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Thursday, January 6, 2022

Our favorite Peacemaker covers

Well, we're just a few short days away from the new Peacemaker live-action series premiering on HBO Max. This a milestone event for me -- I've been a Peacemaker fan since I first learned about him while flipping through the pages of Who's Who: Update '87. A lot has changed since I was 9 years old: I don't collect single comics like I used to (opting instead for TPBs, hardcover reprint volumes or digital media) because I just don't have the storage space like I used to, but I will make an exception for comics with iconic covers (which usually end up getting framed and mounted on my office wall). 

As a Peacemaker fan, here is a subjective list of 'must-have' Peacemaker covers (or let's at least gaze adoringly at them):  

1. The Peacemaker #1 & 2 (1967)

Peacemaker's first ever appearance was in Fightin' 5 #40 -- a comic book published by Charlton Comics in 1966. He received his own Charlton Comics solo title in 1967. The Peacemaker #1 is noteworthy since it's his first cover appearance on a comic book; hence it's a very iconic cover to fans of the character. He's running, he's holding a gun, there's aircraft and armed vehicles moving all around him -- it's going to be a good time. 

Because most casual comic collectors only target the first issue of a series, issue #2 is often overlooked.  In my humble opinion, the cover to The Peacemaker #2 is far superior to the cover of the first issue (keeping in mind they were both done by the same artist). Sure, it's just a headshot, but the details of his faceplate and helmet have been improved, there's highly-detailed aircraft crashing and shooting at each other, and the red background really make the foreground items 'pop'. Thankfully, if you're looking to collect these issues, Modern Comics reprinted them in 1978 and they are substantially cheaper than the 1967 Charlton Comics originals.

The Peacemaker #1 cover illustrated by co-creator Pat Boyette

The Peacemaker #2 cover also illustrated by Pat Boyette

2. Vigilante #36 (1986)

Without a doubt, 1985's Crisis On Infinite Earths #6 is Peacemaker's first appearance in the DCU... but it's a single panel of Peacemaker yelling in the rain. Not very exciting. So, while COIE #6 is technically Peacemaker's first appearance, we really get a sense of who/what he is in 1986's Vigilante #36. This is actually a really great issue on it's own merits. Written by Paul Kupperberg, pencilled by Denys Cowan and inked by Kyle Baker, we are introduced to Peacemaker: an unhinged government black ops agent who hears voices in his helmet and systematically neutralizes a crew of plane-jacking terrorists. Mike Grell (The Warlord, Green Arrow: Longbow Hunters) illustrated this dynamic cover, and this issue delivers exactly what the cover promises. This is how you make an entrance.

Vigilante #36 cover illustrated by Mike Grell

3. Peacemaker #2 & #3 (1988)

After his big debut in Vigilante, Peacemaker got his own solo 4-issue mini-series in 1988 written by Paul Kupperberg. I've actually reviewed this mini back in 2017 and, upon a quick re-read of the review, it still holds up. On a personal note, I cannot stand the cover of the first issue of this mini-series: it's a very large close-up of Peacemaker's face, who -- for some reason -- has a large, exaggerated chin. It's as if Jay Leno was wearing the Peacemaker helmet. [I'm not posting the cover -- you can go look it up yourself.] Instead, I will focus on my two favorite covers from this mini: issue #2 and #3. Issue #2 has Peacemaker posing heroically, guns blazing in each hand as enemy bullets bounce off his chest. I don't think anything can make this more 'action hero' other than a large American flag waving in the wind behind him. Issue #3 has Peacemaker getting 'the last shot in' as he flies away heroically while Doctor Tzin-Tzin's large, superimposed head watches on in rage -- a very dynamic image fitting for a action film poster. All four covers of the mini were illustrated by Tod Smith

Cover of Peacemaker #2 illustrated by Tod Smith

Cover of Peacemaker #3 illustrated by Tod Smith

4. Suicide Squad #28 (1989)

The Janus Directive was a 1989 cross-over event that ended up becoming a huge fracas between the Suicide Squad, the Checkmate Organization, Task Force X, Peacemaker, the Captain Atom Project, The Force of July, Manhunter and... possibly Firestorm? [It's been a while since I read it.] Anyways, Peacemaker is featured prominently on a few covers of this 11-issue cross-over, and my favorite is Suicide Squad #28 (part 4 of the event) which moves at a fever pace and has a bunch of well-deserved slugfests. This Karl Kesel-illustrated cover is really striking -- Peacemaker has both Duchess and Major Force in his target sights, but who is he aiming at? A really great cover for a really great cross-over event proving once again that Peacemaker usually looks best when holding some sort of firearm.

