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BATMAN: THREE JOKERS (2020-) #1 review

Neil reviews the first issue of DC COMICS latest Black Label release, BATMAN: THREE JOKERS. Written by Geoff Johns, the book is available in stores now.

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Batman: Three Jokers (DC Comics)

Synopsis

Thirty years after Batman: The Killing Joke changed comics forever, Three Jokers reexamines the myth of who, or what, The Joker is and what is at the heart of his eternal battle with Batman. New York Times bestselling writer Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok, the writer/artist team that waged the “Darkseid War” in the pages of Justice League, reunite to tell the ultimate story of Batman and The Joker! 
After years of anticipation starting in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, the epic miniseries you’ve been waiting for is here: find out why there are three Jokers, and what that means for the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime. It’s a mystery unlike any Batman has ever faced! 

Review

Batman: Three Jokers is a book which feels like it has been on the horizon for a long time. We were in the room at San Diego Comic Con when writer Geoff Johns first announced the series back in 2018 so it’s safe to say it has been a long wait.

But with the first issues now in comic book stores across the globe, plenty will be asking whether Three Jokers is worth the wait. The short answer, based on this issue is yes.

The first issue plays out with an incredibly measured pace. Easily some of Johns finest work for DC, it’s abundantly clear that he has a plan and knows the journey he’s taking us on. There’s no unnecessary sense of urgency and very little exposition to signpost our direction of travel.

Three Jokers feels very deeply rooted in the history of Batman, Batgirl and Red Hood. All three play key parts in the narrative. It remains well balanced throughout with no character dominating the overall story.

Johns displays a deep understanding of how Joker has impacted on each of the three in his he portrays their character. Each is scared, mentally and physically, by their interactions with one of these Jokers and those scars impact on their reactions as the story unfolds.

The mystery of Three Jokers is undoubtedly its strongest selling point in this issue. Johns uses that measured pacing to hold back on dropping any (obvious) hints about what is really unfolding. Despite seeing each of the Jokers interacting the book never addresses how each of them exists. As a result plays to the idea that Joker is an anarchic force which breezes in and out of the story.

Batman: Three Jokers feels like an instant Bat-classic. In turn it feels like a story from a darker, more raw era of DC. All of which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Jason Fabok’s artwork matches the tone and style of Johns writing perfectly. As with the story the book looks like it’s from an earlier, darker era of DC. The costumes evoke a sense of legacy and Anderson’s colours are rich on the page.

There’s an atmosphere to the visuals which plays to Batman’s detective noir history. It gives a sense that there are clues hidden around every corner and envelops the reader in this murky version of Gotham.

Verdict

Batman: Three Jokers #1 is an instant, timeless classic, reading this book is like being recommended a must-read from the DC archives.

9/10

Batman: Three Jokers #1 is written by Geoff Johns with art by Jason Fabok and colours by Brad Anderson. Fabok and Anderson also provide the above cover artwork.


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