Heroes in Crisis just ended. Doomsday Clock is still going on. The Year of the Villain is getting kicked off over in Justice League. Just when you think that DC could not keep overwhelming readers with big event stories they unleash the Event Leviathan big event on readers this week. Event Leviathan #1 is the first big event that we have gotten from Brian Bendis in a while. Bendis has his strengths, but large rosters and big events stories are definitely not things that Bendis excels at. The last several big events from Brian Bendis have been pretty bad.
However, I have completely enjoyed the build-up to Event Leviathan over in the pages of Superman. This is the type of street-level story that best fits Bendis’ strengths. The roster of characters for Event Leviathan is also the type of street-level characters that Bendis is most comfortable writing. Therefore, I am actually incredibly positive about Event Leviathan #1. I think Bendis is going to deliver a high-quality big event story that readers are going to find very entertaining. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Event Leviathan #1.
Words: Brian Bendis
Art: Alex Maleev
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Batman entering the destroyed building of A.R.G.U.S. Batman crosses paths with Lois Lane who has also snuck into the ruined building. Lois pulls a Kryptonian handgun on Batman. (Why? Why would Lois ever feel the need to pull out a weapon on Batman and keep it pointed at him for three panels. This makes absolutely zero sense.)
Batman and Lois engage in some prickly dialogue as Bendis makes it clear that Lois hates Batman. Lois asks Batman if he knows where Talia al Ghul is hiding. Lois recaps the events that we have gotten in Action Comics. Lois talks about how Leviathan has completely destroyed A.R.G.U.S., D.E.O., Spyral, Cadmus, Task Force X, and Kobra. Leviathan has wiped out anyone who has ever worked for those organizations. Leviathan even kidnapped Clark Kent in some botched internal struggle between Talia and whoever Leviathan is now and then released Clark. Lois says that Leviathan attacked Waller and that Waller is now missing. Lois says that her father, Sam Lane, is on death’s bed.
Batman says that Lois is in trouble. That Leviathan almost kidnapped Clark. (Wait, Lois just said that Leviathan did kidnap Clark and then released him. Does Bendis not even remember what he wrote two panels prior?) Batman says that Leviathan almost killed her father. Batman asks if Lois has been approached by Leviathan. Lois says no.
Batman says that the attacks by Leviathan have been without ego so he has ruled out Lex Luthor as well as many other of the usual suspects on Batman’s list.
Batman and Lois then stumble across Steve Trevor sitting in a corner of the destroyed building. Steve asks if the two of them know what this building was. Batman says that the public was told that this building was a still-under-construction Museum of Super-Science. But, in fact, it was going to be the new headquarters for A.R.G.U.S.
We the shift to forty-two minutes ago. We see Steve talking to Dr. Strand. The new building is named The Odyssey. Steve says that he is here to order Dr. Strand to abandon her project and to shut the building down. Steve tells Dr. Strand that the D.E.O. has been wiped out of existence. That the Odyssey building is now under threat.
Suddenly, one of the Leviathan robots appears on the scene. Steve yells for Dr. Strand to run. The Leviathan robot places Steve in a protective field. The entire building then explodes. Steve sits in the small protective field among the rubble of the building.
We hop back to the present. Steve says that this attack was not done by Talia. Lois says that Clark said there was another person with Talia when Clark was kidnapped. Clark never saw that person’s face. Batman says that Talia is not Leviathan. Batman says that there was someone else. Batman asks if Steve knows who Leviathan might be. Lois asks Steve if he knows why he was spared in the attack on the Odyssey.
Batman says that Steve was spared to bear witness and tell the story. Steve said that there is no evidence of the force field that protected him. That it now looks like he is Leviathan. Steve says that either comes in for questioning or he goes on the run.
Steve then says that Leviathan could be Lois. That it was Lois’ husband and her father who were targets in a series of escalating attacks. Steve says that everyone is going to focus on Lois and Steve and whoever else Leviathan sets up. All while giving Leviathan more time to produce its next act. Steve says that Leviathan is clearing the deck.
