When the roster for James Gunn's Task Force X in The Suicide Squad was officially revealed to the world it came with it some surprising additions, including characters that hadn't appeared on the team in the pages of DC Comics. On that list, and front and center for the new movie, is John Cena's Peacemaker, a character whose place in the canon might have been forgotten if Gunn hadn't decided to put him in the new film. With the arrival of Peacemaker in the film, one of the biggest cornerstones of comic book history is being put into the spotlight because unlike fellow teammates Harley Quinn and King Shark (who first appeared in the 1990s and 2000s), Peacemaker goes back almost six decades.
Though not as old of a comic book character as Rick Flag (first appearing in 1959) or The Thinker (comic debut in the 1940s), Peacemaker initially showed up in a comic called The Fightin' 5 #40 back in 1966. Created by writer Joe Gill and artist Pat Boyette, the character's whole shtick as a peace-seeking diplomat was by any means necessary, frequently meaning violence and killing as his preferred methods. Tragically The Fightin' 5 would end just one issue later but Peacemaker himself would spin off into his own solo title (which only lasted five issues).
Unlike all the other characters that are in The Suicide Squad though, Christopher Smith AKA Peacemaker was originally not a creation of DC Comics. Upon his publication and debut, Smith's debut in Fightin' 5 #40 made him part of the Charlton line of comics, joining a roster of heroes that included Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question, all of whom were acquired by DC in the 1980s.
A minor piece of trivia, the original version of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's Watchmen was to use these characters before DC decided against using the heroes in an R-Rated plot. As such, new characters were created but based on the Charlton comic counterparts, so Peacemaker became The Comedian.
DC would finally give Peacemaker his own series in the late 1980s with a four-issue miniseries written by Paul Kupperberg and featuring art by Tod Smith, which from the very beginning leans into his madness as he attempts to save diplomats from terrorists, killing all of them and resulting in none of the hostages being saved. Appearances by Smith would be sporadic after this, appearing in a few panels in the pages of Checkmate, 52, and most recently Doomsday Clock. Peacemaker was also a major part of the "Pax Americana" issue of Grant Morrison's The Multiversity, an issue taking place on Earth-4 with the other Charlton characters.
Two other Peacemakers have appeared in the pages of DC Comics with "Peacemaker II" appearing in the pages of Justice League International and just a couple of other comics (they went unnamed). A third Peacemaker, Mitchell Black, would debut in the Living Assault Weapons #1 in 1999, appearing alongside the other Charlton heroes. With his upcoming appearance in The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker marks just the second Charlton character to be realized in live-action and the first to appear in a feature film (Sebastian Spence starred as Ted Kord in season ten of Smallville).
Following his time on the big screen, Cena will reprise his role of Peacemaker in a self-titled TV show for HBO Max (scheduled to arrive in the first part of 2022). The character being part of the team in the film has also already had an effect on the composition of Task Force X in DC comics with the most recent new volume of Suicide Squad featuring Peacemaker front and center as the leader of the team. Peacemaker will seemingly continue to have a big place in publishing moving forward as his profile will only continue to grow thanks to how much WarnerMedia is banking on the public loving Cena and Gunn's live-action version. Don't be surprised when the first solo Peacemaker comic in over 30 years is revealed eventually!
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