Comics Review: ‘Event Leviathan’ #1

Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev re-unite for DC’s new mystery thriller…

Event Leviathan #1

Alex Maleev’s evocative and moody cover for DC’s ‘Event Leviathan’ #1 (credit: DC Entertainment).

Written by:  Brian Michael Bendis / art by:  Alex Maleev

What’s it about?

Drawn together as they investigate the destruction of key intelligence agencies, Batman, Lois Lane, Green Arrow and The Question find that they must uncover the identity of the mysterious perpetrator known as Leviathan before more attacks can occur…

In review

Writer Brian Michael Bendis expands his DC Comics work with Event Leviathan a six-issue mini-series that unites some of the DC Universe’s greatest detectives – Batman, Lois Lane, Green Arrow and The Question to investigate the decimation of the intelligence community by Leviathan, an enemy whose true identity remains unknown.  Teaming up with his most celebrated collaborator, artist Alex Maleev (the duo having previously worked on titles such as Daredevil, International Iron Man, Infamous Iron Man and the creator-owned Jinxworld series, Scarlet), Brian Bendis provides a promising and intriguing start to this gritty mystery thriller.

Less of an actual sprawling ‘event’ in the traditional sense, which usually involves collecting a plethora of titles and numerous tie-ins, Event Leviathan spills out of the recent “Leviathan Rising” arc in the Bendis penned (with art by Steve Epting) Action Comics yet is a contained story in its own right, although a reading of that aforementioned arc (and forthcoming issues of Action) will enrich the experience of this first issue.  This isn’t an action and plot heavy premiere and Bendis incorporates a decent amount of exposition to recap the events in Action Comics and the groundwork laid there, making the book accessible to new readers.  This might make things a little slow and ponderous to those who do follow that Superman – who is actually absent here – title but it sets the mood and we are drawn in by the dialogue as Bendis reiterates the stakes, principally the destruction of the facilities of intelligence agencies ARGUS, the DEO and Spyral, the dynamics between the central characters (always a strength with Brian Michael Bendis) and the mystery they must work together to quickly unravel – the identity of the masked Leviathan.

Bendis has already been crafting a solid run on both Superman and Action Comics and has certainly nailed the core components of Lois Lane’s personality and that continues seamlessly in Event Leviathan, pinning down her drive and determination to the truth – and not unlike her Kryptonian husband, justice.  He also has a unique handling of Batman who is slightly more engaging and forthcoming with others as well as being prone to a dash of dry sarcasm, in comparison to the more bleak and troubled soul of Tom King’s Batman.  That’s no criticism of King’s work but that specific approach wouldn’t quite fit in with Event Leviathan where the Dark Knight needs to be committed to a common cause.  It’s not necessarily inconsistent, just appropriate for this story and Bendis ensures that there’s a focus on the skill and deduction we expect and enjoy in any representation of Batman.  Aside from Lois and Batman, Bendis delivers strong takes on Green Arrow and The Question giving both significant roles to play and the tension is heightened by an injured and defensive Steve Trevor, desperate to prevent his survival of Leviathan’s acts being seen as a source of suspicion.

Alex Maleev’s art (who also provides his own inks and colours) is, as usual, sublime with the dirty and gritty visuals giving Event Leviathan the sort of grounded, detective noir feel it needs and whilst there’s that certain street-level sense that came with his work on Daredevil, he’s also just as capable when it comes to creating epic scenes – the crumbling interior of the new ARGUS base and the establishing exterior shot of its prior state are stark and beautiful, respectively.

The bottom line:  Event Leviathan launches with a slow burning but interesting and atmospheric start, made all the more appealing thanks to a tried and trusted creative team.

Event Leviathan #1 is published by DC and is available in print and digital formats now.

Images used herein are utilised for illustrative purposes only and remain the property of the copyright owner(s).

TV Review: ‘Arrow’ S2 EP1 “City of Heroes” – SEASON PREMIERE

Starring:  Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Colton Haynes as Roy Harper, Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen, Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance

Series developed by:  Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg

Episode directed by:  John Behring / Written by:  Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim (story by Greg Berlanti) / aired in the UK:  21/10/2013

What’s this episode about?

