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Confused about Joker's new origin in Joker: Year One and how it connects to Three Jokers? Batman writer Chip Zdarsky explains it all

Who are the 3 Jokers, and how to you tell which is which? The Batman writer has the answers

Batman art
Image credit: Giuseppe Camuncoli (DC)

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If you think you know the Joker, the joke's on you.

In the recent Batman comic book storyline 'Joker: Year One,' writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli revealed that there's more than one Joker - but there's only one joker - and that it's all in his mind.

Sound confusing? Sound like a previous DC story that was thoroughly struck down as being outside the auspeices of DC continuity? Don't be confused anymore, as Chip Zdarsky explains it all (Hey, that would be the name of a fun column.)

How 'Joker: Year One' connects to Batman: Three Jokers

The Joker
Image credit: DC

Zdarsky confirms that the 'Joker: Year One' storyline was directly inspired by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok's Batman: Three Jokers limited series - a series that was strictly made not to be canon with the rest of the DCU. But the idea to base this on it was made by then-Batman editor Ben Abernathy, to in essence bring a version of it into DC continuity.

"With the Three Joker stuff, that's technically not in continuity," Zdarsky tells Popverse's Dave Buesing. "So when I started on Batman, my editor was like, 'Hey, just so you know, that's out of continuity, but there's something really interesting in the fact that Geoff teed it up in DC main continuity with Batman and Metron's chair and there being three Jokers.' So he's like, 'Do you want to play with that and make that the DC universe version of Three Jokers?' Kind of playing off the idea that's happening in this other universe? So I was like, 'Yeah, sure!'"

Fabok, back in 2020, said that not being in continuity is the only way he and Johns could have made the Three Jokers miniseries, tweeting "If this was in continuity we would have had our hands tied and forced to do certain things."

Who are the three Jokers?

Batman #142
Image credit: DC

In Zdarsky and Giuseppu Camuncoli's 'Joker: Year One' arc of Batman, it's revealed that the Joker has three personaltiies within him - not that there's multiple, Joker variants in the same universe as in Batman: Three Jokers.

What might give new insight into this is that Zdarsky calls Joker's three personalities "his Zurr-En-Arrhs" - referring to Batman's second, 'backup' personality of that name.

"It was fun to thread that through, but it's also a way to explain why he shows up differently," says Zdarsky. "I broke it down to, like, there's classic clown Joker, there's the dark, subdued serial killer Joker (which is like the Tom [King] / Mitch [Gerads] kind of version that you see in their Joker story that they did in Brave and Bold), and then there's the demon, which is I think Scott [Snyder] and Greg's [Capullo] version. Which is very much like, has he been alive for hundreds of years? Is he a supernatural creature? So I gave him those three personalities."

As Zdarsky describes it, these three personalities are "things he accesses from time to time to rise to whatever occasion he needs to."

What's next for DC's Joker(s)?

Zdarsky said that while this doesn't prevent Joker variants from other universes to come into the main DC this isn't that - and in fact, he created a red herring of this in Batman #900 where Joker variants did appear - but then at the beginning of 'Joker: Year One,' he murdered those two variants.

But then, again, those Joker variants may not be dead.

Joker touches his reflection
Image credit: DC Comics

"I like keeping that vague as well because, again, for Joker, keeping it vague is good," says Zdarsky. "But also down the road, whoever follows me on Batman might be, like, 'Oh, that one Joker is still out there.' You know, he's hurt, maybe he's got a scar or whatever. He's something different. And then Matt Rosenberg played with the idea of multiple Jokers. So, yeah, there's a lot… Maybe too many Jokers? I don't know."

While the 'Joker: Year One' arc does propose a new way to see DC's clown prince of crime and a possible new origin, Zdarsky says his goal wasn't to reveal the mystery - but add more shades to it, and shades of doubt to it all.

"There are a few points in 'Joker: Year One' where I let the reader know that, oh, maybe Joker's playing this guy," says Zdarsky. "Daniel Captio is the Batman mentor who infiltrates Joker's mind a little bit, and Joker approaches him as being, you know, ''broken' - but it's like, oh, is he broken? Like, was this a plan all along to get his knowledge? I like leaving things a little bit vague."

When asked if Zdarsky thought DC would think there could be too many Jokers, he jokingly replied 'DC would say 'no.'"

Read our full interview with Chip Zdarsky talking Batman, Avengers: Twilight, The Domain, and more, here.

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