The Clown Prince of Crime will now share his legacy with three of his own kind: the Criminal, the Comedian, and the Clown in Batman: Three Jokers in a three-part series. Following tracks from Batman: The Killing Joke and A Death in the Family, Three Jokers #1 gives a nod to Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon’s traumatic past.
In some way, it seems like these Jokers will inflict, yet again, historical emotional and physical pain upon Jason, Barbara, and Bruce Wayne — the three pivotal characters in this series — as they try to investigate what the Joker’s endgame is. Writer Geoff Johns confirmed on Saturday at DC Fandome that this story arc does not involve other universes and is “grounded.” He said, “We really wanted to get back to the character-driven, smaller story involving a handful of characters.”
Illustrator Jason Fabok stepped back from revealing any hidden plugs but he confirmed easter eggs throughout the story which he hopes will induce a sense of timelessness to this series. “I want this book to feel like it could fit in a bunch of different times,” Fabok said. He draws inspiration from influential artists like Jim Lee (Batman: Hush), Neil Adams, Gary Frank (Batman: Earth One), and Brian Bolland (Batman: The Killing Joke). “In Killing Joke, Brian Bolland referenced a lot of that classic 1940s Golden Age,” he said. “I’m kind of referencing a lot of the 1980s when I think about Batman in my head, it has that 80s aesthetic to it.” Fans who have been really immersed in Batman’s multi-reaching empire over the years, especially the classic comics, will notice subtle designs from everywhere. “I’m not afraid to wear those influences on my sleeve, I just feel like it’s a part of me,” Fabok shared.
The fact that Batman, Batgirl, and Red Hood are unable to distinguish the Jokers is an intentional tactic planted by Fabok who created their appearance as close to each other as possible. Although slightly different, each Joker carries a personality trait. Johns wrote the Criminal to be “more like a mobster, a little more grounded and a little less theatrical.” He described the Clown as “just loud, colorful, sometimes a little campy” and the Comedian as “scarier, a little bit more frightening.”
Fabok gave the Criminal a trench coat and a white shirt with a black tie, the iconic purple suit is a bit hidden. “I decided to draw him looking a little older,” he said. “He doesn’t laugh and is the opposite of what you would think, he’s very creepy.” This Joker is Fabok’s favorite in the series. The Clown was inspired by Cesar Romero’s version in the 1960s television version and the Comedian is straight out of The Killing Joke. Watch out for “some funny moments” that Fabok said will be about the character looks in the series.
As an ode to the nine-panel threads in the series, the team decided to create nine premium cover variants that will feature nine Jokers from “different eras.” On why they decided to release this expansive plan for these variants, Fabok said, “I love comic book history, and I love playing off of what’s come before.”
Fabok said that he hopes readers will find all the references in the series and point them out. “Maybe one day, Geoff and I will do a commentary track or something,” he added. “I would love to go through and just talk about them all one day.”
Here’s a little sneak-peek into the Three Jokers: