DC Comics drops a mega issue this week. It is immense in scope, pages and talent. Batman: Three Jokers 1 is the first in a three part series written by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Jason Fabok and colored by Brad Anderson. Each issue runs approx. 50 pages, and if this issue is any indication, it’s PACKED with story!

Three Jokers 1 – Cover 2 Cover

Between the title, the covers and fact this is Black Label DC, readers can tell where this is going in so far as tone is concerned. Stories with Joker are never for the light hearted, and the blood on the cover illustrates this. While not overly graphic inside, it doesn’t exactly pull too many of its punches either, and what the art doesn’t darken the story will! This issue plays with old emotions, both the characters’ and ours.

I will give this issue an ever so slight deduction for layout. Many comics play around with panels depending on the story they tell. The numbers and shapes of Panels range all over. In Three Jokers, almost every single page is a 3×3 grid of panels, all perfectly square. Some pages will double up a square or go 2×3, but in the end there are no full page panels or panels that run in funky angles dividing up pages. The pro to this though, is that demonstrates exactly how much story they are cramming into this issue! Every page is full of content and meaning!

Three Jokers 1 – Gritty and Dark

Not only do the pages cram as much info into each page as possible, but the tone is gritty and dark! The opening scene alone is Batman driving to the front of Wayne Manor, and in the process runs over his parents’ gravestones. He gets out of the car and staggers inside until Alfred can catch him.

The next SEVERAL pages show Alfred stitching Bruce up from an ‘umbrella would’, but the panels range all over Bruce’s body. Each one shows a different scar and then uses a panel or two to show how he obtained these multitudes of scars. When it comes to a puncture mark in his neck from Joker, Bruce falls back into the memory of the night his parents were killed. The look illustrated in his eyes both at the beginning and ending of that memory are intense and scary as hell!

Three Jokers 1 – Now There Are Three of Them!

The basis for this story comes from three murders being committed at almost the exact same time. Each is slightly different, but all three have exactly the same MO. Not only that but witnesses and cameras prove Joker was the perpetrator for all three murders! Surely that is not possible. There is only one Joker. Right?

Not in this title there isn’t! We actually see later on that there are indeed three different Jokers in this title. Each carries a signature look from through out the history of Batman. One looks very much like the traditional Joker, but the other two have very specific looks. One looks exactly like the Joker in the Killing Joke where he shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon, and the final Joker looks exactly like the Joker who ‘killed’ Jason Todd in A Death in the Family. We do not know how three Jokers came into being, but are the looks important? Very Much So!

Three Jokers 1 – Three Knights

The looks of the Jokers may be very important because this is not just Batman’s story. Along for the battle in this story are Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and Red Hood (Jason Todd). Just like Bruce, each gets their own introduction into the story.

When the second and third murders are discussed, the story jumps to Babs and Jason. Not only does it show them hearing the news, but the story immediately jumps back in time to when the Joker ‘left his mark’ on both of them. Together the three join forces to try and crack Joker’s plan, and you know what a fan Batman is of Red’s tactics.

Three Jokers 1 – Final Thoughts

If you are a fan of either Batman, Batgirl or Red Hood, you need to seriously pick this title up. The art is great, the tone and story are incredible, and I can’t wait to see where the story takes us as the three Gotham knights attempt to take down the final *cough*two*cough* Jokers. You gotta love Jason Todd.