Monday, June 3, 2019

Superman Leviathan Rising Review Pt 2: The Rest Of The Book

Superman Leviathan Rising #1 came out last week and was the prologue for the Event Leviathan crossover which is working its way through the DCU this summer. It is a book of chapters with a story working its way through most of the parts. (The Supergirl part felt a little separate.)

The main story was written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Yanick Paquette. That is a great creative team. We also got first looks at the upcoming Lois Lane book by creators Greg Rucka and Mike Perkins. And we saw the zaniness that Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber are planning in the upcoming Jimmy Olsen book as well.

Some of the plot points shown here nicely dovetail out of the opening crumbs we have seen in the recent Action Comics issues. We got to see the new head of Leviathan and hear his motivations and machinations. We learn what happened to Talia Head, the old leader of Leviathan. And we got to see how the threat of Invisible Mafia is not only read and not only still present but also well respected by the underground.

 Finally, this is a mystery. You have read my #LeviathanTheory posts here. There are a few crumbs here to add to my thoughts. I might gloss on them here. But, I think there will be another post there.

On to the book.

Mama Leone, head of the Invisible Mafia, is out shopping in Metropolis, looking through expensive books with lithographs of famous superhero moments like the JLA fighting Starro (as seen in the Brave and the Bold #28).

She is approached by someone using the same blurring/shifting face tech that we saw on the woman who attacked Director Bones. The tech reminds me of the ever-changing faces of the undercover police officers in Through A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. It is pretty clear  this is the head of Leviathan.

What I like about this interaction is that Leviathan is actually asking Leone for her advice on defeating Superman. She quickly drops some of her rules, like avoiding the saying of certain words like Lois Lane (akin to pulling a grenade pin per Leone).

The point is that trying to remove Superman by attacking Lois is the wrong way to go about it. You need to trap Superman without him knowing he is trapped. And you do that by attacking something else.

This showed that Leone and the Invisible Mafia are very credible as a threat. Here is someone who has wiped out espionage forces who is approaching her with respect.

We see that the other way to attack Superman is by attacking Clark Kent. Talia Head puts Clark in a Kryptonite vest knowing when Superman comes to rescue his friend he will be weakened.

In fact, Talia thinks Clark should be thanking her for giving Clark the scoop of the century, the death of Superman and the rise of Leviathan.

I like the page layout with the nauseating green lines showing just how ill Clark feels by this.

And I thought that Talia was already eliminated so I was a bit surprised to see her here. Perhaps she was the woman who attacked Director Bones? Does that mean my 'it was Nightshade' idea was wrong?

Lois can't reach Clark and somehow her senses tell her that this isn't because her husband is out on a mission. His apartment isn't organized the way he would have left it. Something is wrong. So she pulls out an emergency beacon of some sort.

I do like that Lois has a stash of cigarettes hidden in the freezer in a bag of peas. I guess when the going gets really tough, Lois needs a Marlboro.

I am not condoning smoking. But it is an interesting affectation.

That buzzer brings Batman and Wonder Woman.

In a great scene, we see just how strong Lois is. She basically stands up to Batman saying she knows what she is doing. And he needs to listen to her. She needs these heroes to find her husband.

This really whet my appetite for the upcoming Rucka/Perkins run. The moody shadowy art, the presence of Lois, and the noir dialogue all makes me think this book is going to be a winner.

In perhaps the most abrupt transition in comic history, we go from the murky inks of Lois' rooftop to the bright hotel room of Jimmy Olsen.

Jimmy is on a world tour promoting a book he has written. The current spot is Gorilla City. And after a night of drinking Gorilla champagne, Jimmy wakes up next to a beautiful woman named Jix. While I am sure there was some sexual shenanigans, it turns out that Jix is also an extradimensional jewel thief who has swiped something from the city. She gets into her thief outfit and takes off.

Meanwhile Jimmy's clothes have been torn to ribbons by a cat in the hotel room's bathroom. Naked, without his passport, and attacked by this vicious cat, Jimmy figures he'll need Superman's help to get out of the jam. But the signal watch gives Jimmy a reverse warning. Superman is near Kryptonite. And the signal watch can sense that.

Unfortunately, the cat turns out the be Dex-Starr and the Red Lantern Cat vomits enough blood to drench Jimmy and the room.

It's up to Jimmy to save Superman.

In just a few pages we have Gorilla City, trysts with an extra-dimensional jewel thief, an ill-tempered blood-spewing super cat, and a globe trotting Jimmy.

Yep, we are going to get one wild Silver Age Mr. Action book.

This is going to be a romp.

But let's get serious again.

Leviathan shows up and frees Clark from the Kryptonite vest.

He actually apologizes to Clark for this inconvenience. He didn't want this to happen. His organization is going through some growing pains.

So maybe he didn't take Leone's advice?

And there are clues here ... but more on them soon.

