DC's Three Jokers Comic Will Revisit Batgirl and Red Hood's Most Devastating Traumas

Count ‘em up.
Count ‘em up.
Image: Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson (DC Comics via Entertainment Weekly)

Both A Death in the Family and Batman: The Killing Joke are infamous for featuring stories in which the Joker waged war against the Dark Knight by targeting other members of Bat-Family, like Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon, in ways that left them brutalized.

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Over the years, Batgirl and the Red Hood have both worked through the trauma the Joker inflicted upon them, but in writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok’s upcoming Three Jokers, the vigilantes’ old emotional wounds are set to be re-opened as the Joker thrusts them and Batman into yet another mysterious conflict. Three Jokers’ plot, Johns explained in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, was largely inspired by Killing Joke and A Death in the Family in order to illustrate how each character’s interactions with the Joker—including Batman—left them in desperate need to heal from their respective emotional trauma.

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“Barbara and Jason have gone through so much, as has Bruce, and it’s really focused on healing, on scars and wounds and what that does to somebody. If you suffer some trauma, you don’t just get over with it and move on with your life, it changes who you are,” Johns said. “Sometimes it changes you for the better, sometimes it changes you for the worse. You can heal right, and you can heal wrong. That’s really what the book’s about: Healing right, healing wrong, and surviving.”

The cover of Three Jokers #1.
The cover of Three Jokers #1.
Image: Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson (DC Comics)

Fabok added that a number of Three Jokers’ visual elements—colored by Brad Anderson, with lettering by Rob Lee—are styled similarly to art featured in The Killing Joke, but will feature details reflecting the fact that some time has passed since the events of previous comics.

“Fans who have read The Killing Joke, you’re gonna see some familiar panels, you’re gonna see some familiar-looking things, like the Batcave,” he said. “My thinking was almost, okay, years have passed so Batman has upgraded his Batcave from what he had originally in The Killing Joke, but the same bones are there.”

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Three Jokers first issue hits shops on June 17.

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

Wraithfighter

...I honestly feel a bit bad for DC. The Killing Joke is one of the best comics ever made, it’s so good that it manages to survive casually and off-handedly fridging the most well known Batgirl in the canon’s history, and then you had Gail Simone come in after some idiot in the past made the whole thing canon and created a phenomenal role for her post-fridging, so you don’t want to go “uh, yeah, everyone agrees to just pretend that whole ugly character-derailment-thing never happened” like you saw with some other characters...

You’ve got this character that’s incredibly popular and wonderful in two roles, and the bit between them is simultaneously ugly-ass-trash (as it relates to her character) and one of the company’s crown jewels (as it relates to everything but her character).

Like, if Killing Joke was just a bad comic, but with everything else remaining true? You can just imagine the number of times we’d have gotten reboots re-imagining her becoming Oracle in a way that’s about her character and not her being a prop!

Sigh.