DEADSHOT!

Back before Geoff Johns and Gail Simone were around to revitalize under appreciated characters, you went to one man: John Ostrander (and credit where credit is due, a good deal of said revitalizing was done hand in hand with his wife, the late Kim Yale). Their most notable revitalization of course was the turning of Barbara Gordon from crippled ex-Batgirl into the DCU’s premiere computer hacker, Oracle. But the one I always liked best was the excellent work done creating a background for perennial Bat-rogue C-lister Deadshot.

Deadshot’s first appearance was in the issue above. That’s right: Deadshot has been around since the 50s. It’s just that in the beginning, he was nothing like the Deadshot we came to know from the 70s and 80s Batman and Suicide Squad comics. Floyd Lawton was a millionaire playboy who dressed up in a tuxedo, top hat, and domino mask and fought crime with a pair of six shooters. Only while he was fighting crime, he was really running his own crime ring to replace the competition he arrested. The dope. Batman quickly figured out his scheme, and Deadshot then rotted in the jail of comic limbo until 1977, when Steve Englehart brought him into modern times and put him in the featureless, wrist gun packing suit we all know and love.

Still, even then Deadshot didn’t have much of a personality, pretty much just serving as a generic amoral assassin who’s main personality trait was that he never dropped an assignment once he had been paid. Half the time his role could have been filled by Merlyn or any other DCU assassin. It was really once Ostrander got his hands on him in the pages of Suicide Squad and gave him a death wish that the character gained some dimensions. Most specifically in the 4 issue Deadshot miniseries that spun out of SS in 1988.

The entire Lawton family history was revealed, and suffice to say that it not only explained his lackadaisical death wish, but it also explained his love/hate relationship with Squad leader Rick Flag, and gave a plausible explanation as to why the man who never missed could never hit the Batman (who once noted in the pages of SS that Deadshot always pulled his shots when facing him): as a child, he accidentally shot and killed the older brother he idolized when trying to stop him from shooting the father they both hated. Both Flag and Batman subconsciously served as surrogate versions of his brother, to the point that shortly after his series had ended and he had returned to the pages of SS, he snapped while trying to stop Flag from shooting a corrupt senator and started calling Flag by his brothers name: the situation mirrored the childhood trauma he had just relived while trying (and failing) to prevent the death of his kidnapped son, who he had named after his brother. I’m barely even scratching the surface here, but you can see how much more complicated this stuff was than just “pay me, I kill a guy”.

Deadshot continued on in the Squad from there until the end of the series, after which he pretty much returned to being just another DCU assassin, with sporadic returns whenever someone tried to bring back the Squad, as well as an awful out of character bit in Underworld Unleashed when he tried to blow up a school full of kids. The less said about that, the better. He did however turn up in animated form in a couple episodes of the awesome Justice League cartoon; once trying to assassinate Aquaman and later on in an episode that actually featured the Suicide Squad! He also gained a little bit of Batman Begins/Dark Knight related fame courtesy of his being featured in the animated Batman: Gotham Knight dvd, which was meant to tie the two together.

In 2005, Deadshot was given another mini-series of his own, introducing a second child he never knew about, whose existence inspired him to try and clean up her crime ridden neighborhood, planting him back firmly in the anti-hero camp. Of course, he was also given a goofy, Wild Dog-esque costume, but fortunately he remained the Floyd people knew and loved from the pages of SS. From there he showed up in Villains United, once again joining an SS initialed team as part of the Secret Six (which spun off into it’s own series and quickly became one of DC’s best ongoing titles, and in my opinion the spiritual successor to Ostrander’s Squad), where he found a new surrogate brother in teammate Catman, himself a revitalized Batman C-lister (courtesy of Gail Simone, who has since teamed up with Ostrander on Deadshot/Suicide Squad/Secret Six related stories many times), and it’s there he remains.

*phew*

I’m spent like a shell casing.

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