It's been almost five years since the release of Justice League's 'The Darkseid War,' and now the same creative team - writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok - return to continue their Dark Knight threads with Batman: The Three Jokers #1. The new Black Label #1 not only sets a strong foundation for the mystery behind the Three Jokers, but most importantly the emotional resonance between the Jokers and the Bat members he's hurt the most – Batman, Jason Todd, and Barbara Gordon.
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson
Lettering by Ron Leigh
Published by DC / Black Label
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
If I could only pick one word to describe Batman: Three Jokers it would be 'scars.' The physical and emotional remnants left behind following several traumatic events caused by the Joker. A concept that is beautifully showcased with the book's opening. These 'scars' are on full display as Fabok intercuts between the physical and emotional meaning behind Batman's wounds – many connected to the Joker. The sequence is haunting, and helps set the stage for the character-driven story to come. Johns and Fabok's years of artistic partnership has created a seamless collaboration where every page of this comic feels perfectly in sync.
In the villain's 80-year history, we've had plenty of Joker vs. Batman stories, but what makes Batman: Three Jokers stand apart from the rest is Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon's heavy involvement. Jason and Barbara tend to be the loners of the family. They go on their own adventures, and compared to the other inner Bat members, they don't have plenty of solo adventures with Batman. So, it was a nice change of pace to see that it's Barbara and Jason that Batman chooses to work alongside.
Now, of course, this isn't a team of happenstance. Johns' purposely and carefully crafted this roster. Batman isn't the only hero who's been deeply affected by the Joker's psychological warfare. 'Death in The Family' and The Killing Joke largely shaped Jason and Barbara's characters as well. And, by all means, this isn't the first comic to tackle Jason and Barbara's connection to these wounds, but what makes this story unique is how the heroes deal with this trauma together as it challenges their moral compasses in a thrilling new way.
What makes The Joker such a menacing villain is that he fights our heroes on a psychological level, and with this - Johns and Fabok don't disappoint. Three Jokers is more than a mystery about uncovering the secrets behind the three Jokers - 'The Criminal,' 'The Clown,' and 'The Comedian' - but a story to see just how far the Joker's actions can push our heroes' morality until they finally break.