Superman: Leviathan Rising #1 // Review
Superman: Leviathan Rising #1 is, for all intents and purposes, a preview for DC’s upcoming Lois Lane and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen series, as well as the new direction for the Supergirl title once the Maid of Steel returns from her mission in space, wrapped in a prologue to the upcoming Event Leviathan miniseries. Given all of these different flavors and ideas and creative teams, it’s an achievement that they managed to put out a comic book that’s at all coherent, let alone as compelling as this oversized issue turned out to be.
The book begins and ends with a framing sequence written by Brian Michael Bendis that might as well be an issue of his current run on Action Comics, as it starts with the mysterious Leviathan confronting the secret crime boss of Metropolis, Leone. Shortly after this, Clark Kent gets kidnapped by Talia al Ghul, and shenanigans ensue. These pages, drawn by Yanick Paquette and colored by Nathan Fairbairn, with lettering by Dave Sharpe, are gorgeously rendered, with dynamic double-page spreads of diagonal panels supporting and enhancing Bendis’ famously expansive dialogue.
The book then focuses on Lois Lane’s mission to keep her husband--the most powerful man in the world--safe as she contacts Batman and Wonder Woman to investigate his kidnapping. Greg Rucka writes this sequence and his take on Lois as a tough-as-nails reporter who understands the big picture and is willing to use her power and position to affect it is compelling. Unlike Paquette’s traditional superhero look of clean lines and broad vistas, the work here by artist Mike Perkins, colorist Paul Mounts, and letterer Simon Bowland is grittier and more detailed, appropriate for the socio-political bent of a Lois Lane focused story and its setting of Chicago.
The third chapter of the book takes a turn for the absurd, as writer Matt Fraction and artist Steve Lieber tell their first Jimmy Olsen story, finding Jimmy waking up in Gorilla City married to an interdimensional cat burglar with the Red Lantern Dex-Starr having shredded all of his clothes. This section has a tone that’s similar to Fraction’s work on Hawkeye--wacky yet heartfelt, with at least three laughs per page. Colorist FCO Plascencia’s pastels make this sequence look entirely different from the rest of the book, and letterer Clayton Cowles has a blast with Fraction’s narration and recap boxes.
The weakest section of the book is the fourth chapter, written by Supergirl writer Mark Andreyko and focusing on what’s been happening with Kara Danvers’ family on Earth while she’s been out in the stars in her own title. Andreyko wasn’t writing Supergirl when Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers were significant characters in the title, and it shows, as neither character has the active voice and direct needs that Supergirl has when he writes her. The art, by penciler Eduardo Pansica and inker Julio Ferreira, seems messy and rushed, unlike the work in the rest of the book. This chapter is weirdly the only one that isn’t tied into the second half of the Bendis/Paquette framing sequence, making it seem like an afterthought.
Superman: Leviathan Rising #1 is an expensive comic, coming in at $9.99 for approximately 70 pages, but three out of the four stories included are really top-notch, making it worth the high cover price. The issue serves as a very exciting appetizer for the upcoming Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane maxi-series, debuting next month. If a good comic feels like a meal, then this issue is an excellent buffet, one where you might find yourself leaving a little overstuffed.