Peacemaker: Disturbing the Peace #1 Review: Reimagining DC Comics' Next Great Anti-Hero

Peacemaker's current comics revival isn't predicated on fond memories of past stories; Peacemaker's most notable contribution at DC Comics is providing a spark of an idea for The Comedian in Watchmen. Prior to the current decade he appeared primarily in supporting and only one miniseries of his own in the 1980s, none of which require much if any comment. Yet in the past couple of years the publisher has dedicated themselves to increasing his profile as actor John Cena delivers a take more memorable than anything seen in the comics on both the big and small screens in The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, respectively. The result is the inverse of almost every superhero adaptation with comics struggling to keep up with film, but if it means placing top-tier creators like writer Garth Ennis and artist Garry Brown on projects like Peacemaker: Disturbing the Peace then everyone's a winner.

The story opens with Christopher Smith, Peacemaker in his civvies, meeting Dr. Sedgewick, a military psychologist, at a cemetary to discuss his file. Although the cemetery is clearly not Arlington, the endless rows of neatly stacked tombstones evokes parallels between the two. Sedgewick and Smith proceed to discuss Peacemaker's career beginning with the death of his family at age 9 and continuing through mysterious deaths surrounding Smith's adolescence and entire military career. Wherever Peacemaker goes, death follows.

In the course of their conversation, readers are led to consider all of the concerns that led Dr. Sedgewick to this evaluation. The pattern is undeniable and it's never a question as to whether Smith is a mass murderer, it's simply of question of why and how early it began. Ennis' familiar flourishes with violence paint those suggestions even when they're not clearly displayed on the page – the details of Smith's family's murder-suicide are particularly gruesome. It creates a world where you expect the absolute worst and Smith's calm resolve in discussion becomes something deeply disquieting.

Brown matches this tone perfectly. The cold, distant look of resolve on Smith's face and the brief explosions of gruesome violence in flashback suggest he would have been perfectly suited to Ennis' renowned Punisher run. Even absurdly exaggerated characters, like the Natural Born Killers pair of Shooter and Slinky, are given an appropriate scale of humanity so their inevitable deaths aren't treated with a laugh. There are more monsters than moralists in this narrative, but Brown ensures that each moment of violence carries weight. When he delivers a spread or repeats a trope from earlier in the issue, the effect is consistently astonishing and sometimes stomach-churning.

Disturbing the Peace embraces the horrific irony of Peacemaker's ethos: Peace at any cost. It funnels that concept through two creators who excel at addressing stories of violence and inhumanity. While comparisons to The Punisher are bound to surface, Ennis and Brown do excellent work in carving out a unique space for this underutilized anti-hero and deliver a very compelling hook. The result is an impressive one-shot that applies elements of horror and action to create one of the most twisted reintroductions of a DC Comics character in many years and, despite the terror and ugliness on the page, it's hard to resist wanting more Peacemaker for the first time in the character's comics history. 

Published by DC Comics

On January 25, 2022

Written by Garth Ennis

Art by Garry Brown

Colors by Lee Loughridge

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Letters by Rob Steen

Cover by Juan Ferreyra