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Leviathan #1 - Review

by Olivier Roth on August 01, 2018

Written by: John Layman

Art by: Nick Pitarra

Colours by: Michael Garland

Lettered by: John Layman

Published by: Image Comics

 

Leviathan is the new creator-owned comic by Chew writer John Layman and new collaborator Nick Pitarra dealing with the appearance of a giant-sized, dinosaur/dragon hybrid style monster, and its path of destruction through an unnamed big city. That was probably the sales pitch for this new series and after one issue, I’m not sure if I’m still on board.

 

From the first page, Layman is not hiding his direct influence for making this comic. In only the second panel, we are told about Kaijus, or large, Godzilla-style monsters, as well as the prediction that the end of the world is coming. This may seem to on-the-nose, especially with the next two panels being of a priest reviewing a sermon talking about a bound dragon and a crackpot yelling about the apocalypse, but the story quickly veers left and introduces us, to whom I guess it is going to be the main character Ryan Deluca.

 

Ryan is the main character insofar that for the rest of the issue we, as the reader, follow his story as the Leviathan appears. Layman gives us little to no background on the character, other than whom his girlfriend is and that he is not a great party planner, but little else.

 

That is actually my main concern with this first issue: there is no real reason to actually care for the characters other than the fact that they are in danger from this monster. The dialogue is as chippy as Chew was, but with no emotional investment as of yet, it’s just trying to be funny for funny’s sake.

 

This time around, Layman’s co-creator is Nick Pitarra, probably best known for his work with Jonathan Hickman on The Manhattan Project. His work on this venture is just as detailed as I remember it and he continues to bring some nice variance in all of the characters. The highlight is definitely his take on the Kaiju monster. It truly is like a dragon/dinosaur hybrid with some traits from Godzilla. Very nice design.

 

The downside, however, to his art, is the strange choices that he made throughout when it came to facial expressions. A facial expression is a key part to convey what a two-dimensional character is feeling, and I found that Pitarra missed the mark as much as he hit it in that regard. Sometimes you could tell exactly what a character was feeling and it fit the tone of the scene - see: a character named Goth Jimmy unveiling his idea of killing time - but other times, the characters' reactions didn’t fit the scene - namely when the Leviathan appears, a lot, and I mean, A LOT of the characters have smiles on their faces and don’t actually look scared… while running away scared. It’s little details like this that unfortunately takes away from the comic.

 

The standout in this new creator-owned venture is Michael Garland on colours. With detailed art like Pitarra’s, it can sometimes be a daunting task for a colourist to stand-out, but Garland does exactly that. His use of a more colourful palate, staying far away from all drab colours, makes each panel jump out at you in its vividness.

 

All in all, this debut issue from Layman and Pitarra was good, but not great. My chief concern after reading it was whether or not they will be able to distinguish themselves from other monster/kaiju fare. The lack of a distinct hook in the story and a pretty bland main character didn’t help much either. I’m fully in “wait and see” mode for the second issue to see if it changes my mind since Chew was one of my favorite non-capes comic of the past ten years.

Our Score:

7/10

A Look Inside