Event Leviathan #1 review

Event Leviathan has been on the horizon for some time, but at last the Brian Bendis-masterminded mini-series is here.

The book opens with Batman climbing, Sixties TV series-style, the side of what remains of Argus’ new Odyssey building in Coast City. Inside he’s confronted by one very untrusting Lois Lane.

They lay out what they know about the attacks on the world’s super-security, spy and sinister organisations – the likes of Task Force X, Spyral, Kobra, the DEO and Argus itself. Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s other half when he’s not flitting between his roles as Air Force adventurer and superspy, is revealed to be around too. And while he’s as paranoid as Lois, he’s willing to share what happened at the building less than an hour earlier. He was listening to Odyssey chief Dr Strand lay out her dream for a better world.

Unfortunately, at that moment Leviathan’s agent comes calling and Odyssey is blown to smithereens, its agents vaporised or teleported away.

But Steve was spared to, he reckons, cast suspicion on him. And he thinks he’s not the only patsy.

Steve gets so paranoid that he pulls a weapon on Batman and Lois, causing another hero to step from the shadows.

It’s Green Arrow!

Boy, the shadows of the Odyssey building are certainly choc-a-bloc with skulkers. First Batman, then Lois, Steve, Green Arrow and, we soon learn, the Question too. But while Lois and friends plan to form a detectives’ circle to work out what Leviathan wants before he, she or it strikes again, the Question stands alone.

So far, anyway. The publicity for this series has him with the rest of the Super-Sherlocks (mind, when was Green Arrow a detective?), so he’ll join the party before long, no Question.

I rather enjoyed this issue. Bendis and artist Alex Maleev made a great team on Spider-Woman at Marvel and they’re on fine form here – the chapter is talky, light on action, but compelling – and this series is billed as a ‘mystery thriller’ rather than an action epic. Bendis excels at dialogue that’s low-key while acknowledging the wildness of the DC Universe, while Maleev’s naturalistic, gritty, full-colour art grounds the Fantastic.

My problem is that we’ve had such a long run-up to the mini, with Action Comics and the Leviathan Rising special, that this often feels like just more of the same. The only fresh element is the reveal of the Odyssey building, which will likely be restored by the end of the story, ready to serve a new Argus. There is a hint that Steve Trevor and Talia al-Ghul have A Past, but that’s possibly just Bendis teasing.

So who is Leviathan? Over at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary, my chum Dr Anj has been running posts outlining his theories, I recommend popping over there after you’ve read this. Me, I got nothing. I could try and make a case that Batman’s comment about their unknown foe having no ego points to a Superman robot deciding to outdo its creator. Or point out that the awkward title ‘Event Leviathan’ spells out ‘El’ – maybe a relative? If you read the comments on my Superman #12 post you’ll have come across an interesting/terrifying observation from the excellent Rob Staeger.

Does anyone have a suggestion? The final page shows Leviathan trying to recruit a character and on their coffee table – how villainous – we see what looks to be a tub of protein shake/whey powder, a tray of sushi and some pills… is our hidden villain a gym bunny?

16 thoughts on “Event Leviathan #1 review

  1. I don’t know that it makes him a detective, but Green Arrow did have a back-up in Detective Comics in the early 80s. And I guess you could go back to his early days when he was just Batman as an archer to rope him into this.

    Leviathan is… Hawk, but then suddenly Captain Atom. So obvious.

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    1. Forget Green Arrow. When has Plastic Man done detective work. Hell, when has he done anything cerebral? Elongated Man’s your guy if stretchy is necessary but I would have gone with Mister Terrific or Nemesis…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aw, I’m excellent! Thanks!

    That said, I don’t think — despite the initials — EL has anything to do with the House of El. (I think the title’s a play on “event horizon” — which doesn’t make much sense, but it sounds cool… and as wordplay goes, at least it’s not as awful as “bros before heroes.” Which…ugh.)

    As for Green Arrow, I can see him as a detective. He’s not a “world’s greatest detective,” but he does a lot of skulking around in the shadows, putting two and two together, following a trail from flunky to goon to middleman to boss, and that sort of thing. I think he qualifies.

    Plas, though? I don’t see it. But we don’t know yet how he’ll be used.

    I’m wondering about the timing of this book. It’s morning when Leviathan strikes, and that’s only “42 minutes ago.” I assume the scenes in the wreckage are dark because they’re underground. But that last shot of Batman…that’s outside. When does that happen? Anyway, I guess the team has a day to recruit, and then they all meet up at Lois’s place.

