By Jonathan Edwards
No, this book still isn't any good, and no, I won't leave it alone. This issue feels like a whole new low in the perpetual suck that is this series. On top of characters being dumb, inconsistent, and poorly written, loads of development happening offpanel, a shitton of sloppy exposition telling us about said development, as well as an entirely artificial and manufactured conflict regarding the "hypocrisy" of Batman, Justice League of America #8 has the most convoluted train wreck of a story to date. Makson is a shit-tier villain, an even worse character, and the "twist" is flimsy and contrived at best. The fact that DC currently lists five more issues of JLA, all still written by Orlando, is insanity and could be used as proof for us living in an unfair world.
Let's start with the conceptually stupid and make our way to the entirely stupid. Why the hell is it such a big deal that Batman doesn't attend the JLA's dumbass press conferences? This isn't the first time it's happened, nor is it the first time that a character has bitched about it. I'm sorry, did no one consider that Batman might be busy, I don't know, BEING BATMAN?! Seriously, there's all this talk questioning his loyalty and morality and if he really cares about the team and this and that, but not a single one of these fuckers ever suggests that he's Batman and might be in the middle of fighting crime, saving the world, or anything else. It's symptomatic of a deeper problem with the book. Nothing happens because it comes from genuine character agency or even simple logic. Things only happen because the story needs them to in order to progress properly. And, it's made even more obvious here by the fact that they're arguing against Batman in favor of someone they've known for only a few days. They just turn it around and criticize him for "making a team based on second chances" but not completely trusting Makson. I mean, seriously? Pretty sure there's a big difference between giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who says they want to change for the better and blindly believing everything that a wild man says when all of your "world's best detective" skills are telling you not to.
As for Makson himself, he was handled so incredibly poorly that it's kind of amazing. Although to be fair, the first few pages are a decent introduction to him. But as soon as the JLA shows up, everything immediately falls apart. Do we actually get to see his lizard family get killed or even harmed? Nope, we're too busy focusing on the JLA being annoying, and then we cut back to him mourning their goofy looking corpses. And then, it suddenly timeskips forward a few days, and Makson is well-groomed, can properly speak English, and gives a fucking egregious exposition dump about who really is and all this other bullshit that happened off panel. Come the fuck on, Steve Orlando. Did you seriously never learn show don't tell? Because, we're not going to give a single shit about how a character develops when we're literally given no chances to empathize with them during said development. Honestly, I'm struggling to find the words to properly express how much this sequence pisses me off.
Then, there's the art. It's fine if nothing special. But, it certainly doesn't make up for the awful script. And once again, the depiction of Makson's dead lizard family does end up pretty silly looking, effectively negating (or at the very least diminishing) the single honest moment this issue might've had. Additionally, I feel like Makson's wild man design would be more interesting if it had just a bit more to it, and I wish they didn't throw it away for the entirety of the second half.
Finally, let's talk about the ending. So, somehow Makson's rich relatives knew he had crash landed on whichever island years prior and funded an entire criminal organization in order to ensure his death to protect their own wallets. When it failed and he was brought back to civilization, Makson somehow figured that out, and now he's going to kill every single person he's related to because of it? What the fuck kind of plot twist is that? Why does his FAMILY want to kill him instead of rescue him? How do they even know where he was or what happened? Why does his revenge include murdering people that didn't even know they were related and couldn't have possibly have had anything to do with the attack on him? And no, "he was raised by lizards" isn't an acceptable answer. If Makson is smart enough to learn what happened and plot a revenge under the guise of a familial celebration (one that included a reference to the creation of a nonprofit organization), than he is damn well smart enough to recognize that not every single person that shares DNA with him is at fault. Fuck this book, fuck the next issue, and fuck all the preachy, JLA trying to reason with Makson bullshit that'll assuredly be in it.
Justice League of America #8