The hunt for Leviathan continues! Will we come any closer to knowing the identity of the mysterious person on top? I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say this: NOT REALLY! Is it worth your time and money? Find out below. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Here we go again
It’s Event Leviathan day again, and with its fourth installment, the book moves closer to revealing the identity of the masked weirdo responsible for putting the pain on clandestine organizations around the globe.
We technically move closer, because there are only two issues remaining, and we can only assume that Bendis will spill the beans by the time it’s all over. But the story itself isn’t doing a great job of seeding us with clues. I’m happy to be wrong, but I have little faith that the inevitable revelation will feel very satisfying. I doubt we’ll be able to look back over the event and find the clues that we missed before, the trail—hidden in plain sight—that leads the way to Leviathan. I said last time that Bendis seemed intent on writing a group character study, and that the mystery was extraneous, and that still feels true today. Some of the dialogue is better, which makes that arrangement a bit more palatable, but most of it is still the same too-clever-by-half bloviating that we’ve suffered through in every issue but the second one.
This perhaps comes as no surprise, but Superman is Bendis’s best work here. His characterization is solid: from the stern-but-civil manner in which he addresses Leviathan, to his asking permission to send out the others so he can privately confer with Batman and Lois, his dialogue and behavior ring true.
I also enjoyed some of the short, snappy barbs. Ollie smacks down Damian as the “seventh Robin,” Manhunter calls Damian “Tiny Titan,” and I’m almost certain that Damian’s referenced “nanny” is actually Alfred, though I cannot specifically recall if the Wayne butler’s experience in British espionage is comics canon, or just something introduced in other media.
There’s also some fresh intrigue near the end of the book, featuring a character that Bendis promised would appear in this event. So if you’ve been waiting for that character, I think you’ll be as interested as I was. This kind of development is what this book should be full of, but sadly, is not.
Beyond the big problem of sidelining the mystery in favor of a poorly-realized character drama, there are some especially frustrating moments here in Event Leviathan #4. They are verbal or visual beats that stop me dead, even if for a moment. And in almost every case, those moments are casualties of Bendis’s apparent desire to be clever. A few examples:
- As Lois asks if Superman is okay, Batman says “his vitals are his normal.” At first, I read this as a typo, and I don’t think it was even necessary to phrase it this way. We all get that Superman is a powerful being whose baseline for “healthy” looks different than a normal person’s. If Batman had simply said “his vitals are normal,” everybody in the cave—or holding this book—would have known what he meant.
- As Superman recounts his confrontation with Leviathan, we come to a double-page spread that requires rotation of the book to read in its entirety. I’ve never liked this sort of thing, even in Court of Owls, a story I thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t like it any better here.
- Batman tells Superman that all of the other “detectives” are suspect. I don’t think we’ve ever been given any clear reason as to why they would be.
- There’s a word balloon telling folks to ease up on Manhunter, but there’s no person at the end of it. With a cave full of people, it’s not immediately clear who’s speaking. After thinking for a moment, I’m almost certain it’s Green Arrow, but I think it would be better if I didn’t have to stop and figure out who’s talking. It’s the book’s job to make sure I know—it’s not my job.
- Green Arrow describes the whole caper as a “gimme gumat.” WHAT?
- Right after the gimme gumat fiasco, there’s a panel in which Damian looks incredibly girlish. Stopped me like a wall.
Beyond that, Maleev’s work on the series continues to be aesthetically rich, but functionally uninspiring. It’s not bad, but there’s only so many ways to take us around the same long conversation.
- You’ve enjoyed Event Leviathan so far
Event Leviathan #4 is better than #1 and #3, but it’s still not worth much fuss. Bendis’s emphasis on undercooked cleverness continues to drag the title down, even with a few new developments and fresh intrigue. The artwork is pretty, but without much story to tell, it all begins to look the same. If you like this series, I’m happy for you, but if you’ve been on the fence or abstaining, I think you made the right call sitting this one out.
DISCLAIMER: Batman News received an advance copy of this comic for review.