A year after Malcolm Merlin’s ‘undertaking’ devastated the Glades of Starling City, a self-exiled Oliver Queen must return home to prevent his family’s company from falling into the hands of a rival and soon finds himself reluctantly returning to action to stop a group of copycat hooded vigilantes…

Episode review

By the end of its first season, Arrow had truly come into its own and secured widespread approval from comic book fans worldwide.  Like most shows it had its creative rough patches but by that explosive first season finale it had managed to iron out most of those kinks, allowing the series to return with renewed confidence for its sophomore season.

With “City of Heroes” the writers of Arrow wisely decided to pick up a year after the devastating events arising from Malcolm Merlin’s plans for Starling City resulted in heavy casualties – not in the least Oliver’s best friend and Malcolm’s son, Tommy (Colin Donnell).  A tragedy so painful that it has forced Oliver to return to the very island he spent five years trying to escape from.  It’s an interesting notion to have Oliver return to the place where his alter ego was born given that the arc of this episode presents a rebirth of the ‘Vigilante’ (more on that in a moment).

Back in Starling City, Thea Queen now manages her brother’s bar and is once again angry at her mother, imprisoned after revealing her involvement in the undertaking, Roy Harper has took it upon himself to protect the innocent in the absence of the Vigilante/Hood (but he’s not the only one, a mysterious figure familiar to DC Comics fans is also stalking the streets at night) and Laurel is now serving as assistant to the District Attorney providing a switch in her ‘relationship’ with the Hood.

The introduction of business rival Isabel Rochev (geek goddess Summer Glau) and her plans to wrestle Queen Consolidated from the hands of the Queen family brings Oliver back home but it’s the emergence of copycat vigilantes that force him to once again don the emerald hood.  Tommy’s death weighs heavy on Oliver’s soul and brings about change, a vow to no longer take a life and fight only for justice and to protect the innocent.  This a welcome if not unexpected change to Oliver’s ‘mission’, the character’s brutal and lethal actions during the first season attracted some controversy but it seems clear now that this was all part of a plan to provide Queen with valid motivations to become the hero Starling City needs.  Amell has grown comfortably into the role and with this change in moral dynamics, gives viewers someone to root for.

It’s always good to see the writers of a series shake up the status quo and hopefully these changes (and challenges) will allow Amell and the supporting actors of Arrow to grow along with the series itself.

Accompanying the main plot is more of Queen’s back story via flashbacks to the island and the events leading to his eventual escape.  These flashbacks (more often than not) proved an at times inventive complement to the main story but I feel it may not be long before it becomes a laborious and stale element of the series – let’s see how it plays out this season.

One of the highlights of Arrow is that it has taken one of the lesser known (and generally less interesting) DC Comics characters and via some Batman influence (check out the souped-up ‘Arrow Cave’) and with hints toward a new name for the Hood, a hero rises…

The bottom line:  Arrow is back with a new sense of direction and holds promise for what lies ahead – essential viewing.

Did you know?

Later on this season we’ll see the introduction of another key DC Comics character – Barry Allen aka The Flash, whose appearances in Arrow will set the stage for a (currently in development) spin-off Flash TV series.

Arrow season 2 airs in the UK Mondays at 8pm on Sky 1.  US viewers can catch it Wednesday nights on The CW.

What did you think of Arrow’s second season opener?  Share your thoughts below!

The 'Emerald Archer' returns with a new mission...

The ‘Emerald Archer’ returns with a new mission…

Also on Geek Blogger UKHave you read… ‘Green Arrow:  Year One’

 

Have you read… ‘Green Arrow: Year One’ ?

The comics and graphic novels you may not have read that are

well worth checking out…

Written by:  Andy Diggle / Art by:  Jock

Collects:  Green Arrow: Year One #1-6 (published 2007)

What’s it about?

