The Three Jokers: An exercise in audience exhaustion

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This review contains spoilers for The Three Jokers (2020) and Scream (1996) somehow. Sorry.

I remember when Three Jokers was announced, and naive 18 year old me was actually excited. Like, there are three Jokers? Well that makes sense! It’s like Billy and Stu, where one commits a crime and the other pops up to prove it wasn’t him! That could be really cool! Now, at 21, with Three Jokers finally released and over, I have never been deeper in the thralls of Joker related fatigue than I am now. Maybe it’s because I saw Joker (2019) in theaters. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived a few extra years. Maybe it’s because after this bitch of a year I don’t ever wanna see that stupid clowns face again. These are all valid reasons. But quite honestly, I think I’ve just grown, and read more comics and God, please please learn that Two-Face and the Riddler are more interesting than a man in a clown costume who’s crazy for the sake of it.

I think it’s fairly obvious that my biggest problem with Three Jokers is that it is in fact a Joker story. Which, admittedly, doesn’t bode well for this review.

Hiiii pretty boy!

So, I’ll go into my positives. I really love the art in this book. The emotions conveyed through faces is top notch, and the differences in the three Joker designs is amazing. Barbara is beautiful and angry, which is my favorite for Babs, especially in Joker stories, and Jason is utterly beautiful and shows more emotion than he has in ages. Also, I love that Jason gets to kill the Joker, and avenge himself, despite Babs and Bruce both arguing against that. While I think those moments were powerful, I do think that Barbara should also be allowed some of the anger Jason has been granted, as her entire life was altered because of her run in with the Joker as well. I just genuinely think we should let more women be angry.

Sadly those are the only two things I really liked, and one leads directly back to something I don’t. So. That’s fun.

I appreciated the opening exploring the massive Joker related trauma Bruce, Jason and Barbara all have, but honestly, I am more than tired of seeing Killing Joke flashbacks. In the 32 years since the Killing Joke was released, Barbara has transitioned to Oracle, and fucking thrived as one of the greatest minds in the DC Universe, and then ~magically~ recovered from both her paralysis and her trauma. I say recovered from her trauma, but she’ll drop right back into it whenever DC decides that terrorizing women will help them sell a comic or variant cover. Babs is allowed to be Batgirl, and forget her time as Oracle, unless it serves the company as a whole, and the men writing stories about her. The choice to retcon Oracle is problematic on it’s own, as she was one of few disabled characters, but the choice to retcon the years of character development hurts the character, and the fans.

Speaking of Barbara, I truly believe that there is a chart in the Batman Editorial office that they pass around saying that Batgirl (specifically Babs) and whatever Robin is featured in the current story must be romantically involved. Dick and Barbara had a good relationship for years, and their characters grew and changed together. Tim and Barbara had a weird and serious (I guess) relationship in the Arkham Knight game. Three Jokers has provided Jason with his turn to be Barbara’s love interest. They share an understandably tender moment after rescuing Jason from being tortured and beaten by the Joker again, and I appreciate that. They’ve both been through so much at the hands of the Joker, and I’ve wanted them to talk about it for a really long time.

See! This makes sense! She cares about him and wants him to be safe after his revictimization!

I did not, however, want them to kiss about it, and I should be used to DC doing this by now, and yet. Despite Barbara’s insistence that they shouldn’t have kissed (she’s right), the story is sympathetic towards Jason and how he was rejected. If this story was good, and/or gave me what I wanted, they would’ve talked instead of kissed, and as a treat I’d let the writers have Jason confess to a crush on Barbara when he was younger, because to me, that’s the only way this makes sense.

This is what I think the chart would look like

While I don’t think that reading the Three Jokers was necessarily a waste of my time, it was a poor use of it, and didn’t do anything but make me frustrated. It is in fact a well made comic, but the choices it makes are detrimental to the characters involved, and quite honestly for a story about some of my favorite characters, bored me. I think that the Three Jokers should maybe act as a reason to put a pause on Joker related stories for a while, but it won’t. I know that it won’t, and I’m already preparing myself for the next wave of Joker related content that I don’t want.

*Featured Image: DC Comics.

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