Justice League 8 Joker Variant Jim Lee

Lex Luthor is down, but not out. After his defeat in Scott Snyder’s opening arc of DC’s Justice League, Superman’s greatest enemy is turning to someone he doesn’t understand out of fear for his own dire weakness: His ego. And it’s a decision that threatens to change Lex Luthor forever.

In Justice League #8, out now, James Tynion IV (Detective Comics) pits Lex Luthor in a face-to-face confrontation with the Batman Who Laughs, the twisted Batman of a dark reality who debuted in last year’s summer crossover Metal.

In a tense conversation between, the Batman Who Laughs gives Luthor some advice. Quoth the Kendrick Lamar, “Be humble.”

Luthor’s pride, Tynion says, threatens to undo Luthor’s path to victory over the League. That’s where Batman Who Laughs (“A nightmare of a nightmare,” Tynion describes) comes in, telling Luthor he’s been in this position before countless times, and he’ll never win if he lets his arrogance get in the way.

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“Luthor is on the edge right now,” Tynion tells Inverse. “There’s so much at stake. He’s on the path that could end in godhood, power he has never had in his life. But he still has everything in him that pulls him toward failure time and time again. He could lose if he doesn’t push himself all the way.”

Justice League James Tynion

The Batman Who Laughs, a Batman infected by Joker serum that basically turned him into a deranged killer with tactical training, is a “source” for Lex Luthor.

“He sees everything as something he can gain from,” Tynion says. “So to use Batman Who Laughs to dig down and get at his insecurities, that was important in this issue. You have Luthor going to one of the closest things to the devil in the DC Universe, going, ‘How can I be the best version of myself?’”

In the current story of Justice League, Lex Luthor has reformed the Legion of Doom, a rival super team made up of the most feared archenemies of the Justice League. Joker, Gorilla Grodd, Black Manta, Cheetah, and Sinestro have all aligned with the mad scientist/billionaire to take down the League.

“Lex Luthor is the heart of the Legion of Doom. He is the instigator of the terror they’re inflicting,” explains Tynion. “And his greatest weakness has always been his ego. He thinks so highly of himself and has such a huge chip on his shoulder to prove it, he’d burn down the universe to prove himself right.”

Justice League Scott Snyder
Preview of 'Justice League' #8, illustrated by Mikel Janin and Jeremy Cox.
Lex Luthor Starman Justcie League
'Justice League' #8 also features a big cameo of Starman, revealing a confrontation with Lex Luthor.

In fact, Luthor’s ego and his current path threatens to break up the Legion of Doom too. At least that’s what Tynion teases.

“There may be more recruits to the Legion of Doom and some folks who no longer stay as we see [Lex Luthor] move forward and rise,” says Tynion. “He’s going to work with people who could outthink him, rip his gains away from him, because he knows he needs to let go of that ego. But the question is whether he can. That will remain a question, and the information he gets from Batman Who Laughs at the end of this issue will drive the story into next year.”

Earlier this summer, DC began a new volume of Justice League under acclaimed Batman scribe Scott Snyder. Along for the ride is Tynion, writer of Detective Comics and Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with whom Snyder is collaborating in this storyline involving the Legion of Doom. While Snyder pens the issues with the League, Tynion is on Legion duty.

“Scott and I have been working on this story since Metal,” Tynion says. “We have a long form plan. Just the last few weeks, we’ve been going over the huge story that plays through 2019 and it’s gonna be something special.”

Justice League 8 Lex Luthor

And Tynion’s Justice League #8 plants the seeds for the next major crossover, Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth, an upcoming epic heavily focused on the Atlantean superhero. The first issue of Drowned Earth hits this November, not long before Aquaman hits theaters on December 14. Tynion tells Inverse that Drowned Earth will be a “game-changer.”

“It’s very Aquaman-centric,” he says. “This [issue] is the first step towards that story. This is what the Legion of Doom has done to instigate Drowned Earth and that story is going to bring in some terrifying new characters, lost sea gods who have a history of Earth and Atlantis. Just playing with the Atlantean mythology in a big way is really fun. We’re gonna have a blast.”

Justice League #8 is available now.

Photos via DC Comics