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Checkmate

CheckmateDCReview

Or – “Looks Like This Is THE END!” So, three or so years ago, Infinite Crisis supposedly changed everything, and launched a number of new titles that would define the boundaries of the new DC Universe.  Shadowpact would show the magickal side (it was cancelled last month.)  Blue Beetle would show how a newcomer viewed the world of the superhumans (it was cancelled early this week.)  Justice League of America would re-examine the icons of the DCU (it has been pretty regularly awful until recent months, but has yet to be cancelled.)  And Checkmate would give us the adult perspective,

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Or – “Three Weeks Of Comics In Handy Bite-Sized Servings!” A side-effect of reading as many comics as I do comes when, after a particulary heavy week of reads, you find all the stories kind of blurring together into one.  It makes for some pretty entertaining nightmares as well, like the one where Wonder Woman was guarding the galaxy against marauding zombies who wanted to shape-shift into teenagers and make out while simultaneously refitting all of our cars to fly and emit fire, and also giving our grandparents cyborg limbs that glow in the dark.  So, I got that going

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Or – “Hell, Man… I Only Have So Much Free Time!” There seems to be a thing out there called “Real Life.”  It’s composed mostly of things to annoy you and drain your wallet of cash, but sometimes it also feeds on your free time.  One of the joys of this gig is getting to share the wondrous things that happen in comics and split the burdens of that which is terrible, which means I usually bite off more than I can chew in terms of comics that I’d like to review.  Since this has happened yet again, it’s time

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CheckmateDCReview

Or – “How Amanda Got Her Hardcase Groove Back…” One of our faithful Spoilerites made the assertion last month that Amanda Waller has been painted as pure villain since this series began, that her actions have kept her on the “bad” side of the equation from the get-go. While I can certainly see and concede part of that point, I think it’s important to keep in mind that Sasha Bordeaux tends to be the point of view character of this ensemble, and that Amanda’s actions are being filtered (somewhat) through that prism. The Wall is nothing if not uncompromising, and

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CheckmateDCReview

Or – “How Some People Continue To Get Promoted, I’ll Never Know.” Amanda Waller… A study in contrasts. She’s currently in a position of great power and influence with Checkmate, while simultaneously having been sent to prison a few years ago for manipulating her authority. Certainly, she’s one of DC’s most fascinating characters, and possesses great depth and moral ambiguity that’s interesting, but I wonder who thought it was a good idea to install her as White Queen… Probably Lex Luthor or something. Either way, her manipulations have become more desperate over the last few issues, and the existence of

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CheckmateDCReview

Or – “It’s Interesting To See Ol’ Moosie Again…” Some years ago, when Mark Gruenwald was writing Quasar for Marvel, you could count on that series to clean up Marvel’s loose ends, either writing in endings for characters who disappeared, or in some cases explaining why one-shot villains were never seen again. Sometimes this led to interesting storylines (like the revelation of who was in the Stranger’s alien lab) other times it led to things like the ‘Living Armor From The Secret Wars’ issue, wherein it was extrapolated that since Spider-Man’s costume turned out to be an alien symbiote, then

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CheckmateDCReview

Or – “After Several Issues Of Torture, It’s Time For A Little TLC…” That, by the way, is LITERAL, physical torture of one of the main characters, not the colloquial sense of “torture to read the issues.” After the breakneck pace of the Check/Out crossover, it’s time for a little housekeeping. The Black Queen has been through hell, Mr. Terrific is embroiled in a game of political chess, and Fire is still hurting from having her past actions made public. They’re all spotlighted in an issue that lacks combat, but ties up a few loose ends (including some from another

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CheckmateDCOutsidersReview

Or – “A New Direction Is In The Wings, With Some Loose Ends To Clear Up First…” The anatomy of the crossover is always fascinating to observe, and the clash of Checkmate and the Outsiders has been very interesting, serving to put the spotlight on both teams, including the first real understanding of what Sasha Bordeaux’s OMAC implants are really capable of. But it’s been a brutal ride for all involved, and if you’ve been reading Previews, you know that the Outsiders’ future will involve some changes in personnel, leadership and strategy… The questions that this issue must answer, then,

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CheckmateDCOutsidersReview

Or – “Who’d Have Imagined EGG FU Would EVER Be Intimidating?” The 21st century truly is a place of wonders. The man from Oolong Island, most remembered pre-Crisis for an incredibly offensive accent and lines like “Stupid Amelicans! They might as werr pless a tligger to their own blains!” is not only intimidating, but this issue shows him to be a truly frightening creature, his curiosity unhindered by minor concerns such as compassion or fear of punishment. Chang Tzu proves that no idea is too ridiculous to fix, something we should probably all keep in mind when we (myself included)

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CheckmateDCOutsidersReview

Or – “It’s Like 24, Only Slightly Less Unbelievable…” The Check/Out crossover has been interesting on a number of levels, but most of all, it’s been interesting to see the character interactions. Rucka and Winick seem to be co-writing each issue, with each of the various character voices staying true to previous depictions, even with a rollercoaster plot full of twists and turns. I was entertained by the interaction between Boomerang, Junior and Mlle. Marie, between Nightwing and The Black Queen, but nothing in the story so far has surprised me more than this issue’s final page…

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CheckmateDCOutsidersReview

Or – “Finally, A Break From Iron Man Bashing. I’m EXHAUSTED…” Usually, I try to space these out with a little more give-and-take, but last weeks comic book haul was rather Marvel-heavy, and for some odd reason, I haven’t been in an “Outsiders and Checkmate on a covert mission” writing mood. Now that I’ve reread it, I remember that this has been a pretty impressive crossover between two of DC’s better-written middle-of-the-road-selling books, but I fear that they’re “preaching to the choir,” that the people who read one book already read the other. The days of complete Marvel Zombies may

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CheckmateDCOutsidersReview

Or – “You Gotta Love Grace…” There’s two important safety tips to the reading of Major Spoilers recaps of Outsiders. One: I am a fan of Judd Winick, his dialogue and plotting, so while many other reviewers may raise hue and cry about the earmarks of Judd’s writing, you won’t get that here. Secondly, I have a huge imaginary crush on Grace Choi. I don’t know why, and I’m not going to try and defend it, but a six-foot tattooed half-Asian woman with super-strength appeals to me. As Grant Morrison (or someone quite like him) said in this week’s ‘Tales

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CheckmateDCOutsidersReview

Or – “Two Excellent Books Are Crossing Over… And You’re Reading SPAWN, Aren’t You?” I know, I know, I shouldn’t be mean about Spawn… Every single title out there is somebody’s fave-rave, and just ’cause I don’t get it (and maybe resent Todd McFarlane’s general public persona and history of questionable litigatory decisions) doesn’t mean that it isn’t awesome in… some… way. Maybe… Anyway, back in the realm of statements that keep my foot out of mouth, we’re about to embark on an interesting case study in the DCU. Outsiders, a relatively underrated book with a ton of neat characters

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CheckmateDCReview

Or – “There Are Eight Million Stories In The Checkmate City…” I actually remember the FIRST time I read a number 12 issue of Checkmate (and I refuse to believe it’s been nearly 20 years, either), an Invasion Aftermath extra written by Paul Kupperberg, with art by Steve Erwin (not the late Crocodile Hunter, mind you) and Al Vey. I liked that series, with it’s attempt to meld the soopahero and spy genres, although I didn’t read it until years after it’s cancellation. (I was completing my run of Suicide Squad at the time, and the crossover issues were compelling.)

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