Or – “Too Much Of A Good Thing?”


reviewbubble.jpgSarge Steel. Detective Chimp. Mister Terrific. Fire. Mademoiselle Marie. Plus two pages of strippers, and huge movie-blockbuster-style firefight and a surprising addition to the regular cast. This book is packed with geekout moments, intrigue, even a way cool cover that pops off the racks and tells you to shaddup and buy it. With all that going for it, there’s really no reason why I haven’t been able to sit down, concentrate, and review this book. So why haven’t I done it before now?

cm1.jpgI really can’t tell you. The first read-through was greatly entertaining, and yet when I was done, I just sort of vague sense of disappointment. I can’t think of anything that sticks out as wrong with the book, or disheartening, but the overall effect was… strange. Perhaps it’s just the post-holiday blues, on my part, or perhaps it’s the nature of the plot, with it’s fundamentalist/terrorist overtones, or maybe just that I hate Kobra… I dunno. I suppose it’s as Jack Napier always said, “If ya gotta go? Go with a smile!”

In the wake of last issue’s fiasco-slash-triumph of jurisdiction, we find the head of the Department of Metahuman Affairs (Sarge Steel, though he’s not named immediately) arriving for his meeting with the Black Queen of Checkmate.


That’s Tom Tresser’s old Nemesis uniform, but it ain’t Tresser. Apparently, that’s the field gear for the DMA (the same DMA that Diana Prince works/worked for, wherever the first couple issues of the new Wonder Woman end up falling in continuity.) I like the nod to history, but dislike that it’s a navy blue jumpsuit nearly identical to those worn by SHIELD over on Marvel’s side of the fence. Sarge tells his subordinate of his role in the coming meeting. “I’m going to need you to keep me from killing the bitch.” The female canine in question is none other than former OMAC, former Bruce Wayne bodyguard/girlfriend, and all around hottie cyborg Sasha Bordeaux. Sarge and Sasha commence t’screamin’, she arguing that her operation was blown by his incompetence, he angry that the super-powered fugitive that was the point of the operation got away. Sasha calms down first, informing Sarge that they want the same thing. When he protests, she finally remembers which of them has the “bigger stick,” as Nick Fury might say…


That, as they say, is that. Meanwhile, back at Checkmate’s castle in the Swiss Alps, Mr Terrific (The White King) is considering his options. He’s been without a Bishop (or rather hasn’t been replaced as White King’s Bishop since he was elevated) and needs someone who can function on his level. There aren’t many people who play the game in that particular stadium, so he has to turn to an old friend… well, actually an old enemy.


The green feller is the Thinker, a cybernetic intelligence who nearly destroyed the entire Justice Society on more than one occasion. The spy business breeds strange bedfellows, indeed. But, apparently, in return for being allowed to be online and “awake,” Thinker is willing to use his abilities for Checkmate’s goals. This will not go well, mark my words… The Black King arrives to brief Mr T on the plan to fix the Kobra fiasco, with the not-so-willing help of DMA, but for the operation to work, he needs to know about “the door.” Sasha meets with her pawn, currently in jail, and tells him how he’s going to make it Kobra “…by escaping from custody and killing a half dozen DMA agents in the process.” Boy, she IS pissed at the Sarge. Meanwhile, Sasha’s Bishop and Knight arrive at a very low-brow strip club, asking bartender for help finding the mysterious door.


Heh. Mademoiselle Marie is going to be fun, I think. I’m looking forward to more of her. As for her “friend,” I’m going to assume that the man thought they were part of the entertainment, although what sort of stripper wears a full business suit and long coat is beyond me. Bishop and Knight find three doors in the storeroom, but by lighting a match, the capital-D Door glows with arcane symbols. When they step through, it’s not a broom closet, but rather the Oblivion bar, home of DC’s resident mystical troubleshooters, the Shadowpact. When Jessica mentions that they should make haste, as they may not be welcome, an off-panel voice replies “Got that right, you limey witch…”


Don’t be so sure, Bobo… Seems like there’s nobody that Sasha Bordeaux considers out of jurisdiction. And maybe it’s just me, but Detective Chimp has some weird anatomy there. Bishop Midnight hands the Chimp an official looking form, marked “Order of Deputization…” Uh oh. You have to wonder how desperate its gotten when they’re drafting monkeys. Or apes. I forget which he is. With the requisite assistance acquired, we cut forward a bit to the prisoner transfer. A news crew is even on hand to record events, as the Kobra prisoners are moved… Unfortunately, the three prisoners quickly get the upper hand, and all hell breaks loose.


They’re all dead, the end. Next month: the new and improved “Sugar and Spike!” No, not really. The terrorists escape, leaving a scene of mayhem and death behind. Thankfully, it’s JUST a scene, as a few whispered words from The Enchantress (Detective Chimp’s Shadowpact partner) reveals it all to be a glamour. Sasha starts to thank them, but Senora Encantadora is not amused.


“Until I get what I want,” replies the Queen. She wants her Pawn inside Kobra so they can finally take his Naga Naga freak @$$ down. I wonder if there isn’t more to it than that, actually, as she’s borderline (or is that Bordeauxline?) obsessive about this plan. We all hate religious crazies, but to irritate the community of the Supernature AND the mundane Gubment types, she’s either focused beyond belief, or totally crazy.

Now that I reread, I think I see where my problems with this issue were generated. There’s a fine line to be drawn with the whole James Bond spy genre. Moonraker crossed it, having too much fantastic mixed up in the cloak and dagger, and this issue almost kinda does, too. I love the idea of tying everything together, but it’s hard to make Shadowpact and Checkmate work together by the same rules. They didn’t actually damage either series, but I have trouble believing that Shadowpact would automatically obey a United States government order. Now, if Nightmaster decided it was the right thing to do, sure, I can see that, but the issue implies that Sasha coerced them, somehow. As for Checkmate’s side, having Enchantress do such a large chunk of magic runs the risk of underming the series. Why not just mystically place your man in Kobra?

This was an above average issue for most comics, but somewhat run of the mill for Checkmate. The dialogue was excellent, and it was mighty surprising to see agents mown down by someone who purportedly works for the government, and I have to say the Thinker’s musing while accessing the Checkmate files were pretty funny. Whether it’s me, or the book, I can’t say, but I’m giving it 2.5 stars and hoping the next outing grabs me again.



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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