Gun Happy New Year: A History of Deadshot

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Over the past few years, DC Comics’ chain-smoking master assassin Deadshot, one of Batman’s second-tier rogues, has gained popularity—appearing in more comic books than ever and in multiple TV and cinema incarnations, notably portrayed by Will Smith in David Ayer’s high-grossing but critically-panned Suicide Squad (2016). Say what you will about the Ayer film or Smith’s portrayal, it’s nice to see Deadshot finally get his due. He is pretty damn cool and quite fascinating, especially when you deconstruct his serial killer psyche in a way not dissimilar to something seen in the Mindhunters TV show. In 2009, IGN ranked Deadshot in its Top 50 Greatest Comic Book Villains of All Time. Despite Deadshot’s growing popularity he still seems to sometimes get confused with the popular character Deathstroke, DC’s other top marksman and hitman, who happens to wear a similar costume as well. Some fans might be surprised to learn that Deadshot actually pre-dates Deathstroke by a full thirty years, first appearing in the pages of Batman comics way back in 1950. (Deadshot also pre-dates Marvel’s similarly-styled highly-popular assassins-for-hire characters Deadpool and Bullseye by forty-one years and twenty-six years, respectively.) It’s clear to see that Deadshot has influenced many creators over the years. Without Deadshot, who knows whether or not we’d even have Deathstroke, Bullseye, or Deadpool.

DC Comics is ushering in 2018 with a special New Year’s Eve story in Trinity Vol. 2 #16 (by Rob Williams, V Ken Marion, Sandu Florea, and Dinei Ribeiro) featuring a team-up of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Deadshot. Let’s join in the fun and help DC celebrate the season by honoring 68 years of the man they call Deadshot! Because Deadshot has been around for such a long amount of time, there’s a lot of material featuring the character and there’s a lot to be said about him.

This first part of this piece will look at Deadshot’s canonical chronology from his Golden Age debut in 1950 up until the end of John Ostrander’s fantastic run on Suicide Squad in 1992. The second part of this piece will examine the chronological narrative history of Deadshot from 1993 up to the New 52 Flashpoint reboot in 2011. The third part of this piece will look at Deadshot’s chronological New 52 and Rebirth appearances, meaning all his comic book appearances from 2011 to now.

Deadshot has come a long way since the 50s, that’s for certain—especially when it comes to synergistic transmedia appearances. He’s appeared in numerous TV shows and movies over the years. Michael Rosenbaum voiced him in the animated Justice League and Justice League Unlimited TV shows. Tom Kenny provided a voice for him in the animated Batman: The Brave and The Bold TV show. Christian Slater voiced him in the animated Justice League Action TV show. In regard to live-action TV appearances, Bradley Stryker played Deadshot on Smallville while Michael Rowe played him on Arrow and The Flash. In cinema, Jim Meskimen voiced the character in the animated Batman: Gotham Knight while Neal McDonough voiced him in the animated Batman: Assault on Arkham. Deadshot also briefly appears (without speaking) in the animated Superman/Batman: Public Enemies film. Deadshot also appears in at least eight video games. Most famously, as mentioned above, Will Smith played Deadshot in Suicide Squad.

But where did it all start for Floyd Lawton? What’s the full story? It started, as we’ve already said, in 1950—with good ol’ American sequential art. Let’s take a gander at the long and amazing chronological history of DC Comics’ Deadshot, shall we?

OG Deadshot Batman #59

Lew Sayre Schwartz (with David Vern Reed) creates Deadshot for the June-July 1950 issue of Batman #59. (Schwartz, a longtime DC illustrator and Bob Kane’s primary ghost artist, also is the creator of Killer Moth and Mad Hatter.) Deadshot’s secret identity is Floyd Lawton, a debonaire wealthy socialite not unlike Bruce Wayne. While Bruce and Dick are away on vacation, Floyd snaps on a domino mask and debuts as a gun-toting tuxedo-clad superhero, quickly becoming the toast of the town—so much so that Commissioner Gordon puts a Bulls-eye Signal on the police headquarters roof right next the to Bat Signal! Upon meeting Deadshot, Batman and Robin are immediately suspicious of Gordon’s new golden boy. After working a few cases with Deadshot, Batman and Robin are able to figure out his secret ID and his true intentions: to become ultimate crime lord of Gotham. Before setting up a ruse to lure Deadshot into a confrontation, Batman rigs the sniper’s guns so that they won’t aim correctly. During the ensuing confrontation, Deadshot is shocked to have missed his target—something he’s never done before. In shambles, Batman exposes him as a fraud and sends him to jail.

Deadshot next makes a cameo in Detective Comics #169 (by
Lew Sayre Schwartz, Bob Kane, and Charles Paris, March 1951), which sees Batman, serving as temporary warden of Gotham State Prison, checking-in on Floyd in his cell. This is a fun little appearance that most of the internet seems to be unaware of.

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It’s not until the Silver Age that we see Deadshot again, specifically in Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers’ superb classic “Strange Apparitions” arc. In Detective Comics #474 (Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers, Terry Austin, and Jerry Serpe, December 1977), we are introduced to the more recognizable version of the character as Floyd debuts his signature red-and-gray assassin costume complete with wrist-mounted guns—although, thanks to the magic of flashbacks, Deadshot’s tuxedo-wearing origin story is canonized for the Silver Age. Englehart and Rogers designed Deadshot’s wrist guns based on real life “sleeve guns” manufactured during World War II by the British Army. Breaking out of jail, Deadshot adds his signature laser-monocle to his new costume, which is actually a gizmo he steals from Penguin! The next day, at the Gotham Convention Center, Bruce meets with paramour Silver St. Cloud and Commissioner Gordon. By night, Batman is fighting Deadshot, who wants revenge, at the convention center, which features an exhibit of old-school Golden Age-style oversized items. Deadshot’s revenge plot fails as he is defeated by Batman.

detective comics 518 deadshot cover

In the follow-up—Batman #351 (by Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz, and Gene Colan September 1982), Detective Comics #518-520 (by Conway, Levitz, and Don Newton, September 1982-November 1982), and Batman #354 (by Conway and Newton, December 1982)—Deadshot gets out of prison thanks to help from crime boss Rupert Thorne and corrupt government officials, including a crooked prison warden, Commissioner Peter Pauling (who has replaced Gordon), and Mayor Hamilton Hill. Accepting a hit on Bruce Wayne, Deadshot stalks his victim, who is actually Christopher Chance aka The Human Target, an amazing Len Wein/Carmine Infantino character that mimics would-be victims in order to turn the tables on their would-be assassins. Shortly thereafter, Gerry Conway introduces a bit of complexity that will be attached to Deadshot’s character for the next 35 years: his gray role as antihero/potential hero. Batman pulls Deadshot out of prison and interrogates him as they take a ride in the Batmobile. Deadshot plays ball and names names, an act that ultimately causes the downfall (and death) of Pauling in Batman #354. After spilling the beans, Deadshot winds up imprisoned in the Batcave, which leads to some awesome banter between Floyd and an annoyed Alfred.

