Three Little Jokers, All in a Row…

How many Jokers is too many?

With only two left, the dastardly duo tries to recruit the final member of their triumvirate to create the ultimate Joker to battle Batman: the Red Hood! 

Batman: Three Jokers 2 
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils and Inks by Jason Fabok 
Colors by Brad Anderson 

After the Red Hood killed one of the Jokers in the first issue, it emboldened Jason Todd to go after the other two, but it also adds more conflict than just with the other two Clown Princes of Crime. He’s also drawn the ire of Batgirl, who is appalled he would kill a Joker, and the concern of Batman, who still has pangs of guilt stemming from his feelings of having failed Jason. 

All of those feelings, however, are turned on their heads when the remaining Jokers capture Jason in a swimming pool filled with people poisoned by Joker gas. Their plan: to take Jason and use his anger towards Batman and his cohorts to turn the Red Hood into the ultimate Joker. His defiance to the Jokers’ plan forces them to change tacts, though, and they decided to once again beat him within an inch of his life with a crowbar. 

Thankfully, his red helmet protected him better than when he was just Robin, getting his head caved in to a sound not unlike a crowbar smashing a pumpkin. 

After Batgirl and Batman discover Jason, Batgirl brings him back to her apartment to allow him time to heal up and rest. The ever-angry Red Hood sees all the ways Barbara Gordon needed to try and cope after Joker shot and paralyzed her, which seems to give him some understanding that she went through a similar dark period. Only Babs managed to overcome it without getting too dark. It, of course, leads to the two heroes having a tender moment and sharing a kiss. 

Batgirl shuts it down but assures Jason that he is a member of the family and everyone – including Batman – is concerned about his well-being. The kiss was probably unnecessary, a trope from a different era when men and women working together just had to develop some sort of physical attraction. That the story didn’t dwell on the moment beyond Barbara saying it shouldn’t have happened adds to how out of place it was. Hopefully, it’s forgotten as fast as it was introduced. 

As if that weren’t enough to build on for the third issue, Johns also pulls at the thread of Batman’s origins, as the Jokers kidnap the man who shot Thomas and Martha Wayne, setting young Master Bruce on the path to becoming Batman. As the cancer-ridden and terminal Joe Chill sits confused with the two criminals, the Jokers tell him that want to hear a final confession: why did he kill the Waynes? What’s their end game and how does it tie in to what the Jokers are trying to do? Will they make Joe Chill the final Joker? 

Surprisingly, Johns has stayed away from giving us an origin – or even a reason – for the three Jokers. This issue would have been the prime place to drop a bunch of exposition about the clown, the comedian and the criminal who make up the three aspects of Joker’s personality. And which one was dating Harley Quinn? Does Harley even exist in this continuity? There are so many little questions brought up by the concept of this series! 

I’m fascinated by trying to figure out where Johns is going with this story and how it’s going to wrap up. Much like the Joker’s usual M.O., there’s no clear path to resolution here. Hopefully, the finale can live up to what’s come before.