Ricky Church reviews Batman: Three Jokers #1…
After several years of build up, Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s highly anticipated miniseries Batman: Three Jokers has arrived. The first of three issues, Three Jokers #1 more than meets the level of anticipation as Johns presents a compelling and character driven tale with an engrossing mystery surrounding The Joker and his impact on the lives of Batman, Batgirl and Red Hood. As an opening act, the first issue does everything an introduction should do and raises the bar for the rest of the series with Johns’ character work and plotting and Fabok’s fantastically detailed artwork.
Building off the revelations made in Justice League: The Darkseid War and DC Rebirth (that’s how long this story has been in the making!) that there have apparently been three separate Jokers running around causing chaos for Batman all these years, Johns wastes little time in making this mystery a captivating one as The Joker commits three different crimes – all apparently at the same time – leading Batman and his allies to delve deeper into how there could possibly be three Jokers or if their archenemy is merely using decoys to mess with their heads.
The strongest aspect to Three Jokers #1 is how character driven it is. Johns wisely uses Batman, Batgirl and Red Hood as the central characters, the three heroes of the Bat-Family who have been dealt the most physical and psychological trauma at the hands of the Clown Prince. Their interactions are written very well and it’s clear just how much this case disturbs them despite their attempts to hide it. The animosity and tension that exists between some of them when it comes to The Joker is explored in a very interesting manner. Batman and Batgirl for instance team-up almost immediately while Red Hood strikes out on his own in his often brutal investigation. Johns also writes the voices of the Jokers in pretty distinct ways, classifying them as The Clown, The Comedian and The Criminal – three aspects of the character that have been highlighted to varying degrees throughout his history. Johns’ placement of the character driven nature over action makes the issue quite a read.
However, the real star of the issue is Jason Fabok. His artwork is nothing short of gorgeous and the growth of his artistic skills is on display. When you look at his work in The Darkseid War compared to this, his style is so much more detailed and nuanced than it already was. He evokes the look and feel of earlier Batman stories, namely The Killing Joke and Brian Bolland’s style from that classic, while still putting his own spin on it. The issue uses a lot of close-ups on the characters faces and Fabok’s detail in the subtle changes of their expressions and emotions is incredibly well done, especially when it comes to the three different Jokers. Brad Anderson’s colours create very moody and atmospheric settings throughout the story, making it feel like a film noir mystery rather than a superhero adventure. Together Fabok and Anderson’s art make this the best looking book DC has put on the self this year.
Not many comic stories are as built up as Three Jokers, but after so many years and delays it is exciting and gratifying to see the first issue more than lives up to the hype. Johns’ writing and insight into the characters is fantastic as he explores their various traumas and the depths of Joker’s madness and cruelty. Fabok’s art is excellent as it is clear just how hard he worked on every single panel – and there are a lot of them – while Anderson’s colours elevate Fabok’s lines. Any comic book fan will be pleased with how well Three Jokers #1 is and excited with what else Johns, Fabok and Anderson have in store for the rest of the series.
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