Checkmate: Pawn Breaks

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These recent Checkmate trades are a bit of a departure from the standard superhero fare. Sure, there are plenty of meta-humans in these stories, but there are also quite a few standard spies and military types.  That is essentially what makes this comic so great (other than the great writing, of course): it tells the story of real-world people and events in a universe in which superheroes and supervillains exist and operate on a daily basis.  We get to see how meta-humans play into political espionage and intrigue, while simultaneously learning a bit more about characters who are sometimes relegated to the sidelines.

The trade is divided into two distinct storylines. The first focuses on Checkmate’s plot to infiltrate the Kobra organization, comprised of followers of Kali Yuga, but placing a double agent in their midst.  The story involves tricks, deception, and even magic, but ultimately Checkmate is successful, getting their agent accepted into the cult.

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The story ends here for now, but no doubt it will continue in a later issue. The trade then shifts gears, focusing instead on a mess of lies and political alliances.  To be quite honest, the politics of the story didn’t really interest me, nor did I find them easy to follow. What made this story enjoyable was the focus on Beatriz de Costa, also known as the Green Flame or the Black Queen’s Knight.  Throughout numerous recent trades there have been hints at a major secret that Amanda Waller has up on her, summed up in one word: Corvahlo.  Spanning numerous titles, I kept seeing references to this, wondering what it was all about, and what in Beatriz’s past could be so bad that she would willingly submit to Waller’s every demand.

In this trade, the secret is revealed, as we learn that Corvahlo is Beatriz’s father, a man responsible for numerous politically-inspired murders.

 

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Making a difficult decision, Beatriz turns her father in to protect her own freedom.  The comic handles the scene quite well, emphasizing how hard this choice is for Beatriz.

This is a great series, but it’s not easily summarized.  Political/spy-themed stories often feature a lot of details that don’t translate easily off of the page.  Don’t get me wrong though, this comic is worth reading, and while the numerous references to various political factions or leaders can bog down the story a bit at times, overall it’s a solid comic that adds a great new level to the DC universe.  It’s fun to focus on a new side of that world, steering away from the high-flying adventures and emphasizing more of the nitty-gritty aspects.   This unique perspective, coupled with the awesome writing and realistic artwork, makes for a superbly readable comic.

-Jess

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