Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Letterer: Joshua Reed
Editor: Mike Cotton
Publisher: DC Comics
Leviathan has swept the DC Comics universe. The heroes stopped it once, but it’s back to restructure the world in Leviathan Dawn #1.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis planted the seeds of Leviathan throughout his Superman run, leading up to the six-part Event Leviathan miniseries, revealing the villain’s true identity and intentions. Now, Bendis re-unites with Event Leviathan artist Alex Maleev for the next chapter of this globe-spanning mystery saga.
Leviathan Dawn #1 is essentially a team-building issue. A mysterious leader gathers disparate anti-heroes to once again face Leviathan, whose previous defeat hasn’t slowed him down one bit.
As in Event Leviathan, Maleev’s art brings a moody tone to the book, reminiscent of previous Bendis mysteries like Alias. Maleev hits both the small emotional beats and the moments of grand scale, and he makes it all fit the political-mystery tone.
This is a must-read for anyone invested in the current DC Comics continuity. In Event Leviathan, Bendis sets out all the chess pieces. In this book, he’s making the first moves. And it’s a game that’s sure to span multiple issues and multiple books for a long time coming.
That said, the inverse is also true. If you’re not invested in DC continuity, I’m not sure I can recommend this book. I consider myself fairly well-versed in this world, but even so, I’ve felt a little out-of-the-loop in these Leviathan stories. This is probably symptomatic of DC’s overall problem with continuity-reset confusion, which I’ve tried my darnedest to keep up with. And yet, I find it hard to tell anymore which earth-shattering events actually have consequence.
The stakes should feel higher. But since the heroes defeated Leviathan on his first outing, it’s hard to buy him as a major threat now. The heroes treat Leviathan as a world-defining threat, but, for the reader, the tension isn’t there.
A lesser point of criticism: sometimes the distinct Bendis quippiness — which I fell in love with during Ultimate Spider-Man — clashes with the voice of the characters. I have a hard time believing Talia al Ghul would express the frustrated desire to “kill someone’s face.”
If you’re a DC fan, this is a great mystery/thriller starring some fan-favorite anti-heroes. Bendis knows how to weave a compelling detective tale, and Maldeev’s art grounds the larger-than-life heroes in that aesthetic. But if you’re just a casual DC fan, this might be one to sit out on.