THIS WEEK: It looks like we’re in for several more one-shots featuring the new Leviathan organization, led by Mark Shaw. Will they finally get around to telling us what this story is about?
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Leviathan Dawn #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Letters: Joshua Reed
Steve Trevor pretty much sums up my reaction to the Leviathan “event” this week when he asks, “Who the hell is Mark Shaw?” For all of its posturing and pretending to be a grown-up murder mystery, Event Leviathan fell flat on its face somewhere around issue 4 or 5 when it gave up the game and informed us readers that we can stop guessing the identity of the masked villain. We were never going to get it right. For all of the supposed clues that were dropping in the series, the final revelation was that Leviathan was Mark Shaw; an old C-rate hero that the world had long ago forgotten. Looking back on the miniseries as a whole now, I can’t imagine how it could be enjoyed as a standalone story in trade form without heavy reliance on outside knowledge or forty years of familiarity with DC Comics.
If I sound unimpressed, it’s probably because I’m still struggling to name anything that really happened in the pages of Event Leviathan. Most of the actual villainy took place before the series, in the pages of Action Comics and the Leviathan Rising one-shot. In that lead-up, an unnamed player started to systematically wipe out all of the spy agencies for unknown reasons. It was a decent setup that sadly didn’t receive any resolution once the event got underway. Instead, we saw the heroes point fingers at each other for six issues only to learn that some guy named Mark Shaw was under the mask. We still don’t know where the other organizations were zapped to, or what his end goals might be, or even how he acquired all of the futuristic tech he’s been using. I guess all of that basic story information is being saved for the follow ups?
Well, here we are. Let’s see what we’ve got.
In Leviathan Dawn, we get our best glimpse so far of the inside of the new Leviathan organization. The people under the leadership of Mark Shaw seem to be there voluntarily, though the whole thing has a smell of brainwashing about it and there’s no concrete talk of next steps. Lois Lane is still investigating, as is Oliver Queen. And Steve Trevor, and the Question, and Damian Wayne…in fact almost the entire cast of Event Leviathan is still in the same position, chasing down clues across the globe to figure out what Leviathan is up to. They are finding pieces of mysterious technology at each site and second-guessing their trust in each other. It’s really unclear why this wasn’t just labeled issue #7 instead of wrapping up the event and then immediately creating new titles to drip out bits of additional information.
I don’t think the sentiment is lost on the creative team. In today’s issue Oliver Queen asks, “You’re not going to just tell us?” when he fails to get direct answers to his questions. Even more blunt is Lois Lane’s annoyed “You’re seriously going to make me stick around to find out who that is?” comment. Sorry, heroes. No answers here. Just more pseudo-mystery cliffhanger chicanery. Lois will have to stick around if she’s interested enough to see where this goes. If anywhere.
To be continued, I guess.
Far Sector #4
Story: N.K. Jemisin
Art & Color: Jamal Campbell
Lettering: Deron Bennett
It’s an interesting time for the Green Lantern franchise. On one hand, the main book appears to be pretty disconnected from the rest of the comics line. You don’t see “Apex Lex” pop in and give an evil monologue to Hector Hammond, while The Batman Who Laughs goes after the Guardians. Or whatever. By keeping Hal off-planet, they avoid the need for marketing crossover participation and give us a self-contained longform story. Hallelujah.
But just because Hal’s off doing his own thing doesn’t mean the Green Lantern Corps doesn’t have a presence across the rest of the line. John Stewart is helping the Justice League fend off the Eradicator. Jessica Cruz is taking the fight to Darkseid in Odyssey. Young Justice has a new character called Teen Lantern who is making unsanctioned use of the Oan technology. And then there’s Jo Mullein in Far Sector.
Four issues in, we haven’t been told much about Jo yet. She’s from Earth, somewhere/somewhen. She was given a Green Lantern power ring by a mysterious off-screen benefactor and told she had one year to go use it for peacekeeping in a distant galaxy. She’s a flirty, no-nonsense outsider who is trying her best to understand the people around her and help out in some way, whether they want it or not.
The setting of Far Sector is pretty much as the name suggests. It’s mentioned as being a remote sector of the universe (though I actually wonder if there are some twists coming up around the location) that seems cut off from the rest of the GLC. The populace is an involuntary mix of species and ideologies, brimming with tension. There’s a bit of a Green Lantern Mosaic vibe to the whole situation, as the focus is on interpersonal relationships rather than, say, big green boxing gloves.
Some of the most engaging comics stories are ones where the hero meets a challenge she can’t punch. Jo finds her ring to be of limited use in solving the problem of riots and bloody protests. Physically separating the entire population isn’t feasible. In order to reconcile the conflict and create peace, she’ll have to get the people to start listening to each other instead of escalating tensions. One year to fix racism, corruption, over-policing, and political division — good luck!
Watching Jo’s frustrations mount is a highlight of the series. She’s tried the nice approach and is now moving to more forceful statements to get her point across. She’s taken on the militaristic “peacekeepers” and told the council exactly what she thinks of their attitudes and policies. Her agitation radiates off the page; so far from home and so tired of watching people die. Jo looks exhausted as she stares at the Council, with arms crossed and head sagging. Hers is an almost impossible task, and all too relatable. Maybe they’ll send her to Earth after her current stint is done.
Far Sector is a different kind of Green Lantern book, showing off the versatility and modernity of the franchise. It’s a good-cop-stands-alone story, set in a beautiful, otherworldly landscape. What else do you look for in a Green Lantern comic? Mystery, tension, humor — this one’s got it all.
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