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It’s not long before the precocious Deadshot pops back up again in Batman’s world. In Batman #369 (by Doug Moench, Don Newton, Alfredo Alcala, and Adrienne Roy, March 1984) and Detective Comics #536 (Moench, Gene Colan, Bob Smith, and Roy, March 1984), Floyd, once again free from prison, accepts a lucrative hit on none other than Alfred and his daughter Julia Pennyworth. Deadshot attacks them in Montreal, which brings the Dark Knight a-calling. Shortly thereafter, Batman once again saves the day and busts Deadshot, who makes a false claim that Julia’s recently-deceased adoptive dad was behind the hit. En route to jail, Deadshot escapes into the Montreal sewers, prompting Alfred and Julia to chase after him. Eventually, Batman, Alfred, and Julia take down Deadshot and the real perps, a Syrian terrorist organization comprised of art thieves.

We next see Deadshot along with dozens of other super-villains in the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths—and similarly along with dozens of other super-villains in Batman #400. In Crisis, The Creeper bests Deadshot. In Batman #400, Talia al Ghul gets the better of Deadshot. And that’s all she wrote for the character’s Earth-1 and Earth-2 existence. The Crisis sweeps it all away and delivers the Modern Age of comics. Deadshot might be a bit player in the Golden Age, Silver Age, and Bronze Age, but, as we will see, Deadshot officially joins the big leagues after 1986.

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In the rebooted post-Crisis continuity, all of Deadshot’s previous history is more or less kept intact. However, for the first time ever, Deadshot branches-out, leaving his role as B-list Batman rogue to become a DCU journeyman that is paradoxically both a sympathetic loving father and a stone cold sociopath who dwells in the darkest reaches of comic book villainy. Deadshot’s first Modern Age appearance is in the Legends crossover (by John Ostrander, Len Wein, John Byrne, Karl Kesel, and Tom Ziuko, November 1986 to May 1987), which also debuts the Suicide Squad, a team with which Deadshot will be forever associated. The Suicide Squad is a team of rotating incarcerated super-villains forced to undertake secret missions for the US military. They are controlled by Task Force X, a clandestine government organization run by the notorious Amanda Waller. The Suicide Squad program supposedly offers super-villains a clean slate in exchange for joining, but the devious Waller will rarely ever grant the prize, sending her “heroes” on mission after deadly mission. Interestingly enough, in Legends, Waller does honor her promise, but Deadshot shows his masochistic nature, choosing to remain on the team. This is the first inkling of Floyd’s personal death-wish—a compulsive desire to be killed in an over-the-top way. Deadshot also shows his sadistic side as well as he has no qualms about executing his own teammates. And thus begins Ostrander’s start with the Suicide Squad and Deadshot, an excellent run that will span nearly six years.

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Suicide Squad #1-4 (by John Ostrander, Luke McDonnell, Karl Kesel, and Carl Gafford, May 1987-August 1987) begins the legendary development of Deadshot’s character. In Louisiana, Deadshot joins his fellow Bell Reve Penitentiary inmates—Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress, Nemesis, Nightshade, Plastique, Rick Flag, Karin Grace, and Mindboggler—on the first Suicide Squad lineup. Even in the first four issues of the highly acclaimed series, the team changes lineups and suffers losses (a trend that will continue for decades to come), as they face-off against the aptly named Jihadist group known as The Jihad and then some Darkseid cronies. We see Deadshot, when told to take some one down, use the most brutal and damaging force possible. Even given plenty of non-lethal options, this sick puppy will choose to kill, kill, kill. Amazingly, Deadshot then disguises himself as racist ideologue William Hell (a childhood friend of his) in order to discredit the asshole at a White Power rally.

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Not long after the debut of the Suicide Squad, Ostrander continues Deadshot’s tale in the pages of Firestorm Vol. 2 #64 and Firestorm Vol. 2 Annual #5 (October 1987). In this mini-arc, Firestorm vows to eradicate all of the nuclear warheads on the planet, so the US government sends Captain Atom and the Suicide Squad—Rick Flag, Killer Frost, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Multiplex, and Slipknot—to fight him. The Justice League then gets involved in what becomes an all-out war against Parasite, who has been unleashed by the Suicide Squad. Eventually, Firestorm combats Russia’s own nuclear man Pozhar and merges with him.

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Suicide Squad #5-8 (continued by Ostrander et al, September 1987-December 1987) sees the team—joined by Penguin—venture into Soviet Russia to combat the KGB! We learn that Deadshot is fluent in Russian and a communist. When the US government catches wind of Waller’s mission, she is forced to abort. The Suicide Squad gets out of dodge, but Nemesis is captured by The People’s Heroes. Back behind Belle Reve bars, Deadshot and his Squad pals deal with the machinations of Derek Tolliver, Task Force X’s dubious NSC liaison. The team eagerly wants to rescue Nemesis, but Waller won’t (and can’t) give the green light. In a Bell Reve therapy session, Deadshot kisses his doctor, Marnie Herrs. A bit of sexual tension will last between the two, moving forward.

