There’s gorgeous, atmospheric art and colors from Alex Maleev, but also tiresome, repetitive arguments about Talia al Ghul from Brian Michael Bendis even after the previous Leviathan Special basically proved that the destruction of all the DC Universe’s secret organizations isn’t her doing. This sentence shows that Event Leviathan #1 is the ultimate mixed bag. However, it does a nice job setting the mood for the ultimate DC Universe closed door mystery unless it veers off and does a Heroes in Crisis, which I don’t expect from the writer of Powers and two of Marvel’ greatest crime sagas (Alias, Daredevil).
In true decompressive fashion, Event Leviathan #1 is all set up, and it doesn’t really introduce
any new information that previous issues of Action
Comics, the Leviathan Special,
and marketing material haven’t covered. However, Bendis and Maleev give readers
Batman, Lois Lane, Steve Trevor, and a couple surprise guests in the ruins of
ARGUS asking questions, bickering, and generally acting very paranoid. Except
for a couple glorious flashbacks showing the destruction of ARGUS and the other
organizations, Maleev predominantly uses small box panels or quite thin vertical
panels to show how characters have been stretched to their breaking point as
they figure out the identity and mission of Leviathan.
In particular, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s Steve Trevor is a revelation as he somehow survived the destruction of ARGUS’ Odyssey, a building that was the brainchild of the mysterious Dr. Strand and was supposed to bridge superheroes and ordinary humans. The fact that he survived such a colorful and complete explosion has basically given Trevor PTSD, and he is worlds away from the competent agent and occasional Wonder Woman squeeze.
Bendis gives his dialogue almost a babbling pattern with a veneer of self-awareness that clashes with the sharp deductions of Lois Lane, brooding presence of Batman, and the quips of Green Arrow. He’s paranoid as hell and starts pointing and firing guns when Batman is just a little soft on Talia’s connection to Leviathan, probably, because she is Damian’s mother. (Lois Lane and Steve Trevor don’t know this.) But Trevor has a badass side too like when he lands a solid jab at Batman by saying ARGUS always comes up with a countermeasure when he comes up with a new gadget.
That line is the perfect setup for the flashback to the ARGUS explosion, which allows Maleev to work in a more widescreen mode with a sunnier color palette. (Even if that sun is more of a sunset.) It represents Dr. Strand’s optimism in her project contrasted with Trevor’s stubble sporting realism as he knows what happens to the DEO and other organizations, just wants to get the hell out of there, and doesn’t care about optics or lofty ideals.
Then, there’s a symphony of colors like blues, reds, oranges, and yellows with just a touch of Kirby krackle that builds to a full page crescendo that almost looks like Maleev’s painted work. Yeah, it’s just a big explosion like readers have seen in almost every summer event comic/blockbuster movie. But Maleev’s choice of palette and staging make it stick in the brain for an extra half second and ponder why Steve Trevor was caught in a kind of blue force field while the rest of his team perished. It’s the raw material that the team of detectives will sift through in future issues.
Maybe, I’m getting blinded by cool Alex Maleev visuals and storytelling techniques, and Event Leviathan will be five issues of circular banter and quickly resolve the plot in issue six. However, the Batman/Lois Lane dialogue will at least crackle as two of the most competent individuals on the planet try to find a needle in the DC Universe haystack. And did I mention that they have a complex relationship with the most powerful person on the planet too? Plus it’s fun to see the crack team of Bendis and Maleev get down and noir-y in a new universe. Maleev’s use of shadows that imply Batman is hiding something are a thing of beauty, and as long as you’re okay with a little bit of decompression with your espionage noir, Event Leviathan #1 is worth checking out and is more Agatha Christie than Michael Bay.
Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Alex Maleev Letters: Joshua Reed
Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review