By Scott Tipton
In past editions of COMICS 101, we've discussed some old favorites from the now-defunct Charlton Comics Group, such as classics (and personal favorites) like Steve Ditko's reconceived Blue Beetle and the Question, perhaps Ditko's trademark solo creation. However, it has to be admitted that not everything that came out of Charton's "Action-Heroes" line was a home-run success. Example, you ask? Well, let's take a look at one such creation this week, in the oddly aggressive pacifist known as The Peacemaker.
Created by writer Joe Gill and artist Pat Boyette, the Peacemaker first made his appearance in November 1966, as a backup feature in issue #40 of the war comic FIGHTIN' FIVE. When that comic was canceled after only one more issue, the situation was reversed, with the Peacemaker getting his own series in March 1967, the logically titled THE PEACEMAKER, and the Fightin' Five settled into a backup-feature role in that series.
Talk about your mixed messages...
Smith quickly changes into his garb as the Peacemaker (which included just about the silliest helmet I've ever seen in comics, and I'm including the Serpent Crown in that list. It looks like he's wearing a toilet seat on his head), and dives into the water, locating the explosive and defusing it (apparently just by peeling it off of the boat) with just a second to spare.
After blowing up a few sharks with the explosive, the Peacemaker follows the saboteur to a nearby nuclear submarine and knocks him out, then heads inside for a face-to-face confrontation with The Commodore. Naturally, The Commodore begins monologuing, explaining his great motivation: "The fish are mine!" Ooooo-kay...
Claiming dominion over all undersea wealth (which apparently includes mackerels and cod), The Commodore promises to destroy all who trespass on the oceans. Having heard enough, the Peacemaker lets loose with his helmet laser, setting fire to the atomic sub's control room. And check out this witty banter:
"I know!" That Peacemaker, he's the life of the party...
Flying over the Balkan nation, Peacemaker discovers not only bombers and missiles, but also tracks a series of cargo jets heading south. Following them to the South Pole, he learns the secret of the nation's sudden courage: a secret facility under the ice, allowing them to develop huge quantities of uranium and other valuable elements and minerals. Clearly, this can't be allowed to stand. Rather than waste valuable time with the international rule of law, the Peacemaker instead decides to trash the joint.
He then busts through the walls of the furnace and destroys the facility, sending what looks like an oven door right into the neck of one of the enemy scientists. Ouch.
So how does the Peacemaker chalk up his survival, both from the flames and the impact of smashing up the facility?
"Shockwaves cushioned the impact"? Pretty weak, even for comic-book science.
Here Smith is interviewing for a new assistant at his "Peace Palace" in Switzerland, with only one applicant arriving: Nora O'Rourke, who shows up for her interview with a black eye. As she explains, all the applicants for the job were threatened with violence, and she was the only one who made it, having whooped the ass of a thug trying to put a bomb in her luggage.
When asked why he chose to become the Peacemaker, Smith replies, while curiously bathed in a red light:
More specifically, when working diplomatically to nullify an international madman named Bork, Smith realizes that diplomacy won't work against him, and elects to "resort to the violence which [he] despised," using the weapons he'd invented (as a hobby, mind you) to end Bork's threat, turning Bork's missiles on his own jet bomber, killing him.
Before Nora can accept the position, Smith's chalet is suddenly attacked by Colonel Uz, a "Bulgar arms thief," but the Peacemaker makes short work of him, thanks to all the extra explosives he carries on his person:
THE PEACEMAKER was cancelled with issue #5 (after debuting a new "extreme-temperature-use" helmet that just might be sillier than the first one), and the character sunk into limbo for nearly 20 years. He made his return in 1985, when he and the rest of the Charlton characters were purchased by DC Comics, and he made a brief "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" appearance in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.
DC attempted to revive the character in the revised post-CRISIS continuity in 1988 in a miniseries by writer Paul Kupperberg and artist Tod Smith, in which Smith was rethought as the son of a Nazi death camp commandant, driven to atone for the sins of his father, and even tortured by constant visions of his father, criticizing his every move.
The character was occasionally seen here and there around the DC Universe for a few years, before being killed off in a helicopter crash while battling Eclipso alongside the secret espionage agency Checkmate in the pages of the short-lived ECLIPSO series.
The new Peacemaker, former surgeon Mitchell Black, had no relation to the original save the name and a somewhat similar uniform, and, much like the L.A.W. series itself, failed to make much of an impact. In fact, the new Peacemaker's most recent appearance, in INFINITE CRISIS #7, was his last, with the character being killed off by Prometheus in the colossal melee.
However, it's rumored that the original Peacemaker will be returning in the pages of Keith Giffen's new BLUE BEETLE series, so it's a sure bet we haven't seen the last of the world's least committed pacifist.