Cover of Suicide Squad #28 illustrated by Karl Kesel.


5. Showcase '93 #6 (1993)

It's 1993 and DC has decided to give the superhero anthology comic another kick at the can. Showcase '93 was a twelve-issue maxi-series meant to spotlight DC characters who had fallen by the wayside, with a healthy dose of Batman Family thrown in (to wit, issues #7 - 8 were Batman: Knightfall tie-ins). To DC fans who were more interested in the non-mainstream characters, Showcase '93 brought us some really entertaining stuff -- most notably a 6-part Peacemaker story (written by Mike Baron) in which he teams up with Deathstroke, KatanaDeadshot, and Dr. Light to take down Kobra. This cover was drawn by Mike Zeck. In the 80s, Zeck drew a ton of covers for Marvel's Captain America and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comics. In the early 90s, Zeck was drawing Deathstoke, the Terminator covers. Zeck's illustration of Peacemaker on this cover captures the character's smug, self-important look that would be evident for a man who believes he is defending peace by killing for it. The blue hue is a really nice touch, as well.

Cover illustrated by Mike Zeck.
Note: Robin, Blue Devil and Peacemaker do NOT appear in a story together.

6. Eclipso #11 (1993)

After 1992's Eclipso: The Darkness Within cross-over event, Eclipso received an ongoing series (written by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Flemming) detailing his quest to finish killing off mankind. After Eclipso takes over a small Latin American country, Amanda Waller assembles a team of 'fringe' DCU heroes to take down Eclipso. Peacemaker is one of the heroes recruited for Waller's squad (aptly named 'The Shadow Fighters'). I originally thought this was a Bart Sears cover. It is not. This cover was pencilled by Audwynn Jermaine Newman and inked by Ray Kryssing. [Sears pencilled the first three issues of this series before moving on to another project, hence my confusion.] This cover stands out to me simply for the fact that Peacemaker is front & centre, he's jacked and carrying ridiculously oversized firearms, all while being flanked by the rest of the Shadow Fighters. This is DC comics encapsulating the 'extreme 90s' in one cover: Peacemaker is the action hero we NEED. Too bad The Shadow Fighters only lasted three issues.


Cover of Eclipso #11 pencilled by Audwynn Jermaine Newman and inked by Ray Kryssing

7. Inferior Five #1 - Jeff Lemire variant cover (2019)

Keith Giffen and Jeff Lemire's limited series about the Inferior Five joining forces with Peacemaker was meant to be a twelve-issue maxi-series, but was cut down to 6 issues due to COVID. In fact, issue #5 and #6 were only released digitally. I like this variant cover for two reasons: Lemire illustrated it, and it's got a Dominator on it (these were one of the alien races trying to invade earth in DC's 1988 Invasion! cross-over event). Really, it's a throwback to the era of DC comics that I loved reading. Lemire also grew up reading DC comics in the 80s, and our co-editor, Mark Belkin, interviewed him about his love for that era


Well, that's it, folks! Can't wait to see what John Cena and HBO Max has in store for us.


Sunday, January 2, 2022

2021: A Year In Review

 A lot of BIG things happened in comics this year, but we're pretty single-focused on DC comics (and it's characters and creators) from the 80s, so we're mainly going to target on that. See anything missing from this list? Drop us a comment below.

January 8th: Steve Lightle, best known for his work on Doom Patrol and Legion Of Super-Heroes, passed away. He had a passion for comics -- he never stopped creating. I believe he was his self-published Justin Zane was the last project he worked on. He will be greatly missed.

January: Netflix reveals it's first casting announcement for the new Sandman series it is developing. Still no word on a launch date, but fandom interest in Neil Gaiman's Sandman Universe is picking up.

March: With an announcement of a new Suicide Squad 2 film, fandom has a renewed interest in King SharkBloodsport and Peacemaker. Superman v2 #4 surges in value as collectors are buying up the first appearance of Bloodsport.

April 2nd: Warner Bros. announces that it has canceled development of the New Gods film slated to be directed by Ava DuVernay. The reason? It would create continuity issues with Zack Snyder's Justice League film.

