Creators Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann are returning to the Checkmate characters they defined during their run on the title in next week's special issue, Final Crisis: Resist.
With Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation overtaking the world, the characters from Checkmate, including Mr. Terrific, Thinker, and Snapper Carr, choose to "resist" evil in their own way.
Newsarama talked to the co-writers about Final Crisis: Resist and what we can expect from this tie-in issue.
Newsarama: Greg, Eric, let's just start by summing up Resist's story. What's this story about?
Eric Trautmann: It's about... What does the agency in charge of keeping the world safe do the day evil wins? That's the high concept. Checkmate has to deal with the events of Final Crisis, and we get a look at how their plans and strategies and contingencies utterly fail against the might of an evil god.
NRAMA: What characters are we going to see in the issue?
Greg Rucka: You get a lot of the traditional Checkmate cast, at least at the start. In that moment when evil wins, they're there. But the line is sort of held by Mr. Terrific, and Khalid, and Thinker, and the one pawn in the Checkmate arsenal who's managed to stay mobile and useful, Snapper Carr. And that's sort of the Checkmate crew that you see most predominantly and drive the action. And there's a repeated encounter with Cheetah that adds another layer and another wrinkle.
NRAMA: Snapper Carr was revealed as a Checkmate agent outside of Checkmate, right?
Rucka: Yeah, that was something Keith Giffen did in Four Horsemen.
NRAMA: How has it been to write him as a part of Checkmate?
Trautmann: Well, thank god he was there! He's extremely useful!
Rucka: Aside from the fact that he's a lot of fun. And aside from the fact that he's got a great presence, he's also got -- and Eric nailed this early on -- he's got a different point of view from the rest of the Checkmate players. And he brings a different sense of history to these things. Snapper's got a long, convoluted, tortured history. I mean, some places, there's not a lot of love lost between him and the superhero community. So I thank Keith Giffen for that stroke of genius.
Trautmann: I'm a little envious that Greg got to write the best scene with Snapper. For me, it was fun because I grew up reading Justice League. Some of my father's favorite comics were Justice League, and those were some of the first comics I had. And they had Snapper in them. And I've been really fortunate in my work at DC to take some of these characters that I've loved since I was seven, eight, or nine years old and wow, I get to have them do stuff! Carl Draper being another one, the Master Jailer. And Snapper was just a hoot. Just in terms of writing a cool combat sequence, a teleporter is kind of fun to write. He can do all sorts of nifty stuff. And in Checkmate terms, he's just insanely useful, operationally. From that kind of procedural level, he's just a joy to write.
NRAMA: Greg, you mentioned Cheetah earlier. What's her role in this? Is she on the side of evil and she's fighting Checkmate?
Rucka: No. One of those things that Grant does so well, and I think it's clear in this last issue of Final Crisis, is that... good and evil? There's a whole different evil on the block. Or to put it better, there's a whole different evil in the multiverse, and it's in all caps, with big, glowing, black and red letters.
And with Cheetah, one of my biggest regrets on the Wonder Woman run was that I didn't really get a handle on her until just before I left the book. And I really, really like the character. And I think there's a lot there. And like so many of DC's really good villains, there's a lot of pathos in the character. She's a victim of her own very bad judgment, but at the same time, she got a very raw deal. It's not that she's fighting Checkmate; she's trying to survive. And she's trying to survive as she can. This is not somebody who I think of as the best team player.
One of the things we wanted to do with Resist is really show the pressure cooker that everybody's under, and how that pressure increases and increases and increases as things get progressively worse. There's a moment at the start when, pretty much, the last defenses have fallen and evil has won, but then we cover the 30 days thereafter as the situation just deteriorates and you see the results. And there's this little hold-out trying desperately to survive that is under siege, cornered and being pressed from all sides. And Cheetah as a villain in face of that becomes less relevant than Cheetah as a character who's trying to do what everybody else is trying to do, which is survive.
NRAMA: Checkmate fans will be pleased to hear that the Thinker is part of this issue. He's a fun character to write, isn't he?
Rucka: Yeah! It's always fun to write the smart ass. It's always fun to write this smug guy, especially when people are going, "AAAAAAH! We're going to die!!" And he's just saying, "Not me. It's going to be bad for you, but I will continue to exist in some form." [laughs]
Trautmann: It's the end of the world and all that's going to be left are cockroaches and Thinker. [laughs]
Rucka: And he'll amuse himself all the same.
NRAMA: The solicitation says Checkmate must "awaken an evil from a Crisis past." Any hints you can give us about that or what else we're going to see in this issue?
Rucka: It's one of those things where I don't want to give it away. This is a one-issue story. If we tell you anything else, there's no point in anyone picking it up except to look at the pretty pictures. Although that's a good reason to pick it up, we'd kind of like you to read the words too.
NRAMA: What's the art like on this issue? You've got Ryan Sook on pencils?
Trautmann: It's soooo good. I'm really, really happy with it.
Rucka: Yeah, Eric actually wouldn't stop making happy noises when the pages came in. We're both really delighted with how the book came out. I mean, it looks great across the board.
Trautmann: Everything. Pencils, inks, colors, letters. I mean, it's just easily the best looking book I've been lucky enough to work on. And we worked with some really good artists before, so this is high praise.
Rucka: It's a very pretty package.
NRAMA: Would the overall feel of this comic, for fans of the two of you writing together on Checkmate, be similar to that comic? Or is it darker because it's part of Final Crisis?
Trautmann: It's both. It's a considerably darker story than what we did on Checkmate, but at the same time, I think it does have a fairly hopeful thread that runs through it. The main driving character in it is Mr. Terrific, and Mr. Terrific is just not going to despair. He's going to find a way. And there's that kind of thing I love about superheroes, and particularly about somebody like Michael, is that ultimately, they're about hope.
Rucka: I think that's very much to the point, that in the face of all this, there's hope. You know, you define your heroes by the difficulties and the conflicts that you throw them up against. And so it's that Churchill line. The finest hour. When the chips are down and there's nothing left, how do you try to wrest a resistance out of nothing?