Superman: Leviathan Rising Sets Up This Summer’s Big Event Wonderfully

by Oliver MacNamee

Superman Leviathan Rising, out this week from DC Comics, is one meaty read, but then it is a one-shot that not only kicks off this summer’s Event Leviathan saga, but acts as a primer for the forthcoming Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen maxi-series too, as well as catching me up with what Supergirl is up to these days and how she’s also tied into all of this. All-in-all, its a great read that not only throws more mystery into the mix, but welcomes back Metropolis’s invisible badass, Ms. Leone, last seen in Action Comics #1006, and who is quizzed here by Leviathan to further his plans against Superman. Oh, and if you remember, she’s also the new owner of The Daily Planet. Curiouser and curiouser.

We were never going to learn too much, at this stage, about Leviathan other than a decent look at him, which is revealed in the backend of this one-shot. A cloaked and heavily masked red menace who has the wit and will about him to have undermined and usurped Talia Al Ghul from the global crime organisation he now takes his name from.

Accompanying Brian Michael Bendis on the main chapter of this book is Yanick Paquette, who I do hope will stick around for a while on Action Comics as one of the many fantastic roster of top flight artists currently swapping art duties on the book. I can wait a third volume of Wonder Woman Earth 1 if it means getting a more regular fix of Paquette’s stupendous art on Action Comics. An art that evokes a more bygone golden age of comic books. An age of square-jawed heroes and beautiful, strong and confident women, straight out of classic Hollywood crime noir, but informed by today’s sensibilities and aesthetics. His femme fatales are to die for, especially the sultry Talia, and I dare say many have, just to look up to take in her cruel beauty. A beauty that, of course, fails to register with Clark as his situation gets a little bit more complex when a kryptonite vest is fixed to him, for Superman’s benefit rather than any realisation that Kent and Kal are one and the same. At least that’s one secret still safe.

Meanwhile, Lois Lane’s own Spidey-senses are tingling and in order to rectify this, she calls upon both Batman and Wonder Woman, who both have very different views on Lois’s reasons for summoning them. While Batman is far more pessimistic, Wonder Woman is a glass half full kind of person, and therefore far less patronising than the Bat. Mike Perkins gives us some gritty, darkened art that hints at the tone of the new Lois Lane book (out this July) as written by Greg Rucka. If this is anything to go by – and it is – the forthcoming exploits of Lois Lane is a book worth looking out for. More Bernstein and Woodward methinks, than National Enquirer in its feel. It’s also in this chapter of Superman Leviathan Rising, that the biggest revelation is shown. Seems America – and Lois Lane –  never learnt about the evil Nick O’Teen.

And, like in any well structured story, and one that’s so grim considering this is Superman we’re talking about, there is some well placed comic relief courtesy of Jimmy Olsen, from Matt Fraction and Steve Leiber. Very much the opposite, in tone, to Lois Lane, even the artwork is more sketchy and comical as Olsen wakes up from the night before in Gorilla City to find he’s hitched. What happens in Gorilla City ain’t going to stay in Gorilla City I fear and it’ll be interesting to see quite how Jimmy’s new ‘wife’ returns once his own series launches on July. Another intriguing teaser that’s already sold me on this book too.

What is the only jarring point in the issue is the return to the kidnapped Clark Kent and who’s there to save him and how they’ve changed into other costumes that in itself suggests we’re missing a chapter at this point. How did they get there? But, it’s a minor quibble in an otherwise great book which wonderfully sets up this Superman centred event nicely. And, without a single advertisement in sight!

Superman: Leviathan Rising is available  now from DC Comics.

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