WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League #13 by James Tynion IV, Guillem March, Arif Prianto and Tom Napolitano, in stores now.
As a villain, the Joker's never exactly been a team player. The Clown Prince of Crime is an agent of chaos, unpredictable and cruel. It makes him impossible to reason with and it certainly makes for an impossible ally. And yet, Lex Luthor managed to convince Joker to join his supervillain team, the Legion of Doom. Some were quite surprised to see Joker follow Lex's lead and work alongside the likes of Gorilla Grodd and Sinestro, and with good reason.
Well, today's Justice League #13 reveals exactly how Lex was able to recruit Joker to his cause -- just in time to see the purple-clad clown quit the team in spectacular fashion. To make things clear, the Joker didn't just quit the Legion of Doom, he proved he might just be the greatest and deadliest supervillain in the DC Universe.
Justice League #13 opens with a flashback scene that reveals how Luthor sold an alliance to the Joker. The promise of becoming a cosmic god was enough to tantalize the Joker (or so he would have us believe). But, in return, Joker only had one condition: He didn't want to see Lex, at any point, strike any type of deal or alliance with the Dark Multiverse villain known as the Batman Who Laughs. According to Joker, the Batman Who Laughs has the potential to ruin everything, and he won't stand for it. Of course, Luthor took the deal.
As we know from a couple of issues ago, Luthor broke his promise to Joker by setting the Batman Who Laughs free. And it's now that the Clown Prince of Crime shows that he was dead serious about his understanding with Luthor.
As potential new recruits arrive to replace Black Manta (who was kicked out of the Legion at the end of the Drowned Earth event), Joker unleashes his laughing gas on every single villain in the team's headquarters. Grodd, Cheetah, Riddler -- they all transform into maniacal, laughing monsters. The only one who isn't affected by the gas is Lex, and there is a very special reason for that. Joker wastes no time in showing that he foiled all of Lex's best-laid plans well in advance of his attack.
KEEP READING: Batman's New Villain Is the Series' Biggest Twist Yet
He takes Lex prisoner and then explains to him that he never really had any intention of joining him in cosmic godhood. In reality, he only wanted to help get him to the precipice, only to ruin everything at the last second, and take him and every other villain out at that precise time. However, now that the Batman Who Laughs has been freed, now that Lex has unleashed a variable even more unpredictable than the Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime can't be bothered to play this game any longer. He knows that the Batman Who Laughs has something infinitely worse planned, and he believes that Lex deserves to be on the receiving end of it.
And so, Joker administers a cure to everyone infected by his gas as he leaves the Legion of Doom, promising Lex that he will suffer at the hands of the Batman Who Laughs. By taking control of every single Legion of Doom villain (and a few potential recruits), Joker demonstrated that he can get the drop on anyone -- even Lex Luthor himself. In one fell swoop, Joker could have taken out the biggest DCU villains without breaking much of a sweat, forever proving that no other villain can hold a candle to him.