Deadshot, as part of his new journeyman status with the Suicide Squad, obviously shows up for DC’s next big mega-crossover Millennium (1987-1988), in which we discover that loved ones and close friends of the superheroes have been replaced by killer android Manhunters. (This is basically Marvel’s Secret Invasion done exactly twenty years earlier.) The Manhunters’ goal is to stop the Oanian/Zamaronian “Millennium Project,” a plan to birth a new superhero team that will defend the galaxy. The heroes learn about the “Millennium Project” and the Manhunter plot at a special meeting called to order by Hal Jordan at the Green Lantern Citadel. After debriefing, the war against the Manhunters officially begins on Earth and in outer space, with hundreds of heroes and villains involved, including the Suicide Squad. In the pages of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad #9 (January 1988), Deadshot and company face off against the Manhunters, finding that one of their own, Karin Grace has been replaced. Floyd gets a new opportunity to still be the bad boy that he is, but to also fight for a heroic cause. The antihero shines through here.

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Following the Millennium crossover, in Ostrander’s Suicide Squad #10 (February 1988), Batman learns about what the Suicide Squad is and he’s not happy about it. Already down South following the events of Millennium, Batman dons the Matches Malone disguise and infiltrates the Squad’s headquarters as an inmate in Belle Reve. While there, Batman fights the Suicide Squad and beats the entire team before confronting Waller, who threatens that she can easily discover his secret identity if she wants to. Batman backs down.

Next, Deadshot’s journey with the Suicide Squad continues in another small crossover, featuring Justice League International #13 (by Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, et al, May 1988) and Suicide Squad #13 (by the Ostrander team, May 1988).
In JLI #13, the Suicide Squad, against Waller’s orders, attempts a rescue of Nemesis in Russia, but the JLI is ready and waiting for them at the request of the president, who fears an international incident. The JLI and Suicide Squad square-off, but the former eventually comes to realize that Nemesis is wrongly imprisoned. The fight ends with a truce and team-up to save Nemesis, although a disgruntled Batman nearly cripples Rick Flag and quits the JLI (for the second time). Despite the protesting of the Russian government, Nemesis is given asylum at the JLI Russian Embassy and then secretly returned to the States.

Ostrander and McDonnell’s Suicide Squad #14-16 (June 1988-October 1988) details the “Nightshade Odyssey”—which sees the Squad explore the Nightshade Dimension (aka The Land of the Nightshades), a world of darkness and horror linked to team member Nightshade—and “Manhattan Massacre”—a single issue featuring the revenge attempt of the Jihad. In the first part, a chaotic battle against the demonic Incubus goes south when a hotheaded Deadshot shoots Incubus’ mortal host in the head, which sucks everyone into a black hole-like portal that takes them to the Zero-Zone (which is linked to the Phantom Zone). This eventually leads to Shade the Changing Man joining the team. Shortly thereafter, in the second part, much to Deadshot’s pleasure, the Squad gets a bloody rematch against the Jihad.

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Finally, due to his ever-increasing popularity, Deadshot is granted his very own solo series for the first time ever! Deadshot #1-4 (by Ostrander and McDonell, who are joined by Kim Yale, November 1988-December 1988). This series is notable because Ostrander and Yale start fleshing-out Floyd’s most defining traits, including expanding upon a running thread from Suicide Squad: his macabre death-wish. Deadshot, often shown as being bummed when he isn’t slaughtered on missions in the pages of Suicide Squad, will double down on this mentality after his solo series concludes. The Deadshot solo series not only further expands upon Deadshot’s character, but it also reveals that Floyd has a young son named Edward Lawton. Unfortunately, poor Edward gets raped and killed before story’s end. Yikes. Shaken to his core, Deadshot becomes even more detached from humanity, accepting his fate as a blind vengeful killing machine in the Punisher sense. In the end, Floyd winds up shooting and crippling his own mother. Deadshot also finally tells us what makes Floyd tick via a very troubled origin that dates back to his twisted childhood. When young Floyd’s abusive dad cheated on his mom, she tasked Floyd’s brother Eddie with killing their adulterous pop. Eddie wound up shooting their dad, paralyzing him for life. In the ensuing chaos, Floyd accidentally shot Eddie dead.

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The tragedy of the death of Floyd’s son and messed-up family affairs will continue to haunt him as his narrative continues uninterrupted through over fifty-five ongoing issues of Suicide Squad, from 1988 to 1990. In the big chunk of Suicide Squad #22-43, Ostrander and Yale guide Deadshot through the sinister underworld of corruption and malice that is the late 80s DCU. In Suicide Squad #22 (December 1988), the now completely unstable Deadshot assassinates a US senator and gets in a dogfight with Rick Flag, which leads to an emotional scene where Deadshot breaks down and gets riddled with bullets in front of the Lincoln Memorial. But our boy Floyd is a survivor, and he comes back for the “Phoenix Gambit” arc from Suicide Squad #40-43 (April 1990-July 1990). In this tale, Amanda Waller, who has been stripped of leadership duties and jailed, gets out of prison to lead the now freelance (non-government-sanctioned) Suicide Squad into Count Vertigo’s civil-war-torn homeland of Vlatava. However, since Batman has given the Squad nothing but grief in the past, they not only want his blessing, but his help as well. Therefore, Waller cuts a deal that allows Batman to help choose the new members of the Squad in exchange for aiding him in the capture of a fugitive Vlatavan murderer. Batman personally re-recruits Poison Ivy and Ravan into the Squad and they all head out to Vlatava. Meanwhile, when a serial killer steals Deadshot’s costume, he is “forced” to murder someone that essentially looks just like him. After the dust settles, a disillusioned Waller leaves the Suicide Squad. (Don’t worry, she’ll be back.) For the first time since before the Crisis, though, Deadshot is legitimately freelance—although not solo as he remains with the Squad.

After his costume is returned by none other than Batman’s mentor Henri Ducard (!), Floyd chooses to leave the bullet hole in his mask—the hole through which he put a slug into his copycat’s head. Shaken by the altercation with his doppelgänger and with a new Suicide Squad status-quo, Floyd reconsiders what it means to be Deadshot. Despite still remaining active with the team, Deadshot stops referring to himself as such and begins referring to himself by his civilian name. Floyd will roll with this from Suicide Squad #44 through Suicide Squad #61 (August 1990-January 1992) as he goes on successful mission after successful mission.

At the beginning of 1992, Deadshot appears in the War of Gods crossover—in Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #61 (by George Pérez and Jill Thompson, January 1992) and a few War of the Gods issues (by George Pérez and Russell Braun, September 1991-January 1992)—a big event where Circe manipulates the ancient gods to begin a massive battle-royale on Earth. While the temporarily split Greek gods fight their Roman counterparts, Earth’s heroes (and the Suicide Squad) take on the combined force of the Norse gods, Egyptian gods, Babylonian gods, African gods, and Thanagarian gods.

