After the shocking ending of Batman Three Jokers #1, the mood was set for a wild second issue full of more twists and surprises, and the creative team of Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok do not disappoint in issue #2.
This chapter focuses on the moral dilemmas and questions that each character has to ask themselves (and their friends) after lapses in judgement and questionable, unethical decisions. Although the Jokers are again the catalysts in issue #2, the real meat of the story is about the responses that Batman, the Red Hood (Jason Todd), and Batwoman (Barbara Gordon) have to the Jokers.
As I stated in the previous review of issue #1, it is unclear how this story fits into the continuity of the current DC Universe, as the story seems to be based on pre-Flashpoint Batman stories such as A Death in the Family and The Killing Joke. For a reader who enjoyed the years of story telling prior to The New 52 (and later Rebirth reboot), the unspecified timeline is a real treat. If there are truly three jokers, the continuity seems to be thrown out the window again, but it really doesn’t matter in Three Jokers in terms of the grand mystery and moral debate.
Speaking of moral debates, the vast majority of the second chapter turns into an examination of the previous “death” of Jason Todd and his transformation into the Red Hood. Todd’s superhero life and tragic temporary end is relived (in more ways than one) by not only the former Robin, but also through the eyes and memories (and mistakes) of Batman. And while readers may have been searching for more clues as to the origin of the three Jokers, issue two is more about the Joker’s most insidious crimes, as remembered by the victims and bystanders. It is definitely not what I expected, but Johns is weaving a complex, yet unconfusing tale that is more focused on character psychology than fan service.
The violence level is again raised due to the Black Label designation, with Fabok’s art pushing the boundaries. In fact, Fabok’s detailed artwork, more so than the thematic content, is the reason Three Jokers deserves this label (at least in some sections, most panels would be fine in any standard comic). Fabok’s Batman is a muscled pitbull and his various Joker’s capture the look of many different eras of the most popular villain in the history of comics. The physical perfection of his heroes is enough to keep GNC stores in business for the next ten years.
Be sure to check back with Conskipper next month for our assessment of the penultimate chapter in this engaging take on Batman and his greatest foe(s).
Batman Three Jokers #2 is currently available at finer comic book shops everywhere.