April 13th: DC releases the massive, 1320-page Who's Who Omnibus volume 1. This reprints the first 26 issues of the 1985 Who's Who series, the 5 issues from the '87 Update, the 4 issues from the '88 Update and the Who's Who entries from the 1989 annuals. This is the first time DC has reprinted all of these issues in one tome, and this 8-pound hardcover book will surely cause your bookshelf to buckle. 

May 2nd: Comic book artist Jean Paul Leon passed away after a 14-year battle with cancer. From 1993 to 1995, JPL was heavily involved with the DC Milestone titles (Static, Shadow Cabinet, etc...)  

May 19th: David Anthony Kraft, writer for Marvel and DC Comics as well as founder of Comics Interview magazine, passed away. We chatted a few times on FB messenger (I even got a chance to show him my collection of Savage She-Hulk comics he wrote), but alas I was never able to lock down a time for that all-important interview I was hoping to have with him someday.

June 14th: Ty Templeton (Booster Gold, Justice League America, Batman Adventures) revealed that he has cancer stage-three colorectal cancer. Our thoughts are with Ty and his family during these difficult times.

July: Wild Dog depicted as a January 6th Capitol insurrectionist in Brain Azzarello/Alex Maleev's Suicide Squad: Get Joker?!? Neither Terry Beatty nor Max Allan Collins (the original creators of Wild Dog) were very pleased with this. 

July: Blue & Gold, a comic book series recounting the misadventures of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold that has been hinted at since the early 90s, finally hit the shelves.... and it's written by Dan Jurgens

August 12th: Robin (Tim Drake) outed as a bisexual by DC comics.

August: DC Pride #1 debuts and introduces Justice League Queer (members include Tasmanian Devil of the Global Guardians, The Ray and Extrano of the New Guardians).

August: The new Black Adam film (starring Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam) that has been hinted at since 2014 confirms that Dr. Fate, Hawkman and members of Justice Society of America (Atom Smasher, so far) have been confirmed and cast for the film. This is exciting for all sorts of reasons.

August: Eclipso makes his television debut as the newest villain on the second season of Stargirl. Kind of makes you want to dig out those Eclipso: The Darkness Within tie-in books now, eh?

August: DC launches Batman '89 -- a much anticipated comic book series following the events of Tim Burton's Batman Returns (written by Sam Hamm and illustrated by Joe Quinones).

September: HBO Max announces that a Peacemaker series is launching soon. As if he wasn't a hot enough commodity already... Peacemaker might be a household name by mid-2022.

September: Madame Rogue, Monsieur Mallah, Brain and Garguax are confirmed to appear in season three of Doom Patrol. It's only a matter of time before Warp, Houngan, Plasmus and Phobia join the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil

October: DC launches the Superman '78 comic book series. In the same vein as Batman '89, this series picks up where Superman II left off. It's pretty safe to guess that Superman IV's Radioactive Man will NOT be making an appearance. Written by Robert Vendetti and illustrated by Wilfredo Torres

October: HBO Max reveals that Vigilante will be appearing in the new Peacemaker series. After scoping out the Peacemaker & Vigilante featurette, I'm pretty confident that this won't be the Adrian Chase Vigilante grim crusader of justice we all grew up reading about, but will be more of a goofy BFF to Peacemaker.

December 7th: George Perez, best known for his work on New Teen Titans and his Wonder Woman relaunch in the 80s (among many many other things), reveals that he has inoperable Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer and estimates that he has 6 months to 1 year left to live. We at DC in the 80s are truly heart-broken to hear this.


-Infinity Inc. will get a new ongoing series (since half of the roster is already appearing on CW's Stargirl). It will probably be nothing like the 1984 ongoing series we all knew and loved.

-There are rumors that Brian Bendis is currently working on a Legion of Super-Heroes adult animated TV series. LOSH fans around the world will celebrate, everybody else will have trouble understanding it.

-Neil Gaiman's Sandman will become even more popular than it already was. Expect spin-offs.

-DC Black Label will be the imprint to watch for. Brilliant creators + nostalgic characters = my hard-earned dollars. (Have you had a chance to check out The Other History of the DC Universe, yet?) I just hope they go back to comic-sized versus magazine-sized.

-The new Batman film (starring Robert Pattison) will cause a renewed buzz around the Batman Universe. It will generate a lot of hype, but not as much as Batmania 89 did.


Addendum: added August's Black Adam casting announcement on February 8, 2022. Can't believe I forgot to include this the first time! -Justin