Three Jokers: Book Three (10/27/2020)

Me either- what’s at the top of your list?

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You’re not alone. Neither The Killing Joke or Dark Knight Returns are high on my list, either.


For Batman?

  • Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s New 52 run.
  • The Frank Miller stuff.
  • Hush
  • Joker and Damned by Azzarello and Bermejo.
  • Not “pure” Batman, but The Superman/Batman series from 2003 (Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness, et al), is one of my all time favorites.

I think while it is probable that the story changed and evolved somewhat from it’s inception during Darkseid War to now, there’s an easy answer to this, and that he was asking it to test the Mobius Chair. First he asked a question that is according to this story rather public knowledge (Joe Chill), then when he asked about the real name of The Joker, he was looking for a specific name only he would know, but was surprised when he got something completely different.


I’m going to be getting into some spoilers, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the name of this thread:

For one thing, I never thought I’d see the day where someone would seriously retcon The Killing Joke. I mean, I knew going into Three Jokers that Killing Joke would get a new meaning (Death in the Family too, for that matter), but crafting this whole retcon that Joker’s wife and son flee to Alaska is something that you wouldn’t expect from any comic writer, even one as acclaimed as Geoff Johns.

The Barbara/Jason stuff didn’t interest me much. It almost felt like it just got wedged in as filler, but it’s not like Johns is pulling this relationship dynamic out of thin air. I remember there were a couple issues of Batman: Gotham Knights that played with the idea that Jason was interested in Barbara romantically, and obviously there’s plenty of folks out there who ship them as a couple.

Looking at it all laid out in front of me, I feel like my favorite parts in the story don’t even have to do with the main characters. I mean, the parts describing how the Joker toxin worked or why Arkham’s got a “revolving door” seemed far more interesting to me than the Comedian’s “grand plan”. The double-cross at the end felt like an obvious conclusion, and the motivation behind it all was exactly what I would expect from a Joker who wanted to become Batman’s greatest priority.

Regardless of my critiques, I feel like Johns still did an excellent job at encapsulating the characters and using this story to talk about trauma and the recovery from it. There’s a lot to unpack in this story, certainly more than in Death in the Family, and maybe on par with Killing Joke.

Overall I think the two best qualities of Three Jokers are it’s ability to fit into continuity and the fact that it answers the question that started this ball rolling. Johns was able to get this whole story done without altering continuity at all. Not a fan of Jason/Barbara? Don’t worry, Jason won’t ever talk about the letter! Not a fan of there being three Jokers? Don’t worry, there’s only one left at the end and he seems to know everything that happened to the other two! So really, this story can fit seamlessly into continuity just about anywhere. And of course, Johns answers the question we readers have had since Batman sat on the Mobius Chair with the only valid answer: that Joker’s real name doesn’t matter. I mean seriously, imagine if the book ended and Bruce tells Alfred, “I’ve got it old chum! The Joker’s true identity is Bob Kane!” Would that have been satisfying? Would it have been any more satisfying if he said Joker’s name was anything else? Or that it turns out he was related to someone else in the DCU (maybe a distant relative of the Kent’s)? Personally, I agree with Johns. Joker’s identity just doesn’t matter.


I like it! Very Bruce!

Absolutely not; I agree with you… but neither was reading through a story that is pretty much about the different aspects of a character’s identity (comedian, criminal, clown), only to make the point at the end that “it doesn’t really matter”. That was already my notion of Joker, going into the story. I didn’t feel like it added anything to that notion. Maybe it wasn’t meant to… maybe it’s more of a meta commentary on these characters and what they’ve been through, including Joker’s various incarnations. That it accomplished pretty well, I think.


I liked Babs smashing the camera in Joker’s face as she said, ‘smile.’ I think that panel can stand out as well.

My first thought was definitely Jason shooting Joker though.


So, I’m not sure what I expected from this series but I did enjoy it.

Spoilers from this point on:

I don’t like that the Joker has an origin. A family in Alaska? To me that destroys the whole idea of the Joker. When Batman and Joker are in the police van and Joker says something like, “That’s what happened when I created him. Or did he create me?” That was the most Joker line of this whole series. He is completely un-reliable. We shouldn’t believe anything he says and does. But having a family and an origin just destroys that.

