WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Event Leviathan #6, by Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev and Josh Reed, on sale now.
The latest DC Comics crossover Event Leviathan has come to close, and the intelligence agencies and top-secret organizations of the DC Universe have been left in complete disarray by the eponymous masked villain and his own private army. With the DCU's greatest detectives reeling from Leviathan's initial onslaught and the shocking reveal that it is headed by the first modern Manhunter Mark Shaw, the fallout will be explored this February in the oversized special Leviathan Dawn, written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Alex Maleev. The special will also set up a new status quo and heroic intelligence community for DC's heroes to rely on.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Bendis discussed how Leviathan Dawn will serve as both an epilogue to Event Leviathan and a fresh jumping on point for an expansive saga of new stories, teases what characters will be significantly affected by the rise of Leviathan and talked about if redemption is possible for Shaw as he sets to rebuild the world.
CBR: Event Leviathan may be finished, but now you've got Leviathan Dawn coming in 2020.
Brian Michael Bendis: After [Event Leviathan] #6, people will see that the mystery is solved. But the mystery then reveals, like eight more giant stories that they have to pursue and follow through. A lot of these characters have been touched or altered by this story dramatically. So Leviathan Dawn is a brand-new chapter; it's the next day, what happens now.
For all the characters of Event Leviathan, including Leviathan itself, what are they going to do now that their first plan wasn't immediately successful other than they have arrived and changed the DC landscape? What will they do now and what will be the form of the official pushback against this? How will the intelligence gather and fight back now that everything has been dismantled? So now a new organization for the good guys will rise up and you'll find out who's in it, who made the cut, in Leviathan Dawn, which is another fully painted Alex Maleev graphic event!
So for people who read Event Leviathan and were like, "I would like another issue of this!" here comes another double-sized epilogue/prologue. And for people who missed the event but are all in on whatever this new thing this, here we go. And this is going to be kind of be what the format is for the Leviathan Saga moving forward. There's going to be specials and miniseries that connect to a larger story as it goes and fallout in the books themselves -- not just the ones I'm writing -- to other books with any character that showed up in Event Leviathan like Batgirl. The fallout will be felt in their books too.
You had disassembled the Avengers for Marvel and brought them back as the New Avengers. Is this a similar approach in reformatting the DC landscape and secret organizations within it?
I could see that connection so I'm going to say yes but like a spy version. But because it's a different genre, different rules apply. So this gathering being gathered and who it is, I think, will be a little more surprising than, say, the New Avengers lineup. I will say we have a surprise on the new team that's really as big as Wolverine joining the Avengers. We do have some new spies, people that may be flipping or changing sides or trying some new things in their life so I'm excited to see what people's reactions to some of that is.
One of the big wild cards in Event Leviathan was Damian Wayne, because of his mother Talia's connection to Leviathan.
One of my favorite things, and I actually wrote this down, was that the story had six wild cards. Almost everyone is a wild card in the story if you really push it, they all had a history of it. So we kind of had to focus on who is the wild card of the wild cards, and it ended up being Damian, which is kind of hilarious.
You had mentioned Batgirl, and there was Jason Todd. So are we going to revisit them in Leviathan Dawn?
Yes, 100%. This hit everybody on different levels. Some it hit very personally, some it hit thematically, like, Leviathan was against their principals on every level that something has to be done and a lot of people feel like Leviathan happened on their watch, like, "We're supposed to be watching for this and it literally happened right from under us."
So there's a lot of responsibility here among the members of the team against Leviathan and other members and organizations that got hit by this. But for Damian -- this was a lot of fun and came from talking to the other writers as well -- there's a real family history here in a weird way. Like, his weird family legacy is Leviathan [because Talia founded its initial incarnation]. His feelings on this are very strange, and as he gets older, his relationship with his mother and mother's father and what they built is very strange. So we wanted to lean in on a young man in crisis. What should he do next with all that's in front of him?
So narratively, Leviathan Dawn is both an epilogue and a fresh jumping on point. Tonally is it darker or more optimistic and determined than the main Event Leviathan series?
It's like gathering the band. If you want to connect more, like you said, New Avengers, this about someone going, "Hey, someone's got to do something. I guess it's going to be me. Let's get the band together." And as Leviathan is also looping in and deciding on what they're going to do, and what they're about to do in Leviathan Dawn is pretty enormous and -- I don't want to spoil something -- but it's going to be another shift. So Leviathan has big plans and that plan will implement in Leviathan Dawn.
Was the plan always to have Mark Shaw and Leviathan itself still out in the wind, and in what ways would you say he's been successful?
Yes! He was successful in that he was able to literally gather the broken world of the intelligence community and tell them we can do better than this. And you'll see a bit more of that in Leviathan Dawn, to see what his relationship is to the gathered forces of Leviathan and how he leads. He's not like a Red Skull or power-mad, fist-thumping villain; there's something going on there. He's very seductive and able to get a lot of people over there. So we'll find out who and why and where and how he's been able to do it.
That's an antagonist playing by different rules and that was in the original pitch about Mark Shaw, too. Like, there are heroes and villains but there's also this other thing and if the other thing isn't going to play by the binary rules of hero/villain, that really, really sends the heroes for a loop. So that's the game Mark Shaw is going to play, and I'm really interested to see people's reactions to that.
Leviathan's plan really screws up everyone's plans, both heroes and villains. Yes, it was originally Mark and, yes, this was always the plan. I'm very happy to announce that was always the case and I know it's not always the case but we 100% stuck our original landing and the truth of the character held and got better as we went. So, having already written Leviathan Dawn, I'm really excited for people to properly meet Mark Shaw and find out what he's about and if they like him or not.
Is redemption possible for Mark Shaw, or is he too far gone? This was always about shades of gray...
Yes, and also that this person doesn't believe this is their redemption, that they're finally doing what they're supposed to do and making harder choices than they had before. Again, I don't want to spoil too much about Mark's point of view, but you're going to get to meet him and Leviathan and find out what makes him tick and what makes them very different from other kinds of organizations we've seen over the years.
It's much more layered and about the government and people [being] sick of the way the world works; you know what Mark is selling. I wrote this down, and people know my philosophy about this, that Magneto is probably the best villain, because you can have a conversation with Magneto... and he's not wrong. What he's saying is very arguable, but what he does is wildly incorrect -- historically, I'm not talking comics in the past couple years. So with that in mind, Mark's argument, other than his actions, is part of what we want to have fun with here.
Leviathan Dawn #1 is written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Alex Maleev. It is scheduled to go on sale this February from DC Comics.