REVIEW: ‘Checkmate,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Checkmate #3 - But Why Tho

Checkmate #3 is a limited series published by DC Comics. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Alex Maleev on art. The colours are by Dave Stewart and the letterer is Josh Reed. 

Checkmate was formed after Mark Shaw and Leviathan took over all of the world’s biggest intelligence agencies. ARGUS, the D.E.O., and several others are all controlled by one person. Lois Lane, Green Arrow, Talia Al Ghul, and other detectives banded together to oppose this powerful threat. Talia snuck into Markovia, an independent state run by Shaw, and was captured as Green Arrow and The Question witness Lois also be taken. Shaw’s conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Superman.

The plot is a big improvement from the last issue but is still not perfect. The reader is still struggling to fully understand the timelines, as there are no indications, but many aspects of the story can now be followed. The plans both parties have made are made clearer. With this information, it is easier to enjoy reading the comic. There is a sense of peril and the audience’s knowledge of the twists make them very surprising. We are halfway into the series and for the first time, a foothold can be gained as the plot moves forwards. The reveal towards the end was unexpected and will throw even more chaos into the book.

Many of the characters are given more room to breathe in Checkmate #3 which allows their personalities to flourish. Talia’s involvement has been strong since the first issue and Green Arrow’s strong reputation instantly grabs the attention. Bendis adds many jokes in this chapter that land and can pull a chuckle from the reader. Other members of Checkmate have still not done much aside from sitting in a chair in a dark room. Steve Trevor and Manhunter haven’t moved. It could be argued that the cast is too bloated within a limited series of six issues. Not just the team roster listed on the intro page, as there are guest stars too. Superman and Robin are great inclusions, however. Some of Bendis’ best moments are when he depicts “normal” people reacting to meeting iconic superheroes, and there is one of those with Superman in this issue. 

The art excels again. This is the first time that this reviewer has seen Maleev draw Superman, and the artist superbly presents him. His power bristles from him from the very first panel as he threatens Shaw. When done well, Clark Kent is one of the most fearsome men in the Marvel universe. The depiction of Superman’s x-ray is a nice touch. Shaw’s armour, used when he is preparing for a battle, is epic. He looks like a cross between an Egyptian pharaoh and a robotic overlord from the future. The pages that show many of the members of Checkmate are fantastic too with so much variety in character to appear.

The colours are outstanding. This reviewer is beginning to enjoy the brighter shades within the murky world of Checkmate #3. They capture the eye brilliantly. Examples of this are the vibrancy of Superman and Robins uniforms, vivid with their reds, blues, yellows, and greens. Perhaps it suggests that they are too bright for this part of the DC Universe. The lettering is formal and easy to read. With some large rooms with many characters, Reed fulfills an important job in making it effortless to know who is speaking during the conversational panels.

Checkmate #3 is beginning to show its quality. Bendis’ character work is superb and that becomes clear with how some of the heroes and villains are written. But the massive ensemble cast is unruly and hard to manage. The story may still be causing confusion but the reader is not left with their head-spinning quote so fast as it did in the last issue. The art has been terrific since the start. With some sense starting to be made of what is happening, the remaining issues should possess some real excitement.

Checkmate #3 is available where comics are sold.

Checkmate #3
3.5

TL;DR

Checkmate #3 is beginning to show its quality. Bendis’ character work is superb and that becomes clear with how some of the heroes and villains are written. But the massive ensemble cast is unruly and hard to manage. The story may still be causing confusion but the reader is not left with their head-spinning quote so fast as it did in the last issue. The art has been terrific since the start. With some sense starting to be made of what is happening, the remaining issues should possess some real excitement.