Warning: MASSIVE POTENTIAL SPOILERS for DC's Event Leviathan
The DC Universe has been taken over by Event Leviathan, and the mysterious masked leader wiping out Earth's intelligence network. But as Batman, Lois Lane, and the readers spin theories to uncover Leviathan's true identity... the series' writer may have already revealed the truth.
What's made the mystery of Leviathan so compelling is the villain's lack of any real... well, villainy. What started as terrorist attacks on every famous DC agency--ARGUS, DEO, etc.--have slowly been revealed to be something else entirely. The 'good guys' have apparently not been killed, but turned to support Leviathan and its goal of creating a new world order. One that actually works, from the foundations up. And one that its masked leader seems to believe superheroes will actually agree with once they learn the truth. So, is Leviathan just another power-mad villain with delusions of a higher purpose? And is the group brainwashing good agents to his cause?
The answer may lie in Leviathan's true identity, which has been answered about as definitively as it can be, before the reveal actually takes place in the series itself. It should go without saying that those looking to avoid SPOILERS should stop reading now, as we dive into the secret Leviathan clue almost everybody missed...
There Have Been 'Clues' To Leviathan's Identity
The central question is obvious, which is exactly why Leviathan himself (or herself) made sure to leave survivors who made perfect patsies. Fans may still suspect that Jason Todd is secretly Leviathan, as Batman initially believed, but the heroes themselves have moved on. While discussing the fact that his story is now depending on a satisfying twist with CBR, Bendis admitted that he knows the risks. And that even if a few people have apparently guessed the answer to Leviathan's secret identity (always certain with comic fans), Bendis is happy with the "good clues" he's offered so far:
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.
Of course, it would be impossible for Bendis to keep himself from revealing one more clue that fans reading the series are guaranteed to miss... because he's delivered it in a different comic. A sly bit of misdirection, too, since this clue seems to have given away the entire mystery.
The Leviathan Clue Everyone Missed
It's safe to assume that fans of Brian Michael Bendis were reading Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium to find the true identity of the immortal mystery woman unifying DC's future timeline. And with no obvious connection to Event Leviathan and Millennium, there was no reason to suspect that the two were linked--especially not in the form of a massive clue to Leviathan's identity. But the tease dropped by Bendis in the same interview reveals otherwise:
Check out the Kamandi chapter in Millennium, there's Leviathan logos there. The story is big and that is a clue, by the way.
Readers can be forgiven for overlooking the logo. In fact, readers of Event Leviathan who never even realized that Leviathan HAD a logo can also be let off the hook, since... we didn't realize it, either. Not until seeking out the Kamandi section of Millennium as directed to by Bendis. In hindsight, it is an obvious nod--although those who noticed Andrea Sorrentino's panels shifting focus directly to the insignia likely assumed it was an image relevant to this story. One whose meaning would become clear in part two of the Legion relaunch.
But the logo (visible in the image above) may have revealed more than it was meant to, as those DC Comics fans who recognize the design may immediately see the mystery of Leviathan's identity solved. This is your last warning that MASSIVE SPOILERS lie ahead, now that the logo has been deciphered...
Leviathan Wears The Mark of DC's Manhunter
The insignia of Leviathan may be translated from a superhero's tunic to a round crest, but it is unmistakably the same one worn by DC's Mahunter a.k.a. Mark Shaw. Introduced in the late 1980s, Shaw was a criminal defense attorney who, like other vigilante lawmen of his day, grew tired of seeing the legal system fail the weakest members of society. Using his mask augmented by otherworldly technology (and the same for the rest of his outfit) he set out to oppose injustice as the Manhunter.
As his fans already know, the character has been left unused for several years of DC storytelling (and even longer in his true Manhunter role). So even if Bendis is taking some freedom with the lore and characterization, Shaw's moral objections to flawed systems, his experience as both a villain and reformed hero, and his knowledge of the superhero community all fit with with Leviathan's ambitions. Mark Shaw's presence also explains why the latest issue has Kate Spencer--the vigilante who took the 'Manhunter' name--confused as to why she's been targeted at all, and wondering what makes it "personal" between her and Leviathan.
As we alluded to above, fans probably didn't notice the Leviathan symbol since it makes its first appearance on the latest cover for Event Leviathan #4, although readers still won't know what they're even looking for. But that, in itself, may also provide the most evidence of Leviathan's true identity to date. See if you can spot the differences in Alex Meleev's artwork for the cover of Event Leviathan #4 as it was solicited to retailers, compared to the finished version below:
With the insignia Superman is punching partially obstructed by the cover text, but quite clearly a match for Manhunter's own imagery, even theory-spinning fans were deprived of the evidence ahead of time. But with DC only committing to keeping the secret until now, paired with Bendis directing fans to the giveaway panels in Millennium, the subtext says it's time for fans to start catching on. In which case, those who threw fear of spoilers to the wind may not be as far ahead of the curve as it seems.
The reveal of Leviathan's identity is certainly not the only reason to see Event Leviathan through to the end, since Mark Shaw's absence in DC's Universe means Bendis is free to re-imagine as he likes. Or should there be more to the reveal than just the Manhunter fans know, the legacy of an underrated DC character will only grow in the coming years. No matter what, fans will need to keep reading to see every mystery and step in Leviathan's plan revealed, starting with the next issue.
Event Leviathan #5 will be available at your local comic book shop on October 9th, 2019.