Following War of the Gods is Suicide Squad #59-62—the “Legerdemain” arc (by John Ostrander, Kim Yale, Geof Isherwood, Robert Campanella, and Tom McCraw, November 1991-January 1992). In this unbelievably complex plots, the Saddam Hussein-esque ex-dictator of Qurac is being held at the Guantanamo Bay-esque Blood Island, which is where the Suicide Squad is supposedly stationed. Both Israeli and Arab metahuman teams are trying to get to the ex-dictator Marlo first (the former trying to assassinate, the latter trying to rescue). Meanwhile, Batman, Aquaman, and Superman have converged on Blood Island because they believe that they have found evidence linking Amanda Waller to Ray Palmer’s recent death. The heroes clash with the Israelis and Arabs on Blood Island, but realize that the Suicide Squad isn’t there. However, the Squad arrives when Waller discovers the entire altercation on Blood Island is a CIA setup in which the US government is trying to deliver Marlo back into the hands of the Quracis. Anyway, the new Atom dies and Ray Palmer makes his return, revealing that he had faked his death in order to go undercover in an investigation into microscopic rogue CIA agents. Notably, there is an excellent (albeit slightly continuity-problematic) nasty confrontation between Batman and Oracle in issue #59.

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Suicide Squad #63-66 (February 1992-June 1992) ends Ostrander’s brilliant long run on the series, pitting the Suicide Squad up against an alternate Suicide Squad and rival Task Force X group. For six years, Ostrander and a rotating team of partnered creators delivered some of the best comics of the 20th century—and at the heart of those comics is Deadshot.

With Deadshot appearing alongside Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in a New Year’s Eve story in the new Trinity Vol. 2 #16 (by Rob Williams, V Ken Marion, Sandu Florea, and Dinei Ribeiro), it’s only appropriate to ring in the New Year by celebrating the man they call Deadshot. We last left our favorite psychotic killing machine in June of 1992. Now that John Ostrander isn’t attached to Deadshot as his primary architect anymore, we’ll start to see a lot more creators work with the character, although his appearances will be a bit more sporadic—at least initially. This is the equivalent of Ostrander letting his baby go—sending him off to college, so to speak. After full year gap without any sightings whatsoever, Deadshot returns with a bang in 1993 with Showcase ’93 #7-12—”The Kobra Chronicles”—(by Mike Baron and Gary Barker, July 1993-November 1993). Deadshot takes a Kobra hit on Deathstroke and Peacemaker! The combined might of the duo is too much for Deadshot, but when he learns that Kobra was going to double cross him, Deadshot switches sides, teaming up with Deathstroke and Peacemaker! Eventually, the trio destroys a Kobra base with assistance from Doctor Light and Katana.

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Sadly, another full year passes before Deadshot turns up again—in Deathstroke the Hunted #41 (by Marv Wolfman and Sergio Cariello, November 1994). Wolfman, co-creator of Deathstroke, always had an affinity for Deadshot. This is Wolfman’s first real crack at the character, and he was super excited to be able to put the two characters together as a follow-up to their previous “Kobra Chronicles” arc. When Deathstroke is framed for treason, Sarge Steel sends Bronze Tiger and Deadshot to bring him in. Unlike the previous two-on-one situation, this time the tables are turned with the odds in Deadshot’s favor. Deadshot (with Bronze Tiger) is able to capture Deathstroke by shooting several rounds into his chest.

Narrative-chronologically speaking, a cool “five years ago” flashback from Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #226 (by Greg Rucka and Cliff Richards, April 2006) comes next. I be remiss if I didn’t include it because it features Deadshot taking a hit on the Pope in Vatican City! Wonder Woman stops him.

Superboy Vol. 3 #13-15—”Watery Grave”—(by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett, March 1995-May 1995) is up next. Amanda Waller puts a new Suicide Squad together and has Deadshot recruit metahuman stripper Knockout. Teamed-up with Superboy, they battle a Deadshot-lite known as Stinger. When Captain Boomerang is outed as working against the Squad, Deadshot tries to kill him. Deadshot winds up shooting Boomerang in both his hands while he is holding onto a ledge. This basically ruins his career—after all, how can you throw boomerangs with crippled hands.

Marv Wolfman’s second crack at putting Deadshot and Deathstroke together comes in July 1995 with Deathstroke #49 (written by Wolfman, art by Sergio Cariello and William Rosado). Only this time, they once again team-up as Deadshot is hired to help Deathstroke challenge the super-villain known only as Crimelord.

Swinging back into narrative chronology mode, another interesting flashback can be squeezed in right around here. In Batman & Superman: World’s Finest #10 (by Karl Kesel, Dave Taylor, and Robert Campanella, 2003). Batman tells Superman that there have been major metahuman/super-villain breakouts at Stryker’s Island and Arkham. It’s not long before Metropolis’ villains show up in Gotham and begin attacking Arkham’s escapees. A “villain war” erupts immediately. Batman and Superman recapture Bloodsport and Deadshot.

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DC’s mega-crossover Underworld Unleashed (by Mark Waid and Howard Porter, November 1995) comes next. This tale basically serves to upgrade all of DC’s super-villains, including Deadshot. Neron, King of Hell, has gathered the entire DCU villain community together. His plan? To offer every single villain something special in exchange for his or her soul. Here, Waid and Porter really stamp Deadshot as a vile despicable character worthy of very little sympathy. Deadshot is one of the villains to accept Neron’s offer, making a literal deal with the devil. He begins working with the assassins Bolt, Chiller, Deadline, and Merlyn in a group called the Killer Elite. Each member is given the opportunity to commit their dream assassination. What does Deadshot want? What is his greatest desire, his dream assassination? To murder an entire kindergarten class. Oof. Thankfully, Obsidian of the Justice League America stops him (as seen in the Underworld Unleashed tie-ins, Justice League America #105-106—”Killer Elite”—by Gerard Jones and Chuck Wojtkiewicz, November 1995-December 1995). By the end of this arc, which further explores Floyd’s tortured psyche in regard to his family and upbringing, Deadshot winds up in a coma where he keeps reliving an Obsidian-induced fantasy over and over. This second “dream assassination” is killing his brother Eddie.