    And I love Dr. Anj’s theory, and can’t wait to hear more about it.

    As for the amenities in the place where Leviathan talks to Strand … are they for Strand, in case the teleportation took something out of her? Or, if he successfully recruits her, she’ll have to get right to work; might as well make things comfortable.

    And I’m still concerned that Lois might be a Leviathan recruit… there have been times in the narrative where she could have been recruited (or replaced by a duplicate of some kind). I think narratively, it makes sense for Lois to be the real Lois, though, as this looks to be a great story for her. So a clone theory is unsatisfying. But a willing recruit? Very unlikely, but maaaybe. If a) Leviathan’s goals are laudible and b) he’s only harming institutions, not people. (Remember, it wasn’t Leviathan that hurt her dad, but Amanda Waller. And the people at the DEO and other places have disappeared, not necessarily killed. We’ve been explicitly told that there are no bodies — Supergirl segment in the recent special aside, which I’m chalking up to apocrypha and sloppy editing.)

    That said, I don’t want her to be a recruit. I want her to be an agent of truth and transparency. I’m just saying she’s not cleared in my eyes yet.

    And speaking of not cleared: How many times has Batman launched a secret plan to save the world? Let’s ask Brother Eye, shall we?

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    1. Hmm Lois as a recruit. I do hope not – and I can’t see her doing something of which Superman would so disapprove. Yes, she’s her own woman but her beliefs have always aligned with his.

      Still, it would certainly be a twist, and perhaps fun watching Bendis try to sell it.

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      1. I hope she’s not, and honestly don’t think she will be, once everything shakes out. But I think we’ve had some nice red herrings already laid out for us, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it looked like she was an agent of Leviathan for a little while.

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  3. Brian Michael Bendis did Spider-Woman with Alex Maleev, Alias with Michael Gaydos. That said, Bendis is excellent at extra-length stories like this: his Annuals at Marvel used top talent to tell stories quite different than his monthly books. The Event Leviathan special is cerebral, but Steve and Lois pulling a gun on Batman, then Ollie putting an arrow in Trevor? That’s gold. That is four Golden Age characters who have no business being on the same page doing some serious business in the DCU. That’s the effortless craftsmanship of Bendis & Maleev making this seem normal: it’s not. Event Leviathan was a really good book 😀

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    1. Oh good grief Brad, I’m such a dibbuk. Of course it’s Spider-Woman, I shall fix that.

      Wonderful observation on the ‘Golden Ageness’ of the characters. You just made my night.

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  4. Great post.
    For me, not everyone has been reading Superman so I can understand Bendis sort of giving new readers a recap and a starting point to jump on.

    Leviathan is said to have no ego, he has set up a little table of treats, doesn’t kill people. He also has said that he wants what the other heroes want. So he has to be an ex-super-hero. He isn’t Luthor … we hear it twice in the issue.

    Lastly, Trevor might think this is to set up patsies. But I have other ideas.

    Thanks for the shout out!

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  5. This felt like a quick read to me. Loved the character work and their interaction, but it read a lot quicker than Bendis’ other DC stories of late and I’m not sure why.
    I’m curious how the Question is going to be used in the story. He’s popped up here and there in Action, but I haven’t got a sense of how he’s going to be used yet.
    Add me to the list that would rather see Ralph than Plastic Man. I mean, I think you can make a case for Plas being a detective… he was introduced in a comic called Police Comis, so presumably there was some detecting going on there. But I’d much rather see Mr. and Mrs. Dibney get a shot at the limelight.

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  6. There’s an upcoming solicitation involving Vic Sage and Renee Montoya that makes the issue sound very intriguing – it may answer the question of where the original fits in.

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  7. Green Lantern is a detective? Lois Lane is a detective? Plastic Man does have the credentials, but where are the top tier lads like Detective Chimp?

    The style of this story is what made me avoid Bendis’ work for years. Certain characters get aggrandized (Lois Lane) and others are shot in the back with an arrow (Thanks Ollie!).

    I’ll stay with it, but my Spider-Sense is tingling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He wouldn’t have to build Lois up if New 52 hadn’t neutered her and sent her off panel for the most part followed by Rebirth basically made her just a mom. I loved how Jurgens made her a crusading reporter when the trio was in hiding but then the follow up just dealt with her being mother and wife. This is original Lois and Byrne Era Lois back with a vengeance!

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