It's been a while since Checkmate was a force to be reckoned with in the DC Universe, either in the comics or on TV...but from the look of the trailer for next week's episode of Supergirl, that may soon no longer be the case.
Created in 1988, Checkmate had its own title for a while before going mostly quiet. It had a resurgence in the mid-2000s, when Geoff Johns introduced the idea that someone inside of Checkmate could have been corrupting it in secret for years.
That corrosive influence? Maxwell Lord, who was one of the major villains in the first season of Supergirl.
Lord, who had long been a confidant of the Justice League, secretly hated metahumans and aliens, and was positioning himself to be humanity's savior, commandeering a satellite designed by Batman and using it to track the Justice League and others.
Of course, there's no sign of Lord in next week's trailer, but Lillian Luthor, who previously ran the anti-metahuman genetic experimentation lab at Cadmus, is seen holding onto a white knight.
Since Checkmate has a chess theme, its highest-ranking members are Kings and Queens -- but major players have been knights and rooks in both the comics and in other media -- including a white knight named Tess Mercer in Smallville.
For those who don't know, Mercer was later revealed to have secretly been a Luthor all along. In an episode titled "Luthors," then, that's a conspicuous prop for the matriarch of the Luthor family to be playing with.
The property again got its own ongoing series as it reeled from the damage done to its reputation by Lord and restaffed with a balance of superheroes' political friends and foes. After a number of high-profile stories that centered on Checkmate, however, the powers that be at DC seem to have taken the spy group off the board (so to speak), replacing them as DC's premier intelligence organization with ARGUS, which currently plays a big role in the comics, the DC Extended Universe (Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman in particular), and on Arrow.
Checkmate was referenced in the recent Justice League vs. Suicide Squad event in the comics, in which the post-Rebirth Maxwell Lord was introduced, but was not fully resurrected.
You can see the trailer for "Luthors" here, and the official synopsis for the episode, which airs next week, below.
LENA IS ARRESTED – After Metallo (guest star Frederick Schmidt) breaks out of prison and frees Lillian Luthor (guest star Brenda Strong), the police blame Lena (guest star Katie McGrath) for his escape and arrest her. Despite overwhelming evidence, Kara (Melissa Benoist) refuses to believe her friend is guilty and fights to clear Lena's name. Flashbacks reveal how Lena came to be a Luthor.
Meanwhile, Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie (Floriana Lima) celebrate their first Valentine's Day together.
Tawnia McKiernan directed the episode written by Robert Rovner and Cindy Lichtman.
More Supergirl News: David Harewood Talks "The Martian Chronicles" | First Look at the Music Meister in Flash Crossover Photos | Kevin Sorbo Cast As Mystery Villain | Lois & Clark's Teri Hatcher Cast As the Season 2 Big Bad
Supergirl airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. A new episode featuring Harewood and Leal, "The Martian Chronicles," debuts tonight.