First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.23: Checkmate! #12

Bass and Siskoid tackle Checkmate #12 and a key space shuttle mission as we head into Invasion Aftermath. Plus, where are Batman, Green Arrow, John Constantine and the Question in this crossover?

Listen to Episode 23 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings may apply), or subscribe to First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: First Strike ep.23 Supplemental

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25 responses to “First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.23: Checkmate! #12

  1. My opinions are fact, Siskoid. You love my enthusiasm!

    What did you think of Giffen’s art style on Trencher? It was busier than this previous work with odd details added.

    Like you, Siskoid, I always figured Checkmate! would be something to hit that espionage/everyman sweetspot we both share. I think a good chunk of the run is on Comixology and I may check that out. How detective Harvey Bullock ends up helping to run a covert agency is anybody’s guess.

    Good show, kids.

  2. I love this issue’s cover! Never having read CHECKMATE (I hope PK forgives me), this was all new to me. The foreshortening, the character dropping in from the top, the detail showing they are floating in space…very captivating.

    I would love to know what crossovers like this did for marginally-selling titles like this one. Did Superman or JLA readers follow the crossover to these titles? I certainly never did–I tended to just wade through the crossover issues of whatever title I was already reading, and forgot the rest. I think Crisis was the only time I tried to keep up, and eventually had to bail.

    While the whole notion of a Batman “family” does reduce the character’s uniqueness a bit, I always liked the idea that his progeny were less grim, less miserable than he was. I always imagined some day Bruce could retire and hand the protection of Gotham over to a team of heroes who could be just as effective but find a way to strike a life/crimefighter balance. Bring back the BATMAN FAMILY dollar comic!

    1. Pretty sure I read every Invasion tie in and went on to complete runs of all the books that weren’t too deep in their runs at the time.

    2. I didn’t follow all of the tie-ins, suffering from “event fatigue” by this point, but I did pick up a couple of titles that I was sporadically buying just for this event, like Firestorm. (hiding from Shag behind my couch)

  3. Add me to the list of folks who will probably grab a Checkmate or two if I see them in the dollar bin thanks to this show. Good work gents!

    Interesting tangent about the Batman Family. My favorite Robins are Dick and Tim (big surprise), but I don’t think it’s fair to say Tim is smarter than Dick. Perhaps more tech-savvy, yes. He’s also more cautious. But Dick isn’t reckless, he’s just more fearless than Tim. Dick is also the better acrobat and fighter of the two, and this was demonstrated when Tim met young Dick during Zero Hour. Tim was so busy trying to prove he was worthy of the Robin mantle to his “big brother” he actually GOT reckless…like Jason…and Dick even pointed it out to him.

    If you could overcome your hate, and read the BATO/NTT crossover Siskoid, you’d see evidence that Dick is a better leader than Bruce. That’s actually a really nice story, and the last time the two operated together as Batman and Robin. They part on good terms, setting up Dick’s handing the mantle of Robin over to Jason nicely. Of course, the O’Neil office just threw all that away…coming soon to a Knightcast near you!!!

    I love the JLU Question. Definitely my favorite version of the character. I’m also disappointed to find him in the comics where he’s never QUITE that guy.


    1. Hell, Dick is a better Batman than Bruce. Just a better person, really. That’s not a knock on Bruce/Batman fans – I want to make that clear – but DG (something about those initials?) always struck as the more interesting of the two.

      I may bone of the few Jason Todd fans without a Deadpool or ICP shirt who’s over 40, but I loved the idea that there someone that Bruce failed to raise properly and who doesn’t worship at the Church of the Bat. He’s a nice balance to the others, I think.

    2. It’s not hate, it’s mocking contempt. Not only have I read the crossover you refer to, but I reviewed it panel by panel. The Outsiders presumably did not fare as well as the Titans.

    3. Re: Tim smarter than Dick.

      I’m sure it depends on what one means when one talks about being smart, but it’s Tim who’s always talked about as being a great detective. Not Dick.

