Checkmate #1 description reveals new DC "mystery character"; is Green Arrow two-timing the Justice League?

Checkmate #1
(Image credit: DC)

Update: After announcing its indefinite delay in June 2020, DC has placed Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's Event Leviathan: Checkmate six-issue limited series on the schedule for June 2021.

Checkmate #1 cover (Image credit: DC)

The series has been rechristened just Checkmate. It stars the "superspies of the DC Universe" as they unite to take down Leviathan.

DC has provided Newsarama with the solicitation copy for June's Checkmate #1 in advance of the full release of their June solicitations. 

The new version of the first issue's description provides a few interesting details absent from the original incarnation, including the name of a new "mystery character"/seeming adversary, as well as the implication that star Green Arrow's involvement in Bendis' Justice League may be more than meets the eye. 

The "mystery adversary is interesting given in DC and Marvel solicitations terms, that usually means an existing character in a new identity or a new character with close ties to an established hero. 

Checkmate #1 cover (Image credit: DC)

"The dark forces of Leviathan have torn through the DC universe and now no one can be trusted," reads DC's description. "No one…not even the person writing to you about this book! That's why you find out in Justice League #63 that Green Arrow has been secretly funding a group called CHECKMATE because not even the Justice League itself can be trusted.

"The mysterious MISTER KING has helped Green Arrow assemble the greatest team of super spies the world has ever seen! LOIS LANE! THE QUESTION, ROBIN! STEVE TREVOR, MANHUNTER! BONES! TALIA AH GHUL! - will have to outsmart the smartest people in the world before they destroy everything! PLUS! a new mystery character is tip-toeing through the shadows! they call him… the DAEMON ROSE! and he is hunting Lois Lane right under Superman's nose! It's an all-new spine-chilling thriller from the Eisner Award-winning team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev! 

Checkmate was originally scheduled for an April 2020 debut, and then later rescheduled for June of that year, and then later postponed altogether. See the original June 2020 story below for all of those details and a refresher course on the whole Leviathan storyline.

The first scheduling delay was almost certainly COVID-19 related, and at the time, DC announced its eventual postponement was to "align with upcoming DC Universe storylines," which in retrospect is likely the DC Universe-altering events of Dark Nights: Death Metal and/or Infinite Frontier and/or Bendis taking over as writer of Justice League in March.

Either way, the series will only serve to continue to raise the profile of Green Arrow, who will get an 80th Anniversary 100-Page Spectacular in June and who is playing a role in Bendis' Justice League along with his romantic partner Black Canary, which may be part of his secret Checkmate agenda. 

Original story follows...

DC has indefinitely postponed Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's upcoming Event Leviathan: Checkmate six-issue limited series, promising in its most recent retailer mailer that it will be "rescheduled to align with upcoming DC Universe storylines."

Event Leviathan: Checkmate spins out of Bendis and Maleev's 2019 series Event Leviathan in which the malicious, mysterious espionage group Leviathan - led by the eponymous villain, whose secret identity was revealed as the one-time Manhunter Mark Shaw - took over the world of DC’s spy underground. The new Checkmate teams Green Arrow, Talia al Ghul, the Question, and Lois Lane to take on Leviathan in secret.

The series was announced in January with a planned April 22 on-sale date. However, DC canceled that release date when the Direct Market comic book industry went on pause due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Event Leviathan: Checkmate was then rescheduled for a June 2 release – although that date came and went without the issue's release, which seemed to go largely unnoticed until DC's update of its postponement.

The original announcement of Event Leviathan: Checkmate revealed only the limited series' creative team and issue count, tying into the cryptic nature of the original series, which focused on a team of detectives organized by Lois Lane – a key player in the relaunching Checkmate – trying to solve the mystery of the identity of the leader of secret spy organization Leviathan (also conveniently named Leviathan).

In that series, Lois showed a gift for espionage by eventually deducing Leviathan's identity as one-time hero Mark Shaw/Manhunter with the help of a secret second team of infiltrators.

A second planned spin-off titled Manhunters: Secret History was previously canceled outright.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)