Checkmate is on this reviewers probation list. Issues #1 and #2 have been good, but, in this reviewers humble opinion, slow. And good alone is not good enough for my hard earned currency. Has business picked up for Checkmate? Is it earning its way off of probation? Read on!
Writer: Greg Rucka
Guest Penciller: Cliff Richards
Guest Inkers: Bob Wiacek and Steve Bird
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The insertion team, which includes Sasha Bordeaux, Count Vertigo and Fire, have made their way into China, looking for material to blackmail the Chinese government with, under the pretense of looking into the manufacturer of Cyclosarin.
The remaining royalty, not on this mission or the diplomatic one (Amanda Waller and Alan Scott), are arguing about China, and discussion is heated because the Black King’s Bishop, Shen Li Po is Chinese, and cannot divulge some fairly germain information. After a number of pages of discussion to clever and interesting to recap it is revealed that China is making superior’s, and that Kobra somehow infiltrated that site and used it to create the poison. That they had that site compromised is embarrassing to China.
They figure this out as the ops team infiltrates the base, undetected. The diplomatic team shore up the support they need, and both catch the Kobra agents stalking them. Once Waller is sure that Alan Scott captured his stalker, she kills hers.
The ops team gets out of the vehicle, when they notice and survive the explosion, and the issue ends.
The Good: This issue starts out with humor, and never stops moving. After the considerable bit of setup done in the first two issues, this one moves along. Whether the action is physical or psychological, it is interesting, it feels quite realistic, and is something no one else is doing in the DCU right now.
And the cover is just plain cool.
The Bad: Guest Art team on issue #3? That is a tight schedule. The art is servicable, and occasionaly good, but a sharper, clearer style serves this title better. I wish that this was issue #2, pacing wise, but the story worked pretty well for me. This title usually does a good of telling you enough about the characters to follow the story, but knowing a little more about some of the agents, Fire especially, would help a bit.
Conclusion: Now that the ball is rolling, this is a solid, well paced read, with a good mix of action and intrigue. The regular art team was missed, as their style seemed more appropriate to the material. As long as Rucka keeps the pace of the comic up, I see a more permanent addition to my pull list. And thats the best compliment I can give a book.