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A spy organization in The DC Universe, Checkmate has been the focus of two ongoing series and maintains a presence in the DCU, both comics and film.
Originally known as "the Agency", the organization that would become Checkmate was a driving force in the mid-80s comic Vigilante. After Vigilante ended, the Agency changed its name to Checkmate in Action Comics in 1988 and gained a spin-off title the same year. Checkmate became a subset of the Suicide Squad under the ultimate authority of chessmistress extraordinaire Amanda Waller through her agent, Harry Stein. This volume lasted 33 issues, from 1988 to 1991, and was written by Paul Kupperberg.
Between volumes, Checkmate maintained a background presence throughout the DCU, making their most significant appearance in Greg Rucka's Bruce Wayne: Murderer and Bruce Wayne: Fugitive arcs, which introduced the character of Sasha Bordeaux, who would go on to become the agency's main character for the next decade.
In The OMAC Project by Greg Rucka, during the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, former JLA ally turned evil Max Lord took over Checkmate until Sasha killed him. This led to the events of volume 2 by Rucka and Eric Trautmann. This series saw Checkmate reformed under the United Nations as an Multinational Team with both human and superhuman operatives and a system of checks and balances dependent on the four Kings and Queens (including Sasha and, of course, Amanda Waller) to prevent another Max Lord incident. The series ran for 31 issues, from 2006 to 2008, and was critically acclaimed.
As of 2011, Checkmate has been taken over again by Max Lord, who was resurrected at the end of Blackest Night, and is now a rogue organization. Time will tell where Checkmate's fortune lies.
Checkmate provides examples of the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Black Thorn, Sasha Bordeaux, Jessica Midnight, and Fire.
- Artificial Limbs: Sasha's nanomachines generate a metal arm after her original is amputated by Chang Tzu.
- The Chessmaster: Waller. Taleb Beni Khalid is a more benign example.
- Government Agency of Fiction
- Manipulative Bastard: Max Lord and Amanda Waller.
- Multinational Team
- Overt Operative: August General In Iron, who flat-out tells Khalid he's there as a spy.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: All of the Kings and Queens in Vol. 2, except Amanda Waller.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Jonah McCarthy.
- Stat-O-Vision: Sasha sees everything like this, as a consequence of her OMAC infection. It causes her to angst a little bit. One reason she's attracted to Mr. Terrific is that his powers prevent her from seeing him this way.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Sasha and Jessica Midnight. It was implied that Jessica was a lesbian.