Review: EVENT LEVIATHAN #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Art and Cover: Alex Maleev
Letters: Joshua Reed
Reviewed By: Ari Bard
The mysterious new villain Leviathan has systematically dismantled and destroyed all of the world’s clandestine organizations. Now it will take the great detectives on the planet to determine who this figure is and what they’re planning. No character will be left unaffected, no corner of the universe left untouched. The event of the summer is here!
There is a lot to like about Event Leviathan #1, and most of it has to do with Alex Maleev’s spectacular artwork. Maleev brings a gravitas and a finished quality to the book that makes it feel as though it’s about to be cataloged as one of the largest threats the DC Universe has ever seen. There is a careful balance between the blues and blacks of investigators that work in the shadows and the bright warm colors used when depicting A.R.GU.S. and The Odyssey. Each panel looks like it could be a photograph used in a museum exhibit showcasing this event. The issue carries a level of importance with each page that you just don’t see in a lot of titles these days.
That being said, this is an event dramatically different than many that have come before. There is no incomprehensibly large, cosmic threat wreaking havoc and causing vast amounts of destruction that disappears when the event is over. This is the systematic elimination of key institutions that will have a lasting effect on the universe. We see how ordinary people, such as Doctor Strand, are effected and get a sense of how unique this problem is. Unlike most larger threats, this is a problem that can’t be fixed with violence, brute force, shear numbers, or a magical/technological advantage. Some of those elements may come later, but the threat first requires investigative skills, something that Bendis brings in spades. This is particularly showcase through Batman’s inclusion in the story as he follows leads and discusses the situation with Lois. We haven’t see Batman’s detective work portrayed this well in quite some time, and it’s refreshing to see the character through the eyes of an investigator. Leviathan is run by one individual who we can assume to be human and Event Leviathan #1 starts to show the destructive impact one human can have when working intelligently, even in the DC universe.
Joshua Reed’s lettering also must not be understated. He is one of the best there is at using word balloons to maximize the words’ effect and convey a clear sense of flow and progression. There are only a few SFX used in the book, but all of them appear clean and seamlessly part of the story. The different logos designed for each clandestine organization are just small, additional examples of a letterer clearly going above and beyond.
Unfortunately, while the art and overall premise excite, the rest of Event Leviathan #1 falls fairly flat, especially following the Superman: Leviathan Rising special. There’s a strange atmosphere right from the beginning that adds a lot of unnecessary confusion to the issue. In Leviathan Rising, Batman and Lois discuss Clark’s apparent kidnapping like colleagues or even friendly acquaintances. In Event Leviathan #1, however, there is a thick layer of hostility that seemingly comes out of nowhere. There’s a lot of irritable dialogue between the two of them that feels mean-spirited for no apparent reason. Bendis’s character voices are usually very clear to the point where you can usually hear the character speaking out loud in your head. Here, however, Bendis’s Batman is all over the place and certainly nothing like his work with Nick Derington. It sounds inconsistent and unpolished as Bendis tries to mix dry humor and witty retorts with small threats towards Lois. The same can be said about Lois’s dialogue as well. The entirely scene plays out as though they haven’t been on double dates and met each other’s families which we all know they have.
Steve Trevor’s dialogue is equally strange with there being very little concern or emotion in his dialogue even with the rough condition he’s in. None of them seem to be acting like the fate of the world is at stake or that people are even getting hurt. There is very little urgency to what they’re saying which undermines a large portion of the event. There is a scene toward the send with Steve Trevor that escalates to violence seemingly from nothing. If you mapped out the emotional progression of the visual narrative versus the written one, the results would be dramatically different. Maleev conveys all the emotions we need through his stunning visuals, but the dialogue just does not match up. There are surprising entrances, unexpected moments, and a few (but very little) revealed secrets, but it doesn’t mean anything if there’s no emotion behind the words.
Event Leviathan #1 is a visually spectacular book with a lot of potential, but it ultimately falls flat in its attempt to draw you in for the large event or satisfy any doubts or questions you may be having.