Warning: MASSIVE SPOILERS for Event Leviathan #5
When Event Leviathan was first announced, there was no way comic fans could have known how drastically it would change the landscape of DC's Universe--or how desperate they would be to know who was truly under the mask of the group's leader. Now at least part of the mystery has been solved, thanks to Damian Wayne.
With almost every operative in the world seen as a suspect, both Batman and Lois Lane have assembled teams of DC's greatest detectives. The idea that Red Hood was secretly Leviathan was a good distraction, but after writer Brian Michael Bendis let some clues drop, and assured fans the identity of Leviathan would make sense, the one target of the mysterious organization that never seemed right has proven to be the key. Batman's team now know who is wearing the mask as leader of Leviathan--and so does Superman, staring him straight in the face. Needless to say, SPOILERS ahead.
Leviathan's Plan For Manhunter Finally Revealed
The key to Leviathan's mission has been the removal of the intelligence/spy organizations within the DC Universe (which Bendis has confirmed was part of a larger desire to 'clear the table' of covert groups monitoring DC's superheroes). More specifically, it seems Leviathan is destroying the physical operations, but somehow recruiting the operatives to his cause. Leaving survivors behind like Steve Trevor, General Sam Lane, Amanda Waller, and other high profile suspects seemed an attempt to cover Leviathan's trail. But among that group, Kate Spencer a.k.a. Manhunter seemed an odd choice--and even she admitted the fact.
As Batman's team of Damian, Question, Green Arrow, and Kate are traveling to their next target, their banter finally clicks into place for the young Robin. Noting that Leviathan knows their actions intimately, he concludes the masked figure must know the heroes just as well. But when Batman clarifies that Leviathan is "someone with access to intel. That's not necessarily the same thing," Damian asks himself how Leviathan is staying one step ahead. It's then that he asks Kate Spencer, the one person who shouldn't logically be among their group, about the origins of her Manhunter staff.
Comic fans already know that Kate started her career as a prosecutor, gathering up super equipment from an evidence locker--Manhunter staff included--and took the name of the former vigilante. Likely deducing it isn't Kate who was planted among them, but the Manhunter staff she's been carrying, the team asks if she knows the identity of the former Manhunters who would also have access to her weapon technology. Kate's face locks into a grimace of understanding, but at that exact moment, it's Superman who has the entire mystery revealed to him.
Superman Knows The Manhunter Under The Mask
From the very start, Bendis's writing has suggested that despite all appearances and assumptions, there isn't much reason to believe Leviathan is explicitly evil, or even malicious or nefarious on their goals. Somehow they've managed to turn agents of the DEO, Argus, Spyral, and more to their cause. That cause? To create a new world order based on truth, and kill the old one of secrets, deception, and competing objectives to keep a corrupt and broken system in place. Superman and the heroes--as agents of the status quo--see these actions as a threat. But when Leviathan finally comes face to face with Superman (thanks to a power-negating trap), they're putting their money where their mouth is.
Explaining that Leviathan intended on unleashing their plan while Superman was off world so he could see the results before he had the chance to interfere, the masked leader speaks to the Man of Steel with reason. Telling him not everything is his concern or his responsibility, Leviathan only wishes to fix the world, and remake it as it should be... at which point Superman can once again protect it (and as we mentioned, if Leviathan is committing atrocities evidence hasn't been provided yet).
When accused of secrecy due to covering their own face, Leviathan curiously claims it is not a mask, and opens its outer layers to allow Superman to see their true face. A face Superman knows. And one readers might, as well.
Leviathan is The Manhunter... Confirmed?
The clues dropped by Bendis weren't exactly subtle, as we previously explained how they point directly to the conclusion that Leviathan's true identity is Manhunter, most likely Mark Shaw. When commenting on the pressure to deliver when a mystery is the heart of his story, Bendis explained to CBR that he knows the risks:
There's only so many answers it could be and still be a good answer. You have maybe a dozen really good mystery answers -- maybe only two -- but that's all you can get away with... I am so happy to announce that, right now, according to my Twitter, which I do look at, it has been guessed but not by many, many people. Like, only a couple people have guessed it so I feel very good about who Leviathan is, I like people who got it why they got it and the people who don't get it are going to be surprised. And I guess as I go by Twitter and, like I said, I worry about Twitter ruining it for the reader experience but it accentuated it greatly. I am very, very excited by it. Like, if everybody gets it already, I blew it. But I know my clues are good.
The latest issue confirms that Leviathan is a former Manhunter, which technically leaves the door open to other candidates. But as the star of his own successful series, and given his intelligence, experience, and past run-ins with the Justice League (which this pre-Flashpoint Superman would plausibly remember), Mark Shaw remains our top suspect. Now it's just a matter of sharing the secret with the fans, as well as Superman and Kate Spencer. And seeing if Manhunter will succeed in his mission of creating a better world... or if Superman and his heroes will cling to the old one.
Event Leviathan #5 is available now from your local comic book shop, or direct from DC Comics.