REVIEW: ‘Checkmate,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Checkmate #2

Checkmate #2 is published by DC Comics. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Alex Maleev. David Stewart is on colours and Josh Reed is the letterer. The organisation Leviathan has combined the resources of A.R.G.U.S., the D.E.O. and numerous other task forces into one to become the larger counterintelligence outfit on the planet. Led by the former hero and mercenary Mark Shaw, Leviathan is untouchable and making the world a better place by force. In response to its unopposed strength, a team of the globe’s greatest detectives reform Checkmate. Talia Al Ghul and her son Damian, the youngest Robin, were captured by Shaw in Markovia…

In this issue, the different members of Checkmate find themselves facing Leviathan in multiple timelines and in different countries. As Talia struggles to escape the clutches of Shaw, Green Arrow and the Question are accosted by an old enemy…

The plot of Checkmate #2 does little to unravel itself and make sense to the reader. The actual scenes themselves aren’t difficult to follow, but t is unknown what they are for and why they are happening. If events in other books have influenced what transpires, then it should be more clear. The recap page does nothing to clarify and within just the second issue the readers’ heads are spinning. This does not always have to be a problem, but this is happening without allowing a foothold to be established. It should be said that the pace is much improved in this issue as some of the members of Checkmate are embroiled in action. This is where the promise of the series begins to reveal itself as the potential of the figures Bendis has at his disposal start to be moved around the board. But the time jumps and attempts to set up story threads with no starting tether stops the reader from fully enjoying the action.

As mentioned before, the characters are starting to come alive within the comic. Talia Al Ghul, Green Arrow and the Question all step up to the plate and show what they are capable of. Talia’s moment is possibly the best, as it solidifies her as the deadliest assassin on the planet, but the Arrow and Question’s encounter is fun as well. Shaw works well as a villain for the comic, menacing and mysterious. The antagonist is where the plot makes the most sense, as hints towards an obsession with Superman indicate motivation. But the nauseating speed at which the narrative moves robs him from truly establishing himself as an antagonist.

The art is stunning. There are moments in the light, which is used to make Talia look out of her comfort zone, Maleev really comes to life in the darkness. The artist uses shadows and characters appearing out of them to build tension and show the “heroes” in their natural environment. When there is action, the choreography is brilliant. Some artists will sho the movements as a fight unfolds. In Checkmate #2, Maleev prefers to show the aftermath of the attack instead of the motion of it. This is a brilliant tactic as it suggests an immeasurable speed at which the characters are fighting. An underrated factor of Maleev’s art is the intricacy of facial expressions. Depictions of concern, fear, frustration and many other feelings are etched expertly on peoples’ faces. 

The colours are varied and beautifully implemented. Whilst the shadowy scenes are better suited to Maleev’s art style, Stewarts’ palette works just as nicely in the daytime. The costumes of the characters are bright when they need to be without feeling out of place. 

The lettering is simple and easy to read. Reed ensures that the word balloons can be followed effortlessly.

Checkmate #2 would be brilliant if we understood what was happening. The story is awful for new readers, with no explanations for any part of the plot. The time jumps have had no starting point, and there are so many characters involved that is impossible to get a bearing over whether you are interested in them.

 

Checkmate #2
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TL;DR

Checkmate #2 would be brilliant if we understood what was happening. The story is awful for new readers, with no explanations for any part of the plot. The time jumps have had no starting point, and there are so many characters involved that is impossible to get a bearing over whether you are interested in them.