Following Underworld Unleashed, it seems as if the now wannabe child-killing Deadshot was too hot to touch, for we don’t see him again for over two years! Maybe it’s for the best. With the child killing episode long behind him, Deadshot returns in the capable hands of Mike Baron—in Hawk and Dove Vol. 4 #3-5 (story by Baron, art by Dean Zachary, Dick Giordano, and Roberta Tewes, January 1998-March 1998). Baron, in the best possible move a writer could have done at the time, returns Deadshot to his roots: the Suicide Squad. The new CIA-backed Suicide Squad’s first mission is to hunt down Hawk and Dove. Deadshot has a stand-off with Hawk’s father Colonel Martens, but Dove sneakily takes Deadshot down. Deadshot then wins a sniper duel against Vigilante, but, in a nice touch by Baron (who tries to return some nuance to the character), Deadshot surrenders himself rather than murder the government agent.

At this point, Deadshot is in the Suicide Squad and the Killer Elite. The latter appears in Body Doubles (Villains #1) aka New Year’s Evil: Body Doubles #1 (by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Joe Phillips, Jasen Rodriguez, and Carla Feeny, February 1998), trying to execute their competitive rivals, the assassins known as The Body Doubles (Bonny Hoffman and Carmen Leno). In a big reveal, Deadshot betrays his team and pretends to get knocked out because he is secretly romantically involved with Carmen Leno! Besides the ex-wives, awkward psychiatrists, and prostitutes that have popped in-and-out of Floyd’s troubled life, this is the first legit love affair for good ol’ Deadshot.

80-page giant deadshot vs batman

Deadshot returns for a pair of 80-Page GiantsJLA 80-Page Giant #1 (by Mark Millar and Christopher Jones, July 1998) and Batman 80-page Giant #2 (by Scott Beatty and William Rosado, October 1999). Note the 15 month gap in-between the two issues. Fans didn’t see Floyd for a long time in 1998/1999. The first 80-page Giant happens shortly after the formation of Grant Morrison’s “Big Guns” JLA. The team sets up their new Watchtower headquarters, built on the surface of the moon. While the finishing construction touches are made on the Watchtower, Martian Manhunter disguises himself as a villain and dismantles the entire Secret Society of Super-villains—including new invitee Deadshot—from within. The second 80-Page Giant has Two-Face hiring Deadshot to kill Batman, but Deadshot fails in his task, getting his jaw broken in the process. Rough time for Floyd in both of these issues.

In October 1999, Grant Morrison writes Deadshot for the first time ever! Okay, okay, so Deadshot merely turns up in a big pro wrestling-style schmoz, appearing in a Belle Reve prison riot in JLA #34 (script by Morrison, art by Howard Porter).

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As the 1990s end, it seems as though no one knows quite what to do with Deadshot any longer. He’s kind of fallen from grace, back down into second-tier status. But leave it to the genius of Ed Brubaker to return Deadshot to his former glory. How to do so? Why, by bringing him back to his roots, of course. But further back than the Suidide Sqauad, back to the beginning, back to being primarily a Batman rogue. In Batman #591-592—“Shot Through the Heart”—(by Brubaker, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, and Roberta Tewes, July 2001-August 2001), classic Golden Age Bat-mythos mob-boss Lew Moxon comes back into town and everyone wants a piece, including Deadshot, who wants the bounty on Moxon’s head. When Bruce Wayne and Sasha Bordeaux meet Moxon at a black tie event, Bruce is confronted by two surprises. One, Moxon’s daughter is Mallory Moxon, a young boyhood friend of Bruce’s from before his parents were murdered. And two, Moxon’s bodyguard is the Deadshot-esque Philo Zeiss. When Deadshot sets off some fake explosions to test Zeiss’s security detail, Batman swings into action, but Deadshot is able to make a clean getaway. After Bruce has dinner with the Moxons, Batman encounters Zeiss, who tells him that he orchestrated Jeremy Samuels’ death (in Batman #583) as revenge against the Waynes for an incident that had occurred between Thomas Wayne and Moxon decades ago. Enraged, Batman tussles with Zeiss and before he knows it has played right into Deadshot’s hands. By essentially using Batman to neutralize Zeiss, Deadshot has a clean opening and shoots Moxon in the chest, paralyzing him for life. This is Floyd at his finest. Brubaker’s long arc on Batman is one the best in history, and his treatment of Deadshot is nothing short of perfect.

After a fun Geoff Johns and Stephen Sadowski-penned non-speaking cameo in JSA #28 (November 2001), Deadshot is back in action for the Joker: Last Laugh crossover (by Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, and Andy Kuhn, December 2001), which sees dozens of villains infected by Joker Venom. In the Last Laugh tie-in issue Flash Vol. 2 #179 (by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, December 2001), the Killer Elite goes on its final mission, attacking the Iron Heights metahuman prison. Deadline is killed and Deadshot, showing more sympathy than usual, rescues Captain Boomerang from medical confinement.

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A few months later, Deadshot completes his triumphant return tour by rejoining the Suicide Squad yet again! This time, in Suicide Squad Vol. 2 #5-8 (by Keith Giffen and Paco Medina, March 2002-June 2002), General Rock (formerly Sgt. Rock) leads the Suicide Squad, which is developed in the aftermath of the big Our Worlds at War crossover by none other than President Lex Luthor himself. In this arc, Deadshot becomes close with Blackstarr, Havana, Killer Frost, Major Disaster, Modem, and Reactron. While a featuring a fun and unique lineup, the team was unsuccessful and quickly disbanded.

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After his latest Suicide Squad stint, Deadshot is back with Brubaker, which means good stuff coming for slick Floyd. Geoff Johns, having dipped his toes into Deadshot and taken a strong liking to the character, joins Brubaker as co-writer for Batman #606-607—“Death-Wish For Two”—(art by Scott McDaniel, October 2002-November 2002). In this story arc, Bruce has just been cleared of all charges in the murder of Vesper Fairchild. Her real murderer, David Cain (Cassie Cain’s dad), is scheduled to testify in court regarding the details of the case. Batman knows that President Luthor will have sent an assassin to silence Cain before the hearing, so he prepares for the worst. And with Brubaker and Johns with the quill in their hands, the worst most badass assassin in the entire DCU at the moment is definitely Deadshot. Sure enough, the President’s man nearly kills Cain, but Batman saves his life. Cain, showing off his chops as well, nearly killing Deadshot.

