Justice League: Generation Lost #17
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Joe Bennett
And the aftermath of Max’s actions begin to set in. For as much as this book has been about the JLI trying to stop Max, it has also been about Max doing whatever it takes to achieve his goals, and that means using the connections he knows, and the ones he can gets his hands on. So far this has resulted in a lot of actions in the name of Checkmate, most of them questionable, and as I mentioned a few issues ago it seemed like it was only a matter of time before things bit them in the ass. With this issue we get to find out just how and why things have gone the way they have, and without spoiling too much, the answer is obviously Max.
Checkmate is a giant spy organization with a UN sanction, reassembled after Infinite Crisis after the death of Black King Max Lord. It went from an OMAC producing, meta-human cataloguing, endgame anticipating covert agency to a UN sponsored intelligence gathering intervention force that specialized in the balance between humans and metahumans, and was actually a pretty fun series up until Bruce Jones took it over. Since the title was canceled a few years ago there have been a few scattered appearances, primarily in a Final Crisis one shot and a JSA miniseries, but nothing big, nothing until Generation Lost. We’ve known since the beginning that Max had set up shop in Checkmate’s Swiss base. We also know that Max has been doing things from inside the organization that those in charge can’t understand.
Something to know about Checkmate though, is that the man that has seemingly been solely in charge, Black King Taleb Beni Khalid, is not an idiot. He has been questioning quite a bit this series, when not acting uncharacteristically unintelligent, and it all comes to a head here. You don’t get to be the head of Checkmate without having a general idea when someone is using you, and after a few somewhat major incidents happen in this issue, he finally realizes what’s been done both to him and the organization, but a question I’ll leave up to the spoilers is whether or not it’s too late to do anything about it.
When last we saw our heroes, the Justice League International, they were fighting the Creature Commandos. The Commandos, led into battle under the mental control of Max Lord, have been left to continue fighting despite his last issue departure complete with his obtained objective, the Blue Beetle. Well, long story short, that battle ends withing minutes of Max’s departure as while he no longer has need for the fight, he drops his control. He’s not stupid, he hasn’t intended to kill his former allies…save for maybe Captain Atom…definitely Captain Atom, and this means he has a greater plan in mind. There’s only one thing he doesn’t count on, my favorite Russian….Rocket Red!
The JLI finds their way back on Max’s trail, but like I said, Max is a smart man…and he doesn’t like Captain Atom, so what better way to end the issue then to have Atom get punched by next issue guest star? There’s a lot going on here, and Winick is weaving it all pretty awesomely. Given what Max accomplishes in this issue, I can only imagine what’s coming next. I mean, I doubt it will be pretty, he does spend a few pages torturing Blue Beetle this issue (who holds up like a champion), so we know he’s not looking to make friends and sing kumbaya as an endgame.
Joe Bennett is still a perfect fit for this book, and given how this issue goes between action, talking heads, and even a meeting at the UN, it’s a testament to his ability that all are handled with high quality. Then again, I’ve never seen any of his work that I would call phoned in. The issue looks great, and the tone set by the art matches the pacing and tone of the story.
This story is progressing very nicely, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that Winick is ready, willing, and able to pull out all the stops for the final leg of the race. So what does this mean for Blue Beetle? Or for the JLI? How many more deaths are on the horizon, and just how far is Max going to go? There’s a lot of questions brewing, and two weeks is too long to wait for another dose of this book.
Tags: Brightest Day, Joe Bennett, Judd Winick, Justice League, Justice League: Generation Lost, Max Lord, Reviews