The DC event of the summer is upon us! After months of rising in Action Comics, the face of Leviathan is at last revealed, and things are looking pretty uncertain for the Man of Steel and his compatriots. Things are about to get worse in Superman: Leviathan Rising Special #1!
Getting some Action
After reading the first few issues of Brian Michael Bendis’s Action Comics, I fell behind. I enjoyed the book, but there were other things going on, and I just didn’t make it past the third or fourth installment of “Invisible Mafia.” Well, Josh suggested that I catch up before digging into Leviathan Rising, and boy, am I glad I did! If you aren’t reading Action Comics right now, you should be! The artwork has been excellent, the intrigue…intriguing, and—most importantly—Bendis has a good grip on Superman’s core cast of characters (including Big Blue himself). I had an absolute blast catching up, and I think you would, too.
This is Batman News, though, and while we do cover the wider DC world on the homepage, our comics coverage usually sticks to things with a strong Batman angle. The upcoming Event Leviathan promises just such an angle, which is why we’re covering it (and this). For those of you who haven’t been reading Action, here’s the 1000-foot view:
There is a secret group of crime bosses in Metropolis. They meet in a lead tank, avoid the use of Superman’s trigger words (such as his name, “Lois Lane,” and “kryptonite”), and essentially control the city. They are led by a secretive woman—Leone—who shows no mercy for their screwups, dealing out deadly discipline through the assassin known as The Red Cloud.
Just as these slip-ups in this “Invisible Mafia” threaten to undermine the group’s secrecy—and by extension, its very existence—a mysterious force begins targeting clandestine organizations across the world—A.R.G.U.S., Spyral, etc. The name that keeps coming up on every spy’s lips is the same: Leviathan, the evil empire thought to have been owned and operated by Talia Al Ghul. But it turns out that someone else is in charge.
So now that you’re caught up, let’s talk about Leviathan Rises. The book has several creative teams, but they still largely deliver the same story. Two of those teams take us down side branches in that story, but more on them in a moment.
The main story, written by Bendis and illustrated by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn, feels very much like a smooth continuation of what’s been happening over in Action Comics, and for that, I’m grateful. There’s a meeting early on between the head of Leviathan and Leone, and Bendis expertly builds tension beneath their civil discourse. I will not spoil anything here, but let’s just say that as Leviathan rises, the Invisible Mafia will rise to meet it.
There’s plenty of room for fun here, as well. Clark allows himself to be kidnapped for the sake of a story, and while he soon finds himself in rather dire circumstances, the caper is quite humorous at the beginning, and has some similarly hilarious payoffs in Jimmy Olsen’s spotlight from Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber. And while we’re talking about that little gem, let me just plug the upcoming Fraction/Lieber Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen book. If it’s anything like the interlude here, it’s going to be an instant classic. Here’s hoping the “guest star” in this issue will follow Jimmy over to that book, as well.
Calling for help
The other side story revolves around Supergirl and her adoptive parents, Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers. I liked it well enough, though some of the drama between the Danverses would have benefited from a little more development. The artwork here from Pansica is decent, though somewhat inconsistent. This one does set the stage nicely for any Supergirl tie-ins to Event Leviathan, and it is certainly interesting enough that I would read those tie-ins.
Artwork in the main story is handled by Paquette and Fairbairn. There’s a short segment in which Lois enlists some help looking for Clark, written by Greg Rucka with artwork by Mike Perkins, but this is really just part of the story proper, flowing right out of the previous section. Like Pansica, Perkins does a good, but inconsistent, job. There’s a decent shot of our favorite Caped Crusader on one page, but the very next has a rather bizarre-looking Wonder Woman at the top. For their part, Paquette and Fairbairn are consistently excellent.
The stage is set
All in all, this is a very satisfying, very large special. It reads quickly, there’s lots of intrigue—and fun!—and I’m very much invested in the story Bendis has built to. Action is one of DC’s best titles right now, and Event Leviathan looks poised to become the best event DC has published since Scott Snyder’s No Justice.
- You’ve been reading Action Comics or you plan on reading Event Leviathan
- You love a winding, twisty conspiracy story
- You think Jimmy Olsen is awesome
Superman: Leviathan Rising Special #1 is pretty close to perfect. Under Brian Bendis, Action Comics has become one of DC’s finest books, and this one-shot is the culmination of its first year of story. Bendis and a large team of collaborators maintain a high level of quality throughout, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming up in Event Leviathan.