Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Leviathan Wednesday: The Justice Principle

8 months ago I reviewed First Issue Special #5, the first appearance of Mark Shaw, Manhunter. I had decided that I wanted to take a deep dive into the character to see if I could chart his course to becoming Leviathan. Were the clues that Brian Michael Bendis planted in Event Leviathan present in the past stories? Did it all make sense?

This was all in preparation for the upcoming Checkmate miniseries, the new book which picks up where Event Leviathan and Leviathan Dawn left off. Checkmate starts next Wednesday.

And so we come full circle.

With no other stories to look at, I decided to go back one more time to First Issue Special #5

In the back of that issue is a thinkpiece by Jack Kirby, Manhunter ... The Justice Principle. And in this piece we see some aspects of Mark Shaw Manhunter which still inform his character as Leviathan. This is a sort of credo by Kirby, one of comic's best prophets. And it is worth a read. 

But let's look at some good parts closer.

The opening paragraph starts out by saying that justice can only happen when society is able to place its faith in trust in various institutions  designed to keep people free.

What is Leviathan trying to do if not destroy institutions that people put their faith in to protect them but are themselves secretive, manipulative, exploitive, and actually destructive.

How can their be justice when self-serving shadow organizations work behind the law to undermine society's foundation?

The Manhunter, as Kirby describes him, is someone designed to protect man, defend it against the evils of the world.  He takes the risks to get justice for ' the little guy'.

All Shaw wants is to protect the average person from the machinations of espionage groups. At one point he pleads to the people of Metropolis to join him against the heroes and villains demolishing their worlds.

Kirby's ideal hero, that Manhunter defending the averager person against distrustful institutions brings with him a 'cult-mysticism'. 

We have seen how Shaw is able to lead a fanatical army, bringing them under his will quickly.

But in the end, Leviathan is a villain, right?

We know his frailties. We know who he is and why he is doing it. We understand what motivates him,

And so you can see even in that first appearance, in the text piece used to describe the character, Kirby himself shows us what beliefs Shaw has and what drives him. And all of that is built into a demand for Justice, something we know Leviathan wants.

And so we close out Leviathan Wednesday posts from the past. Hopefully Mark Shaw being Leviathan makes sense now!

See you next week for Checkmate!


William Ashley Vaughan said...

I've been enjoying your Manhunter posts. I appreciate the reminder of how good the Ostrander/Yale series was. I'm looking forward to Checkmate.

Anj said...


It has been a labor of love!