by Ian Edington & D'Israeli
Cover Artist: D'Israeli
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
2000 AD Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781907992698
Date: 17 April 2012 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / D'Israeli Blog / Show Official Info /
RMS Leviathan, a.k.a. the Floating City, has been drifting for twenty years in a sea of endless death. Many of the nearly thirty thousand crew and passengers have committed suicide, been murdered, or simply disappeared. Within the past nine months, twenty of the first class passengers have been brutally murdered, having been found with wide strips of their flesh torn from their bodies. Detective Aurelius Lament of Scotland Yard has been asked to solve the murders; he travels to steerage class, located in the ship's treacherous bowels, in search of the Stokers, a type of bogeymen. With the aid of Sky, a beautiful, young woman, he enters the forbidden engine room and makes a horrifying discovery.
Whether fictional or based on fact, stories of cruise ships threatened with disaster have always fascinated me. I've read Paul Gallico's The Poseidon Adventure and own all three theatrical films on DVD. The original 1972 version, starring Gene Hackman as Reverend Scott, a type of Christ, is my favorite. I've seen films where everything from viruses to tarantulas to the Chupacabra has threatened to kill everyone on board a cruise liner. I've been on several Carnival cruises myself and have realized that these luxury liners can become the perfect trap. In recent news, cruise ships have been plagued with the norovirus and one, the Costa Concordia, ran aground off the coastline of Tuscany, Italy.
Ian Edginton's graphic horror novel Leviathan was a thrill to read. Edginton was influenced by the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's ultimate ghost story, The Shining. While reading this graphic novel, I kept thinking of the creepy, violent film, Ghost Ship, starring Gabriel Byrne and Julianna Marguiles. The plots are very similar. In fact, the novel's cover bears a striking resemblance to the movie poster for Ghost Ship. After reading Leviathan, I want to revisit Ghost Ship.
Matt Brooker, a.k.a. D'Israeli, is a wonderful artist. His black-and-white illustrations were crisp and clear, not muddy and hazy like others I've seen in graphic novels. Words and illustrations worked well together to bring together a highly engrossing, macabre tale that will shock and horrify readers. My only complaint (and it's a minor one) is that the print is rather small. My vision is 20/20, barely, and I used a magnifying glass in order to prevent eyestrain over a period of time. (I showed this graphic novel to a few coworkers and they agreed that the print was small enough to require a magnifying glass.) I don't have any difficulty reading novels.
Leviathan is actually an anthology composed of a novella titled Leviathan, followed by three supporting short stories that complement or expound upon the events that transpire within the novella. The main character, our likeable hero, is the aging detective, Aurelius Lament; he is still lamenting the deaths of his wife and baby. The evil antagonist is the White Hart Line Proprietor Sir William Ashbless who designed and built the RMS Leviathan; he is an immortal, much like those in The Highlander films, who has lived for centuries. Lament and Ashbless also appear in the short stories, all of which have dour endings that will send chills coursing throughout the reader's spine.
Leviathan is a must read for fans of graphic horror novels, especially those involving disasters and the occult. Together, Ian Edginton and D’Israeli have created an entire world that should exist in the Twilight Zone. The ship is a world divided up into two separate, smaller worlds, the one above deck, where the wealthy exist, and the one below deck, where the poor are confined. However, all the passengers are trapped together on a dead sea. Leviathan screams for a sequel, I scream for a sequel, and the passengers aboard the RMS Leviathan scream for a sequel. Their horrifying tales must be told.