WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for DC Universe: Rebirth Issue 1.
Seems like the joke is on us.
This week the heavily hyped DC Universe: Rebirth Issue 1 hit the shelves, and to say the issue is a major reinvention of the DC Universe doesn't even begin to cover it.
There's almost too much to talk about, so let's just dive right into the juicy stuff. The biggest and most major revelation comes when we finally learn what the all-knowing Mobius Chair — which came into Bruce Wayne's possession during the Darkseid War — told Batman back in Justice League Issue 42 about the real identity of the Joker...
In that issue, Bruce learned the truth, but the reader was kept in the dark. Now, during a conversation with Green Lantern, we discover that while he never got that name, he did learn something considerable more shocking:
There are THREE Jokers on the loose in the DC Universe.
If that seems like a major shock, it actually makes quite a lot of sense — after all, the Joker's backstory is, by his own admission, "multiple choice." It also explains why his constantly shifting personality has often veered wildly between comic trickster and cold-blooded killer, and perhaps even how he's managed to seemingly cheat death time and time again.
It could be that the Joker we'll meet in The Killing Joke animated movie...
...loosely resembles one of the three featured in the comics, assuming we're even anywhere close to meeting them.
Tom King, who authored Grayson Issues 1–17 (and who also works on Marvel's current volume of Vision), is taking over from Scott Snyder as the writer of Batman, beginning with Batman Issue 1 this summer, meaning he'll probably be responsible for tying this Clown Prince reveal into the wider Rebirth mythos.
Could it be, then, that the chair was misleading Bruce while technically telling the truth? "Three Jokers" could be a reference to a dissociative identity disorder; what if each of the Joker's triad of personas takes on an entirely separate identity, perhaps even unaware of the existence of the others?
Needless to say, we could be looking at the most iconic Joker arc in years, if King runs with this intrigue and creates something readers don't see coming.
So Who's The Big Bad Of Rebirth?
The issue very quickly establishes an overarching mystery, which Wally West takes it upon himself to investigate. Condensed, it basically amount to this: The majority of the superheroes appear to have lost a significant chunk of time in their lives up until the present day.
For instance, Barry Allen doesn't remember Wally. Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance each lie awake at night, alone, feeling something is missing but unable to pinpoint what, or who, it is. The theory Wally formulates is that some kind of mysterious, villainous being or entity has removed the shared history and relationships that bind the heroes of the DC Universe.
Just as Wally looks to the sky and predicts something terrible is coming, Batman discovers that familiar yellow, blood-splattered smiley-face badge belonging to the Comedian. In the epilogue, we journey from Earth to Mars, where we learn that...
The clock is ticking across the DC Universe.
There's really only one way to interpret those words, which is that the all-powerful being responsible for screwing with the fabric of the DC Universe on Earth is Dr. Manhattan.
You might remember that in Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan Issue 4, the doc experimented with the creation of life in a way that left the door open for entire new universes to be discovered down the line.
Is that what we're seeing here? Did Dr. Manhattan create the very universe our heroes roam, or is he merely responsible for altering it in some way — and if so, what's his endgame?
If he were dead, I'd say that Alan Moore might be turning in his grave. Still, I'm super stoked to see Watchmen being made canon, especially if it means we'll see Nite Owl, Rorschach and Silk Spectre sharing the page with Batman at some point.
The implications of Rebirth Issue 1 are bound to be felt across the DCU for years to come, so here's hoping this saga has plenty of twists in its storytelling arsenal. The issue is out now. So tell me...
Does this Joker twist excite you, or is the joke on DC?