Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Checkmate: Who is the King? #KingTheory


Settle in.

Hard to believe it was two years ago that Event Leviathan was on the stand and 'Who is Leviathan?' was a mystery that consumed me. 

I had my Leviathan Theory. I was wrong. 

Then about a year and a half ago, Leviathan Dawn, a one-shot epilogue to Event Leviathan hit the shelves, moving Leviathan's plans forward and introducing us to a new Checkmate and the announcement of a Checkmate mini-series.

 That led me into the deep dive into Manhunters and Mark Shaw as I waited for the new book to hit the shelves. In retrospect, were there clues to point me to Shaw?

Then Checkmate #1 hit the stands and I realized that there was a new mystery to solve! Who is the King in this new Checkmate? 

Unlike Leviathan, where clues were sprinkled in the Superman books for months before the actual Event Leviathan mini, King was introduced in the Dawn special and has only been seen on a couple of pages of the Checkmate series. I needed at least a few clues and a few ideas before I could come up with my King Theory.

Alas, he didn't appear in Checkmate #2. But after rereading the above issues and doing the last dive into the Manhunter pool I have decided on who King is.

Read on.

King is Paul Kirk, Manhunter.
Or at least a clone of him.

Okay, this isn't going to be as polished as the original Leviathan Theory post where I spelled out elegantly why Leviathan was Ted Kord. But let's dive in looking at the few clues given us and a peek back into comic history.

Let's start with the biggest clue we have.

Kingsley Jacobs, the King of the new Checkmate, seems to have serious espionage skills, gathering intel and being a step ahead of the game.

But there is something about him. Lois asks him how old he is. And what about that muted accent.

Now I, like many, immediately thought that this question means that King is very old. That has led to some early thoughts of mine. Maybe he is the Immortal Man? Or maybe he is Resurrection Man? Both of those are great thoughts. They are on the odds list for sure.

But what if this is a sort of literary feint. What if the question befuddles King because he is actually very young?

We know that in the classic Manhunter story by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson that Paul Kirk was kept in suspended animation by the Council while that group improved his body with surgeries and enhancements. So would Kirk be as old as he is chronologically, a man who fought in WWII? Or would you subtract the years he was in suspended animation?

Or, if you go for the clone theory, you can ask just how old is a clone? Is a clone the age of the body as it would be were it human? Or is a clone as old as when they were brought to life? In Blade Runner, is Roy Batty 4 years old or 30ish?

More importantly, we know that Paul Kirk was endlessly cloned in the classic Goodwin/Simonson story. There are Kirk clones out there. 

So that age clue can be explained.

The next clue is basically how is King able to do the things he is doing?

How is he a step ahead of these incredible detectives?

How is he able to stay one step ahead of the Leviathan, having intel on that group and keeping Checkmate hidden?

In theory, King has to have a spy background of some sort and maybe an axe to grind with the Leviathan for him to be able to do what he has done.

Immortal Man and Resurrection Man don't really fit that bill. 

So again we have to go back to the sacred texts of those Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter stories. 

Kirk was the ultimate assassin and field agent for The Council, a group of ten great thinking minds who want to guide history and save mankind from themselves.

The Council sound like a benevolent shadowy cabal fighting against topics which still resonate today: war, pollution, over population, as well as racial and territorial strife. Boy, talk about prescient!

Kirk not only immersed himself in the Council's work but he became their best trained agent. He would be a brilliant spy and would perhaps be able to use the Council's tech to keep himself hidden.

And he isn't against wetworks either. And he clearly has some skills that he isn't afraid to brag about.

We saw how he told Steve Trevor that he could easily kill him if he had wanted to. 

That doesn't sound like Immortal Man or Resurrection Man either.

But Paul Kirk?

Even before his improvements, he was a great soldier, a great hunter, and even a great Manhunter, fighting crime and stalking humans.

And under the tutelage of the Council he learned the art of Ninjutsu.

So brilliant spy, deadly fighter, and perhaps oddly young ... 

The only other clue is just how annoyed King gets after he learns that Mark Shaw co-opted Markovia.

He sulks a bit and walks off. He is called emotional. 

Well, the thing that gets me here is that Kirk had an axe to grind with the Council. 

Here he learns how the Council of ten were searching for the secret to eternal life. Their leaders took turns out of suspended animation to rule. And this council were able to commune their minds by way of a psionic helmet. Hmmm ....

But when the Council becomes a cult, a fanatical deranged army, Kirk rebels. He can't simply follow orders and kill Interpol agents because the Council says so. 

And once he decides that he opposes the Council, he throws himself into the quest. He is very driven and emotional as he kills off countless clones of himself as he works his way back to the core of the Council to shut them down. 

And here is the biggest reason why I think it is Kirk.

When you read about the Council and their goals, it totally sounds like Leviathan. Here is a group that thinks they know what is best for humanity, think they have noble goals, and think they are the smartest people in the room. And yet, how quickly they can slip into a hive mind, religious fervor where the ends suddenly justify the means. 

The Council IS Leviathan. And Kirk took down the Council. He won't let some other group follow in those footsteps.

Just a couple more things.

One, another mystery is the object that the Leviathan agents were looking to steal in China.

Take a look ... it sort of looks like a helmet. At the time I wondered if it was some new Medusa mask.

But now I wonder if it is the psionic helmet from the Council.

Because let's face it, Leviathan would want to pillage the Council's tech. And frankly, the Council sounds so much like the Manhunter cult, I wonder if they aren't one and the same.

And that brings me to my last point.

Mark Shaw as Manhunter.

The Manhunter ideology is a key component to the Leviathan story. Remember, Shaw singled out Kate Spencer for using the Manhunter name. 

And, of course, Paul Kirk was a Manhunter. 

So it all just marinades in itself. Kirk is a Manhunter who dismantled a shadowy organization who tried to take over the world. He is now trying to dismantle a shadowy organization trying to take over the world run by a Manhunter.

Isn't Leviathan and Mark Shaw the most dangerous game of all?

So that's my theory. Kingsley Jacobs is Paul Kirk.

This time I'm right.


Anonymous said...

Leviathan Dawn was so long ago I forgot all about it. Will re-read it.

Your analysis seems reasonable. This time I think you're right!

I'm waiting for "you" to show up in the story. It's been so long that it may have gone through many changes, so I hope you didn't end up on the cutting room floor.


Anj said...

I think I did end up on the cutting room floor.

And too shy to ask ...

Martin Gray said...

Oh go on, ask! There may be time to restore you as necessary.

Good theorising. You may be being too logical, given how out of nowhere the Mark Shaw reveal was (you made it make sense, the comics never did). So on that basis, I shall say The King is a clone of Chris King, King Faraday and Go-Go Checks fan Jonni Dc.