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Greg Rucka Week: ‘Checkmate’ Vol. 1-3
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Greg Rucka Week

Checkmate Vol. 1, 2 and 3Checkmate
Vol. 1: A King’s Game
Vol. 2: Pawn Breaks
Vol. 3: The Fall of the Wall
By Greg Rucka
DC Comics

It was a story that would never gain the notoriety of a Batman or Green Lantern, but was written just as well, if not better in most cases. The DC series Checkmate, written by Greg Rucka and penciled by Jesus Saiz, has long been a fan favorite that happened in the background of the DCU.

It was not the first time that Checkmate made an appearance, nor was it the first time that it earned a title for itself. But it was probably the first time it was tackled with such aplomb and skill as when Greg Rucka jumped on board.

Originally run by Maxwell Lord, the mastermind behind the OMAC’s, and the man who eventually shot Blue Beetle Ted Kord, Checkmate was used to control the 1980’s Justice League. But Lord’s intent all along was to bring along the destruction and control of metahumans across the globe.

But now, in the wake of Infinite Crisis, Checkmate has been brought under UN Security Council control, and its unique chess-board-like leadership is ruled by the “Rule of Two”; for each metahuman involved there is one human. Their job is “maintaining the global balance between humans and metahumans.”

At the top of Checkmate are two Kings and two Queens. White runs intelligence gathering and black runs operations. White Queen is Amanda Waller, formerly head of the Suicide Squad, and still up to her devious machinations, alongside White King Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern. However, Scott is soon replaced by his bishop, Mister Terrific. Black King is Talen Beni Khalid, alongside Black Queen Sasha Bordeaux, one of the few remaining underlings from Lord’s time at the help of Checkmate.

Checkmate is a fantastic romp through the DCU. It is almost as if we are given the chance to go behind the curtains, and see how things work away from the main action where Batman and Superman do battle to save the universe.

Rucka once again brings a level of realism to the book that very few authors are capable of in the comics world. Instead of it just being an unbelievable and irrelevant superhero shindig, Checkmate sheds a light on the seedy underbelly of the DCU, well away from the actions of the Joker or Lex Luthor.

An international flavor is added to the mix with Checkmate being located in Switzerland, and undertaking operations everywhere from infiltrations in Somalia to remote bombings of North Korean missile sites.

With a perfect blend of action, drama, witty banter between characters and personal lives, Checkmate is definitely a must for any DC fan. And even if you just want a good read, and aren’t in the mood to deal with 60 years of back-story, Checkmate is for you too! The events are based upon the story, not upon whether Batman made the right choice on June 21, 1954 or whether Superman aced his high school gym class.

But even if those two reasons don’t get you, Rucka’s inimitable style, skill, and humor are the icing on the proverbial cake.

Checkmate, Vol. 1: A King’s Game
Checkmate, Vol. 2: Pawn Breaks
Checkmate, Vol. 3: The Fall of the Wall

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