Leviathan Cruises the Infernal Seas


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In 1928 the world’s largest cruise liner disappears. 20 Years later, the horror really starts by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli.

There are some artist / writer teams that drive on a creative synchronicity wave that leave other creators just far behind on the satisfaction scale. Grant Morrison coupled with Frank Quitely spontaneously springs to the fore but for my money, Ian Edginton and D’Israeli are as much their equal in creativity unbound churning out excellent graphic novels just one after the other over the past years. Their latest graphic novel Leviathan was first serialized in the UK comics magazine 2000 AD from 2003 to 2005 and now gets its US release courtesy of Simon & Schuster in April 0212.

1928, the world's largest ocean liner disappears on its maiden voyage to New York. Lost for years in a desolate mist-laden ocean, the passengers and crew try to maintain the routine of shipboard life. But when people start to be murdered, former cop Detective Sergeant Lament is tasked with solving the crime and his investigations take him from the first class cabins to the belly of the ship and the heart of its mysteries.

After a one page introduction to the many wonders of the Leviathan ocean liner, writer Ian Edginton immediately goes for the throat by starting the story 20 years after its disappearance showcasing the dismal and horrific locality and mindset of the ships denizens. From the regular occurrence of a suicide season to food shortages to mysterious serial killings, life must go on though. Leave it to the British to even amidst sailing a dead sea in an eternal yellowish twilight, to keep alive the eternal institute of a hierarchical class society in the form of first, second and lower class passengers related to the amount of currency paid for their ticket.

Second class passenger detective sergeant  Lament is called  upon by the higher echelons to investigate a horrific murder spree among the first class voyagers and Edginton interweaves this elegantly into the mystery that is at the heart of the Leviathan’s disappearance. I have seldom read a horror story where even the most basic premise is so utterly bleak and where all hope for redemption seems to be completely absent but Edginton succeeds into knitting it into a compelling story through his impeccable character work, always one of his strong suits. From the alcoholic detective looking for redemption of the evil architect to the spunky lower deck Baker girl, all come alive as fully rounded characters delivering insights into the despair and tiny sparks of hope the passengers experience. Edginton provides a fairly linear story but uses convincing characters and he grabs the reader on a roller coaster ride of terror.

It feels a bit off to talk about the art in a separate manner since Leviathan is just such a perfect package of words and visuals combined but it goes without saying that D’Israeli hits all the notes of the script perfectly. Laid back when necessary, clear panel layouts enhancing the storytelling but also opening up the pages when the horror strikes foregoing on panel borders and using a fluid layout when it all goes into extra dimensional overdrive.

His demon designs are outstandingly horrific worthy of Kevin O’Neill’s demonic depictions. His first full page spread of the demon Hashtur is unsettling and worthy of a few more glances while Lament comes through in all his moralistic scruffiness and the ship itself as a worn down, rusted tribute to its former glory. To top it all off, Matt Brooker - aka D’Israeli aka the worst kept secret artistic alias in comics - further experiments with his linework combining grayscale outlines with spotted blacks and black & white line work with his usual stellar and dynamic brushwork. Without ever losing sight of how to best tell the story I must add.

Leviathan by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli is a pitch perfect horror story, utterly bleak and thoroughly compelling. Driven by an imagination for the horrific and engaging characters, they have created a seafaring tale of terror that alienates, despairs and terrorizes the reader in a good way! Eat this Bermuda triangle!

Leviathan by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli is published by 2000 AD / Simon & Schuster. It is a black & white trade paperback counting 112 pages. It retails for $16.99.

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  • Jason Wilkins

    Jason Wilkins Apr 20, 2012 at 12:03am

    Finally Bart! One I can lay hands on :) This sounds fantastic!

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Apr 20, 2012 at 3:21am

    You will not be disappointed Jason! And good news, my next column is about the new Brecht Evens which is set to be published by D&Q this june so more dollars to spend right there :)

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