    4. I have so many opinions on Dick versus Tim! I just…but… can’t… *BOOM*!

      “We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please enjoy this broadcast from Hypno-Toad.”

  4. I must admit that I didn’t pick up Checkmate at the time and have passed by it in the cheap bins as well. Never really glommed on to the spy organization comics like this.

    I was more intrigued at the look around at the other street level books.

    I loved that Question book, a philosophical book put out at the right time for a young Anj. Between O’Neils sensibilities and Denys Cowan’s gritty art, it was a fascinating book. I love the JLU Question as well. But this Question, an angry Vic being trained by Shiva and Richard Dragon, and hoping to find some peace, is my question. (I would recommend the Five Books of Blood miniseries with the Montoya Question as well.

    I was reading Moore’s Swamp Thing so picked up Hellblazer #1 off the chart. I find discussions about Hellblazer interesting, especially about who their favorite Constantine writer is. I loved the more downbeat Delano stuff. I liked that John was really sort of tortured by his life, the slick con man just a front. He was a bastard. But he was also hurting. The Fear Machine came after the incredible first year and the reveal of what really happened at Newcastle. Nothing could top that so Fear Machine sort of pumped the brakes a bit. I found Ennis’ John to be a bit too much of a son of a bitch. He read a bit like a supernatural Punisher. I might recommend Paul Jenkins/Sean Phillips run which came after.

    Thanks for a great show as usual!

  5. This issue sounds like it would hit my sour spot, or whatever the opposite of a sweet spot is. It’s strange that I can accept a JLA satellite where, in an emergency, whoever is onboard jumps into whatever protective gear each thinks necessary and goes out to improvise, but tell me it’s the space shuttle Atlantis and I start to sputter at it going anywhere beyond Low Earth Orbit, having stowaways at launch, or spur of the moment spacewalks. Just personal taste, I’m sure, everyone draws the line somewhere.

    I jumped onto Hellblazer for the Ennis cancer arc after reading Constantine in The Books of Magic. Again, while almost anyone writing Hal Jordan is fine, the difference in Constantine’s voice between Gaiman and Ennis makes a noticeable change.

  6. I think I mainly picked up Checkmate during Invasion and the Janus Directive. Both fun crossovers in their own ways.

    I don’t know if I’m jumping ahead, but was surprised you guys didn’t mention the Climax to Detective Comics #596 and opening of #597 in the “not participating” part of the show.

    I was first introduced to The Question during the height of the ’89 Batman film’s popularity when #26 that featured The Riddler ended up in my hands. I would go on to be a big fan of the character, as well as Lady Shiva and Richard Dragon. I think it makes sense why Vic Sage and Ollie didn’t participate at this time. Even though I was big on ‘Mature Readers’ books like Swamp Thing and The Question, I didn’t really gravitate toward the Grell Green Arrow and Hellblazer until later in life. I think once I was out of college, then I would trade read the Hellblazer books, most of which were the Ennis run at the time.

  7. I’d only intended to leave an initial comment on Invasion #2 that became the sole one, so I’ll throw a mention of it here. Looking at a digital copy of the book in large clean scans with bright colors makes it clear to me how amateurish McFarlane’s art was. It’s just a ‘zine pastiche of every fan fav artist from five years earlier given a blockbuster budget. It’s like an 80 page monthly adaptation of an Amazing Heroes letters column. So. Many. Lines. The best drawings are of the sentient sphincters in the hamster balls. I enjoy your podcast about a mini-series I’ve only ever managed to force myself to read once with no planned repeat in this lifetime. It’s seriously the best overall event to have such a painful chore of a core mini-series to slog through. I’d read Millennium five times before I touch Invasion again. Under-hated needs to become a thing, and Invasion is that thing. It’s basically all the worst things about Crisis with none of the good stuff. I like the MaGwiffen art, but that’s when the story really kicks into no-gear with the Omega Men, Blasters and P.R.O.T.O. ’89. You guys, the main story ends on page 160 of 240, you guys! I am so on board for this year’s character selection, and yet, they’re in this thing.

