Friday, August 16, 2019

Review: Event Leviathan

Event Leviathan #3 came out this week, the ending of the first half of the book and a classic middle chapter for a mystery like this.

The bulk of the story is a loud, well paced, gorgeous fight scene between the team of detectives and the Red Hood. And, much like in an action movie, there is nothing like a good action sequence in the middle of a story to keep the adrenaline pumping and the crowd engaged. I still find it a little strange that Jason was able to defeat all these heroes. But I am not the biggest Red Hood fan so maybe that all seems in line.

But the foundation of this mini-series is the mystery of 'who is Leviathan' and there are clues here if you look hard enough. I doubt that writer Brian Michael Bendis is going to be obvious. The heroes aren't going to find an item, a footprint, a weapon to move things along. These are subtle clues. As such they are mutable, and easily malleable to fit into my #LeviathanTheory.

Alex Maleev's art is stunning as usual with a strong color palette to reflect the tone of the scenes. I have been a fan of his for a long time so seeing his version of Superman or Plastic Man is a treat.

But remember, this is a review post. The review of the clues will be sometime next week.

 I thought last month's cover was an homage.

I think this month's is as well.

Squint and you can see the similarities between Event Leviathan #3 and Batman #618. As both involve the Red Hood (in the Hush cover case, Robin's dead body), and given Jason's talk in this issue, it seems appropriate. It also leans into my theory a little bit. But more on that later.

On to the review!

 Last issue ended with the detective team confronting The Red Hood, saying he was Leviathan, and attacking him.

We open this issue with the heroes in Superman's Fortress of Solitude, going over the events of the evening. The fight with the Red Hood is told in flashback. And it is clear the heroes lost and Jason escaped.

There is a lot of infighting among the team as some are blaming others for Jason scarpering.

And then we get the breakdown, something of a comedy of errors as the team, with no strategy, just goes head on against the Red Hood. The fight is chaotic and that helps the Hood.

 I do have to say that the fight scene is a little bit confusing to follow. I am hoping someone can help me.

It is broken down into two scenes. One where Jason is fighting Batman, Robin, and Plastic Man.

In the end, the three plummet from a roof, down many stories, through a skylight, and into a penthouse swimming pool.

It's Batman and Damian against the Red Hood. Bit somehow, something just happens. And the Red Hood gets away.

Is the blue here just splashing water? Or did Jason electrify it? Is his face always so demonic?

Regardless, something happened that let him slip away. Either he beat up Batman and Robin (which I would have liked to see) or he incapacitated them with some weapon.

There is another scene where Red Hood is talking to Lois Lane while easily thwarting Green Arrow and Manhunter's efforts to corral him. This takes place after the pool scene (Batman and Robin show up again and are accidentally caught in Ollie's net arrow.) But given the nonlinear storytelling of this book, some hint that is true would have been helpful ... something like water dripping off the Red Hood.

But this scene is where a lot of the juice for this issue comes out.

It is Lois, unbelievably brave Lois, who pulls out her phone (or her backup phone) and just starts asking Jason questions. Maybe this was a better approach than just attacking him en masse?

First off, why attack spy agencies and not governments themselves. Ah Lois, it is always easier to take over the secret power behind the scenes than do something so public. But more than that, Jason reminds here that the combined intel of all those sources would be able to bring down many heroes.

 And then he says that he isn't surprised the heroes think he is Leviathan. It is something he would do.

He wants heroes to take that next step and eliminate evil, that line heroes won't cross.

So now you have to start thinking about Leviathan themselves. Who would have an M.O. similar to Jason? Who would want a line to be crossed?

This also hearkens back to the homage cover. On that cover we see the skeletal Jason, an act that was never avenged by Batman. Batman never killed Joker, never crosses that line.

 Todd spells it out more elegantly.

The real question isn't 'who is Leviathan?' The real question is 'why is Leviathan?'

And what won't Batman be ready to face? Remember Leviathan specifically said Batman was not to be included in this new world order.

 We close out with Jason acknowledging the craft of this move by Leviathan.

