REVIEW: Superman: Leviathan Rising Special

The wait is finally over. Superman: Leviathan Rising is here. The dream collaboration between some of the finest creators in the industry has landed. What have our beloved characters been doing and where will they be by the time Event Leviathan comes around in June? Well this book has all the answers you need but before we dive in, lets checkout the cover.

Interior Artist Yanick Paquette has created a packed front cover as the heroes of the DC Universe come to the aid of Superman encased in Kryptonite. Straight off the bat, this just feels like a huge spoiler to the story of this issue. None the less, heroes in great number gathering around a fallen comrade is always a powerful sight, and you get a sense that something big is on the horizon with this cover.

superman leviathan rising cover

Leviathan Rising is finally here and I for one have been eagerly anticipating this book for quite some time. My initial theories regarding this book was that it was going to be presented to us in the form of an annual or anniversary issue. In the sense that different collaborative teams would tell smaller isolated stories with a connecting thread throughout however, Superman – Levithan Rising is one flowing story. It features many facets brought to us via a collaboration of writers and artists working in unison.

Thanks to the inclusion of different art styles, Superman – Leviathan rising feels like a season finale of a high-end TV series. It seems to have a specific goal of informing the viewer of just where exactly our characters are physically and mentally before the start of Event Leviathan in June. The best example of this is in regard to Talia Al Ghul. I say this because up until now its not been too clear on where Talia currently stands if at all among recent events. Talia was of course the leader of a group known as Leviathan terrorizing Batman and Robin back in 2013, however its not been clear whether they are the same villain with Talia still involved or something completely new. That question is definitely answered in this issue and for me it was much needed.

Another reason why I have likened this issue to an episode of a TV series is the very visible start, middle and end it possesses. This is thanks to not only to artistic style shifts, but Brian Bendis’ expert way of breaking down highly faceted stories into well paced segments that are easily consumed by the reader. There are many examples of this throughout his time on Action Comics and also Superman. The start of this issue begins with a very riveting exchange between Ms Leone and what appears to be the head of Leviathan. Ms Leone’s personality pops right off the pages as she seemingly ‘schools’ the head of Leviathan on how to conduct business in Metropolis. Leone is confident, self-assured and fierce, but never arrogant. I find this character thoroughly absorbing and I find myself wanting to learn more and more about her. She is well refined and sophisticated, but with one hell of a sadistic streak that is also well emphasized in this book. This fascinating encounter is broken up with a fantastic splash page of Superman unleashing on Mongul, which underlines a point made by Leone during this discussion with the aforementioned leader of Leviathan.

As the issue progresses, Clark puts a rather risky plan into action as he encounters the enigmatic Talia Al Ghul. This is another superbly written encounter between two characters, who would normally have nothing to do with each other. Talia is sultry and seductive while Clark playing the role of, well Clark is flustered at first, however panic truly sets in as the situation becomes grave. Artist Yanick Paquette’s art is truly exquisite with the inclusion of very creative panel designs and placement that are informed by the content of the interior.

Artist Mike Perkins takes over art duties as a fearful Lois Lane contacts the Justice League worried for Clark’s safety. The artwork is very gritty and grounded which is what the reader has become accustomed to. I love how the writers let Perkin’s artwork do the heavy lifting during this sequence of events. The atmosphere and tone created is very dark and moody. It really captures a sense of uncertainty and foreboding, certainly regarding Lois. Mike Perkins has done a wonderful job of capturing these feelings and emotions in Lois’ facial expressions and posture. Seeing Lois tense and ridged with her arms wrapped around her is highly sobering. This is a woman fearful of her husbands safety and that feeling is palpable.

For me the next part of the issue is highly entertaining, but really sticks out for me and breaks up the flow of the story in a rather disjointed way. Jimmy Olsen, a pan Dimensional Jewel Thief named Jix and Dex-Starr the feline Red Lantern – all in Gorrila City! Enough said right? This segment of the issue is of course fun and bright and a lovely homage to the silver age, but for me it just didn’t fit into place. It just didn’t feel relevant to the overall story and if anything it felt more like an interlude than an actual part of the narrative. With that said, it has given us a feel of the tone and pace of the upcoming Jimmy Olsen mini-series which is out in July.

After a very emotional sequence featuring Supergirl, which I absolutely loved. We find ourselves back with Superman under duress and actually face to face with what certainly now appears to be the head of Leviathan. Whoever he or she is, thanks to the dialogue featured in this issue they most certainly come across as enigmatic and a very layered, complex individual. It seems that taking down our beloved heroes is a last resort for Leviathan. Leviathan seems almost grateful to the heroes for what they have done or at least attempted and simply wish to go that one step further. I love a complex villain and Levathian seems exactly that so far! I love the fact that he/she totally respects the heroes despite going against them to get what they want.

There was a panel within the issue that just seemed completely random. I won’t say the exact details, but it featured a bit of fancy dress and a random character. I’m sure all will be explained in Event Levathian, but I was a little taken aback by this. It just did not make any sense to me and wasn’t explained at all.

The issue ends right back where we started – with the mysterious yet captivating Ms Leone joined by The Red Mist aka Robinson Goode. The conversation had by these two women proved very intriguing indeed, and went down an avenue I wasn’t expecting. Leone is definitely a character capable of a great deal who is extremely layered. Robinson Goode’s back story hasn’t really been flushed out to much yet, so as a reader there hasn’t been much for me to latch onto right now. I’m sure more will be explained in the future and she does peak my curiosity. Her union with Leone can only help that cause. I cannot wait to find out more about Ms Leone including her ties to the ‘classic’ collection she has. Previously we have seen that she owns the vehicle from Action Comics #1, and now she is looking to buy the iconic Justice League #28 cover. It seems too emphasized to her just being an avid collector like many of us.  

Overall Superman: Leviathan Rising is absolutely superb. It really did exceed my expectations. It is presented beautifully in prestige format with the DC Comics logo emblazoned on the back cover. This book just feels special. I cannot praise the writing team enough. Bendis, Rucka, Fraction and Marc Andreyko’s writing flowed naturally and seamlessly. The talented artists on this project all delivered for me, especially Mike Perkins who I have been a fan of for quite some time now. Perkins’ realistic style goes hand in hand with the grounded nature of the story-line so far. This book is very special and in my opinion is a must read. I cannot wait for Event Leviathan to be released in June.

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