Review – Checkmate # 2: Mark Shaw’s Chess Shots
Checkmate # 2 – Brian Michael Bendis, writer; Alex Maleev, artist; Dave Stewart, colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: How to tell a mystery when everyone already knows the answer? This is the question Bendis is trying to solve with this miniseries. The unmasking of former manhunter Mark Shaw as the mysterious Leviathan didn’t really make much of an impact, as the character had been seen as a DC footnote. But now, with its secrets unveiled, the cybernetic brain works best as a villain. He said his floating fortress is his own country and has no problem kidnapping heroes and their allies so that he can manipulate them and pit them against their partners, while maintaining a vague form of diplomatic immunity. Yet at the same time, he seems to have something akin to a sense of ethics, which is that he still seems a little bit loyal to Superman. This leads to a fun conversation with his millennial henchmen, but also shows that he may have some hesitation over what needs to be done.
Shaw is so in control of this series that the other main characters often feel like footnotes. They simply stumble in trying to find answers and often fail, even with the best detectives like The Question out of their depths. Much of the non-Leviathan segments in this issue find Question and Green Arrow investigating clues left by Sam Lane before his death and attacked by Merlyn. Leviathan’s involvement in the Green Arrow business has also been teased in Justice League. But it’s Lois Lane who seems to be at the center of this mystery, with Shaw taking an odd interest in her – and taunting her with knowledge of a conversation he had with Superman when Clark rescued Talia Al Ghul. All in all, it’s an intriguing series, but at a third of the story it feels like revealing its secrets very slowly. Not unusual for the creative team.
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GeekDad received this comic for review.