Friday, September 21, 2018

Review: Justice League #8

I have been pretty pleased with the recent Justice League comic, written by Scott Snyder with art from Jorge Jimenez and Jim Cheung. It is an often confusing, universe shaking, wildly imaginative story that often leaves me perplexed and breathless.

What has been interesting is the plan to intermittently have an issue be dubbed Legion of Doom, written by James Tynion IV, and focusing on a villain. It is a chance to take a breath, slow down, and see life from the other side of the fence.

Justice League #8 is mostly about Lex Luthor, the leader of the villains and the one most in the spotlight for the earlier arcs and his conversation with The Batman Who Laughs. We get some of the League. We get some of the other LOD. But mostly it is these two talking in half-truths, each trying to be the smartest guy in the room. Thankfully, there is some plot progression at the end.

This was my least favorite issue of the run. It is probably because I didn't read Metal and have no idea who this Batman Who Laughs is. Tynion does a good job of painting the picture that he is exceedingly powerful and dangerous. But he is basically an unknown to me. So his talk with Luthor didn't carry the punch I think it would for others more informed.

That said, Mikel Janin is on art and is wonderful. His art is slick and gratifying. Everything kind of has a sheen to it, detailed and expressive. This title is one of the prettiest on the stands.

And, as I said, more clues get added to the mix.

On to the book.

Last issue ended with the Will Payton Starman, armed with a Cosmis Staff, blipping in from a portal.

Unconscious and battered, his mind is probed by J'onn.

For us old-timers, we get a review of his origin, accidentally bathed in energy from a satellite beam which had been aimed for others.

Snyder does a great job throwing in his own wrinkle to the works. It was the Totality, streaking through time and space, which fed the satellite absorption arrays and energized Payton. Just like that a rather ordinary origin becomes something monumental to this story.

This is a wrinkle in an origin I can abide by, unlike ... let's say ... an upstanding alien hero suddenly having a history of being a corrupt cop on his homeworld.

Unfortunately, Luthor also seems to have the ability to flit through time as well. We see in Payton's memories that Luthor showed up, apprehended him, tortured him, and experimented on him. Things fade to black in Payton's mind. He doesn't remember it all.

One thing I do love about this issue, especially because it is the Legion of Doom issue, is that the heroes seem helpless and the villains are thriving. This is happened home with J'onn's opening speech. Luthor is winning.

Great art here. I love the battered Batman in branded full body cast.

 We cut to the Legion of Doom headquarters.

As I said, I don't know the Batman Who Laughs, but Tynion lets me know how powerful and scary he is. He is encased in chains, in a future tech prison room, behind a mystical shield room, inside a geothermal casing, behind a secret door. Despite this formidable prison, Grodd, Sinestro, and the Joker are all terrified. Okay .. fair enough ... he's scary.

I also love how the Joker thinks this guy is there of his own volition.

What I wouldn't give for a couple more lines telling me if he has powers or something!

 Then Lex have their conversation, trading barbs and superiority complexes.

Here it is clear that this Batman gets Luthor's mental issues. Lex doesn't want to feel small, would be willing to spit in God's face, and even willing to be a hero to get acceptance.

I wonder if Lex is self-aware of that.

 Then the Batman starts to play 'I know something I won't tell' with Lex. He knows what the Totality is. He knows why Doom is the inherent direction of the world. And he can share that with Lex. In fact, he could have escaped this prison already. But he wants this parley.

It is complete with Dark Metal needles being spat out and Luthor doing some self-mutilation, all to show how grim and broody it all is.

But again, because I don't know this guy it was hard for me to know if this was all bluff or true knowledge. Given the reaction of the others, I assumed it was real.

Meanwhile, on a side mission, Black Manta and Cheetah raise hell in a seaside town.

Manta has been promised dominance over Atlantis. He has used the Key to the Graveyard of the Gods to summon beings with a dark call.

From below the sea we see three bright lights coming to the surface. Part of me thinks this is all Lovecraftian Elder Gods stuff. But another part of me is hoping that Snyder taps The Millenium Gods from the Superman titles. That would be a fun callback!

 And Cheetah uses the Tear of Extinction to kill Poseidon. Her talons can now kill gods.

I get that this an easy way to show how powerful the Tear of Extinction is. But it, like much in this book, is done so fast. Maybe too fast? I don't know.

And I sort of miss the giant walrus/octopus looking Poseidon from Cliff Chiang's interpretation.

Finally we get down to business with Lex and the Batman.

If Batman is freed and allowed to go about his business without Luthor's interference, he will give up some information. Lex agrees.

Batman says the energies being hidden behind the Source Wall were being kept away from a female being named Perpetua. Later we see a female form manifesting in the JLA headquarters.

Who is Perpetua??

So we learn the name Perpetua. We see what the Tear of Extinction and the Key to the Graveyard of Gods can do. There's a god dying on a pier. We see the heroes scrambling and Starman battered. It does seem like the Legion is winning.

And the art crackles.

But there wasn't that breathless feel I have had after the League focused issues. I thought I wanted a pause and some exposition. Maybe I didn't?

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

I hate the Batman Who Laughs? I may have mentioned that elsewhere. Having read more stories with him doesn't really illuminate, or make him more enjoyable. He's just a Batman who's gone Joker... or something.

Scott Snyder has said he has a good justification for Joker being on the LoD...Lex using him as an intermediary/translator for TBWL would have made sense to me. Instead he's just... there.

Great art. not bad story, but I hate the villains stealing an issue. And I get that the core JLA have bigger immediate fish to fry than the LoD, but what about all the Unlimited associates from #1. Couldn't they be out hunting for Luthor and co?

Anonymous said...

Great art, but this issue has been more confusing, and I hate The Batman Who Laughs' design. Something about it screams eeeeeeeeedgy 90's garbage.

I don't think those lights are meant to be the Millennium Giants. Not counting Superman Reborn's nostalgia fest, DC seems hesitant to bring up or back anything created during the 90's. But who knows.

Anonymous said...

I can't say I really like The Batman Who Laughs either. He's basically Snyder's personal fan fic creation and I don't mean in a good way either. In this issue alone Tynion had him spill all the important exposition and brag about how he could have escaped all along with a Dark Metal lockpick. That's not entertaining, that's cliche writing. It's also pointless with Joker on the Legion already.