Review of Leviathan Issue #1 From Image Comics
Leviathan: End of Days
Ryan Deluca is just a normal guy living a normal life. On this particular day, he's trying to throw a house party to impress his girlfriend, Vivian, but he ran out of beer. Way to go, Ryan. He and his best friend, Johnny, go on a quick beer run to remedy the situation.
On their way to the market, Ryan and Johnny pass by old Hobo Jenkins, rambling on about the end of the world again. The pair give it little thought as they make their way to the convenience store when all of a sudden—SCRAKATHOOOM!
Enter: Leviathan, a massive Kaiju monster hellbent on destroying the city. It's now up to Ryan and Johnny to race across the city in a desperate attempt to save their party. Have fun!
Letter and Art Section
Co-creator John Layman is planning on including a letter section at the back of the issue where he can interact with fans and get feedback. What's nice about this issue in particular is that Layman and artist Nick Pitarra included some sketches and pencils of the pages to make up for the fact that there's no mail to post yet (given this is only the first issue).
The art was a welcomed addition. It's always cool to see some concept sketches, and the original art helps to add value to the comic.
Art and Aesthetic
At times, line artist Nick Pitarra's art was jaw-dropping. Much like the work of artist Kevin O'Neil, Pitarra's art gets better the more you look at it. That's because everything is drawn to excruciating detail. It makes sense that this series is set to have a limited run, because Pitarra is sure to never cut corners or take shortcuts.
I thought about counting the scales on Leviathan's back in any given panel, but the idea quickly made me nauseous. I think that he has hundreds, if not thousands, of little tiny scales, even on pages where the creature doesn't feature prominently. Sometimes Pitarra's attention to detail works against him, however, as a few of his pages are a bit too busy, making it hard to find the scene's focal point. Luckily, these instances are few and far between.
I really don't have much to say about the colors from Michael Garland, other than that they're very good. They never muddled any of Pitarra's line work or attracted unwarranted attention from the reader, but rather enhanced the book's more thematic moments.
The same can be said for John Layman's letters in that they never take anything away from the story. The only minor issue I had with the lettering is that the same narration box was used for both the narrator and one of the characters that was telling a story. It would have been nice to see some sort of difference in design to better differentiate between orators, but I was still able to make the distinction using context.
Plot and Characters
A Light, Comedic Romp
John Layman is quick to delve into his story, as the primary conflict opens just 4 pages in. From there, the plot is fairly straight forward: Try to survive as a monster ravages the city. It's a nice reminder that not all stories need a rich backstory or extensive lore. Some stories can be light and fun. That's exactly what Leviathan is, a comedic romp through the end of the world.
That said, the first issue did feel a bit too light. I was surprised at how abrupt the ending was and by the time I put the comic down, I couldn't help but feel that Leviathan lacked some sort of substance. Sure, the pages I read were entertaining, but it didn't feel like it had finished setting up the story.
The same can be said for the characters. They were fun to follow, but we don't really know much about them other than they like beer and parties. Given the tone of the series, it's okay that this isn't a character-driven narrative (because it's really not), but it limits the amount of investment that readers will put into the story's cast. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, it just hinders Layman's ability to derive emotion from his characters later on.
The Verdict: Wait for the Trade
Leviathan was fun while it lasted; it just didn't last long enough. Get the next issue if you'd like, but just know that it might lack substance on its own. It seems as though the best way to enjoy this series is to read it in bulk. I recommend buying the collected volume when it comes out.