What would DC Comics be without its never-ending crossovers. “War Games” (by Devin Grayson, Andersen Gabrych, AJ Lieberman, Al Barrionuevo, Javier Piña, Pete Woods, and Ramon Bachs, 2004-2005) continues Deadshot’s story as Penguin hires him as a bodyguard. Together, they attend a gangster summit, which is secretly part of a theoretical Batman plan to consolidate Gotham’s gangs in order to better control organized crime in the city. However, theoretical is the key word. Spoiler, trying to impress Batman, jumps the gun and starts the plan, leading to a shootout, during which Deadshot kills several men, including Junior Galante. Interestingly, writer Andersen Gabrych reveals that Deadshot goes way back with Onyx Adams, an amazing and underrated assassin character created by Joey Cavalieri and Jerome Moore. This arc also sees Deadshot take on Hush, Prometheus II, and Tarantula—unfortunately all losing efforts.

ID crisis deadshot page

From June 2004 to December 2004, Identity Crisis (by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, and Michael Bair) shakes up the entire DCU (and the entire comic book industry) for better or worse, and Deadshot is right in the thick of it. In this controversial arc, Meltzer reveals that several characters, including Batman, have had their memories erased to hide certain dark truths about the past, notably that Doctor Light once raped Jean Loring. Deadshot, privy to this information, is the first to tell the rest of his super-villain pals that Doctor Light was mind-wiped. During a fight against Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Deadshot deliberately shoots himself in the neck, forcing Rayner to save him and drop his guard, thus allowing Floyd to take aim and almost shoot him. Despite this successful maneuver, he is captured by Superman. By story’s end, a bunch of villains are prosecuted by DA Kate Spencer, but they avoid jail time due to Floyd’s government connections.

deadshot vol 2

With all his recent awesomeness thanks to the likes of Brubaker, Johns, Meltzer, et al, Deadshot was back on top of his game, and back on top popularity-wise too. Thus, we get treated to a second solo Deadshot series! Deadshot Vol. 2 #1-5— “Urban Renewal”—(by Christos Gage, Steven Cummings, and Jimmy Palmiotti, February 2005-June 2005) is super important to the direction that the character will go for the next decade-plus. In this series, Floyd discovers he has a daughter, Zoe. Floyd goes into Punisher mode and decides to violently wipe out all the crime in Zoe’s Star City neighborhood. Floyd also tries his best to alter the course of his tragic and demented life by trying to act as a father to Zoe. However, it’s just not in the cards. Deadshot fakes his death to give Zoe distance and closure from his dangerous nature and lifestyle. Zoe won’t be much of a factor in the rest of the Modern Age, but Deadshot will come to be primarily defined by his relationship to Zoe in later continuities (and in cinema too).

Villains United (by Gail Simone, Dale Eaglesham, and Val Semeiks, December 2005-April 2006), a series related to the 2005–2006’s Infinite Crisis (by Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez), continues Deadshot’s story. A Suicide Squad-esque group known as The Secret Six coerced into forming by Lex Luthor (disguised as Mockingbird). Luthor tells Deadshot that if he joins, he could become the king of North America, but if he refuses to join, Zoe will be killed. This leads directly to Secret Six Vol. 2 #1-6—”Six Degrees of Devastation”—(by Gail Simone and Brad Walker, July 2006-January 2007).

The long running Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight series (which began in 1989) ends with issue #214 in March 2007. And wouldn’t you know it, LODTK ends with a Deadshot vs Batman tale by Deadshot Vol. 2 creator Christos Gage and artist Phil Winslade! The canonical status of this issue, however, is questionable because Deadshot mentions that he’s in the Suicide Squad again, which, at this point, isn’t true. Deadshot also references Identity Crisis in a way that doesn’t make sense. Also, this issue shows Commissioner Gordon in charge of the GCPD, but Commissioner Akins is the current head honcho. Oh well.

Next is Birds of Prey #104-108—”Whitewater”—(by Gail Simone and Nicola Scott, May 2007-September 2007). Simone continues her Secret Six run with the gorgeous illustrations of Nicola Scott, bringing her Six babes to meet the titular stars of her other ongoing series, The Birds of Prey. There’s a lot of love and passion that Simone shows for all characters involved in this arc.

suicide squad vol 3

Following “Whitewater,” Suicide Squad Vol. 3 #3-8 aka Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag #3-8 (January 2008-June 2008) comes next. These issues see John Ostrander return to writing Deadshot and the Suicide Squad for the first time in sixteen years! With art by Javier Piña, it’s a lovely few issues with some nice callbacks to the 80s and 90s, reminding us just how great Ostrander’s legendary run with Deadshot and the Suicide Squad was in the first place. We wouldn’t be here without his master works from back in the day.

We see Deadshot and the Suicide Squad again in Paul Dini’s Countdown #43-28 (July 2007-October 2007) as they round up super-villains to be shipped to a prison planet. The group encounters Pied Piper and Trickster several times, and each time fails to capture them. Deadshot, ignoring Amanda Waller’s direct orders, ditches the dead weight of his team and goes after them solo, murdering Trickster.

salvation run

After a brief appearance in Justice League of America Vol. 2 #15 (by Dwayne McDuffie, Ed Benes, and Sandra Hope, January 2008), again with the Suicide Squad, Deadshot appears in the Final Crisis tie-in Salvation Run (by Bill Willingham and Lilah Sturges, 2007-2008) where he is betrayed by Waller and Rick Flag Jr and sent off to the prison planet. Deadshot vows revenge. Deadshot helps his fellow prisoners stop a Parademon invasion before escaping the planet and returning to Earth.

