Spoilers ahead for this week's Justice League #13.
Joker has quit the Legion of Doom, but the end of Justice League #13 revealed that another villain will soon take his place: Brainiac.
In this week’s Justice League #13 by writer James Tynion IV and artist Guillem March, Lex Luthor has also learned a tidbit of information about the Source Wall and the Totality.
According to the Batman Who Laughs, the Source Wall kept dark forces locked away from the rest of the universe and was, essentially, a prison that was built to contain someone named Perpetua.
How did Lex convince the Batman Who Laughs to share information about Perpetua? Why did the Joker leave the Legion and how? Let’s take a look at spoilers for the issue.
Lex Strikes Two Unfortunate Deals
The issue begins with a flashback to when Lex Luthor first recruited Joker for the Legion of Doom. “I have seen the true nature of humankind and you are its pinnacle,” he tells Joker. “I want to give you unspeakable power.”
The Joker already knows about the people Lex is signing up for his bad-guy group. He says he’ll join on one condition: the Batman Who Laughs cannot join too. “He’s going to ruin the whole game and I won’t stand for it. The deal is him or me,” Joker says.
“Deal,” Lex says, lying to the Joker by stating that he wants nothing to do with “that nightmare.”
The scene switches to present day in the Hall of Doom, where Lex Luthor is communicating with the Batman Who Laughs (who we learned in a previous issue Lex has tied up in chains).
The Batman Who Laughs is making a deal of his own, convincing Lex that if he shares knowledge, Lex has to let him go (because, as we learned in past issues, he’s probably already got an escape plan devised anyway).
The deal also requires that each villain will not interfere in the other’s plans.
The deal is struck. The Batman Who Laughs shares his information: the Source Wall was a prison that was built to lock away the dark forces of someone named Perpetua.
Lex looks into the Totality and says, “Can you hear me in there Perpetua? Can you show me the way?” But there is no answer.
There’s one more problem. Unknown to Luthor, the Joker is at the door and hears their deal.
At the Hall of Doom (which is now located on the dark side of the moon), about a dozen new arrivals appear - villains like Mr. Freeze, Solomon Grundy, Riddler, and the Scarecrow. They’re candidates to replace Black Manta, who was excommunicated during Aquaman/Justice League Drowned Earth last month.
As the new recruits arrive, they’re greeted by Cheetah, Sinestro, and Grodd (although Grodd is telepathically telling Lex to hurry up and join them).
To everyone’s surprise, there are small welcome packages waiting for the new recruits, with purple wrapping paper and green bows. As Riddler opens his present, something sprays from inside. Grodd reaches out telepathically to Lex again, but this time he’s laughing.
The Joker toxin has been released, and the villains are infected. They begin fighting each other through their laughter.
“You broke our deal, Lexy,” Joker explains when Lex reaches out to him through the Doom HQ communication system.
Lex opens a secret compartment to get his armor, but Joker has secretly destroyed it too.
Lex desperately begins to repair one of the mechanical arms of the armored suit, but he’s interrupted by the villains, coming for blood. Just in time, Lex holds up the arm and uses its blaster to subdue the villains.
But when Lex runs away, he just enters room after room where the Joker has set a trap for him. As the two communicate and trade nasty quips, Lex tries to fight his way out of each torture chamber to get to the Joker.
Finally, the Joker tells Lex that he has the Doorknob. Lex falls to his knees. “No! Stay away from it!” he cries.
But the Joker holds the Doorknob in his hand, and he comes up behind Lex and, presumably, hits him in the head with it.
When Lex becomes conscious again, he has been chained up - in much the same way he once had chained the Batman Who Laughs.
Sitting around chained-up Lex, smiling at him, are a slew of villains that were infected by the Joker toxin. “I made this toxin special,” Joker explains. “Keeps them docile.”
But Lex has not been infected, because the Joker wants him clear-minded. Joker explains that he didn’t join the Legion of Doom to take over the Multiverse - what would he do with a Multiverse? Instead, what he desired was the fun he would have allowing Lex to get right to the edge of winning, and then blow it all up in his face.
He explains the elaborate plans he concocted to destroy Lex and the other members of the Legion, but then Joker laments that his “perfect, beautiful” plan was ruined.
“It’s nothing compared to what the Batman Who Laughs is going to do to you,” Joker says. He lays down the doorknob and, walking out the door, releases a toxin that undoes the infection of the other villains.
The new recruits run out the door. “I did not come all the way to the dark side of the Moon to piss off The Joker. I could do that at home,” the Riddler says as he and everyone else leave.
All that’s left in the Legion of Doom are Sinestro, Grodd, Cheetah, and Lex Luthor. But Lex says they don’t need another member. They have the Doorknob and the Totality. They’re winning.
He also has a secret weapon. He opens a line of communication with Professor Ivo and says, “It’s time to bring our old friend back online. If we’re going to survive what comes next, the Legion of Doom needs Brainiac.”
The final page shows Ivo in his laboratory, working on Brainiac’s mechanical brain, trying to bring him back to life.
The issue teases two stories: The Joker will return in The Batman Who Laughs limited series beginning December 12, and December 19's Justice League #14 is titled “Escape from Hawkworld!”