The young Oliver Queen is a reckless socialite and billionaire playboy without a purpose.  Betrayed by his trusted bodyguard, Hackett, Queen is shipwrecked on an opium-rich jungle island where he must fight for survival against a group of ruthless drug traffickers…

In review

No doubt like numerous other comic book fans, DC Comics’ Green Arrow was a character I had always overlooked.  Sure, I had a passing awareness of Oliver Queen from years of reading other DC titles (his appearance in Geoff John’s Green Lantern:  Rebirth for example) but for some reason I was never really interested in Green Arrow – was it the Robin Hood motif?  Possibly – although honestly I was already heavily invested in Batman, Superman and Green Lantern (with a bit of The Flash here and there as well).  Those characters always excited me…but some middle-aged guy dressed as Robin Hood?  “No thanks” was always my overriding thought but, slowly, through osmosis – the character’s sporadic guest appearances in other titles, his addition to the cast of Smallville and now the Arrow TV series (Year One a clear influence on the latter, from naming Queen’s bodyguard after writer Diggle to the series’ island flashbacks sequences) – I have developed an appreciation for the Emerald Archer.

This leads me to Green Arrow:  Year One (which thanks to a recent digital comics sale I was able to obtain relatively cheaply), having already read Mike Grell’s rather enjoyable ‘mature readers’ title The Longbow Hunters (a sort of Green Arrow equivalent of The Dark Knight Returns, but not nearly as ground-breaking) Andy Diggle/Jock’s mini-series was naturally next on my list.

I’d heard a lot about Year One over the years since its publication in 2007 and understood it to be one of the character’s definitive tales and already being a fan of both Diggle and Jock’s work it qualified as a safe purchase on those merits alone.

The story depicts the young Oliver Queen and the formative event that would lead to his creation of the Green Arrow persona.  It opens with the reader being introduced to the drunk, immature and generally careless Queen – living his life without worrying about consequences or responsibility (including an outlandish auction bid that leads to the fateful acquisition of a longbow).

The first chapter (Part One) provides the set-up leading to Hackett’s betrayal and Queen’s shipwrecking leaving the remaining chapters to fully explore the dire situation he awakens to and the formation of the skills he will need to prevail, leading to his eventual rebirth as Green Arrow.

Of course, at first, Queen fights simply to survive – to hunt for food and to defend against the drug traffickers he finds are enslaving the island’s population.  Queen’s befriending of a pregnant islander gives him a cause and a purpose not only to escape but to free the enslaved populace by taking down drugs baron ‘China White’ and her gang.  By the end of the story Queen is reformed, having a strong sense of justice instilled in him and the will and means to commit to the very purpose he had been seeking.

Andy Diggle’s script flows nicely, the story never feels rushed nor does it become sluggish and the dialogue is well written.  Jock’s art (supported by colourist David Baron, with apt use of greens during some key scenes) is the perfect fit and really brings the excitement and action to life, on the whole it all looks and feels epic – almost cinematic – especially in the penultimate chapter (Part Five) as Queen leads his one man attack on China White’s sub pen headquarters.

Year One is gripping from start to finish with a tense and (literally) explosive final show-down with China White and Hackett receiving some poetic justice.

Why you should read it

As with Batman:  Year One, Green Arrow:  Year One is an essential and definitive take on the origin of the character.  It’s well written and gloriously illustrated making it one of the best titles I’ve ever read – considering it features a character I was never really remotely interested in it goes without saying that you should check it out.

Standout moment

Hunted by China White’s men, Queen finds that the Pacific Queen has ran aground on the island’s shore.  He seeks refuge inside the yacht, awaking to the harsh sunlight only to discover an important item resting on the deck – the longbow that was once a symbol of his decadence will now serve as the symbol of his transformation…

Did you know?

The character of China White appears throughout Arrow’s first season and is played by X-Men 2’s Lady Deathstrike, Kelly Hu.

Read it if you like…

Batman:  Year One, Green Arrow:  The Longbow Hunters

Green Arrow: Year One is available in print and digital formats from DC Comics.

Jock's artwork brings the action of Green Arrow: Year One truly to life, with some nice use of greens by colourist David Baron.

Jock’s artwork brings the action of Green Arrow: Year One truly to life, with some nice use of greens by colourist David Baron.