The straight dope on Justice League #50’s big Bat-moment.
(NOTE: I don’t usually trade in spoilers like this but since Friday, so much has been revealed about DC Rebirth before the issue has even come out, that it’s become a runaway train. The DC Universe Rebirth one-shot deals with the Joker “revelation” from Justice League #50 — both issues are out this week — so that’s become fair game. And here we are.)
ONE LAST TIME: SPOILER ALERT!
UPDATED 5/27/16: For a SNEAK PEEK of BATMAN: REBIRTH #1, click here.
Nearly a year after DC first teased the big reveal of the Joker’s identity, we get … another tease.
In Justice League #50, we learn that when Batman asked (in JL #42) what the Joker’s “true name” is …
… the all-knowing Mobius Chair told him “there were three.”
As in, there might be three Jokers. At least that was Batman’s takeaway.
Turns out, the Mobius Chair likes to speak in cryptic riddles on occasion. (Then again, maybe the Chair was being literal and Batman should start looking for a guy named Joe Three, or something.)
The idea is that maybe the Joker who committed the awful crimes of The Killing Joke, for example, is not be the same guy who tormented Batman during Snyder and Capullo’s run. And that maybe those guys are different from the Joker portrayed decades ago (in real time, mind you). Or something like that.
I’m not quite sure what DC is going for here. Are they planning to give us a literal explanation for why the Joker has changed so much in 76 years? He’s gone from homicidal maniac, to gimmick-happy super-thief, and back again.
But there’s not a single longtime character on DC’s roster that hasn’t gone through wholesale changes since 1938. So it seems kind of pointless to try to explain the Joker’s behavior this way. Besides, I’ve long preferred the idea that the Joker’s personality changes are due to his particular collection of psychoses. That actually makes sense, if you need some kind of canonical explanation.
Or maybe an exploding cigar is just an exploding cigar and this is a face-value story that will reveal a Court of Jokers of some sort. Or maybe this is a bizarre gateway to a story that will explain that the DC Universe is something that just keeps regenerating itself — which, in a very real way, is true.
No matter what, Justice League #50 itself feels like a cheat. We as readers were certainly led to believe that this issue was going to give us some kind of affirmative answer.
Geoff Johns at WonderCon said that the answer was something people probably wouldn’t expect. He’s right about that. I didn’t expect some half-baked clue left over from “Lost.”
I’ve gone on record already (click here) that it’s perfectly OK for DC to go against decades of established practice by revealing the Joker’s true name — metaphorical or otherwise — because it’s perfectly OK for readers to create their own continuity and ignore bad stories.
All I have left to say right now on that score is that DC better have one helluva story up its sleeve.
MORE — UPDATED 6/4/17: DC may be getting closer to revealing the Joker’s “true name”: Click here!