The conceit of The Killing Joke asked about the impact of One Bad Day. What if things got so much that someone snapped and became something else. It happened to The Joker, his pregnant wife died because of his actions – or lack of them. For Batman, he became who he was because of the death of his parents. The comic resisted this approach by the Joker trying to give Commissioner Jim Gordon a very bad day indeed, crippling his daughter and former Batgirl Barbara Gordon. Jim didn't snap, indeed, he insisted that Batman do things by the book. Whether Batman did or not, well that's another story.
The Three Jokers appears to be not so much about One Bad Day but of Endurance through One Bad Life.
A Batman who wears his scars on the outside, so, so many after a lifetime of fighting the bad guys – and multiple Jokers.
Or Batgirl who suffered the worst and has still managed to keep going. To keep running. Even where there is nowhere to run to – and then things break.
And of Red Hood – who the Joker murdered. And who is now going through the options of beating up the Joker henchmen, knowing the end of level boss will always remain out of sight for him.
He will never finish this level. Also if masks do indeed do that to a person, then heaven help us all right now.
But more than the physical scars are the mental scars, and something new.
The revelation that Jason Todd offered to switch sides to be the Joker's Robin, if he would but spare his life.
And that more than anything is the scar that Jason Todd cannot bear. End of level boss, level up.
His ultimate shame, revealed to him in front of Batgirl, and which leads him to murder the Joker – or at least one of him – and Batgirl to fake a resistance, at least subconsciously.
There is something more shocking between Jason and Barbara to come at the end of the second issue I was told. This is not that. "The Clown" is the madcap sixties Joker, inspired by the Joker from the TV Show. "The Comedian" is the Joker seen in The Killing Joke, the failed stand up comedian. And "The Criminal" – the designated boss Joker, the original, the one who killed Jason Todd. So, no, he didn't shoot the right one. We have Three Jokers, but this suggests there may have been many more, and more to come. So much so they need a casting call. The Joker endures through repeatedly hiring new Jokers. The Batman doesn't have that luxury
Because it is also what The Joker wanted. Everything is always what the Joker wanted. By goading Red Hood to kill the Joker, the Red Hood crosses a line, divorces himself from his Batman father figure and drags Barbara along with him, whether she wants to or not. The Joker may endure, but with these actions, Batman may not.
So, endurance then. Funnily enough, that's also what the readership have been going through, as the lead into this series was published in Justice League #50 also by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok, just before the DC Rebirth that also repeated the claim about the Three Jokers. That was five years ago, folks… but you made it. Was it worth it? Just don't expect any continuity from that, Alfred is alive, Bruce Wayne is still scarred, the costumes don't match and, oh yes, there are three Jokers, working together, which pretty much goes against any iteration of The Joker you have seen before…
And is it me, but is the death of one of the Jokers reminiscent of another Brian Bolland shooting – that of the Batman – in a short story from Batman Black & White often packaged with The Killing Joke to help bump the numbers up?
I picked up The Three Jokers #1 today from Piranha Comics in Kingston-Upon-Thames. Piranha Comics is a small south London comic store chain with a small south-east store in Kingston-Upon Thames's market centre, which runs Magic The Gathering nights on Fridays, and a larger south-west store in Bromley, which also runs Magic nights and has an extensive back issue collection and online store. If you are in the neighbourhood, check them out.
BATMAN THREE JOKERS #1 (OF 3) (RES)
Thirty years after Batman: The Killing Joke changed comics forever, Three Jokers reexamines the myth of who, or what, The Joker is and what is at the heart of his eternal battle with Batman. New York Times bestselling writer Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok, the writer/artist team that waged the "Darkseid War" in the pages of Justice League, reunite to tell the ultimate story of Batman and The Joker! After years of anticipation starting in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, the epic miniseries you've been waiting for is here: find out why there are three Jokers, and what that means for the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime. It's a mystery unlike any Batman has ever faced! PRESTIGE FORMAT.SRP: $6.99