REVIEW: Abrams’ Leviathan


  • Leviathan Abrams Blanket

    Jason Shiga

    Jason Shiga

    Jason Shiga

    Cover artist:
    Jason Shiga



    Release date:

    Jason Shiga

A popular choice among young readers at book fairs and school libraries, Choose Your Own Adventure books offered readers a myriad of paths and endings as they made divergent decisions while reading a story printed in paperback. . Although this interactive storytelling technique is well used in prose literature and even television programs like Carmen Sandiego and black mirror, a medium that hasn’t really been touched upon falls within the realm of comics. That changes with the new original graphic novel Leviathanwritten and drawn by Jason Shiga and published by Abrams through their Amulet Books imprint.

Leviathan starts with a pretty simple fantasy premise. An adventurer arrives at the Coastal Isles, a medieval coastal village living in constant fear of the eponymous mythical sea monster that preys on everyone who crosses its path. Navigating the town and meeting the various villagers, a local wizard may hold the key to defeating the beast for good. The protagonist sets out to free the coastal islands from aquatic terror. However, not everything about this seaside community is quite as it appears, with readers’ picks revealing more of the mystery behind Leviathan and the coastal island community itself.

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Despite its medieval setting, Shiga presents a world that reflects modern sensibilities, welcoming readers of all ages as they explore the monstrous mystery at the heart of Leviathan. It’s a classic high-fantasy premise, with the book’s inherent joy lying in the sense of divergent discovery afforded by its multiple-choice non-linear narrative. With that in mind, Shiga has constructed a cohesive and, more importantly, satisfying story that reads like a self-aware meditation on the genre with plenty of exploration and wry wit to entertain readers along their journey.

Presented in black and white, a large part Leviathan unfolds similarly to a webcomic in terms of character design and story progression – it’s of course not a slight but an observation in its visual aesthetic and an observation Shiga has a extensive experience. Some of the graphic novel’s most striking works are panels that present an overworld perspective on coastal islands, offering readers different paths to explore while evoking a similar feeling to classic early isometric perspective. The Legend of Zelda video games. This gives the impression that the closest readers will access a Zelda comic, at least one that captures the classic visual presentation of the video game series.

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The multiple-choice storytelling format really elevates Leviathan. Shiga makes this ambitious narrative choice easy to follow, presenting page numbers and connecting lines to help indicate where to proceed next based on individual choices without cluttering the artwork. It’s truly an innovative storytelling technique that Shiga brings to the comic book medium, or at least one that hasn’t been used as effectively on such an ambitious scale before.

With a proven fantasy premise and engaging artwork, Shiga delivered something his comic book contemporaries should notice in Leviathan. Shiga honed his webcomic chops to make a splash with the original graphic novel which will hopefully lead to similar projects down the road. A love letter to the unique narrative nature of interactive prose books and point-and-click games, Leviathan represents a triumph for the possibilities of the medium.

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