Thursday, February 22, 2007

Personal Lives (Checkmate #12, Cover Date April, 2007)


Characters Main Heroes: Fire, Thomas Jagger
Minor Heroes: Mr. Terrific, Sasha Bourdeax

Major Villains: Amanda Waller
Minor Villains: Bane, Colonel Computron
P'Shat

After a brief flashback of young Beatriz training in gymnastics with her father, and current Fire visiting her invalid father, we quickly get into the plot. In the country of Santa Prisca, an election has gone horribly wrong. The anti-American candidate, backed by Bane, received the most votes, but vote rigging led to the pro-American candidate getting the most votes. Aware of the cheating, Bane has declared martial law and taken over. We quickly learn that the vote-rigging was planned by Waller through an intermediary, leading to the ironic result of Colonel Computron, the vote-rigger, tries to get help from Checkmate to escape from his employer, not knowing that his employer is really Waller.

Mr. Terrific immediately suspects Waller, and wants to send two Knights to rescue Colonel Computron. Waller's Knight is out, obviously, and Thomas Jagger is also excluded since his father was killed by Bane, making him questionable in this nominally pro-Bane operation. When Mlle. Tautin is struck down by a Deus-Ex-Appendectomy, though, the only two Knights left are Fire and Jagger.

Black King and Thinker are working on a clue -- Carvalho -- that regular readers only know is something Waller is using to blackmail Fire. Ben Talib figures it out, but it is too late to abort the mission. As Jagger and Fire "rescue" Colonel Computron, Fire immediate turns on him and fries the Captain.

Drash

As I mentioned in this Checkmate post, Fire and Jagger are the only characters who have been given any personal history in this book so far, and here they are on a mission together. Jagger is actually given some much more important character development here. He is the son of the original Judomaster, Hadley "Rip" Jagger, but was told by his father not to follow in his path. So when Judomaster was killed by Bane in Infinite Crisis #7 (in his patented "Broken Bat" move), Jagger consciously chose to go his own way with Checkmate rather than become the "new Judomaster."

Now, as fate has it, chosing his own path leads him back onto his father's as he inevitably will have a showdown with Bane.

Of course, the most interesting part of this Jagger-centric story is that it's completely not at all about Jagger being gay. The new Diversity Guy always has to beware the Scylla of having monthly "Gay-Themed Adventures" and the Charybdis of quickly dying or turning evil. I am therefore happy to see Jagger's first post-"out" adventure involve confronting his father's killer, which is a perfectly normal thing for a comic book hero to do, and doesn't revolve around his sex life.

Meanwhile, I love ambiguously-evil Amanda Waller as a complex character, but come on now! Eventually, someone's going to stop trusting her with upper level administrative responsibilities. There are only so many times that the White Queen can re-construct the Suicide Squad or divert a United Nations agency to her own nefarious ends before they take away your keys to the international-executive washroom.

In my internal fan-fic, she leaves office with Lex Luthor, they get married, and she becomes a new Supervillain. Amanda Waller-Luthor could be even more dangerous than Lex.

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