It’s finally here! After the slow burn buildup in Action Comics, and last week’s Superman special, Event Leviathan has arrived. Is it intriguing? Is it exciting? Is it all I’d hoped it would be?

No

What a colossal disappointment. I knew something was wrong when I saw this on the second page:

What the heck? Is he wearing a waistcoat, too?

Not all of the dialogue is this bad, but there’s a lot of bad dialogue in this book. How about this one:

How did you read that S-word? I know what she’s saying, because I’ve heard people use the word before, but are most people going to know? Was it that important for Lois to use this word that she’s probably never used before? I got the word, but it took me a sec, and just like Batman’s dated English, it’s something that makes me pause. It breaks the flow of the story.

Here’s another one:

Again, why does Batman talk like this? Why not “why didn’t I see you on my scan of the building?” Or “You weren’t on my scans.” Something terse, to the point.

There are even a few moments where it isn’t clear who’s speaking. Bendis’s wonky dialogue is definitely part of the problem, but Maleev is also to blame. There’s a panel where Steve Trevor thinks out loud about suspects, saying that “it wasn’t Talia,” and finishing up with “not the Joker,” but the artwork and separate stacks of balloons (special limitations dictated this, surely) make it unclear who exactly is speaking, until you analyze it for a few seconds . Even so, why would he say “not the Joker,” as though Mr J is known for leaving Gotham and wiping out intelligence agencies?

There’s another one later on where Steve is so dark in the foreground that I didn’t know it was him speaking on the right until he references Batman making “pointed ears” at Talia.

Then we have Batman’s peculiar, occasional aversion to contractions:

“But I do not think she has anything to do with this.”

“I know he is always where he is most needed.”

”I do not think Talia al Ghul is working alone.”

And what kind of sentence is this?

“The determination and skill in which these attacks are being executed is being done with maximum impact and to a clock.”

So the determination and skill is being done with maximum impact and to a clock? What? It reads like a college student imitating what he thinks a businessman sounds like. Or, what actual businessmen sound like at my day job.

That’s not a compliment.

I won’t go on

I don’t want to be gratuitous here. I think I’ve made my point. In an issue that is almost entirely a conversation, the low-quality dialogue hurts a lot. Much of Maleev’s artwork is pretty, and some of it is functional, but it has way too much weight to carry, and Bendis’s script sets it up to fail with an excess of dialogue and a dearth of actual goings-on.

What’s worse, I’m betting that this issue ends up being essentially worthless in the grand scheme of things. Yes, there are clues being dropped here, and yes, we get some other players brought into view; but barely anything happens, and the matters of substance could easily have been worked into smaller spaces in other installments.

Recommended if…

  • You’re a completist
  • You like Maleev’s aesthetic

Overall

Event Leviathan #1 is a huge disappointment. It looks nice in static, but its oft-abysmal dialogue can’t sustain the conversation-centric plot, and the Leviathan sizzle at the end isn’t worth the pages that precede it.

SCORE: 4/10