Batman: Three Jokers - Who Is The Real Joker? Explained

Batman: Three Jokers has come to an end, and the final chapter had to pull the double-duty of finishing out the mystery of who the real Joker actually is, while also having to bring the series to a major thematic climax. Well, writer Geoff Johns manages to accomplish both goals reasonably well; Batman: Three Jokers indeed creates some new intrigue about the Batman/Joker rivalry, while also definitively answering the question: Who is the real Joker? Johns' answer may keep DC Comics fans debating for quite some time to come, as his ending to Three Jokers raises some new Batman continuity questions.

Warning - Batman: Three Jokers SPOILERS Follow!

The story of Batman: Three Jokers hung on the premise that there are three inexplicably different versions of The Joker running around the DC Comics Universe:

  1. The Criminal - The classic version of Joker who was more of a serious schemer, focused on success in his criminal enterprises.
  2. The Clown - The later version of Joker became a demented and more sadistic version of a children's clown.
  3. The Comedian - The nihilistic serial killer version of Joker who is a force of chaos to rival Batman's push for law and order.

As it turns out, there indeed was one official version of Joker all along (Final Spoilers!) - and it is The Comedian!

Batman Three Jokers Who Is Real Joker Explained
(Photo: DC Comics)
Batman Three Jokers Ending Who Is Real Joker Explained
(Photo: DC Comics)

In establishing this version of Joker is the official one, Geoff Johns has tapped stories like Alan Moore's The Killing Joke as the definitive version of Joker in the current DC Universe canon. That includes the origin story of Joker being a failed comedian, who got into crime with the Red Hood Gang, to get money to support his pregnant wife. When his wife died in a fire using cheap heating products, Joker's heist (and fall into a chemical bath) proved pointless - creating the "joke" that broke The Comedian's brain, creating the hurricane of pain and madness that is Joker.

The mystery of Three Jokers saw Batman, Batgirl, and Red Hood investigating the Three Jokers, who were abducting average citizens and transforming them into 'New Jokers' using a horrific chemical bath. The purpose of that undertaking was always unclear - at least until the end of the story. In Batman: Three Jokers #3, The Comedian ends up clearing the playing field by killing The Criminal (Red Hood killed The Clown in issue #1) and establishing himself as the only Joker. It turns out The Comedian staged the entire Three Jokers gang by turning regular people into his co-Jokers, with an ultimate plan to make Joe Chill - the robber that gunned down Thomas and Martha Wayne - into "The New Joker."

In an excellent ending scene to Three Jokers, Batman and The Comedian ride together in the back of a police van, to have a conversation. The Comedian explains that the point of all this was to get Batman to confront their past together - as well as his past with Joe Chill. Now that Batman is in a more stable emotional place, The Comedian version of Joker can be the only major figure of darkness and pain in his life.

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Best of all: while choosing The Comedian as the one true Joker, Geoff Johns also opened the door to a thrilling new twist in Joker's origin, which could fuel exciting new chapters of his rivalry with Batman!

MORE: Batman: Three Jokers Full Review

Batman: Three Jokers is now on sale at DC Comics.