Purposefully so, which I found frustrating. I mean, I love Dick/Babs (even though DC has been ridiculously frustrating with both characters for years now), so I’m not pushing a romance here. But if their relationship/dynamic is going to be featured, then why not actually explore the it outside of the ‘shock’ moments? The ‘warmer’ emotional connection was made in issue 2, when Babs brought Jason home and he saw all her books and recovery efforts. Expand on this connection. Barbara seemed like she wanted to help, so why not explore the two of them reading and talking about those books? I get that Jason could not be there yet, that he might be latching on to something by tying his recovery to a romantic chance (essentially), that he’s a dramatic all or nothing character, or that he just doesn’t believe in himself so he wants someone to believe in him completely… but I’d much rather see a sense of growth from the characters than what basically turns out to be a way to maintain the status quo (i.e. Babs running, Bruce hiding things, Jason continuing as Red Hood, one Joker). I mean, the note even specified that Jason would never mention this again! I read that there seemed to be some debate as to whether this series could be inserted into canon. I assume that idea is what held this sort of growth back? Although, as someone pointed out elsewhere, the cleaning company, Funtime Cleaners with purple jumpsuits and green lettering, was suspect and that Joker may still messing with them, so perhaps that can pop back up somewhere.

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Well…
…um…

At least we have answers.

I liked it.

I think it would have been a deeper story with a few more issues, but I guess three issues for three Jokers makes sense and had they have made them $10 50+ page books they wouldn’t have sold as many issues. I just think there was a lot here that didn’t get enough attention, especially seeing which Joker wound up as THE Joker.

I’m a HUGE Joker fan! He’s probably one of my favorite characters but even though I LOVED the art and I don’t feel like I wasted any money on getting all the covers up to the 25:100 cover…they make for a good collection I’m proud of… it’s not at all my favorite Joker story though.

I’m glad I waited for Batgirl 50 to come out before starting Joker War because even though I’ll go back and read all three of these together they really left me wanting more.

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Spoilers ahead.

I liked it overall. Great art, including some exciting action scenes. Characterization was good. The story was never dull or boring. Ending was flat, however. If Bruce had always known Joker’s true identity, why did he ask the Mobius chair in the first place? To make sure I guess? How long have the three Jokers existed? Most of all, what was Joker’s motivation in doing all this? To prove that he is the one? Jason sticking the note on Babs’ door with a flimsy piece of scotch tape? Like, he’s capable enough of being part of a crime fighting hero team, yet he can’t find a better way to get the message through.

Maybe it’s the hype that surrounded it. I went in expecting some big Joker/Batman statement piece. This felt like it could have been another pretty good story arc to read through, not the event they made it out to be.

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Their were several homages to Killing Joke, because there were so many iconic moments and events in Killing Joke.

If someone were going to homage Three Jokers…what were the iconic moments…?

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  • The Jason and Joker :gun: moment
  • The Bruce and Joe Chill :heavy_plus_sign: moment
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Maybe, but there definitely, over 3 issues, weren’t any iconic Batman vs the Joker moments.

Kudos to both of you @TheTerribleToyman got me thinking… and while I was doing so, @hashtag-goodtobejo gave two pretty good answers :slightly_smiling_face:. I can add the reveal that Bruce knows and Alfred’s reaction to it.

Again, my only issue with the whole thing is I found myself asking “and…?”. I’m not a very picky reader; a fun story is a fun story. This was no exception for me. I just had higher expectations.

Confession: The Killing Joke is not on the top of my list either. Maybe it’s me :joy:.

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Me either- what’s at the top of your list?

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You’re not alone. Neither The Killing Joke or Dark Knight Returns are high on my list, either.

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For Batman?

  • Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s New 52 run.
  • The Frank Miller stuff.
  • Hush
  • Joker and Damned by Azzarello and Bermejo.
  • Not “pure” Batman, but The Superman/Batman series from 2003 (Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness, et al), is one of my all time favorites.
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I think while it is probable that the story changed and evolved somewhat from it’s inception during Darkseid War to now, there’s an easy answer to this, and that he was asking it to test the Mobius Chair. First he asked a question that is according to this story rather public knowledge (Joe Chill), then when he asked about the real name of The Joker, he was looking for a specific name only he would know, but was surprised when he got something completely different.

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I’m going to be getting into some spoilers, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the name of this thread:

For one thing, I never thought I’d see the day where someone would seriously retcon The Killing Joke. I mean, I knew going into Three Jokers that Killing Joke would get a new meaning (Death in the Family too, for that matter), but crafting this whole retcon that Joker’s wife and son flee to Alaska is something that you wouldn’t expect from any comic writer, even one as acclaimed as Geoff Johns.

The Barbara/Jason stuff didn’t interest me much. It almost felt like it just got wedged in as filler, but it’s not like Johns is pulling this relationship dynamic out of thin air. I remember there were a couple issues of Batman: Gotham Knights that played with the idea that Jason was interested in Barbara romantically, and obviously there’s plenty of folks out there who ship them as a couple.

Looking at it all laid out in front of me, I feel like my favorite parts in the story don’t even have to do with the main characters. I mean, the parts describing how the Joker toxin worked or why Arkham’s got a “revolving door” seemed far more interesting to me than the Comedian’s “grand plan”. The double-cross at the end felt like an obvious conclusion, and the motivation behind it all was exactly what I would expect from a Joker who wanted to become Batman’s greatest priority.

Regardless of my critiques, I feel like Johns still did an excellent job at encapsulating the characters and using this story to talk about trauma and the recovery from it. There’s a lot to unpack in this story, certainly more than in Death in the Family, and maybe on par with Killing Joke.

Overall I think the two best qualities of Three Jokers are it’s ability to fit into continuity and the fact that it answers the question that started this ball rolling. Johns was able to get this whole story done without altering continuity at all. Not a fan of Jason/Barbara? Don’t worry, Jason won’t ever talk about the letter! Not a fan of there being three Jokers? Don’t worry, there’s only one left at the end and he seems to know everything that happened to the other two! So really, this story can fit seamlessly into continuity just about anywhere. And of course, Johns answers the question we readers have had since Batman sat on the Mobius Chair with the only valid answer: that Joker’s real name doesn’t matter. I mean seriously, imagine if the book ended and Bruce tells Alfred, “I’ve got it old chum! The Joker’s true identity is Bob Kane!” Would that have been satisfying? Would it have been any more satisfying if he said Joker’s name was anything else? Or that it turns out he was related to someone else in the DCU (maybe a distant relative of the Kent’s)? Personally, I agree with Johns. Joker’s identity just doesn’t matter.

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I like it! Very Bruce!

Absolutely not; I agree with you… but neither was reading through a story that is pretty much about the different aspects of a character’s identity (comedian, criminal, clown), only to make the point at the end that “it doesn’t really matter”. That was already my notion of Joker, going into the story. I didn’t feel like it added anything to that notion. Maybe it wasn’t meant to… maybe it’s more of a meta commentary on these characters and what they’ve been through, including Joker’s various incarnations. That it accomplished pretty well, I think.

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I liked Babs smashing the camera in Joker’s face as she said, ‘smile.’ I think that panel can stand out as well.

My first thought was definitely Jason shooting Joker though.

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