Though, I do like that Joker knows who Bruce and Co. are. It brings his scariness to a new level. You know he is sane enough to hold onto that secret, but you also know he is crazy enough to do everything else. He’s that reliable at being un-reliable. I love it.

I liked the struggle between Bruce, Babs and Jason on what to do. They have all had three completely different experiences with the Joker and to see them not agree on a course of action was nice. Babs and Jason questioning Bruce, (Jason more than Babs) and trying to figure out the right thing to do. Babs and Jason aren’t two of my favorite Bat-family members but I did enjoy how they were in this series.

Except the one thing. They don’t need to be in a relationship. Or trying to be in one. I dislike when a series has a girl and a guy and they need to have relationship tension. Just stop with it. Please.

My last thing, for now, is did Babs call Gordon ‘Dad’ in costume? Does Gordon know his daughter is Batgirl? I’m confused.


I think the whole point of that, and this I agree with, is of course he has an origin, but does it really matter? That’s why they only gave us a glimpse, a tease so to speak, but not a full fledged origin story… that would have ruined it.


By doing it all though, they’ve confirmed that Killing Joke is his origin.


Moreover, I think the fact that they highlight “Joker” yelling at his wife from the flashbacks and then showing her getting away from him was to further provide contrast of Joker’s thesis in The Killing Joke, that “one bad day” is all it takes for someone to become just like him.

Not only do we get that from the original story with Batman’s own origins and what happens to Gordon in the fairgrounds, but we get more of that with Three Jokers. Barbara had a bad day when The Joker paralyzed her, but not only was she able to regain her mobility, she is works with her pain and she doesn’t let it get her down. Jason had a bad day when he was killed by The Joker, and while he has taken a considerably darker path, he still kept some degree of a moral code and at the end of this story he’s trying to go back to the light.

So it further takes away the idea that one push was needed and that anyone could be like The Joker, but rather says that there was always something dark and twisted inside The Joker, and the chemical bath just fully unleashed it.

Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense.


Makes perfect sense. Didn’t really think of that connection (been a loooong time since I’ve read Killing Joke). I have to say this though, I’m having fun talking about the book and discovering different viewpoints in this thread. Always a good thing when a book initiates healthy back & forth discussion.


I really think it does matter. There shouldn’t be an answer to ‘Who is Joker?’ He shouldn’t have a name that Bruce knows. The whole idea of the Joker is that no one knows that. No one knows if anything the Joker says is true. And I just hate the idea of Bruce figuring him out a week into his time as Joker.

I do like the idea of what ‘one bad day’ can do to a person. I just don’t ever want to see the ‘one bad day’ or events leading to that day, for the Joker. It’s the mystery of who the Joker is that keeps me interested. For it to be known, even if Bruce never tells anyone, I just don’t like that idea.

Obviously. these are my own thoughts and I love hearing everyone else’s opinions. I do enjoy the conversation.


Bstman said as much in the Killing Joke when he tells Joker Commissioner Gordon is fine. “Maybe it was you all along.”


Not entirely. As you may recall, Batman confirms that “The Criminal” reminds him of their earliest encounters. That would mean that “The Criminal” was active before “The Comedian” was created. In the police van, “The Comedian” starts twisting things around, saying that either “The Criminal” made him or he made “The Criminal”. So, how do you square that circle? If “The Comedian” got turned into Joker first, then why would “The Criminal” remind Batman of the Joker’s earliest crimes? If “The Comedian” was the first Joker, then he should be the one to remind Batman of their earliest encounters.

The only thing Johns did is confirm that the backstory from Killing Joke actually happened at some point. And really, that’s been the case for years. But we’ll never really know who was the first Joker, so we’ll never know if Killing Joke is the true origin of the Joker.

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You know what’s funny about the origin of the Killing Joke? It’s how people love to point out Joker prefers it to be multiple choice, but if someone dares to deviate from that, they freak out.

This isn’t calling anyone here out, it’s just something I’ve noticed over the years. Why some stick so strictly to The Killing Joke as gospel, I’ll never understand.

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Yeah, and now that I think about it, there is precedent for having some of TKJ flashbacks in canon thanks to Hush Returns – and I think we can all agree that this is profoundly better than Hush Returns. :sweat_smile:

That’s not a plus- Hush Returns is best forgotten.

To the only Joker we have left. If he was the original or not doesn’t matter. Going forward, we know exactly where the Joker came from, what his life was like before he became the Joker.