Oddly enough, despite reaching heightened levels of popularity, Deadshot takes an eight month break from appearing in comics. He shows up next, playing a rather large role in Kevin Smith’s Batman: Cacophony (script by Smith, art by Walt Flanagan and Sandra Hope, November 2008-January 2009). Unfortunately, like LOTDK #214, Smith’s story really doesn’t fit onto any timeline without a ton of continuity errors. In Batman: Cacophony, Deadshot takes a hit on Joker and confronts him inside Arkham Asylum. There, Onomatopoeia arrives and kicks Deadshot’s ass, shooting him in the head. Deadshot’s armor saves him and masks his vital signs to make it appear like he’s been killed. After chatting with Batman, he gives his strange false-death armor tech to the Dark Knight, who uses it to survive an encounter with the Joker and Onomatopoeia in a similar way.

secret six #1

Returning to in-continuity comics, say goodbye to the Suicide Squad. It’s all about the Secret Six now. And with this, Gail Simone completes a long run that cements her as one the best architects of Floyd Lawton that DC Comics will ever see. First, Deadshot appears in Secret Six Vol. 3 #1-16 (by Gail Simone and several artists, November 2008-February 2010). Deadshot—along with Scandal Savage, Bane, Rag Doll, and Cat-Man—reform the Secret Six as the definitive DCU antihero/super-villain team. They start off by taking a job—hired by Mad Hatter—to recover a stolen “Get Out of Hell Free” card made by Neron. The team faces off against Junior (Rag Doll’s terrifying sister) and a bunch of super-villains before escaping to Gotham. Deadshot betrays his teammates and joins up with Tarantula. The rest of the Six confront Deadshot, but before they can fight him, they wind up fighting another horde of villains, which leads to Tarantula and Junior’s deaths. For months to follow, Simone takes Deadshot and company on a wild ride of mission after mission. Over the course of her run on Secret Six, Simone will build a very well-fleshed-out relationship between Deadshot and Catman.

In March 2010, the first volume of Suicide Squad gets one more go for a single issue (Suicide Squad #67—nicely pairing up current Deadshot architect Gail Simone with the old school creator John Ostrander and artist Jim Calafiore)—as a tie-in to Geoff Johns’ “Blackest Night” storyline. Deadshot, of course, features. This is Ostrander’s last time writing Floyd in the Modern Age.

secret six #36

Gail Simone, with a bunch of different artists at her helm, continues her awesome long run on Secret Six Vol. 3 with issues #17-36 (March 2010-October 2011), all of which feature Deadshot going on various mission with the team. After the Secret Six crosses-over into Action Comics #895-896—”The Black Ring”—(by Paul Cornell and Pete Woods, January 2011-February 2011), we finally reach the conclusion of Deadshot’s life and times in the Modern Age of comics. And who better to help him say goodbye then the architect that has been at the helm for the last few years: Gail Simone. Secret Six Vol. 3 #36 (script by Simone, art by Jim Calafiore, October 2011) ends Simone’s lengthy and delightful run, and it’s a great send-off. In this issue, the Secret Six has plans to assassinate Red Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, and Azrael in Gotham. However, a double-crossing Penguin alerts the hero community about the Six’s arrival in town. The Six (Bane, Catman, Deadshot, Jeannette, Ragdoll, and Scandal Savage) along with King Shark and Knockout take a bunch of Venom pills and make their glorious last stand. However, they are easily defeated by what seems to be one of the largest gathering of collected heroes in the entire Modern Age. So, yeah, it’s eight villains versus Batman, Batman, Robin, Red Robin, Superman, Superboy, Steel, Dr. Light, Obsidian, John Stewart, Red Tornado, the Birds of Prey, the JLA, the JSA, the JLI, and the Teen Titans. Overkill, anyone? Probably, but it just goes to show how kickass these underdog anti-heroes—especially Deadshot—really are by the time the Modern Age ends. Simone really hammers in the idea that these are not B-list second-tier baddies. They are A-listers worthy of your respect. Amen.

In 2011, DC reboots its entire line with the Flashpoint series. Out with the old and in with the new, meaning Deadshot is essentially starting from scratch for the New 52. While much of his background remains the same as it was before, the most notable changes are the erasure of his son Eddie, replaced by a second daughter, Suchin, and an updated costume design courtesy of Adam Glass and Federico Dallocchio.

new 52 deadshot mask

Deadshot’s background of being one of Batman’s top rivals is intact in the New 52, as is his long-running relationship with the Suicide Squad and his devotion to his daughter Zoe. Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #1 (by Adam Glass and Federico Dallocchio, November 2011) features the first New 52 appearance of Deadshot, and the latest Suicide Squad lineup. For the purposes of this part of the article, I’m going to mash-up Deadshot’s New 52 continuity with his Rebirth continuity because they are very similar despite technically being two separate timelines. We’ll also jump around a bit more than in the two previous parts of this article, simply because all the rebooting warrants a narrative-chronological layout rather than a publication-chronological perspective. Because the Hollywood Suicide Squad film had already been announced (in 2009), with the idea that Deadshot would be one of the primary foci of the feature basically set in stone, the comics from 2011 onward place an added emphasis on Deadshot being in the Suicide Squad. While the roster will rotate as usual, Deadshot will be a constant member (and leader) from 2011 to 2018. Thus, we’ll see much more of Deadshot than we ever have before in this time period. If there’s anything I’m glossing over, it’s simply because there’s just not enough space to be completely encyclopedic. What follows below are the most important highlights of Floyd’s comic book life.

deadshot jla .1 issue

A good glimpse into New 52 Floyd’s backstory is in Justice League of America Vol. 3 #7.1 aka Deadshot #1 (by Matt Kindt, Sami Basri, and Carmen Carnero, November 2013). This issue delivers some of Floyd’s New 52 attributes, which are reminiscent of his previous attributes. He is a master marksman, possibly the best on the planet. He is also a self-taught engineer, having designed his own wrist guns. Our first chronological scene showing Deadshot in the New 52 is in the second feature to Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #1 (by Rob Williams and Jason Fabok, October 2016). Batman crashes through a window to prevent a robbery at a fancy black-and-white high-society party. Debonair playboy Floyd is in attendance and is inspired to don a costume of his own, albeit for wrongdoing instead of heroism. Thus, Floyd becomes Deadshot. An in-story year later, we get a flashback from Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #1 (by Adam Glass and Federico Dallocchio, November 2011), the very issue that debuted New 52 Deadshot in the first place. Batman prevents Deadshot from murdering a senator, after which he is sentenced to jail time in Belle Reve Penitentiary and winds up on Amanda Waller’s radar, soon after joining the Suicide Squad in similar fashion to how he did in the Modern Age.