The 'dad' comment is weird and out of left field. It is one that seems heavy with importance that I just can't wrap my head around.

 Back in the Fortress, the conversation turns to Amanda Waller. Even Jason Todd wonders if she isn't behind the whole thing. The team is reminded Waller was in the Fortress a short while ago. Long enough to leave a bug. She has heard everything.

Ollie chastises her for letting all this happen on her watch. And I think she is upset at herself as well, enough to shoot the receiver.

I did have to giggle that Batman actually says 'to the BatCopter'!

Walking out of her safe house, Waller runs into Leviathan and a squad.

This is another scene heavy with relevant and clue-ish dialogue.

Is Leviathan there to kidnap Waller? Or kill her? Leviathan wonders why she hasn't killer herself, having not learned from any of her past mistakes. Hmmm ...

But this interchange shows how deep this goes. Waller drops the 'Janus Directive' in the conversation, seeing if Leviathan will tip his hand about knowing about it. But Leviathan swats it away. And Leviathan knows about Mother Boxes.

Somehow, the response that it was bait makes me think Leviathan wasn't involved in the Janus Directive story. But I could be wrong. It is interesting after all the 'no bodies' talk, Leviathan talks about outright killing Waller. Hmmm ..

Just when you think some stuff is going to go down, we get a great cliffhanger!

So I enjoyed this issue a lot. It is a middle chapter so amping up the action after 2 dialogue heavy issues made perfect sense. It kept the juices flowing.

And the two scenes with dialogue all seem filled with information just below the surface. The mystery deepens. But boy, what I wouldn't give for a true, outright, clue to mull over!

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Thanks for another top post, extra marks for the use of 'scarpering'.

The heroes losing against Jason was ridiculous - Plastic Man alone could have got him in ten seconds flat, but as you sometimes say, I just have to go with it. There were certainly parts of the visuals I couldn't parse.

Waller actually says 'Janus Initiative' which I took to be a reference to the Janus Directive crossover, but maybe not - see the comments over at my Too Dangerous For a Girl review.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I agree that the fight scene could have been clearer. However, I love the last page appearance of Superman. It couldn't have been more powerful and majestic.

Anonymous said...

Fight scene significantly incomprehensible. Do both Manhunter and Red Hood have a similar glowy white rod? It looked that way to me. I think maybe he confiscated it from her at one point during their fight, but not sure he ever gives it back. I think he swatted away Green Arrow's net arrow with it, deflecting it to envelop Batman and Robin. (And that was very funny, actually.)

Apparently Plastic Man can be shot point blank in the chest, resulting in an arrow appearing to have entered through his back and exiting through his chest. Unless Red Hood's gun shoots long backwards arrows. Nope, I didn't follow that 2-panel sequence. Maybe Green Arrow shot an arrow straight through Plastic Man in order to intercept the bullet Red Hood was firing at Plastic Man from a few inches a way? Yeah, that would work because physics.

At times, I did wonder if the moody coloring was serving to distract from muddy, scratchy and confusing line art. But it's kind of all of a piece, and the color and lines work together.

I guess the fight scene is not intended to be followed like it's some kind of comprehensible sequence - it's more impressionistic. Too much implausibly happens during the brief time span that everyone is hurtling off the building, you can't think about it too carefully.

I had to laugh when Lois brought Elongated Man into the conversation.

Half-way there. All I know is, none of us is Leviathan.


Rob S. said...

A couple things about the Jason Todd fight:

1) I think we can make a distinction between "escaping from" all those heroes and "defeating" them. Escaping is still a tough job, but it's not as hard as an out-and-out defeat. Comics are built on daring & clever escapes. (This is also why I had no problem with Harley escaping from the Trinity in Heroes in Crisis: It was clever enough to catch the heroes off guard and work once. It wouldn't work twice.)

2) TN, regarding the backward arrow Red Hood shot Plas with -- in an earlier panel, Green Arrow plugged his gun with an arrow right up the barrel. Jason shot it anyway, expelling the arrow into Plas.