Title: Leviathan #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Nick Pitarra, Michael Garland
Release Date: August 1, 2018
TL;DR: Leviathan is a comic brimming with artistic nuance, engrossing action, and a persuasive-enough introduction. It’s an effective start for the new series.
Where Leviathan shines is in its grizzly, foreboding, and often caricatured illustrations. A gritty, detailed aesthetic lends to a beautifully surreal, nearly-grimdark atmosphere befitting of its rugged and distressed narrative. It’s a comic that revels in the grotesque and uses it to its advantage, artistically and narratively, bursting with appalling detail in all or most panels.
The character illustrations, specifically, accomplish this, while the longshots, especially those featuring the cityscape, provide a profound sense of scale in the reader, putting into perspective the truly terrifying nature of the rampaging beast.
In Leviathan, the story and art coalesce as such that daily life is defaced with equal pinches of vice and hostility, and no instance ever feels particularly sane. The pervasive sense of dread and looming doom lends itself perfectly to the palpably abrasive atmosphere. However, in comparing the two, the story, while enjoyable, is clearly outclassed by the art.
As I was reading, I found myself more engrossed by the art than the story, and it was only upon reflection that I developed a serious opinion of the story. I didn’t find that Leviathan’s specific take on the classic kaiju narrative justified the hackneyed start to the series itself, although that didn’t stop me from appreciating Leviathan as a sort of loveletter to classic kaiju films, and may even be seen by some as a plus.
The main characters, who we’re never given too much insight into but appear to be your everyday beer-and-kaiju loving twenty-something year-olds, didn’t stand out as interesting or especially likable, although particular emphasis is never placed on their complexity, so it may be too early to make a definitive judgement. Still, I find my investment in their escapades to be strikingly indifferent.
All-in-all, Leviathan’s first issue is an artistically captivating start to the series, although I would like to see (and am expecting) a more nuanced direction in regards to the writing.