The Secret Origin of the Legion of Doom continues! How did Lex come to be in Legion with the Batman Who Laughs? And how does the Joker feel about it? Is all really well in the Legion’s halls? Find out in Justice League #8.

It’s interesting, but is it essential?

I’m not asking that question sarcastically, either. Justice League #8 is a much better showing from Tynion than his first “Legion of Doom” installment. He’s cut down on a lot of the melodrama and verbosity, and I genuinely enjoyed reading it. There are even some particularly excellent moments in the dialogue. But the issue is more about filling information gaps than advancing the plot, and after the dramatic end to “The Totality,” I feel like I want things to keep moving forward. I like the new information, and I appreciate the richer understanding that I now have for many of these characters and where they’re at in the story, but I’m anxiously kicking the ground waiting for what’s coming next. If Snyder needed a break this week, some sort of palate cleanser—maybe something showing the League during some downtime—might have worked better. Maybe slot this particular installment of “Legion of Doom” in the middle of the next major arc, just like they did with the first one.

As I said, though, there are a number of things to really enjoy here. Starman’s connection to Snyder’s big story is interesting, and Luthor’s travels through time are both thematically and visually interesting. I was happy to see the “psychic boardroom” again, though I think Janín’s decision to put several of the characters in action is a bit weird for that context.

But hands-down, what I like best here is the interaction between Luthor and the Batman Who Laughs (BWL). I wasn’t nuts about that character in Metal (or most of Metal, to be honest), but here, I find him much more compelling. Maybe it’s because we’re seeing more of Batman’s mind in him this time around, but he at last feels more like a formidable adversary than a gimmick. I likewise love the actual Joker’s misgivings about Lex bringing BWL into the fold. His line about a Batman not getting put in a cage without him wanting to be there is great—both in the way he delivers it, and in the truth of it.

Janín’s aesthetics sensibilities aren’t my favorite—a little too clean and cold for my tastes—but he’s an excellent storyteller, and he creates a few striking shots (including several of Black Manta) this time around. Cox has worked with him frequently before, and it shows—the coloring is impeccable, and very effective. Their style—which depends on a lot of rendering from the colorist—isn’t my preferred approach to comic art, but they’re about as good as it gets in this mode, and I can appreciate the craft.

Napolitano’s letters look great. They’re laid out well, which was probably a much easier accomplishment than in Tynion’s last issue, which was much more wordy. Janín seems to leave a bit more space for balloons in a lot of his pages, too. Anyway, the letters are laid out well, and I love Napolitano’s SFX (especially the DZZZZT of Manta’s eye-beams). I also appreciate the stylistic choice that he’s made with the Joker’s dialogue for the series. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t use any special font for the Joker. But since it’s not up to me, I like that what we have is not as wild and crazy as what other letterers have done in the past several years. This is a lot more readable. It still looks a bit off-kilter, but it’s subtle, and Napolitano instead takes us the rest of the way toward madness with oddly-shaped, variable-border balloons. The end result is that the words are incredibly legible, but the whole presentation still gives off the crazy vibe that they’re going for.

Recommended if…

  • You want more backstory on this latest iteration of The Legion of Doom.
  • You’re a Mikel Janín fan.
  • You’ve missed the Batman Who Laughs.

Overall

Justice League #8 isn’t quite what I wanted at the moment, but it’s still quite good—much better, in fact, than Tynion’s last issue on the title. The writing is tighter, the artwork from Janín and Cox is attractive and functional, and Napolitano’s letters are readable and logically-placed. You could do much worse than this, and if you’re following Justice League, you should pick this one up.

SCORE: 7.5/10