Ryan Deluca and Johnny Burns are on a beer run for their party when a giant monster suddenly manifests in the city. It is enormous, breaths fire, and is right near Ryan’s apartment. Ryan’s girlfriend, Vee Munroe, is still at the apartment along with their friends. Ryan goes back to save her. Meanwhile, the government puts together a response for this monster in the form of a brigade of giant mech robots.
Leviathan #1 exists in this odd place between sincerity and parody while never quite succeeding at either. It presents something of a straightforward kaiju/giant monster narrative, but it loads it down with in-jokes and jabs at modern society so that you assume it’s supposed to be at least partially parody.
Even Nick Pitarra’s artwork signals satire. The giant monster’s design is pretty bog standard, the characters are drawn with caricature-like designs, and Michael Garland’s color work is exceedingly saturated and bright.
Yet, there is still a straightforward giant monster story which Leviathan wants to tell here. There are serious plot beats, an attempt at creating stakes, and a lead character here who is never so lampooned presented in an over-the-top manner as to take him as a joke.
It feels like it’s trying to have its cake and eat it too. A lot of the plot beats are either unimaginative or outright lame, and that hinders both the satire and the serious story. The means by which the monster was brought to the city isn’t a common kaiju movie trope, and it’s so lame that you can’t help but roll your eyes.
There is a first-issue death where the scripting and art are fighting over whether this should be taken seriously. It’s also so out of nowhere and abrupt that it’s more frustrating than saddening or shocking.
There are comics, movies, etc. that can be both parody and a genuine story. Zombieland is one of my favorite movies of all time and does both. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Rick Veitch’s The One, The Tick, both Deadpool films (the second one less so than the first), and much of Quentin Tarantino‘s filmography are a mixture of parody and honest portrayal. However, it’s a hard balance to strike, and Leviathan just doesn’t do it.
Leviathan #1 is very disappointing. The story is lame, the characters are dull, and the humor doesn’t quite click. The art isn’t bad, but it feels at odds with the comic’s tone. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this one.
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