Justice League #13
Flashback to a short time ago as Lex Luthor is gathering his Legion of Doom. He finds Joker preparing a chemical attack on the city (what else would he be doing?) and convinces the Joker to come work for him. The Joker has only one demand: that the Batman Who Laughs not be part of Luthor’s gang.
Of course now we already know that Luthor is not exactly keeping his word as he’s already struck a deal with that alternate Batman. A veritable armada of Batman villains have shown up to decide if they’re ready to join the Legion of Doom. After all, with Black Manta gone, they need a replacement. Mr. Freeze, Solomon Grundy, Scarecrow, and the Riddler are among those gathered. Of course, Joker has his own surprises for everybody as he releases a toxin that causes all those gathered to try and kill each other.
Luthor then finds that Joker has somehow turned his own base against him. Luthor’s hidden weapons stash has been sabotaged and the base’s defenses are trying to kill Luthor. He’s only spared when Joker knocks him out with the door knob (the one used to access the Totality). And Luthor finds himself hung up by the very chains that were used to keep the Batman Who Laughs immobilized.
Joker is well aware that Luthor broke their deal. And this ultimately is just set up to taunt Luthor, as an elaborate statement by the Joker in his refusal to be part of this Legion. As he leaves, he releases another gas that returns the Legion and their candidates to normal. Of course realizing that joining the League would involve invoking the Joker’s wrath, the candidates all retreat.
Luthor’s not done though. He has another plan up his sleeve.
After reading the new 52 Batman stories and then Dark Nights Metal I was starting to wonder if anyone could write Joker as well as Snyder.
Tynion is sure giving him a run for his money.
This is Joker as he should always be written. It’s hard to get out of the mindset of the Joker from the classic Batman TV series or the earlier Batman movies. Those Jokers were often just silly and never inspired fear.
But this Joker…this Joker is both brilliant and crazy and everything Joker should be. He’s a force of nature and Luthor would have better luck trying to control a tornado (although I’m sure that’s been done before). He’s sinister and incredibly deliberate with his insanity. He’s the boogeyman that boogeymen are afraid of.
My first thought when Snyder introduced the Joker as part of the Legion of Doom was “this makes no sense, the Joker would just as soon kill the other villains as work with them” and now we get to see how true that is. I was concerned that this Joker was out of character but Tynion has given us just the opposite: a Joker who would gladly use the Legion to sow chaos but doesn’t need them and someone that they can truly fear.
It’s not just the Joker that makes this issue great, though. The humbling of Luthor (even though I doubt he views it as such) was sorely needed and oh so much fun to watch.
The art leaves a little something to be desired, but after reading this issue twice, it’s growing on me. The facial structures are a little weird, with way too many wrinkles and bumps, but I think if you look at this from the point of view of the insane, it fits well and I find myself enjoying March’s artwork.
Overall, Tynion’s insight into who the Legion is and how they function as a group when they’re not actively trying to kill the heroes provides a nice break from the League’s exploits. Whereas normally we’re used to seeing these one-off issues for growth of our heroes, instead we’re given these to grow the villains. They seem to be the protagonists of this story and I’m loving it!
Snyder may have set the building blocks but Tynion has really given us the depth into the Legion of Doom that we need to make them a feared adversary. The Justice League isn’t anywhere to be seen in this issue and that’s not a bad thing as Tynion gives us a brilliant Joker who isn’t one to mess with!
Justice League #13: The Joke’s On You, Luthor
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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