Batman – The Three Jokers – Book 1
Let me start with the art. The art by Jason Fabok is simply amazing. He really understands these characters and knows how to make each frame jump off the page. He doesn’t try to overly stylize the characters into something new. He, instead, attempts to pay homage to the characters by keeping the classic look while shifting them into the now. There are some frames of the Joker that are pulled directly from The Killing Joke. Great stuff. For the art alone it’s worth picking up.
Now, let’s talk about the story. Geoff Johns is a masterful storyteller when he’s not worried about being a filmmaker. I will always be grateful to him for not only bringing Hal Jordan back from the ashes but also revitalizing Aquaman and returning him to the classic look, sans hook. Of course, then he went on to destroy both characters on the movie screen. It wasn’t completely his fault, but as a consultant and producer, he had the ability to put his foot down and obviously didn’t. Thankfully, James Wan was able to save the Aquaman movie, but Momoa will never compare to the Arthur Curry of the comics. But I digress.
I love the fact that this book begins as a mystery. Three murders occur simultaneously, all with the Joker’s M.O. I originally thought that the name of the book was being figurative, but as the plot unfolds, the name is quite literal. There are three Jokers. It eludes to the Joker creating duplicates of himself using the vat of chemicals from ACE that transformed him. However, at this point in the story, we can’t be entirely sure.
I like that Jason Todd appears as a wild card and we have no idea what to expect from him. As we all know, the Joker killed him, by smashing his skull in with a crowbar. He was later brought back to life when Superboy altered reality and he walked out of his own grave. As non-plausible as this is, the fact that this character exists does make for some great stories.
Johns even discusses Todd’s reason for taking the name “Red Hood” when it was the Joker’s name prior to being the Joker. This has not been addressed, that I know of, prior to this book. The scenes between Barbara and Jason are fantastic, and the fight scene in the ambulance is also good. We are even shown Barbara’s bullet wound that landed her in the chair as Oracle.
Here’s my only gripe, and this has nothing to do with the writing or art. This has to do with the lettering. Over the past decade, publishers decided that when people are whispering, or if the dialogue is in the distance, then the word balloon and text would be smaller. Since a large percentage of their sales are digital, it wouldn’t make much difference to digital readers, since they can just enlarge it. I’m not a digital reader, I like my comics in physical form, where I can flip through the pages.
With that being said, there are not just one, but many panels, especially in the graveyard, where I was tempted to pull out a magnifying glass to read the word balloons of a newscast that’s apparently reverberating in the distance as Jason fights some Joker goons. I finally gave up and didn’t read them at all because they were so small. So, if you’re reading this, publishers, can we please stop it? Just create an icon or something, similar to what they used to do with thought balloons or with translations from other languages.
Aside from that small irritation, the book is quite good. I’m looking forward to reading more and seeing how the plot further unfolds.