All Associated Cover/Issue Images
Rocket Red: Stand down, Pigs! Lapdogs to western whore-mongers! Stand down or perish!!
Beetle: What is that?
Booster: Aw crap.
Skeets: I would concur, Sir. Aw crap.
Synopsis "*Of Course* They Got Caught."
The lines have been drawn in the conflict between the recently reformed JLI and their former administrator Maxwell Lord. He has convinced the world that he never existed and has manipulated the JLI to undermine their credibility. They have sworn to find him after Captain Atom visited a possible future and saw a world devastated by a war that they believe Max was responsible for.
Maxwell Lord is sat in his office within Checkmate Castle talking to somebody via a scrambled channel when he is suddenly interrupted by a brilliant white light. The White Entity, the embodiment of life and the entity that restored him to life, sends Max a vision showing him killing the superhero Magog and the message “stop the war before it starts.”
The JLI now knows that Max is hiding in Checkmate Castle. Fire, who has been opposed to breaking into the Castle, is arguing that it is exactly what they should be doing. She devises a plan to sneak into Checkmate and breach the “Nest” – the surveillance hub at the centre of the Castle. If Max is in the Castle they should be able to pin-point him from there.
Captain Atom strafes the Castle from a safe distance to provide a distraction that allows Fire’s team (Fire, Ice, and Rocket Red) and Booster’s team (Booster, Beetle, and Skeets) to sneak into the Castle via an old run-off tube. They are disguised as Rocket Reds in an attempt to pose as dissident communists. Fire’s team is blocked by a squad of guards and they make sure to put on a good show of pro-Commuist slogans while subduing them. They finally make it to the Nest – despite Gavril almost destroying it – and start a search for Max. However, Checkmate’s Black King appears with heavy troopers and tells them to “Freeze.”
- The surveillance hub at the centre of Checkmate Castle is called the Nest.
- The Rocket Reds are a male only Brigade. Rocket Red’s armour has sensors that can detect life-forms.
Keith Giffen began as the co-plotter and breakdown artist of this series, then he became just the breakdown artist, now his name is completely absent from this issue leaving the writing duties just to Judd Winick. However, it doesn’t feel like he’s completely gone as Joe Bennett squeezes in at least one Giffin-favoured regular grid. It could have been argued that Giffen was restraining some of the excesses that Winick can sometimes bring to his characters (see my own review of Power Girl #14), but we’ll have to wait to see how he handles this series on this own. That isn’t to say some aren’t putting the series on notice, Comics Per Day Blog is quite strict:
Ok, this book is on warning. Historically, I have never been a huge Judd Winick fan, but I’m going to give him a chance to impress me now that Giffen is off this book and he’s running solo.
Dimitri use to he a bombastic character in the old JLI series and Gavril seems to be trying to out do him here. Switchdoctor on Comicvine says Gavril is “a scene stealer every time he shows up” and Dan Philips at IGN says he’s “one of the best new additions to the DCU in years”. Then again Doug at CBR finds him a “lame reinterpretation of Yakov Smirnoff”. Where on Earth did they get all that Rocket Red armour? The Skeets joke it cute, but Gavril must have his own private cache of armour. The figure hugging female variant probably isn’t worth asking about too closely.
Sakuura on iFanboy notes Ice’s characterisation in the book.
For the first half of the book, I don’t think Ice says a single thing that’s not sullen or whiny, and I find myself intensely disliking her, even though I’d usually call myself a mild fan
I’d call myself a big Ice fan and even I’m beginning to tire to her post-death character. What use to be so great about her was the innocence or lightness she had, but it sometimes seems like she’s not really alive any more.
The imposition of last issue’s Captain Atom feature has been to break up the story flow slightly which, in this case, is welcome. If this issue had just gone back to back with issue #5 the over all story would have seemed very slow and undifferentiated. The art for this issue was okay, but there were several odd bits – Khalid’s tie, the disappearing/reappearing face visors – that held it back.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Doug Zawisza||2/5|
|Reviews Portal||IGN||Dan Philips||8.5/10|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine User Reviews||Av. of 6 reviews||4.25/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||432 Pulls||4.2/5|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Good|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||3/5|
Page 1 - Checkmate Castle is somewhere in the Swiss Alps. Codenames Wolfpack and Velcoro are interesting, possibly a group and an individual – a hairy group and something that sticks to hair. We could deduce that the JLI is the Wolfpack and that Velcoro is somebody sticking to them – a possible spy or traitor within the group. The person that Max is talking to isn’t identified, but it is at least proof that he isn’t acting entirely alone.
