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Batman: Three Jokers (DC Comics)

BATMAN: THREE JOKERS (2020-) #2 review

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

Synopsis

As Batman and Batgirl follow an unexpected thread linking the three Jokers with someone from the Dark Knight’s past, Red Hood dives headfirst into trouble and finds himself struggling to stay afloat without the aid of his allies.
Batman: Three Jokers continues its trajectory as the ultimate examination of The Joker and his never-ending conflict with Batman. Prepare yourselves for the second chapter of one of the most terrifying and personal mysteries Batman has ever faced!

Review

Batman: Three Jokers finally made its debut last month by breaking new ground for the Clown Prince of Crime. The first issues unfolded as a surprising mystery which really put focus on Batman, Red Hood and Batgirl as three of Joker’s victims.

What that first issue didn’t do was immediately lift the lid on how (and why) there are three Joker’s running around Gotham. Nor did it touch on the reasons why they have chosen now to make a joint play against the Bat-family.

Rolling in to issue #2, knowing this is only a three issue series, I expected the story to unfold a little more. A quickening of the pace would have pushed Batman: Three Jokers towards a universe altering conclusion. But instead Johns continues to keep the story a slow burning by giving absolutely nothing away.

Issue #2 instead continues the high stakes emotional drama which kicked off last month. Where issue #1 focussed on Red Hood and his confrontation with one of the Joker’s, this issue shifts to the fallout of that confrontation and its impact on Batgirl.

It’s a tough call between who has had their life impacted more by Joker. Jason for being killed by him. Or Barbara for being paralysed by him. So its not surprise that the two of them find a small piece solace with each other in the midst of this unfolding mystery.

Given that Bruce and Jason’s relationship is strained, Barbara is the glue holding the trio together in this issue. The strong emotional undercurrent to the story really shines through in Barbara’s scenes. As Batman and Batgirl race across the city, discussing Jason on their comms, it stands out as some of Johns finest writing to-date. These characters have never felt more real or more human.

Johns writes the story with a strong detective noir sensibility, this is a Gotham where it always rains and there isn’t a daylight scene in sight. It’s moody and murky, standing completely at odds with the Joker’s colourful personality. Perhaps the final joke is that the Three Jokers are in fact our leads as the true Joker pulls one giant stunt on them?

The Joker’s themselves feel similar in nature here to Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. They’re an anarchic force which flows through the story, appearing and disappearing as needed. Rather than placing the narrative squarely on the Joker’s shoulders, John’s is cleverly telling their story through the eyes of Batman, Red Hood and Batgirl.

As with the previous issue the team of Fabok and Anderson make Batman: Three Jokers the ultimate Bat-book. Every panel is absolutely stunning. I said it last month but this book feels like an instant classic. It feels like a Bat-book I will return to over-and-over in the years to come.

The classic costumes. The murky, rainy Gotham. It’s all pitch perfect for the story.

Verdict

Batman: Three Jokers #2 is the perfect mix of detective noir and Joker story. Its slow burning mystery is tantalising and I’m ready for the finale!

9/10

Batman: Three Jokers #2 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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