WARNING: This article contains spoilers for DC Comics’ Doomsday Clock #1, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, on sale now.
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s highly anticipated DC Universe and Watchmen-centric story Doomsday Clock kicked off last month, and whether you’re invested in the greater Rebirth narrative, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original Watchmen story, or both, it’s safe to say Doomsday Clock #1 delivered far more questions than answers.
However, there’s one question that’s seemingly flown under many readers’ radar: Did Doomsday Clock #1 tease the identity of one of the DCU’s three Jokers?
If you’ll recall, it was in the pages of Justice League #42 – part two of Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s “Darkseid War” storyline – that Batman used the newly acquired powers of the Mobius Chair to ask two questions: Who really killed his parents, and what was The Joker’s real name? Not to leave readers in complete suspense, this issue confirmed that it was, in fact, Joe Chill who killed Batman’s parents (big surprise). As for The Joker’s real name? Batman’s only response to the mysterious “ping” of the Mobius chair was “No. That’s not possible.”
Fast-forward eight months to May 25, 2016 – the day Justice League #50 and DC Universe: Rebirth #1 hit stands. After all that time spent guessing who The Joker might actually be, we finally got our answer as to what the Mobius Chair told Batman. Admittedly, it wasn’t quite what any of us were expecting:
“There are three.”
Aside from the Watchmen tease, the revelation that there are actually three distinct and (presumably) equally terrifying Jokers in the DC Universe was easily the biggest shock heading into the Rebirth era. The art in the aforementioned Rebirth special seemed to indicate that one of them was Dick Sprang’s Golden Age Joker, one was the Killing Joke version by Brian Bolland, and the third was the New 52 iteration by Greg Capullo. However, the Clown Prince of Crime has been heavily downplayed since that epic reveal. In fact, it wasn’t until this past June, in the pages of Dark Days: The Forge #1, that The Joker finally resurfaced. According to Scott Snyder, though, his presence in the current Metal event won’t shed any light on the ongoing “Three Jokers” mystery.
“Geoff [Johns] was great about walking us through what the plan is for upcoming ‘Three Jokers’ storyline and giving us the breathing room for what we wanted to do,” Snyder told CBR. “Just to be clear to readers, this is not going to answer the ‘Three Jokers’ question. That’s really for Geoff — he has a big story planned for that — but what it will do is show us the way that The Joker, like he did during my entire time on Batman, is always there as the Greek chorus of the book, saying to Batman, in one way or another, ‘You’re doing it wrong,’ or, ‘You’re doing it right. This is what needs to happen. This is who you are.”