Back when the Superman: Leviathan Rising Special hit the stands alongside Action Comics #1011, I waxed poetic about how excited I was to finally get answers about this mysterious Leviathan threat. Now that Event Leviathan #1, the first chapter of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s six-part mystery series, has arrived, some answers have finally been revealed. And if I thought the Leviathan threat was terrifying before, I was not prepared for just how formidable this new villain truly is going to be. My fears that Leviathan can't—and won't—be beat have only increased. Superman, we need you back on Earth!
And yet, with how dire things have gotten after Leviathan successfully eliminated all of the DC Universe’s clandestine government agencies, shockingly enough the first book in the miniseries is essentially a “bottle episode” in comic book form. Event Leviathan #1 takes place mostly in the ruins of a building, the new ARGUS embassy called “The Odyssey.” This impressive high-rise was meant to be a safe haven for superheroes and normal people alike where they could meet to "better understand each other" through "social networking, community services, outreach programs" and more.
Now it's just a pile of rubble with characters coming and going, having conversations and listening in to those conversations in secret throughout as Bendis and Maleev’s story gets rolling. A flashback shows what happened to that building, further cementing the bottle episode story conceit while still playing with time. But the issue never actually leaves the building (except during the twist at the very end…I’m going to spoil that later, so if you haven’t yet read Event Leviathan #1, you might want to stop reading now).
It was a risky move to kick off such a huge comic book event with something as quiet and claustrophobic as a bottle episode, and yet it totally works because it ratchets up the tension even more. We may not know what's going on outside that destroyed building, but the information being exchanged inside of it is dark enough foreshadowing that we know we should be terrified.
Most of this first issue deals with some of the DCU's best detectives as they come together at this most recent site of Leviathan's purge, all seeking their own answers and coming up with the scariest one yet. Not only is Leviathan always 12 steps ahead of them at every single turn, but the person/thing behind the attacks also coordinated them in a way that would turn the blame right back on the heroes. Colonel Steve Trevor, Lois Lane… They're trying to figure out what's really going on, but instead they're going to find themselves riddled with suspicions because they were the only ones spared.
It doesn't take the two of them—joined also by Batman and Green Arrow—long to figure it out: Leviathan means to turn all the heroes on each other. They'll be so busy fighting each other over false blame that Leviathan will be able to continue carrying out its plan without any obstacles. And it's doing a pretty good job already, what with Green Arrow having to use a taser arrow on Steve when he was about to attack Lois. Leviathan is already getting under their collective skin and it's getting ugly.
What makes the Leviathan threat even more terrifying is that no one seems to understand how it's pulling off these attacks and literally wiping these massive organizations off the face of the earth without leaving some sort of trace behind. Batman has never seen any technology that can do what Leviathan has done to the DEO, ARGUS, Spyral, Kobra Kult and Task Force X. The energy signature left behind has him completely stumped—and he knows about almost every signature known to man and alien (thanks to Superman helping him upgrade his catalog). Despite every single hero trying to figure out and stop Leviathan's plans, no one has been able to get close.
Of course, what none of these heroes know is that Leviathan isn't killing all the people who have disappeared. They're all being made an offer to restart the world and make it a better one…whatever that means. We get a slightly better understanding of that when Doctor Strand, Leviathan's most recent pitch, wakes up in a room with the group’s new leader after the latest attack. Leviathan wants to make Strand's vision for a better future come true, because this world "doesn't work." And apparently "tomorrow" is when that "better world" will be created…if Strand agrees to help, of course.
The big question is now: Should Strand refuse to help, or should she actually agree to Leviathan's plan? Without knowing exactly what Leviathan wants, the right answer may be the one we all, including Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Lois Lane and every other hero, least expect.