The superspies of the DC universe have a new leader in the form of the mysterious Mr. King. Their mission: take down Leviathan. Guest starring Superman, Talia al Ghul, Robin and a cast of thousands. Introducing a brand new underworld assassin only known as…
The long-awaited return of Brian Michael Bendis’ Leviathan saga is here. Checkmate #1 hits shelves this week and continues Until last week, I had completely forgotten about Checkmate #1. The pandemic took a massive toll on the comic industry. It’s been over a year since we last saw Bendis’ Leviathan. Unless you had been following other Leviathan books, you might not know what Checkmate is about. The first quarter of the book is mainly Bendis playing catchup and filling anything in that the reader, new or continuing, will need to know. Unfortunately, Bendis takes the “speech” in speech bubble literally. There are a few pages with some extensive dialogue which I had to reread multiple times. Throwing a reader back into the story is tough considering the previous books were somewhat hard to follow. It doesn’t help that readers have been away from Leviathan books for so long. The event was advertised to change the DC Universe forever, but obviously, the pandemic hit and the series were forgotten.
Bendis has shown that he is the go-to for large events, but that doesn’t mean everything he creates has to be huge. I am hoping the lack of Superman and Batman (so far) will give Bendis a chance to work with the smaller team and not have them feel like a bunch of benched players. Checkmate is a team of some of the best spies and detectives, so it will be nice to see some spying and detecting without Batman coming in. I am looking at Checkmate as Bendis’ second chance to really make something memorable and have staying power. I enjoyed a lot about this issue. The first is “Checkmate,” the team of spies and detectives. Something that previous Leviathan titles did was diminish this team by including Batman alongside them. Batman always cracks the case, so it will be interesting to really see the team give Batman a run for his money.
I still think that you can’t go wrong with a Bendis book. He is an incredible writer and has created so many memorable stories. However, Bendis’ run on Action Comics and his Leviathan books are starting to feel like when your favorite band drifts into dad-rock territory. You’re gonna go buy their new album and enjoy it, but you might not return to it after you’re done. However, Maleev and Stewart’s visuals are stunning. A story focusing on super spies and detectives should feel like it exists in the shadows, which I think Maleev and Steward accomplish. Things look dark and gritty without feeling drowned in darkness. Every page is interesting to look at, even if a lot of space is being taken up by dialogue. Overall, I enjoyed reading through Checkmate. The year gap definitely caused me to play a lot of catchup, but by the end of it, I’m ready to see where this goes. We know “who” Leviathan is. Will Checkmate show us what they can do? Game on.
The pandemic caused this story to lose some steam, but that might play into its favor. Once again fresh in readers' minds, a smaller team with more to prove could lead this to be a very interesting book. Bendis is known for his huge events, but shifting focus to a smaller team could show that Bendis doesn’t need every major character in a story to be worth reading.
Checkmate #1: Game On
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 6/106/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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