For the last few months DC Comics’ readers have been waiting for the epic reveal of who the Joker really is. Fans have been pretty divided on the issue, with some believing that part of what makes the Joker great is his mysterious backgrounds while others just really want to know. We were promised the revelation in this month’s Justice League #50, which hit comic book store shelves last Wednesday.
The Joker’s background has varied over the years, but most origins center around him falling into a vat of acid, which gives him his well-known features. Even with this common thread, rarely has a name been given to the face that not even a mother could love. On occasion he’s been Jack, including in the 1989 Tim Burton Batman. The Joker’s early days have been changed over the years as well, with some stories giving him a gangster back story while others set him up as a failed comedian.
That all brings us back to the Joker’s identity; during the current run of the Darkseid Wars, Batman became the God of All Knowledge courtesy of the Mobius Chair. One of the questions that the world’s greatest detective sought the answer to was the true identity of the most fiendish villain he’s ever faced. You heard that correctly: Batman had access to all the knowledge of the universe and that was what he wanted to know.
When Hal Jordan asked the Dark Knight what name the chair gave him, Batman said it didn’t give him a name. The Green Lantern seemed utterly baffled, and then, just to compound the confusion, Batman informed him the chair said, “There are three.” DC Comics “big reveal” turned out to be very Obi-Wan-ish: What they told us was true, from a certain point of view.
What that statement actually means can be taken so many ways. It could be as simple as there being literally three men running around in white face-paint causing chaos and terrorizing the citizens of Gotham. A Joker timeshare would be practical, assuming they were all cut from the same batshit-crazy cloth. It could also imply that other men have taken this mantle in the past or future. With the Mobius Chair knowing everything, it’s possible that it’s seen other timelines where a Joker exists. The third possibility that we can not discount is that the Mobius Chair’s looking to alternate universes in saying there are three Jokers.
Considering the fact that DC’s created and destroyed their multiverse several times over at this point, that’s not too far fetched.
While this reveal may have been pretty anticlimactic, we did learn something about DC: At least for the time being, as the comic book giant prepares to launch their Rebirth series, the powers that be have decided on leaving the Joker shrouded in mystery as the best thing for Batman. While some fans are understandably irritated by this tease, in the long run it’ll lead to better story lines. Keep in mind, it could always be worse; at least DC didn’t turn one of their beloved heroes into a Nazi this week.