Comic Book Review: Justice League #13
While I’m surprised we were able to get the kind of story we did out of “Drowned Earth” through the pages of Justice League, I’m glad that we can focus down to one singular storyline again. Nothing is more engaging than being able to follow one story without being pulled in too many directions. For an issue like this one, there was a lot to look forward to when once again we find ourselves facing a villain-centric plot set in motion.
It felt good to see the Legion of Doom as the center of attention once more. I get that some people are here for the Justice League, but some of us are here to see the boundaries that these villains are ready to crush. One villain has had my attention more than most since this run of Justice League began. That person being The Joker. Much of my excitement leaned towards seeing him on the cover of this issue to finally see what makes him tick in this moment in time. Is he just another loose cannon? A wildcard? Or is this a version of The Joker who you can take a bit more seriously than usual? Big questions as a reader who admittedly did not follow everything from the events of Dark Nights: Metal. It’s not bold to assume either that there are readers out there who have read these issues and know nothing about that event. You wouldn’t be lost, but you would definitely have some questions about the state of mind for villains like Joker.
I loved the sense of balance to him seen in this issue. Still the same madman, but there was a bit more method to his madness. What Lex Luthor brings out in him was perfect for the fact that Joker is working with someone who likes to have control over his plans. Little time was wasted in getting into the connection between this book and the Batman Who Laughs miniseries coming out next year. A long time coming if you ask me since Joker has not beat around the bushes that he does not appreciate the BWL breathing in their universe.
Now the thick of this issue was finding out what is meant by “No one gets out alive”. A statement you would only make to someone who has plans of leaving a group. For that, Joker would have to do something or have something done to him in order to decide its time to go lone wolf again. What led to this disintegration of Joker’s relationship with Luthor was thrilling. I don’t think there was ever a time that I liked this villain more than what he proved he was capable of against a mastermind. I don’t even think there was a time where I would have even agreed that Joker was worthy to be called a mastermind till now. There was no shaking the truth behind what has really been going through his head all of this time. You could tell that James Tynion IV was in his comfort zone writing these characters because they gave you nothing short of their best. Fun action, chilling dialogue, many memorable witty shots thrown at each other.
If I were being fair, then I might have to say that what kept this issue from being perfect was the fact that the villains are playing into their own roles too hard. I knew that this was all going to fall apart inevitably, and that only began to happen in a matter of a few issues. Aside from the finish line that you could see coming a mile away, still this was awesome!
The art team of Guillem March and Arif Prianto is new to me. I’ll give them credit for this book that they are stepping outside of their usual artists to show what others are capable of with the same chance at these characters and stories. For March, he was perfect for the gritty style to his pencils. Fine point, very detailed, and creates a rough view that is perfect when dealing with a story about villains. I loved every expression and action he was able to bring out in Joker and Luthor. Both of them had an organic approach to the way they acted and reacted towards each other. Especially Joker who for once was a lot more serious than he was wild. It helped that there was also plenty of scenes where shading gave emphasis to the fact that he has felt crossed and at that point where something needed to be done about his current arrangement. What brought all of this together was the unique style given to the page layouts. The had fun with the way that the panels were set up. That made such a big difference to the excitement of the action sequences. Particularly when seeing how agile Luthor could be on his own two feet. The colors had depth to them as well. Prianto was a fitting colorist for someone who knows how to take advantage of March’s penciling. March gives Prianto a lot to color and he did not skip a beat whether it was the characters, the explosiveness, the gas effects, or the full rendering of the world around these characters.
If anyone thought it was too risky to give you a villain’s story within a heroes story? Justice League #13 says otherwise to that notion. I’m calling it now that this is probably the best issue that we have gotten out of this book so far. It is genius in the way that two of the very best villains could test their metal against one another. You knew how it was going to end for The Joker, but that didn’t stop every obstacle and line of wit from him to rock you to the core.