Writer Geoff Johns
Illustrator Jason Fabok
Color Artist Brad Anderson
Letterer Rob Leigh
Cover Fabok & Anderson
The book starts us off by observing the physical and emotional scarring of Barbara, Jason, and Bruce. Each had suffered some form of lasting trauma at the hands of Gotham’s favorite clown. Bruce holds on by remembering what hurts more. Barbara by overcoming her damage. Jason delivering more damage to those he feels deserve it, namely those who follow the orders of said clown.
Once that sequence ends, we are thrust upon a very familiar sight in these books. Bullock and Gordon, combing through a crime scene trying to figure out what exactly is going on. This one is very very different from the rest. Three victims of joker toxin, each of them dressed in his classic Red Hood attire. The toxin so violently taking hold that it causes the muscles in their jaws to contort in such a manner it rearranges their teeth into joker smiles.
Bruce figures this is the biggest clue yet. Proof that there is more than one active Joker in his city. Which is alarming to say the very least. Barbara arrives at the scene as well and is equally alarmed. They mobilize to find out what exactly is going on. As they begin to move, one of the victims cries for help and is still alive. Despite being a victim of circumstance, Jason infiltrates the ambulance taking the victim to the hospital for treatment. Interrogating him in his signature excessively violent manner.
Their collective search leads them to an old aquarium. They find the entire fish population has been jokerized when they arrive. Not only that, an old, nearly forgotten friend of the Joker has arrived on the scene. Eager to bring some pain to Bruce like the good old days. Gaggy, Joker’s court jester, and a bunch of goons show up to rough the family up a bit. During the scuffle, the aquarium glass breaks, and Gaggy is eaten by a jokerized shark.
As the tussle settles down. Joker arrives in the flesh. Throwing a bowl of jokerized fish at our caped crusader. The team of three subdue him and restrain him to a chair. While they wait for the authorities to arrive, Joker provokes Jason. Reminding him of the darling time he had beating him as a child with a crowbar. Remembering when he begged for his life and even tried to barter with his insane assailant. This drives Jason into an emotional corner and he makes the final decision to blow Joker’s brains out, in front of Barbara.
With only two clowns left. The search continues. Babs begs Bruce to take Jason in. Completely calm, Bruce explains to Babs that taking him in is something that just can’t be done. Not only will he be unmasked, but as the only witness to the crime. Barbara would also be unmasked in order to testify. He then explains to a now angry Babs that Jason didn’t get a chance to heal and become stronger in the way that she did. She had support and training all around her. Thought to be dead, Jason had none of that. He was forced to reinvent himself alone and it made him more violent. He “healed incorrectly” as Bruce puts it.
Understanding this Babs backs off. Elsewhere, Jason continues his search in the way he knows best. Beating Joker goons until he gets some info, or figure it out. This leads him to an abandoned pool house. One full of toxins and bodies. All of which being full-on jokerized. Not just killed with toxins, but turned into another clown prince of crime. Reeling back at this revelation. Jason is taken off guard by the two Jokers left over. Who strip him, tie him to a chair, and proceed to beat him senseless with a crowbar.
This was a wild ride of an issue. Between the wonderful artwork and the captivating story. Three Jokers has been quite a wild ride as a whole. Geoff Johns is really doing good work here and after his long missed absence. I’m all for it. This Black Label title is one that should be a must read for any Gothamite like myself. Honestly, it shakes up the entire mythos of Gotham by combining so many pivotal moments in its lore in a manner we have never seen before. Frankly, I doubt we will see this kind of seamless blending again in the future.