Spoilers ahead for this week's Event Leviathan #6.
The identity of the mysterious character who calls themself “Leviathan” has been revealed in the final issue of Event Leviathan, the event series by Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev and Josh Reed.
The man behind the identity-hiding mask is Mark Shaw, the character from DC’s history known as a “Manhunter.”
Mark Shaw’s character hasn’t been seen in the DCU for a few years, and it’s been much longer since he wore his Manhunter identity. Yet the Manhunter connection explains why Kate Spencer was targeted by Leviathan - because she currently carries the “Manhunter” name and has a personal history with Shaw himself.
Leviathan’s secret identity was also hinted by the appearance of the Leviathan logo, which looks similar to the Manhunter insignia once worn by Mark Shaw. The logo has shown up in a few places over the last few months, including the cover of Event Leviathan #4 and in Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium.
What is a Manhunter?
The Manhunters are a group of evil robots (and later, their followers) who have an extensive history in the DCU.
Three billion years ago, the first robotic Manhunters were created by DC's Guardians of the Galaxy to police the universe. When the machines went rogue, the Guardians realized their mistake and destroyed them - or at least, they destroyed most of them.
A few robotic Manhunters survived, and they secretly built a network of living beings to become fellow Manhunters, pretending to train them for a noble cause while hiding their true intention to enact revenge on the Guardians and take over the universe.
Who is Mark Shaw?
Mark Shaw first appeared in August 1975’s 1st Issue Special #5, as a public defender who was frustrated by the failings of the American criminal justice system.
Mark’s uncle introduced him to a secret group of crime-fighters who called themselves the Manhunters, and he was inspired to join their efforts.
After being trained by the organization’s “Grand Master,” Mark began wearing the Manhunter uniform, which had the power to control him and turn him into a loyal servant to his superiors.
Eventually, however, Mark learned the truth about his robotic overseers. Although he initially fought the Justice League of America in defense of the Manhunters, he became a hero when he thwarted the plans of the Manhunters and destroyed his Grand Master.
But like any interesting DC villains, they showed up from time to time to revive their evil plans and fight against the heroes of the DCU.
How did Mark become Leviathan?
The entire story of Mark Shaw’s transformation into Leviathan hasn’t been revealed, but now that his identity has been exposed … there have been hints in the past that he doesn’t play by the usual superhero rules.
Mark has gone through several iterations over the years, including a stint as a criminal who not only fought against the JLA, but pretended to be their ally before turning against them while wearing the name “Privateer.”
He was locked up, but later redeemed himself as part of the Suicide Squad and won a pardon for his former crimes.
But after becoming a bounty hunter (again calling himself Manhunter), he had a nervous breakdown and killed other Manhunter characters - this time wearing the codename “Dumas” and being ultimately captured by a new Manhunter, Kate Spencer.
During the rebooted "New 52," Mark Shaw wasn’t a costumed character at all, but instead served as a U.S. Marshal, with his cohorts calling him “a manhunter.”
In other words, Shaw was never squeaky clean nor super stable, but his overall story arc was usually aimed toward hunting villains and seeking justice.
So what does Mark Shaw want?
Mark’s original motivation - as a frustrated public defender - lives on. But now his frustration is directed at the “total chaos” on Earth, as “superheroes, politicians and spies” dedicate their lives to “protecting a circus.”
So he apparently wants to bring down the world of spies, politicians and superheroes.
“Leviathan wants to release every single secret to the world simultaneously,” Batgirl tells her fellow heroes in this week’s Event Leviathan #6 after infiltrating the organization. “No more spies. No more secrets. All world secrets become public. Military, government, and corporate.”
As John Constantine said, that would cause the “rats” to scatter and “Leviathan could take over.”
In this week’s Event Leviathan #6, Mark Shaw has escaped capture and his organization of spies is still intact.
But DC’s superheroes succeeded in stopping the next step in Leviathan’s plan - at least for now. Amanda Waller and Batgirl, in particular, worked together to take away Leviathan’s ability to share secret information.
The two detective teams involved in Event Leviathan - plus Talia Al Ghul and Silencer - are poised at the end of the issue to continue hunting for Leviathan and his organization. Lois Lane has exposed the identity of Leviathan in The Daily Planet, but she and the other characters still haven’t figured out Kate Spencer’s Manhunter situation, the location of Amanda Waller, and Sam Lane’s last words about the “Snowman’s ticket.”
And on the final page of Event Leviathan #6, the Guardian tells Mark Shaw that his followers are ready to move forward despite this setback. But Mark is shown wondering if he should even “fix” the Earth, particularly since the superheroes don’t want it fixed.
Perhaps, Mark Shaw realizes, he should instead just burn it all to the ground.
According to the tagline on the final page, Leviathan will return in January’s Action Comics #1018 and something called Leviathan Dawn #1.