Superhero Saturday: Checkmate

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Last week, we took you into the top secret world of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.. This week, we’re switching sides, and bringing in one of DC Comics’ most notorious agencies: Checkmate.

The organization began in the 80s and was started as a reorganization of the Agency (which was itself a subset of Task Force X). Amanda Waller appointed Harry Stein as Agency head, and Valencia Vostok’s replacement. He decided to put together a special team of agents from across the US and international intelligence agencies. It was intended as a sort of super team of intelligence agents, each operating under a chess related code name.

Checkmate’s first operatives were Gary Washington and Black Thorn, friends of Stein.

The entire structure of the organization is based on a game of chess. There is always one Queen and one King (Black for Operations/White for Intelligence). Below them are Bishops. They oversee Rooks, who command field agents, called Knights, and their support (Pawns).

Eventually, Checkmate is reorganized under the United Nations as their Chartered Metahuman Monitoring Force. The restructuring changed much of the operational procedures behind the organization, including making certain that any superpowered member of the “Royal Family” had an unpowered counterpart. Rooks become the Black Ops teams, Bishops are Advisers, Knights are Special Agents. Pawns are the only ones that remain unchanged (since they’re pretty much infantry/support).

Checkmate utilizes a headquarters in the Swiss Alps, known as The Castle, and the Blackhawks provide transport.


Powers and Abilities

This is a tricky one, since the members of Checkmate are so vast, and ever changing. Some notable members with abilities include:

Sebastian Faust – magic

G.I. Robot – a robot

Alan Scott – a Green Lantern

Count Vertigo – alters balance of others

Snapper Carr – teleportation

For a full list of members, click here.


Major Villains

Also confusing, since Checkmate isn’t entirely on one side or the other. While they aren’t a villainous organization, they do work against heroes, which it is in the best interest of the UN, or the US Government.

Kobra is an ongoing terrorist organization during the second Checkmate run.


Major Stories

Both volumes of Checkmate’s solo book contain the majority of the organization’s major arches.

Crossover stories include ‘The Janus Directive’, ‘Deathstroke: The Terminator’, ‘Bruce Wayne, Murderer?’, ’52’, and ‘Brightest Day’.


Where to Start

You could attempt to track down all the stories in which Checkmate appears, but they spread themselves all over DC Comics. Your best bet is to go with the first volume of Checkmate’s solo series, and branch out from there.

Tricia Ennis

Tricia Ennis

Tricia is the owner and editor of this website, but it's not like she's holding that over anyone's head or anything. Lover of cats, comics, television, and the occasional horror comedy. Find other thoughts and absurdities on Twitter, and her personal blog. Fully expects to die brilliantly in the zombie apocalypse.
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