Justice League #13 Review - Playing the Joker is Like Playing Yourself
• Arif Prianto (Colors) • Gulliem March & Tomeu Morey (Cover)
It feels like I'm reviewing a lot of Joker content lately. The character is extremely hot right now and it's not hard to see why so many talented creators have lined up to write him. All of the takes on the character I've reviewed are different. That extends across comics and into other forms of media. This isn't the traditional Joker I'm used to that gleefully beats kids too death with crowbars. This Joker is a potential threat to the DC universe which is hard to reconcile when you see the more grounded takes found in the depictions of Batman: Three Jokers or the Joker Graphic Novel.
I'm not sure exactly why I stopped reading Justice League. I'm guessing it was because the series was shipping biweekly and I just couldn't keep up. I'm pretty sure that I would have stayed on board if I'd read this issue before dropping the title from my pull list.
With Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth being over we're back to the overarching Justice League vs. Legion of Doom storyline and Lex Luthor's quest to obtain God-Like power. This issue sees Lex and his dealings with Joker and The Batman Who Laughs.
As seen in previous issues Lex Luthor has The Batman Who Laughs held captive in the Legion of Doom base. Lex Makes the agreement with the insane Batman not to interfere with each other's plans going forward. The situation escalates pretty quickly for Luthor when it's revealed that prior to meeting with The Batman Who Laughs he made a "him or me" arrangement with the Joker. Joker finds out about the lie and proceeds to make Lex's life a living hell for the rest of the issue.
If you want a "Peak" Joker experience and evidence of why he belongs in the Legion of Doom I submit Justice League #13. James Tynion IV has jumped to the top of my list of best comic writers working today mainly because he knows how to put together a compelling comic book. This book has great action, tension, and although I never thought that Joker or Luthor would be killed the ending still wound up being both satisfying and unexpected. The comic is easily a masterpiece and one of the reasons I started reading comics in the first place.
I won't spoil the entire issue but suffice to say that Luthor seriously fucks up by underestimating the Joker and is punished severely for it. The situation is even more shocking because of the power we see Luthor wielding at the outset of the confrontation.
The comic is wonderfully illustrated by Guillem March who beautifully illustrates the grimy streets of Gotham and the cosmic elements that come into play. He also makes the Joker look like an absolute beast by the end of the issue which is a credit to the art direction and script of the issue.
Tynion is currently producing Joker War for DC comics. I have no idea how long it will take me to get there but I'm definitely excited to see what he has in store for the character. On the strength of this issue, I'm going to try to get caught up at least through the end of the Snyder Run on Justice League. This is the highest compliment I can give regarding the creative direction of this issue.