Article by Carl Bryan
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
The DC Black Label miniseries Batman: Three Jokers was undoubtedly one of the biggest comic book events of 2019. The event reunited writer Geoff Johns, artist Jason Fabok, and colorist Brand Anderson, who delivered a saga exploring one of the biggest mysteries moving into the DC Rebirth era: how were there three different Clown Princes of Crime menacing Gotham City?
By the end of the blockbuster, Batman, along with Batgirl and Red Hood, faced the eponymous villains, while Bruce Wayne came to terms with his parents’ murder in a jaw-dropping moment of deathbed forgiveness.
Johns and Fabok made some bombshell changes to the Batman mythos by the story’s end, showing readers their personal favorite moments, and emotional connections to the tale. They have also teased plans for a potential follow-up.
Geoff Johns’ Take
It’s something that Jay and I had been talking about for a long time, and we were excited for the opportunity to tell a story with Batman and the Joker and Barbara Gordon and Jason Todd. And we had a lot of fun with it and I think, with Jay, this is easily the work of his career; it’s so emotional and so powerful and so detailed. I’m really happy how many readers recognized how good Jay really is because he’s such a modern-day master, you can see it in his work. And to be able to work with him on a Batman/Joker story that’s a cool mystery, we really wanted to tell a story that’s about the trauma that these characters have gone through, how it connects them — it’s something they share and all obviously deal with differently — it was a really intriguing and compelling book to work on. It was a lot of fun, it was a challenge and I’m really proud of the work we did.
Next to my desk, I had “A Death in the Family,” “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” in the ‘Best of Neal Adams’ book sitting next to me. The Killing Joke was another one that I was constantly looking at and any opportunity that I had to give something a little wink-wink artistically, I tried my best to put it in there because I love that kind of stuff when I’m looking at art. There’s all kinds of little things in the book that deal with the characters’ history and even other characters. One of my favorite things that I did was when Batman goes into Blackgate Prison, there’s Rupert Thorne and Doctor Phosphorous and Joe Chill. And their prisoner numbers are the dates of their first appearances in the comics.
Proud Papa Johns..
The parts of the book I enjoyed working on the most and were so personal to me were just dealing with trauma and just having the time and the place to explore how trauma can affect people and how it can these people. Bruce, Barbara and Jason all have their own traumas, and this was always about, in a lot of ways, that they each have a different version of the Joker in their own heads. The Three Jokers refers to a lot of things, not just the mystery of it but also the different interpretations of the Jokers as seen through these three characters, what each one means to them. In some ways, it’s what’s holding Jason back, in some ways, it’s what’s driving Barbara forward, in some ways, it’s what keeps Batman up at night.
Fabok on Forgiveness
The whole idea of Batman forgiving Joe Chill was something that was very, very personal and powerful for me, and it was really the plot point that really made me want to do this book and really fight for it. It was an interesting kind of thing because my whole life I’ve kind of sat there and thought the only way for Bruce Wayne be free and have a future and be happy is to come to terms with the deaths of his parents and possibly forgive Joe Chill. And that was a story I’ve always wanted to tell, even as a kid — you can ask Pat Gleason about this because we had a conversation about what’s the one Batman story you would want to tell that DC would never allow you to tell and my answer was I wanted to do a story where Batman forgives Joe Chill.
And then one day, here comes Geoff, and he had no idea this was a story that I wanted to do, and he pitches me Three Jokers and he says at the very end Batman is going to forgive Joe Chill. And that’s when I knew this book was more than just a story, I had to do this; it was something that was preordained or something. I needed to do this book and fought so hard to make sure we could do this because I really thought that was such a powerful, powerful message that, as humans, we need to be reminded of. We need to be reminded of forgiveness and — sorry if I get too preachy — but love thy enemy. It’s easier to love your neighbor when they’re good to you but it’s hard to love your enemy.
Batman: Three Jokers is a story that’s built with layers upon layers. Are there any ideas, or opinions you want to share? What’s your favorite moment? Did you find any Easter Eggs? Let us know!
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