Page 2-3 - This scene exactly parallels a single panel from Brightest Day #7. The details get a bit lengthy so I’ve spun them off into another post: The White Lantern: Mawell Lord and Magog. The basic upshot is that Magog appears to be on course to cause a Kingdom Come like war in the DC Universe and the White Lantern Entity has charged Maxwell Lord with stopping him. How Magog’s war relates to the future that Captain Atom saw isn’t entirely clear.
Page 5 - Fire mentions her time with Checkmate. Her dismissal and her escape from Checkmate Castle took place in issue #3 and issue #4. She also establishes that two days have passed since she escaped from Checkmate the first time. Fire was pretty high up in Checkmate for quite some time. She was the Black King’s Knight and as such was Checkmate’s foremost agent. She’s been padding out their resume for a couple of issues now, but that hides the fact that she was the best they had. It’s then quite plausible that she could engineer a break-in back into Checkmate – after all Tom Cruise did it in the first Mission Impossible film.
Page 7 - Panel 3 – Booster says its Fire’s game and in doing he gives her permission to act – just an example of how he’s beginning to become the group’s leader (Fire and Ice comment on it later). Panel 5. It may be chance, but Checkmate operations talk about monitoring the Royal Flush Gang. That same group appeared in Zatanna #4 while this issue was current. As this page from their Preview showed…
The new version of the Gang uses a Rat Pack motif. Although no appearance by the Ace Robot. The JLI has form with the Gang. Max secretly hired them to attack the League so that he could make Booster Gold look good (Booster didn’t know).
Page 8 - Sigh. Continuing from earlier issues, Taleb Beni Khalid still has “-Isr” added to his name despite that being a misquote from the first issue of Checkmate (it’s his nationality and is not actually part of his name). He’s also shown wearing a tie which may be a first – the character is usually shown not wearing one (it’s a political sign of Western culture).
Something that is missing from this depiction of Checkmate is the other ranks in the organisation. Where are White Side’s King and Queen and for that matter where is the Black Queen (Sasha Bordeaux)? The woman we see with black hair may be the Black King’s Bishop Jessica Midnight, but she’s never identified as such and would appear too junior.
Page 9 - “All Friendlies” would presumable mean the Justice Society, the real Rocket Red Brigade, the Teen Titans, the Justice League, China’s Great Ten, and practically every other military force on the planet. The JLI are not making friends.
Page 10 - Where on Earth did Rocket Red get a set of female formed Rocket Red armour from? Is this something he’s been secretly working on for a long time, a special hobby perhaps? He does mention that the Rocket Reds are a male only brigade.
Page 11 - The original Rocket Red armour could control machines around them. That would be pretty useful is disabling the sensors in Checkmate castle so we can probably assume that Gavril doesn’t possess that feature in his own armour.
Skeet’s changes his appearance. He tends to get drawn quite differently by different artists – in some instances he more egg like, in other instances he looks more pizza box shaped. The subtle differences were commented upon in Dan Jurgen’s regular Gold Report interviews with Blog@Newsarma.
GX: Do you have a story reason in mind why Skeets would look more like his original self Booster’s future/Rip’s past?
DJ: Skeets is subject to regular adjustments, both from the standpoint of hardware and software. You’ll see a bit more on that in #3. But the basic idea is that Skeets is often in “upgrade” mode.
Page 12 – The Martian Manhunter issue is addressed. He’s got his own activities keeping him busy in Brightest Day. But, the confirmation of a post-hypnotic suggestion keeping people away from the JLI is an interesting development. I would have liked to have seen J’onn in this series, but I suppose he’s too highly regarded, too powerful for this plot to work with him. Batman and Superman can just brush off Booster Gold, but they’d implicitly believe J’onn.
Notice in the above image bow Fire and Ice’s helmets have a full face mask, but for the rest of the issue this swings back and forth between full-face and just a glasses like visor.
Page 13 - Tora finally twigs that Booster has become their leader. He’s the one who feels most aggrieved by Max’s manipulations, but his growing role has been quite subtle. In his recent Newsarama interview Winick commented that:
Booster, if anyone’s been paying attention, is getting examined almost in every other issue. We’re not going to have an issue devoted to Booster. That character is an ongoing process. And he’s pretty much the heart of the book, which I’m happy to see a number of people have caught onto. That every turn has really been about him. I think, more than anyone else, this is personal to him.
Notice how Bennett uses short panels in this section to give a claustrophobic effect.
Page 14 - “Captain Rojo” – Rojo is Spanish for red.
Page 17 - Curving gap with bridges – looks like a scene of Luke and Leia chasing around the Deathstar. The Checkmate troop’s helmets also looks a bit like Star Wars Clone War era troopers.