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Spotlight: Joker! With Drowned Earth in the rear view, Justice League #13 turns back toward the Legion of Doom, as we see the Joker’s path onto the team, and Luthor’s foolish pride biting him on the back of his bald head. 

Marching orders

I’m going to invert things and ignore the story for the moment. Guillem March’s aesthetic only works for me about half the time—it has to be just the right book, or it’s hard for me to get into what he’s doing. But this book—and this character, the Joker—this is where March should live every day for the rest of his life. I absolutely love his Mr. J, from the general profile to the myriad emotions that play out on his face and in his posture. Don’t get me wrong—the storytelling is first-rate, too, and once you get over the stunning looks, it flows wonderfully. But it will take a few moments to get over those stunning looks, because boy-howdy, they are stunning. No disrespect to Jim Cheung or Jorge Jimenez, but March’s take on Mr. J makes theirs look safe and clean by comparison. 

Tynion actually has a much better showing than some of his previous turns on this book, as well. There are moments where the dialogue doesn’t seem natural, or it’s repetitive and could have used another pass of editing; but overall, I love the exchanges between Joker and Lex that he writes here, and I flew through this issue because of how interesting it all was. Lex was an arrogant fool for recruiting someone like Joker and thinking he could control him, and seeing Joker shove that in his face is actually pretty delightful. 

At a higher narrative level, I love the doubt brewing in the Hall of Doom. The Justice League is built on trust, but the Legion is filled with untrustworthy people, who (rightly) don’t trust one another. Manta quitting made sense. Cheetah should be questioning Lex. It would be odd if they all had faith in one another, so I appreciate that we get to see the fragility of their union fairly early on in the run. 

The failed recruitment effort is a hilarious bonus, particularly Riddler’s parting shot about being perfectly capable of pissing off Joker in Gotham. The only problem with that scene is that Mr. Freeze somehow gets affected by Joker gas while wearing his airtight suit, but whatever. Maybe his respiration equipment doesn’t filter out toxins. Still struck me as odd in the moment. 

Recommended if…

  • You like stunning artistic takes on the Joker
  • You’ve been waiting for the Clown Prince’s day in the sun since learning that these Legion issues of Justice League would each focus on a particular villain.
  • You’ve been waiting for someone to hit Lex with that door knob.

Overall

Justice League #13 is easily Tynion’s best issue on the book. Paired with March and Prianto’s glorious take on the Joker, this is a highly entertaining showdown between two of DC’s most sinister villains.

SCORE: 9/10


Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.

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