Joker’s Ultimate Plan
As issue 3 opened, only two of the original three Jokers remained standing, after Jason Todd performed “The Clown,” the Joker who left him for dead in 1988’s Batman: A Death in the Family. two remaining Jokers, The Golden Age-inspired “The Criminal” and “The Comedian” of Batman: The Killing Joke Fame, are set to carry out their final plan. They kidnapped Joe Chill and took him to the abandoned movie theater where the Waynes were killed, all with the intention of submerging him in toxic chemicals and creating the ultimate Joker.
As The Criminal explains, he wants Joker to mean something more to Batman. Rather than being an agent of chaos with no past or defined motivations, The Criminal wants to create a Joker who is fundamentally linked to Batman. The Ultimate Joker is the Joker who took Bruce Wayne’s family and set him on his way to becoming Batman – that’s the plan, anyway. Batman is able to stop Chill from falling into the chemicals and apprehending the criminal. But just as it seems the Three Jokers plan has been foiled, the criminal is betrayed by his own partner in crime. The comedian shoots him in the head, leaving only one Joker standing.
Joker vs. Joker
Even though The Criminal seemed to be the ringleader of the three Jokers, it turns out The Comedian has been manipulating his “brothers” from the start. He doesn’t want Joker to be someone Batman knows and despises on a personal level. However, he wants Joker to mean more to Batman than anyone else.
The comedian’s real goal in all of this was to organize a reconciliation between Batman and Joe Chill. During his investigation, Batman discovers a series of unfinished letters that Chill attempted to write to Bruce Wayne, apologizing for his crimes and admitting that he only killed the Waynes because he was jealous of them. wealth and their privileges. It wasn’t until later that Chill realized all that Thomas and Martha had done to help the oppressed citizens of Gotham. Batman also saves Chill’s life more than once during Issue 3, even accepting Chill’s gratitude and ultimately setting aside years of hatred and trauma. With no childhood villain to demonize, Batman can now focus all of his attention on his true nemesis – the Joker.
For now, the comedian is content to return to Arkham Asylum and prepare for his next escape. Bruce later visits a terminally ill Chill, accepting his apology and allowing Chill to die in peace.
This is a drastic change from how the Chill story arc is typically depicted in the various Batman comics. Traditionally, her story ends when a young Batman confronts Chill and reveals her identity. A distraught Chill runs away, delirious to his countrymen that he was the one who created Batman. In response, they murder Chill as punishment for creating this new scourge of the underworld. In one version, Batman himself tracks down Chill until the psychologically beaten criminal finally commits suicide. Three Jokers seeks to give Joe Chill a much happier ending, in keeping with the series’ larger theme: overcoming trauma.
Batman’s Biggest Secret
In the end, it looks like the usual Batman / Joker status quo is being restored. There is only one Joker left, and the Bat family are apparently no closer to discovering his true identity. But this is not really true. In a candid conversation with Alfred, Batman reveals his deepest and most carefully kept secret – he knows the identity of the comedian. In fact, it only took him a week to solve this seemingly impossible riddle.
Here the series refers to the flashback storyline for Batman: The Killing Joke, which suggested that Joker was originally a chemist and failed comedian who turned to crime after his pregnant wife was killed in a freak accident. While The Killing Joke is intentionally ambiguous as to whether this story is real or just a figment of Joker’s deranged imagination, Three Jokers suggests that it actually happened.
But it turns out that Joker’s wife never died in this accident. Fearing to raise a child in an abusive household, she turned to her friends at the GCPD for help. They helped her escape Gotham and told her husband a fake story about a bottle warmer accident to cover up her trail. Joker’s wife and son have lived in Alaska all this time, happy and free from its long shadow.
Sadly, we’ll never learn Joker’s real name (although the initials “JW” may be seen monogrammed on his wife’s suitcase). As Batman reminds Alfred, the identity of Joker was never important. Sharing his name or his family’s existence only endangers an innocent mother and son, which is why Batman never told his closest allies.
It’s important to remember that while Three Jokers seemingly cements the possible origin story introduced in The Killing Joke, the origins of the other two Jokers remain shrouded in mystery. It’s also not clear which of these three villains was the original Joker. In many ways, Joker remains as mysterious as ever despite having a more tangible origin.
In another secret identity surprise, we also learn that Commissioner Gordon knows his daughter is Batgirl. This is another plot point that has always been pretty vague in past stories, but Batgirl specifically refers to Gordon as “daddy” when he walks away and forgets his calls to stay away from Red Hood.
Is Three Jokers part of DC Canon?
At this point, you might be wondering how Three Jokers will impact the bigger Batman franchise. Will the revelation that Batman knows the Joker’s true identity play out in their next showdown, one that’s already being teased as a result of Joker War? Does Three Jokers even take place in the traditional DC Universe?
There’s no denying that the series has a pretty nebulous place in the DC continuity. Even writer Geoff Johns and DC editorial staff have played down the book’s connection to Batman’s bigger line. Although the original Three Jokers reveal happened in 2016 Justice League # 50 and DC Universe Rebirth # 1, the twist hasn’t really been referenced anywhere else since, even though Batman and Joker have had several major battles in them. stories like Dark Nights: Metal and Joker War. Three Jokers doesn’t necessarily align with Batman’s current continuity, either in terms of the costumes worn or the fact that Alfred is still alive. It’s also released under the DC Black Label imprint, which tends to focus on stand-alone, non-continuity stories.
That being said, the ending of Three Jokers is very faithful to the Joker himself. He’s malleable and ambiguous enough that the series could be part of official Batman lore or just a standalone alternate universe tale. It’s really up to future creators to decide if they want to reference the events of Three Jokers, like the Red Hood murder act and the fact that Batman knows the real name of his worst enemy. The fact that he’s always kept this secret hidden is a bigger joke than anything the Joker himself could ever handle.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by follow @jschedeen on Twitter.