19th Jun2019

‘Event Leviathan #1′ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Brian Michael Bendis | Art by Alex Maleev | Published by DC Comics

event-leviathan-1-cover

I tend to find that Bendis’s name attached to a huge company-wide crossover can either be a brilliant thing or a terrible one. Bendis at the top of his game is a joy, he can write some cracking dialogue and great tent pole comics. There is, however, the jobbing Bendis, who is sometimes too overcommitted to really shine on every project he works on. As a rule, if Bendis starts with a sound concept, or has a decent editor who can reign him in, or a combination of those two things, then good things happen. Event Leviathan has the look of good things. Although this is Issue 1 of a six issue ‘thriller’, there have been some stories feeding in from regular DC titles, and a Leviathan Rising one-shot, that set the scene, but they aren’t essential to follow this series. Roll credits…

Straight away you know this is a Bendis/Maleev joint, as the first page, featuring a moodily drawn and coloured Batman skulking around in shadows, draws us in. Batman bumps into Lois Lane, also skulking around in a buildings wreckage, and we get a feel for what’s happening. An organisation called Leviathan is targeting and taking down various covert, but powerful, groups. A.R.G.U.S, Spyral, and Cadmus have all fallen, Amanda Waller is missing, Sam Lane is critically wounded. Who’s behind all this? Luthor? doesn’t seem his style. Talia al Ghul is the prime suspect, as she is (was?) the boss at Leviathan. While Batman and Lois debate, they suddenly notice Steve Trevor (yep, THAT Steve Trevor) hiding in the wreckage. Turns out that Steve was present in the building when the attack happened, and A.R.G.U.S project The Odyssey was destroyed. He was seemingly left alive to bear witness to Leviathan’s power, which is spreading.

Entire governments are terrified, established pillars of that state are collapsing, their intent seems to be destabilisation of everything and everyone. To turn friends against each other, to deepen suspicion. To prove the point, Colonel Trevor, convinced he is being set up, tries to escape the scene, shooting Lois in the shoulder. Unfortunately for him, we have another hero skulking in the shadows (Bendis sure loves some skulking), Green Arrow, who takes down Trevor. Ollie, Lois, and Batman realise they need to find out a whole lot of stuff, fast, and decide to send out a call for the best detectives around to come and help hunt down Leviathan before they strike again. That club probably includes The Question, which is handy, as The Question has also been, you guessed it, skulking in yet more shadows observing all this. It’s on.

On balance, this issue was slightly odd. In itself, not a bad read. Loved the Batman dialogue, the interactions, the little snippets we picked up, the portrayal of Lois, all good stuff. But as the launch issue of an ‘event’, it was incredibly low key. It felt more like a 0 issue, preparing the way for the full series. Was there enough to pull readers in for the next issue? For most, I would say yes. I was certainly intrigued by the central mystery, the whole premise, and the promise of the big detective characters team -up. I’m guessing the low key nature of this issue will be the tone of the book, with Bendis keen to have an ‘event’ that is more than just explosions and fighting. Getting a little more cerebral. Nothing wrong with that.

The art, by Alex Maleev, was just gorgeous. He penciled, inked, and coloured, and virtually every panel is a work of art. I love his composition , be it of a single panel, or of an entire page. He clearly has a huge affection for Batman, which shows, but doesn’t do too shabby a job on the other characters either. All those years of Bendis and Maleev working together on Daredevil have clearly developed a great partnership.

A quiet start, but with plenty of world building for the book. Event Leviathan is not your typical summer crossover event, this one looks to have a little meat on its bones, a little more substance than we are used to.

**** 4/5

Solid, but with a promise of far greater things to come, this is a book you should pick up.

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