Checkmate #6 review

Talia has betrayed Checkmate, she’s been revealed as working with Leviathan leader Mark Shaw. Manhunter Kate Shaw isn’t pleased.

The Hall of Justice is in darkness, giving undercover Leviathan agent Whitney a chance to take control of the Heroes’ Network.

Meanwhile, Mark Shaw is attacking Checkmate member Lois Lane and recently uncovered spy brother Leo.

This issue wraps up what’s been a frustrating mini-series, and you know what? I really liked it. A chapter ends for Mark Shaw. The mysterious Mr King’s identity is revealed. And Checkmate’s future is decided.

Is the story totally satisfactory? Not really… once again, Shaw seems deeply unimpressive for a man who has brought down all the DC Universe covert organisations. But that feeds into the resolution of the story. And while, Manhunter apart, Checkmate once again seems similarly inept, they’re less rubbish than Shaw. Which is something. It would’ve been good had Bendis dropped clues that would have allowed readers the satisfaction of guessing Mr King’s identity, but in DCU terms the reveal makes some sense.

It sounds like I’m setting a low bar, but writer Brian Michael Bendis seems to be trying very hard here to give us a decent wrap-up, and we know that behind the scenes his story was hobbled by DC Editorial. What we get is a fast-moving page-turner with plenty of zippy dialogue, action, surprises and an ending that opens the door to more super-spy fun.

Artist Alex Maleev’s photorealistic style has served this series well so far and he doesn’t disappoint this issue. The players look terrific, the action scenes pop and the panel-to-panel storytelling works. Jumping on board for this final issue, colourist Lee Loughridge makes great choices, adding drama with their lighting… my favourite visual of the issue is Superman’s entrance (he also has a killer exit line). Keep an eye out for it. Completing the core creative team, Josh Reed’s vibrant letters add appeal.

As for the cover, it’s not strictly relevant to the issue, but it makes thematic sense. I like it.

So, how was it for you? Would you check out further Checkmates?

10 thoughts on “Checkmate #6 review

  1. Would I check out more Checkmate? I mean…. probably not. But I’m a simpleton. The kinds of spy stories that would work for me would have to be so dumbed down and obvious that anyone that actually likes spy stories would probably run screaming from the book.
    So… it would depend on the creative team and stuff.

    I don’t really buy the “King” reveal. It kinda came out of nowhere and doesn’t really fit with how I see the character. But Bendis will justify it by saying that the character is much older now and has changed and grown … but so much so that it effectively creates a new character. At least for me. So why use the original character if you’re going to change him that radically? Shrug
    I’m curious if naming him “king” was a nod to Kirby? I’m also curious if any of this could have potentially tied into Bendis’ Millenium series?

    It seems like there’s potential in what has been set up. And there are interesting characters on the board.

    So maybe… maybe I’d look in on an ongoing.


    1. There was a Leviathan security base or something in the Legion Millennium book, Anj reminds us… mind, that was when Bendis was heading to a different ending to the modern day story. Then again, even though Superman met Kamandi and the Legion refereed to wars whose details were lost in time, the Kirby series was arguably a possible future only.

      Bloomin’ comics!
      I’d like a Checkmate series, not necessarily one trying as hard to be ‘accurate’ as Greg Rucka’s – all that technical talk made it unreadable to me – but using a rotating cast from the gang here to have behind-the-scenes DC adventures. I wouldn’t call that ‘dumbed down’, more ‘suited to the medium’.


  2. Checkmate The Mini did none of the things that it should have done but I still loved it too. The Kamandi thing? Have you ever just stopped reading a comic and stared at a panel so unexpected you’re dumbstruck. That’s what happened to me and it almost never happens in a good way like this time.

    Oh and I know Bendis is being totally faithful to Andreyko’s Kate but it fiinlly hit me: How was this woman a lawyer let alone a DA. She’s dense as metal and trips over clues others could have spotted from orbit. Love her to death and still will reread her amazing series but let’s face a fact here. Talia wasn’t insulting Kate. She was accurately describing her.

    I would so buy another mini with all of these characters or a Bendis scripted issue of anything that includes them.

    PS: No way is Shaw dead.


    1. Oh, you made me laugh there! I don’t think Kate needs to be singled out, every blooming character here was really rubbish… spymasters my arse! Then again, her hotheaded nature did make her not the most obvious type to be a top lawyer in her original series. It might be fun for her to join the League proper for awhile, give her some experience of working in a hero organisation.


  3. Looking forward to this issue, in part because I’ve, generally, enjoyed the last five and also just to finally put the series to bed and move on. It is so fascinating to me to watch Bendis get to continue to play in his own corner of the DCU and continue to mine his own work. Naomi on the JL. Checkmate guest-starring in JL. Plot threads/developments from his time on Superman/Action popping up in JL (particularly that cliff hanger from the most recent issue involving a piece of Superman lore…). The upcoming Legion/JL team up, which is a continuation of Bendis’ JL work. Not saying there’s anything wrong with it. I mostly was a big fan of Bendis’ work on Superman so it’s nice to see him get to continue it in some way/shape/form. Still, interesting. I haven’t looked at JL sales to know how much longer DC will let this continue or if at some point it will be time for Bendis to shuffle along…


    1. Brilliant points about the Bendis corner of the DCU, it’s a place I like to spend time. It’s a shame that Wonder Comics has gone away, it was a bright spot when the universe went dark (again). And I really hoped Bendis would get a Supergirl series there. That gal needs help.


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