    Of the many thousands of comic books I hope to still get to read in this lifetime, none of them are named Checkmate.

    I was introduced to John Constantine in one of the Rick Veitch Swamp Thing issues. Like Siskoid, I tried some Delano stuff, it didn’t take, but then Ennis & Dillin hooked me in (and I still prefer their Hellblazer run over Preacher.) For a while there, Constantine was a favorite of mine, but no other runs ever won me back onto the book after I left with “Rake At The Gates of Hell.” I wish they’d do an Omnibus of just that run. I still get sad that John closed out Vertigo (I know a vestigial version still exists, but only that.) Constantine does not belong in the core DCU, much less on a Justice League team, and I refuse to show up.

    It bums me out that Bass doesn’t have the indie itch.

    I really liked Jason Todd’s arc before he died, and I can even see potential in the Red Hood concept, but it’s so emblematic of the Didio era of DC that I can’t wrangle the revulsion by association. Also, I don’t give a fuck about how he relates to Bruce Wayne. I’d be much more interested in him as Dick Grayson’s dark mirror, but they don’t seem to play that up much. Again, like Siskoid, I’ve never fully outgrown my Robin phase (which came well after my Batman one, and only in original flavor.) And Drake is smarter than Grayson because Chuck Dixon played favorites and shit on Dick for something like seven straight years worth of poor man’s Daredevil stories. The character has never fully recovered from the one-two punch of Marv Wolfman’s death grip and Dixon.

    Like Green Lantern, I thought Green Arrow was really cool until I started trying to read comic books about him and realized what tools they both are. But we all remember those classic story arcs from the Mike Grell run, like Just Kidding, Nobody Remembers Anything But Longbow Hunters, and That Wasn’t Very Good Either. Sorry Sutherlands, but hey, I ordered the new Starslayer collection from Dark Horse if that helps. If Mike Barr and Trevor Von Eeden were still doing him, I might care about an Invasion tie-in, even if he is just some b-list Batman with an archaic weapon versus laser pistols.

    I still think The Question was the best thing Denny O’Neil ever did, and figure between Victor Szasz and Aristotle Rodor you had the favorite writer proxy of his career. That said, the Rucka Renee Montoya stuff was basically a redux of that interpretation, which is to say philosophical chop sockey neo-noir. I agree that Jeffrey Coombs is the best Vic Sage, and this is not that. Also, what little of the Ditko material I read was way too Paul Ryan for my tolerance. I like his uncool conservative streak, but only when paired with the naive nationalism of Joe Gill, not the pure uncut John Galt.

  8. Just so you know, before Wil Smith goes up against the aliens the first time in Independence Day he asks Harry Connick Jr if he’s got his “victory dance” ready, which are cigars of some description. Mr Connick Jr sings “I’ve got them right here”. Knowing this, what does it do to your opinion of Independence Day?

  9. Hi, Bass and Siskoid! I just started listening to the show, and yes, I’m hooked. Sorry to be late to the party, but I’ve only been listening to podcasts for a year, so … WINNING!

    I need to listen to the previous Checkmate episode to see if an important point is mentioned, namely the exclamation point at the end of both “Invasion!” and “Checkmate!”. In hindsight, DC should have put exclamation points at the end of every tie-in issues logo. But I guess that would have made it “Checkmate!!”?

    Seriously, I did collect Checkmate! when it first came out, but gave it up before these tie-ins. I think Kupperberg’s writing turned me off. I can’t say why right now, but his style never clicked. It was a fascinating concept and I gave it a try, but it wasn’t for me.

    JLU Question was a wonderful take on the character. A comic book with that version would be a treat!

    Never got into Hellblazer either, but I did buy the Dangerous Habits trade paperback. Worth every penny. If you buy only one Hellblazer book, that’s the one.

    I’m looking forward to catching up on the episodes. Thanks for feeding my new addiction, guys!

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