Batman maintains that Talia is not behind Leviathan. Steve says that he has studied Ra’s and Talia for his entire life. Steve says that Ra’s and Talia are liars who will do and say anything to protect their own. Steve says he is not buying anything Batman is saying. Steve pulls out a gun and gives at Lois and Batman. (Jesus! This is a bit of an overreaction by Steve!) Batman shoves Lois out of the way so the bullet only grazes her shoulder.
Suddenly, a taser arrow hits Steve and takes him down. We then see that Green Arrow has arrived on the scene. Lois yells, “Hit him again!” (Really? Bendis’ Lois is not the best.) Batman says that Steve is not a suspect. Batman says that Steve was right. That this crime scene is immaculate. The destruction cleaned itself of any and all signature, clue, or detail with it.
Batman says that this attack was done with technology that he has never seen before. Green Arrow says that these attacks were planned to trigger those left behind to turn on each other and accuse each other. Lois says that they have to figure this out tonight or once morning calls that civilizations is going to fall.
Lois says that Leviathan has not said what they want. Lois says that it is probably something like a “New World Order” or a “No World Order.” Green Arrow asks where Talia is right now. Lois says that they need to call the best detectives in the world. The ones they can trust. Lois asks if they should meet tonight at her place or Batman’s place.
Green Arrow asks that if not Talia then who is running Leviathan. (Jesus. Bendis recycle the same damn dialogue more than any other writer in the industry. I feel like I have read the exact same conversation on a loop for this entire issue.) Lois says that that is the question. We then fade out and see The Question listening in on the conversation from high above. The Question then leaves.
We cut to Dr. Strand alive and well and in a room with the masked figure running Leviathan. The masked figure says that he has studied all of Dr. Strand’s work. The masked figure says that Dr. Strand can actually make the world better. The masked figure says that tomorrow, with Dr. Strand’s help, Leviathan can make the Earth a better world. End of issue.
The Good: Event Leviathan #1 was an underwhelming read. I was expecting so much more than what Bendis gave us with this debut issue. Having said that, there was still enough to enjoy in this issue for me to remain positive about this big event in general.
I still think the entire concept of Leviathan is fantastic. Bendis has a solid foundation for what should make for an intriguing and exciting big event. The question is going to be if Bendis can deliver the proper execution of a cool concept. Event Leviathan is only a six issue story so that should mean that Bendis will be delivering issues packed full of plot progression and content going forward.
The roster for Event Leviathan is great. Batman, The Question, and Green Arrow are all fantastic characters. These three characters are excellent matches for Bendis’ style of writing. Bendis does not give any real panel time to any other characters outside of Batman and Lois. Hopefully, moving forward, Event Leviathan will feel more than just the Batman and Lois show.
Event Leviathan #1 is definitely new reader friendly. A reader does not need to have ever read Action Comics or Year of the Villain #1 in order to fully understand everything that is going on in Event Leviathan #1. Bends gives the reader all of the necessary information and backstory in order to be completely up to speed and able to fully enjoy Event Leviathan #1. I do appreciate that Bendis did not completely write Event Leviathan #1 with the expectation that the reader has read all of the prior issues of Action Comics as well as Year of the Villain #1. Absolutely everything the reader needs to know in order to fully enjoy this big event is delivered within the pages of Event Leviathan #1.
Alex Maleev does a nice job with the artwork in Event Leviathan #1. Maleev’s art is highly stylized and it seems that readers have strong opinions on both sides about his look. I am not a huge fan of Maleev, but I think his art is well suited for certain types of titles. Luckily, Event Leviathan #1 is one of those titles. Maleev’s artwork is perfect for Bendis’ gritty espionage style story starring street level characters.
As is often the case, Maleev’s artwork is a bit uneven from page to page. However, there are some pages that are flat out amazing. I love the double page splash shot when Batman and Lois cross paths at the beginning of the issue. Maleev sets the tone and mood for this story perfectly. The double page splash shot of the Odyssey is also quite gorgeous. The pages with Steve in the force field as the Odyssey explode are also amazing looking.
The Bad: Event Leviathan #1 is a slow, dull, and repetitive read. Bendis has an excellent idea with Event Leviathan, but it is all undone by Bendis’ execution of the story. Bendis has never been a particularly strong writer from a purely technical standpoint. And this continues with Event Leviathan #1.
