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‘Superman: Leviathan Rising #1’ (review)

Written by Brian Michaell Bendis, Gregg Rucka,
Matt Fraction, Marc Andreyko
Illustrated by Yanick Paquette, Mike Perkins,
Steve Lieber, Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira
Published by DC Comics


The big event that Brian Michael Bendis has been building towards is finally here.

Leviathan emerges the shadows after the destruction of the D.E.O., Spryal, and every other secret government agency in the DCU.

Our first impression of this mysterious puppet master reveals him to be calculating saboteur with nearly infinite resources. Leviathan is seen matching wits with a like-minded individual who he respects.

The same is reciprocated, with some veiled threats going both ways.

Ultimately, a plan to kill Superman comes to light.

However, putting innocent bystanders in harm’s way or snatching up Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen is old hat. Something new is needed.

Kidnapping Clark Kent.

Now, that comes with a whole lot of complications. Clark and Superman are the same. However, Leviathan’s omnipresent network and influence suggest he should already know this. Then again, he could be playing the long game and knows everything about good ol’ Kal-El. How this all unfolds is quite clever as a perceived weakness of Clark Kent ironically ends up being his saving grace. Lois Lane’s call to arms via the Justice League commences with an engaging back and forth with Batman. The world’s greatest detective and the world’s most intrepid reporter stood on equal footing at this moment as the gravity of the situation spoke volumes.

Along the way, we learn a little more about Leviathan. He’s oddly polite to his victims of little consequence. Dusting off an apprehended Clark Kent and apologizing to him wasn’t arrogance, but almost a self-absolution of evil because the greater good is being served.

Talia Al Ghul is in league with Leviathan, and that comes with its own set of entanglements. There are no hints to Leviathan’s identity in this issue, but that won’t stop readers from trying to guess. Leviathan appears to be a large male.

However, with Leviathan seemingly two steps ahead of everyone, he could be she and short and slender instead of tall and wide. We don’t know.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen experiences one wild night in Gorilla City where he wakes up in bed with the jewel thief Jix and has no idea how it happened. Jimmy remarks on the uncanny nature of it all by mentioning the time he and Superman were trapped in a cartoon universe. The artwork of this story resembles that remark, which at first, made me not take this entry seriously. Then, I remembered an earlier comment from Lois Lane about Jimmy’s travel plans and realized this is part of the overall story. If that’s not enough, the Red Lantern’s angry feline Dex-Starr is in a foul…a more foul mood than usual.

We also check in with Supergirl who returns from her adventures in space and discovers the obliterated home of her adopted mother, Eliza Danvers. This pit stop provided the script an opportunity for Kara to kind of catch up on everything that happened while she was away.  The last few pages circle back to the main story where the beginning of Leviathan’s plan comes to fruition.

The artwork hit all the right notes and efficiently exhibited a tone to match the shadowy narrative. Colors are dark and muted when required while brightening things up during the zanier moments. The choice of having three different art styles with three different stories served the book well.

Leviathan states early on that one must trap Superman in a way where he doesn’t realize he’s being trapped. That happens here; however, it’s not clear if Leviathan realized this to its full extent. A character that has been built up with the influencing, all-knowing cache should not be surprised about much if anything at all. Either there are finally some cracks in his game plan, or we’re all being taken for a ride.

Bendis has received a lot of flack for his work on the main Superman title. Action Comics, on the other hand, has been a mixed bag with the last few issues nicely setting up Leviathan Rising. The mystery Levithan’s grand plan keeps things interesting as this seventy-three-page maiden voyage moves as a brisk pace. It’s also rather new reader friendly while not reminding the reader of what they missed.

Superman: Leviathan Rising is off to a great start, and I’m cautiously optimistic that it will maintain its present course.

Rating: B+


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