Leviathan is ready to strike, and the DC Universe may not be the same once they’re finished. The heroes of the DC Universe have fought their fair share of clandestine organizations in the past, so this all may seem like old hat, but Leviathan is different. Leviathan is the pinnacle of the DC Universe’s covert pyramid. They might be twelve steps ahead of you before you even realize their existence…or that they’ve been monitoring you and your family for the past three years. The fearsome reach of this organization is not exclusive to the comics either. During the season finale for The CW’s Supergirl, it was revealed that Leviathan had even been controlling Lex Luthor. That’s right, Lex Freakin’ Luthor!
We’ll have to wait until the fall to see how Leviathan will factor into Season 5 of Supergirl, but the organization is already making its dark mark in the comics with Event Leviathan, a crucial new miniseries that’s poised to change the fabric of the DCU forever. The events setting up Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s new mini have been playing out in the pages of Action Comics, but if you haven’t been following that, don’t worry. Here’s some intel from our dossier which should bring you up to speed…
Leviathan is a worldwide criminal organization shrouded in secrecy. Their ranks are filled with assassins, super-powered warriors and some of the best scientific minds on the planet. The organization was first seen in 2010’s Batman: The Return, and their threat was so great that it resulted in Batman seriously stepping up his game. To combat Leviathan, Bruce Wayne started a global initiative of Dark Knights called “Batman Incorporated.” At the time, it was compared to McDonalds or Starbucks, with Batman being the commodity franchised around the world. It may sound quaint or even funny, but it was done because that’s how dangerous Leviathan was. It needed a global army of Batmen to combat it.
As the Batman vs. Leviathan saga continued in the pages of Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated, the Dark Knight learned that Talia al Ghul was the leader of the organization. Talia was upset that Batman had spurned her advances and corrupted their son Damian into believing in his quest for justice.
Many of us have had to deal with angry exes before. Fortunately, it's highly unlikely that any of the angry exes were an al Ghul. Truly furious ex-boyfriends or -girlfriends might change the locks to your home or even key your car, but Talia started a worldwide criminal organization with a mind for world domination. So, you might want to keep things cordial should you ever find yourself on the outs with her.
In the end, another one of Batman’s ex-girlfriends, Kathy Kane, shot Talia and absorbed Leviathan’s resources into her espionage organization, Spyral. (By the way, is it weird that Batman has multiple ex-girlfriends heading different secret organizations? The guy may want to rethink what he’s looking for in a relationship.) Talia did eventually return, which should come as no surprise since her family is kind of famous for their hot tubs of immortality.
Now Leviathan is back, and the organization is dismantling some of the DC Universe’s most sacred foundations. If you ever thought that the world of DC had too many secret organizations, Leviathan has come up with a chilling solution to that problem. During the “Leviathan Rising” prequel storyline, which ran in Action Comics #1007-1011, the group started taking down these secret organizations in an operation they called their Royal Flush. ARGUS, the DEO and many others have been targeted. In fact, one of the scariest sights of the entire event was a bruised and beaten Amanda Waller showing up at Clark Kent’s apartment begging for Superman’s help.
Amanda Waller is one of the toughest agents in the DCU, and the only thing stronger than her fury is her pride. To see her not only defeated, but admitting that she needs help, was a sight that shook me. Honestly, it should shake you too because Leviathan obviously means business and they’re just getting started. Right now, we’re just in the early stages of their campaign, and the true end goal of the organization is still a mystery. But when knocking Amanda Waller out is the first step of your campaign, I can’t imagine what horrors you have planned for your final act.
You might be asking, “Can’t Batman shut this whole thing down by working out a better shared custody plan with Talia?” Perhaps at one time, but things have moved beyond that. Leviathan is now bigger than Talia’s original agenda. In fact, Talia is now just another Leviathan pawn. During the Superman: Leviathan Rising one-shot, the former leader of Leviathan seemed to be under the thumb of the organization’s mysterious new leader…and none too happy about it.
Talia even had some of the organization’s men kidnap Clark Kent, hoping the Man of Steel would retaliate by dismantling Leviathan. Her plan failed, and Leviathan’s leader ejected Talia from the organization she started in the most dramatic, potentially life-endingly way possible.
Who is pulling the strings now? During DC’s Year of the Villain #1, Damian Wayne tells his father he thinks it’s Jason Todd, the antihero known as the Red Hood. Damian’s theory is interesting, but he hasn’t always shown the best judgement when it comes to Jason. He recently attacked Jason in the pages of Teen Titans Annual #1 over a misunderstanding, so I don’t think Damian can be considered an unbiased source of information.
So, who is Leviathan? Who has the power to take control from Talia al Ghul and send Amanda Waller running in fear? Who has the resources to elude great reporters like Lois Lane and Clark Kent? While it’s not clear if Damian Wayne’s theory is correct, he might be on the right track by telling us to look at the heroes instead of the villains. What if the person behind Leviathan is a corrupt superhero instead of a villain? And what will they do once they have control over every aspect of the DC Universe?
Event Leviathan officially kicks off today, so we may soon have our answers. How will the DC Universe look once it’s all over? I may need somebody to hold my hand until the dust settles.
Event Leviathan #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev is now available in print and as a digital download.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and DCUniverse.com, and is a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.