Checkmate #5 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Alex Maleev, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Ray: We’re getting close to the final act now, and what stands out the most is just how little has happened in five issues. That’s not to say this is bad—Bendis continues to be a strong writer when it comes to dialogue and is working with some interesting characters—but the threat of Mark Shaw’s Leviathan continues to feel more like an abstraction than an event headliner. He mostly hangs around in his fortress and occasionally pulls off some creepy teleportation-based stunt that makes life harder for the heroes. This collection of spymasters in Checkmate continue to barely get along, with their banter sometimes feeling out of place. Even Talia calls it out at one point, which feels like Bendis hanging a lampshade on himself. But the plot does have a few interesting subplots, including one that brings the Wonder Twins back to oversee the next phase of the Justice League internship project.
Suspecting an attack on the base—which happened a few months ago in the main JL book courtesy of Synmar, not Leviathan—Checkmate sends Damian in undercover. It’s always amusing to see Damian pretending to be a normal kid, although he doesn’t get too much to do here. Then there’s the subplot involving Lois Lane’s younger half-brother, who has been running around several different books. The cover hypes him as being “Revealed,” but this issue doesn’t show anything too new about him. The cliffhanger finally sets up a final showdown, but it’s hard to see how this will all be resolved in one more issue. So this is a comic that has good writing and good art, but somehow it just doesn’t come together into the event comic it’s supposed to be. I’m hoping Bendis can pull it together and maybe spin the loose plots out into something in Justice League down the line.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.