With the news that John Cena is playing Peacemaker in the upcoming James Gunn sequel, The Suicide Squad, it’s worth examining who the character is and how he got to the movie. The easy answer is he jumped backwards out of a balloon to assassinate the president, and in case you can’t tell, I’m really excited to talk about Multiversity again.
WHO IS PEACEMAKER?
He’s The Comedian.
Seriously, Peacemaker was the character Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons based The Comedian on in Watchmen. He was one of the Charlton characters purchased by DC in the ‘80s, introduced to the DC Universe post-Crisis on Infinite Earths. He was originally created in the mid ‘60s in a backup strip with Fightin 5, and never really made that much of an impression. But even though he wouldn’t have the impact that his Watchmen analogue would, he sill managed to make some waves in the DCU proper.
Christopher Smith was a delusional vigilante, fighting dictators and warlords and claiming he was doing pacifism to them. He was later revealed to have a mental illness relating to his Nazi death camp overseer father, and trying to compensate for the shame. That would eventually lead him to work for Checkmate, one of the premier superspy organizations in the DC universe.
SO WHY IS HE IN SUICIDE SQUAD?
Because they fought a bunch back in the comics era that The Suicide Squad seems to be drawing heavily from. He originally worked for The Agency, a spy bureau headed by the former Negative Woman (of the Doom Patrol). It was later retconned to be a cutout of a cutout of Task Force X (the proper name of the Suicide Squad).
During that time, the entire metahuman spy community came into conflict – Checkmate, Task Force X, Project Atom, the Force of July. They were being manipulated by Kobra, a Hydra-esque cult of snake worshippers. And, of course, they all fought. Later, he was a member of a team of heroes sent to battle Eclipso under the direction of the Suicide Squad’s boss, Amanda Waller. Almost all of them died.
So he’s steeped in DC’s superspy world. Also he killed Vigilante.
WHAT’S THIS ABOUT KILLING A PRESIDENT?
What’s that? “Go read Multiversity again?” I SUPPOSE.
The long version of the story of Multiversity: Pax Americana involves the Charlton characters and Watchmen talking to each other and folding in on themselves, in a comic book that was designed to be read in multiple different directions and demands multiple essays looking at various the story through the eyes of the various characters in it. The short version of the story is Peacemaker killed President Harley as part of Harley’s plan to defeat Death, but that plan involved Captain Atom who had been removed from Earth 8 by a micro black hole formed in his brain while he was reading a later issue of Multiversity in a supercollider, so the plan might have been foiled. It sounds crazy, and to be honest, it is, but it’s also an absolute masterpiece of superhero comics.
And that’s the weird thing about Peacemaker: he hasn’t been in a lot of comics, but he’s been in a disproportionate amount of very good ones. The era of books when he was a member of Checkmate is one of the high points of DC comics, with John Ostrander and Kim Yale’s Suicide Squad being one of the best series DC has ever published. Same goes for Multiversity. And of course, his descendant the Comedian was in arguably the best comic of all time, Watchmen. So simple math says there’s a good chance that The Suicide Squad turns out pretty good.
The Suicide Squad opens on Aug. 6, 2021.