The Batman Who Laughs Has An Offer Luthor Cannot Refuse In Justice League #8

by Oliver MacNamee

Justice League #8 may claim to be the second and concluding part of the Legion of Doom storyline, but with James Tynion IV (Detective Comics) on writing duties and Mikel Janin (Batman) on art, this feels more like a well polished one-off issue, even if it does pick up from the dramatic revelations of last issue. Seems the notoriously meticulous (ie slow) Jim Cheung – on which this series was launched –  has only managed two out of the first eight issues. Which is a shame, as I enjoyed his return to Justice League last issue, keeping up the quality and continuity I was expecting from this book.

As I understood it, Jorge Jimenez and Cheung were to take on separate story-arcs giving the other the time to recharge and get ahead on the art front. Seems that’s not to be, but if I was worried that Janin’s more realistic style would not necessarily fit the aesthetics of this book, I was wrong. His depiction of The Batman Who Laughs when being interviewed by Lex Luthor is suitably dark, with gobs of blood dripping from his alabaster chin as he reveals what Luthor wants, but at a price.

This is a comic that just seems to be getting darker and darker with each issue. The Multiverse – as we are regularly reminded – is on the brink of oblivion thanks to The Totality and other forces released when the Justice League broke the Source Wall. But, in this issue, the question is asked: why was the Source Wall built in the first place? What was it trying to contain? Well, we get an answer, but its still rather opaque, as you’d imagine. This is a saga that’s only warming up, it would seem. I mean, eight issues in, and we’re still no closer to seeing the Justice League finally defeating Luthor and his Legion of Doom, who seem to be getting stronger, bolder and more cocky as their powers and abilities are enhanced by Luthor and his nefarious ways.

Tynion IV’s focus on the Legion of Doom in this issue also gives it the feel of a well written one-off issue. A pause from the main action, giving both Snyder and the readers a repeal from the high stakes and sense of foreboding that the League are collectively facing as they come to terms with the fact that Luthor has the upper hand. Wait until they get a load of The Batman Who Laughs!

Justice League #8 shows that there is still room for those doom and gloom stories of the pre-New 52 and the Rebirth that followed after that, too. And, why not? Comics are diverse enough to be able to tell these kind of stories, when they are compelling enough. And, this new start for an expanded League facing threats too big for this world and just a handful of metas, is just that. A compelling comic that shows the League at their lowest, but united.

Luthor seems to be winning enough battles, but does he have it in him to win the war?

Justice League #8 is out now from DC Comics.

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