At this time, the Justice League is at this compound to free Clark. We also see Jimmy there, in a Gorilla Suit and with Dex-Starr in tow. And Lois is there dressed as Talia. Clearly stuff happened that we aren't privy too.

But for me the most interesting thing is that we see this Leviathan building. And Leviathan troops. This is the first time we are seeing infantry.

I like how Lois says she got all the Justice Leagues. When Lois calls, people listen.

And I like that Superman is still reeling from the K-exposure so much that he can't just jump into the action.

Bendis loves these XRay vision panels showing us how Superman sees all the things in one view.

Finally we get to see the main man in all his bug-mask, red robed glory.

Turns out Talia, upset that this person stole Leviathan from her, set up the Kent kidnapping to bring Superman down on this new regime. It was a coup. I love Talia's defiance.

At least we get an explanation about Talia's role in all this. And we also see how she has brought down some unwanted attention on this group. Clearly this person wasn't ready to fight the League.

There are some clues here too.

But we see how this new Leviathan took Leone's advice. By ignoring it. Leone compares fighting Superman to fighting a bear. You trick a bear into a trap and then kill it.

This Leviathan isn't going to fight Superman head on. He has seen that fail before (hmmmm ...).

Instead he will show all the heroes that Leviathan is something they will want to join. They have the same goals. This isn't a fight. It's a recruitment drive.

Upset at Talia, he tosses her from the ship. Luckily Superman has recovered enough to scoop her up and save her. But she is pretty tight-lipped. She won't tell Superman anything.

Meanwhile back in Metropolis, Leone has Red Cloud kill the Mafia bodyguard who let Leviathan interact with her in the bookstore at the beginning. No one is allowed to do that, regardless of their mega-tech.

With this death, Leone thinks Robinson Goode is due for a promotion. Red Cloud is now in the upper echelon of the Mafia.

Whew ... that is a lot to take in. I love how we finally got to see this Leviathan. We see how he ousts Talia. We see how his mission is to unite under his banner, not destroy or kill. I am sure he thinks he is the good guy of this story. This is the perfect prologue.

But the Lois chapter and the Jimmy chapters were just great appetizers for their books. I can't wait to read some Superman Family stories again!

The artwork throughout is lush. I love Paquette. And the individual character chapters have art which perfectly complement their stories.

Oh ... and there are clues.

The summer can't get here fast enough!

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

I take what I can get for good DC books these days. This does give me some hope for those offshoots. I hope I'm not disappointed, but seriously after Heroes in Crisis can things really get anything but better from here?

Martin Gray said...

Loved the special overall - thoughts on Supergirl elsewhere. I also at first thought Leviathan had authorised Talia to act after talking to Ms Leone, but reading the bit before he drops her out of a plane, it's evident Damian's mad mom acted without authority. She already had the plan in play while Ms Leone and Levi were in the bookshop. So we've still to see what Leviathan will do as a result of the Me Leone consultation. Intrigued!

Come on, tell us what clues you spotted. The way Leviathan kept referring to Superman as 'the alien' was very Luthor, but he's busy elsewhere. Maybe an alternate Luthor? I still want Nasty!

So Dex-Starr ensures Jimmy isn't just a red-head...

Anj said...

Clues to be discussed early next week as I gather screen shots and panels.

I could, in theory, rush to Thursday.

Martin Gray said...

Don't rush it... make the post SING!

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this.

The Rucka/Pekins collaboration on Lois Lane shows what a comic book can be when a writer trusts that his artist can pull off the "cinematography" and "acting" and he or she lets the art breathe to tell most of the story. This was gorgeously drawn. You aren't drowned in narration boxes. The story tells itself (deceptively - the artist tells the story), and you can dwell on and savor the pages, or race through it, at whatever pace you like.

Too bad the credits are vague - 5 artists (did Ferreira ink Pansica? Usually artist means pencils + inks, otherwise some distinction if made, so maybe Ferreira drew some pages?); 3 colorists; 5 letterers. (Why the extra letterer?)

Who colored the noir Lois chapter?

I would guess that Fairbairn colored Paquette, and Plasencia colored Pansica.

Did Mounts color Lieber and Perkins colored himself? Or vice versa?

Whatever, I loved the way the Rucka/Perkins Lois story looked. (I wished Lois didn't smoke, though. It's not like she lacks the intellect nor the will power.)

The Supergirl story looked good.

The Fraction/Lieber Jimmy Olsen story was delightful.

So, I guess Lois and Jimmy are going on my pull list. It's getting to be too big!

I thought it looked familiar but was too lazy to look back, but Bendis confirmed that the scene where Superman fights Mongul takes place in Naomi #1. Bendis is world-building and I like it a lot!

(Bendis has also pointed out that every Wonder title is connected to Superman. He flies off world in a blur at the start but his existence is the instigator of the Young Justice story; he appears at the beginning of Naomi and Dial H for Hero; he mentors the Wonder Twins throughout. This connects all the stories, though not in a way that may prove particularly important - it just anchors them to the DC Universe.)