The Joker has always been Batman's greatest enemy. Despite being defeated and locked up time and time again, Joker always manages to find a way to cause more problems. When Batman gained possession of the Mobius Chair, a chair that can travel through time and space, he tests its ability to answer any question asked. In Justice League #42, Batman first asks who killed his parents. Hearing the correct answer, he next asks what the Joker's real name is.
The answer Batman received was a surprise. It wasn't until this week's Justice League #50 that writer Geoff Johns revealed what Batman heard. There will be some spoilers from Justice League #50 and DC Universe: Rebirth below.
Joker has always been portrayed differently over the years from appearance to appearance. Part of this is because writers each give the character a different voice. The other factor is because of the state of Joker's mind, he will come across as a different person with each appearance. Batman may encounter a version that focuses on fun and gags while another may be darker and more deadly. This can now be explained by the new revelation.
After the events of Darkseid War, Hal Jordan asks Batman what the Mobius Chair said in reply to his question.
The chair didn't give Batman a single name. It told him there were three Jokers.
The idea of three Jokers is a crazy and scary one. It's also a bold move on Johns' part. Batman fans often agree Joker's definitive origin and identity should never be revealed. With three different Jokers running around, it creates a whole new set of questions and changes the character in a big way.
Looking back at Joker's appearances, the idea of there being three different ones does make a little sense. We've often wondered how Joker managed to keep escaping Arkham Asylum whenever it suited him. In 2012's Death of the Family, Joker managed to attack Batman and his allies all over Gotham City. It almost did feel like there was more than one. Perhaps the biggest question is, what is their relation to each other? You would have to assume they are aware of each other's plans and activities.
The problem is, Joker doesn't play well with others. There's no way these different Jokers are not working together. They would have to coordinate their activities since they've never been seen together, and Batman's never suspected there could be more than one. Are they all on the same level? Do they consider each other equals? Is one the leader telling the others what to do? One Joker causes more than enough problems for Batman. What would happen if the three decided to strike at once?
We'll have to wait to see how this develops. It's not clear when or where this will be addressed. Johns is stepping back from writing comics due to his new role with DC Films. Tom King is taking over the relaunched Batman title focusing on Calendar Man in the first arc, and the previous Batman writer, Scott Snyder, will be writing All-Star Batman with a story dealing with Two-Face.
Three Jokers seems like a crazy idea. We often see shocking twists created in comics to shake things up. This would be a big development if it turns out to be true. There is a much bigger story here that needs to be told. Batman readers will be on the edge of their seat, waiting for it to happen. Can Batman accept the idea of three different Jokers? Can readers accept it?