Review by Ian Keogh
Over the course of The Good Fight the presumed dead Outsiders used their below the radar status to interfere in despotic regimes, reconstituting them along what they considered more ethically acceptable lines. This hasn’t sat well with others among the superhuman community, most notably the United Nations sponsored covert agency Checkmate, whose agents are named after chess pieces in balanced teams of black and white. Their solution is to abduct the members of the Outsiders.
For those heading here from Outsiders: Pay As You Go, a section featuring a second consecutive jailbreak story might appear repetitive, but that’s only the prelude to the bigger picture. Checkmate is prepared to sanction the Outsiders, even actively support their agenda by supplying information and resources, but with a plausible deniability should this plan hit the fan.
Checkmate has identified an island on which the world’s greatest criminal scientific minds have been given free rein and all the resources they need, and Checkmate wants to close them down. The location of this island in the vicinity of both China and North Korea is politically sensitive, and so a covert operation is required.
Joe Bennett, Matthew Clark and Ron Randall supply standard superhero art, with Clark the most distinctive, although seemingly rushed in places. The writing team of Greg Rucka and Judd Winick balance political considerations, covert machinations and superhero slambangs, reviving an unlikely villain, but never really move beyond the standard. There’s little concession for anyone picking this up as a sampler without being a regular reader of the two series combined, as the Checkmate elements perpetuate ongoing internecine rivalries. These continue ongoing monthly plotlines, but within an isolated collection they lack a cohesion.
Anyone who enjoys a mindless action movie every now and then will find the equivalent within Checkout, and the dual relevance of the clever title only becomes obvious in the final pages, which lead directly into Outsiders: Five of a Kind. Checkmate continues in The Fall of the Wall. It’s the swansong on Outsiders for Winick, who introduced many good ideas, but often failed to integrate them effectively with the requirements of a team of superheroes.