Review – Checkmate #2: The Chess Moves of Mark Shaw

Comic Books DC This Week
Checkmate #2 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Checkmate #2 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Alex Maleev, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Ray: How do you tell a mystery when everyone already knows the answer? That’s the question Bendis is trying to figure out with this miniseries. The unmasking for former Manhunter Mark Shaw as the mysterious Leviathan didn’t really make much of an impact, because the character had been considered a DC footnote. But now, with his secrets out in the open, the cybernetic mastermind is actually working better as a villain. He’s declared his floating fortress to be his own country and has no problem kidnapping heroes and their allies so he can manipulate them and set them against their partners—all the while maintaining a vague form of diplomatic immunity. Yet at the same time, he seems to have something resembling a sense of ethics—namely, he still seems somewhat loyal to Superman. This leads to an amusing conversation with his millennial henchwomen, but also shows that he may have some hesitation about what needs to be done.

Fortress in the sky. Via DC Comics.

Shaw is so in control of this series that it often makes the other main characters feel like footnotes. They just stumble around trying to find answers and often failing, with even top detectives like The Question out of their depths. Much of this issue’s non-Leviathan segments find Question and Green Arrow investigating clues left by Sam Lane before his death, and coming under attack by Merlyn. Leviathan’s involvement in Green Arrow’s affairs has also been teased in Justice League. But it’s Lois Lane who seems to be at the center of this mystery, with Shaw being oddly interested in her—and taunting her with knowledge of a conversation he had with Superman when Clark rescued Talia Al Ghul. Overall, it’s an intriguing series, but a third of the way through the story, it feels like it’s revealing its secrets very slowly. Not unusual for the creative team.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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