The plotting and pacing to Event Leviathan #1 are both rather poor. Bendis only has six issues to work with this big event. That is pretty short compared to the nine issue Heroes in Crisis big event and the twelve issue Doomsday Clock big event. I would have thought that given the limited number of issues that Bendis would have hit the ground running and delivered Event Leviathan #1 with more of a sense of urgency. Instead, Bendis delivers a slow and meandering debut issue with Event Leviathan #1.
For readers who have read Action Comics and/or Year of the Villain #1, Event Leviathan #1 will be a slow and boring read. There is literally nothing new at all in this issue. Bendis ends Event Leviathan #1 at the exact same spot where the reader was after reading Year of the Villain #1. Bendis gives the reader the barest minimum plot progression as is humanly possible.
Even for new readers, Event Leviathan #1 is slow and boring. And there is no reason why such a cool story concept as Event Leviathan starring such great characters should ever be slow or dull. Period. But, even a new reader will be bored by the lack of plot progression, the repetitious nature of the issue, and the lack of substantive content.
Event Leviathan #1 is a bit of a shallow read. There is not much depth and substance to this issue at all. Bendis takes the smallest amount of content and proceeds to stall for time and stretch his shallow story across this entire issue. This issue presents the reader with a small amount of content and proceeds to repeat the same content over and over again to the reader.
Basically, Event Leviathan #1 consists of Batman, Lois, and Steve talking about how Talia was present with a mysterious person when Clark was kidnapped. It is then asked if is Talia behind Leviathan’s attacks. It is then answered that no Talia is not behind the attacks. It is then asked if Lex is behind these attacks. It is then answered that no Lex is not behind these attacks. It is then asked who is behind this? It is then asked what do they want? That is the entire issue.
This exact dialogue and content is then repeated to the reader several times as if we are trapped in a loop. Bendis simply takes these basic talking points from the first scene of Event Leviathan #1 and finds new ways to repackage and repeat them through the dialogue.
It would have been a much better approach to begin Event Leviathan #1 with Batman and Lois convening their meeting of the world’s best detectives that they trust. During this meeting, Bendis could relay all the backstory that would be necessary to get new readers up to speed for this big event. This would also allow Bendis to show the reader which characters will be starring in this big event. This would help kick the story off with more of a sense of urgency as well.
The kicker is that Bendis goes out of his way at the end of Event Leviathan #1 to have Lois flat out say that this story is a race against the clock. That the heroes must solve the identity of Leviathan before the next day arrives or else all of civilization falls. A “race against the clock” style story demands a strong sense of urgency to the pacing of the story with the very beginning. Taking an approach similar to what I suggested earlier would allow Bendis to give Event Leviathan more of a sense of urgency and get the story moving at a faster pace and with more focus. It is anathema to a “race against the clock” story to have it move at such a languid pace like what we get in Event Leviathan #1.
Event Leviathan #1 also has zero action in it. This is a dialogue-heavy issue. Readers who were hoping for a good dose of action and adventure will be disappointed. Beyond the lack of action, the story, in general, feels subdued. It is like Bendis was on valium when he wrote Event Leviathan #1. There is simply no excitement, intensity, or emotion to this issue.
Bendis’ character work is average. I am not sure why Bendis has Lois act so confrontational and bitchy with Batman in this issue. The idea that Lois would draw a gun on Batman and keep in on him for three panels seems completely bizarre. I get that Batman can be a dick, but he is still Superman’s bro. Bendis has Green Arrow comes across as a bimbo. Bendis’ Batman is just a standard-issue version of Batman. There also seems to be a general lack of chemistry between the characters.
Overall: Event Leviathan #1 is a pedestrian read. This is not a bad issue. But, it certainly is not a good issue. Bendis has a great idea with Event Leviathan, but he cannot seem to properly execute his idea. Hopefully, the remainder of Event Leviathan will present the reader with more content and better pacing as well as some action and excitement.
Anyone who has read Action Comics or Year of the Villain #1 will be completely bored with this issue. Those readers can easily skip Event Leviathan #1. It is not worth the cover price. Those readers can simply hop aboard Event Leviathan #2 when the story actually begins.
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