Last week's Peacemaker premiere dropped three episodes of the new DC series on audiences, giving a glimpse into the world of Christopher Smith, the unhinged antihero originated by John Cena in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad last year. The show's second episode, though, featured a fun little Easter egg that pays tribute to the character's comic book roots going all the way back to his earliest appearances. Created by writer Joe Gill and artist Pat Boyette, the character first appeared in Fightin' #5 in 1966, from publisher Charlton Comics, the home of a number of superheroes still remembered by fans today.
That's in part because Charlton's library of characters was bought up by DC in the 1980s, and incorporated into the larger DC Universe around the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths. That means a number of Charlton characters, including Peacemaker and Blue Beetle, have been hanging around the DC multiverse in various forms in the time since.
So when you see police cars in the second episode of Peacemaker emblazoned with the name "Charlton County," it's a nice little nod to the character's pre-DC roots.
Ironically, the most famous story involving Charlton characters was told after Charlton folded, and doesn't feature Charlton characters at all, per se.
That's because Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade, Peacemaker, The Question, and Thunderbolt were the basis for the characters of Nite-Owl, Dr. Manhattan, Silk Spectre, The Comedian, Rorschach, and Ozymandias in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen. Originally pitched as the story that would introduce the Charlton characters to the DC Universe, the story goes that DC saw Watchmen's potential to be a great stand-alone story, but did not want to immediately kill or radically change all of these characters they had just bought.
So, Watchmen became a standalone story with similar characters slotted into the roles of the Charlton heroes, and the Charlton characters debuted in less prestigious places around the DCU. That history was commented upon, in a strange way, when Rick Flag's dying words in The Suicide Squad – "Peacemaker -- what a joke" -- echoed The Comedian's "life's a joke" monologue in Watchmen.
Peacemaker has been a fixture in various iterations of the Suicide Squad, but beyond him, the most prominent Charlton character is Blue Beetle. Throuh various iterations over the years, Beetle has played significant roles in the DC Universe for years, including serving as a member of the Justice League during its critically-acclaimed run in the late '80s and early '90s.
Peacemaker is currently available on HBO Max.