We’ve known since San Diego Comic-Con (when Jim Lee let it slip) that the Batman who Laughs will be returning this fall. Those of us dying to see the character can get a heavy helping this week from Justice League #8, but also get a bead on where the bigger story is going. (Hint: The Totality is involved!)
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Part two of the “Legion of Doom” storyline focuses on Lex Luthor’s recruiting efforts–and this time around, he’s targeting both Cheetah and Black Manta for membership! Lex knows just what buttons to push to acquire his super-powered muscle, and this issue it’s all about getting revenge on Wonder Woman and Aquaman, respectively. We bet they sign right up as soon as they find out Lex has METAL’s Batman Who Laughs locked up in Doom HQ!
Why does this matter?
Every few issues James Tynion IV takes over this series to focus on the Legion of Doom and their plans. Personally, I think this is a great way to break up the narrative, but also give the bad guys special focus. They’re as important as the heroes in some respects, which is further shown as Lex Luthor gains some very scary new knowledge.
h2>Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue does a lot of heavy lifting to set up the upcoming “Drowned Earth” event as well as develop the Batman Who Laughs character. Progress is made in a few different ways basically making this a must-read for DC Comics readers in general. Tynion should be commended for how much exposition he has to get through in this issue and yet he never once makes it feels boring. There’s a clever trick used more than once where characters go on and on with seemingly unimportant details and a character in the scene reflects on how that has nothing to do with what they were talking about. It’s for the reader, I get it, James!
This issue juggles three plots at once well. The first involves Lex going down into the lower levels of the Legion of Doom headquarters to discuss important matters. The second involves the Justice League’s actions post writer Scott Snyder’s last issue as they get their plans in order for what to do next. The third involves an action-packed smash/grab with Cheetah and Black Manta. Cutting between these three stories helps keep the story moving, especially when things get wordy.
There is a lot revealed by the Batman Who Laughs, but rest assured I won’t spoil it. I will say this character may be the scariest creation in all superhero comics. The design alone is freakish (I’ve always thought of it as a Batman version of Hellraiser) but the way he is written here is very creepy. It’s telling when Joker gets an unnerving feeling from the monster.
Mikel Janin draws this issue with colors by Jeremy Cox. The colors are brighter than one might be accustomed to with Janin’s work on the recent Batman comics and they do well to show how influential and important color artists are. Janin uses a double page layout more than once, particularly well in a scene with Lex walking down through protective gates. The facial expressions of Lex are incredibly well done especially so since Lex is attempting to hide all emotions. In his scenes he needs to be calm and sure of himself, yet we can read on his face internally he’s slipping. That adds a layer to the scenes he has quite nicely.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As I’ve said above this issue can get quite wordy and while I’m impressed with how much exposition is delivered without stunting the pace it does still feel heavy at times. I’d chock this up to needing to get a certain amount of information to the reader by the end, but the fact that the Justice League and Lex’s portions are all basically contained in a single room doesn’t help. The visual medium needs a bit more gusto and giving them something to do could have helped this book feel even stronger.
Is it good?
A good issue that reveals a lot, preparing readers for future stories. That aside, everyone is going to be talking about the Batman Who Laughs who is drawn and written excellently here. Get in the Halloween spirit with this issue as it’s dark and exquisitely unnerving.