war of jokes and riddles deadshot vs deathstroke

Chronologically, in regard to narrative, Tom King and Mikel Janín’s “War of Jokes and Riddles” (2017) is up next. Riddler and Joker begin a war against one another, recruiting super-villains into their respective folds. Riddler’s team includes Two-Face, Scarecrow, Clayface, Firefly, Victor Zsasz, Killer Croc, and Deathstroke. Joker’s team includes Oswald Cobblepot, Solomon Grundy, Man-Bat (Kirk Langstrom), Cluemaster, Deadshot, Mad Hatter, Tweedledum, Tweedledee, Mr. Freeze, and the Ventriloquist (with Scarface). These two factions begin warring with each other for weeks, which leads to dozens of innocent deaths. Specifically, Deadshot and Deathstroke begin a solo war against each other. Batman apprehends them both, but not for five bloody days, which results in 62 deaths. An angry Batman pummels Deadshot so mercilessly that he nearly dies in the hospital.

harley deadshot romance

Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #1-5 (by Adam Glass and Federico Dallocchio, November 2011-March 2012) start off Deadshot’s New 52 Suicide Squad missions with a bang. Deadhost assumes leadership of the Squad on a mission to purge a quarantined arena full of people that have been infected by a zombie virus. Deadshot finds “patient zero,” a pregnant woman, and proceeds to cut her baby right out of her womb in order to obtain a cure. After ordering his own teammate Voltaic to eliminate everyone in the arena, Deadshot puts a bullet in his head in order to complete a full cover up. (Voltaic, as most comic book characters, do will return.) Deadshot, however, gets infected but doesn’t show any signs. This leads to Floyd’s first romance in the New 52, and boy it it a twisted one. Enter Harley Quinn! Immediately after their first mission together, they get it on! This relationship will last for a while. Shortly after Harley and Floyd hook up for the first time, we learn about Floyd’s other daughter (aside from Zoe): Suchin. Waller will use Suchin to blackmail Deadshot and control him for many missions to come.

Resurrection Man Vol. 2 #8-9 (by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Jesús Saíz, and Andres Guinaldo, June 2012-July 2012) is up next.
The Suicide Squad tangoes with Resurrection Man, killing him. Deadshot has the brilliant idea of chopping up Resurrection Man with a chainsaw in order to prevent him from resurrecting. Then, his old flame Carmen Leno (!), with her Body Doubles partner Bonnie Hoffman, shows up to stop him.

Deadshot’s adventures continue with the Suicide Squad, mission-for-mission, from issues #6-13 (by Adam Glass et al, April 2012-December 2012), in which Deadshot seemingly sacrifices his own life TWICE only to miraculously survive.

Bat-Family spin-off titles in the Scott Snyder’s “Death of the Family” arc take place after that—in Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #14-15 (Adam Glass and Fernando Dagnino, January 2013-February 2013). Harley mourns the loss of her lover for the second time, but don’t worry! Floyd wakes up in a hospital bed unscathed. He’s A-okay! Curious…

In Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #16-19 (By Adam Glass, Henrik Jonsson, and Cliff Richards, and Sandu Florea, March 2013-June 2013), Deadshot rejoins the Squad to take on the lingering threat of Regulus and the new threat of Gotham’s Chinatown mob boss Red Orchid. The Suicide Squad attacks Red Orchid and her Chain Gang thugs at her penthouse HQ. The goal is not only to bring down Red Orchid, but to rescue the kidnapped Kurt Lance (Black Canary’s ex-husband). After the penthouse gets blown-up by Deadshot, Waller regroups with her team in the basement of the building. Just as Batman arrives on the scene, the Suicide Squad makes a quick getaway into the sewers only to be accosted by The Unknown Soldier. Deadshot also appears in Teen Titans Vol. 4 #18 (by Scott Lobdell, Eddy Barrows, and Rodney Buchemi, May 2013), which also features the Suicide Squad going after Kurt Lance, specifically during the period shortly after the death of Damian Wayne.

deadshot grifter liefeld

Deadshot then faces-off against an old Wildstorm character not so different from himself in Grifter Vol. 3 #14-15 (by Rob Liefeld, Frank Tieri, and Marat Mychaels, January 2013-February 2013). Cole Cash, better known as Grifter, takes on the Squad.

In Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #20 (by Ales Kot and Patrick Zircher, July 2013), Amanda Waller reveals—Venture Bros style—that Deadshot hasn’t miraculously survived two deaths. She’s resurrected him twice! This is also how Voltaic (and others) have been killed and come back good as new.

Next up comes Justice League of America’s Vibe #4-5 (by Sterling Gates, Manuel Garcia, and Fabiano Neves, July 2013-August 2013), in which the Suicide Squad hunts Vibe.

Geoff Johns mega-crossover Forever Evil (2013-2014) is up next. This arc features all the super-villains of the DCU, including Deadshot. Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #24-30 (by Matt Kindt, Patrick Zircher, Sean Ryan, Andre Coelho, and more, December 2013-July 2014), which wraps the series, are tie-ins to Forever Evil.

new suicide squad 1

With Suicide Squad Vol. 4 wrapped up, New Suicide Squad naturally begins! And Deadshot is at front and center yet again. Along with an interesting initial line-up of Black Manta, Deathstroke, Harley Quinn, and Joker’s Daughter, Deadshot follows the new contentious Squad leadership of both Amanda Waller and Vic Sage. Deadshot is a prime-player for 22 issues and one Annual. The New Suicide Squad series (by Sean Ryan and a host of talented artists) lasts from September 2014 to September 2016, featuring various Suicide Squad missions and overlapping with the majority of the listed stories below.

Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #33-34 (by Christy Marx, Robson Rocha, and Scott McDaniel, September 2014-October 2014). It’s the Suicide Squad versus Birds of Prey. Cross it off your New 52 checklist!

Superman/Wonder Woman #18-19 (by Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke, August 2015-September 2015) follows. After Superman’s secret ID is outed to the public and his power levels are significantly lowered, the Suicide Squad takes on the new t-shirt-wearing Man of Steel and his lady love Diana.

Following Superman/Wonder Woman #18-19, Deadshot shows up for his on-again-off-again lover Harley Quinn in the pages of the quite bonkers Harley Quinn Vol. 2 #20-22 (by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and John Timms, November 2015-January 2016).

In Deathstroke Vol. 3 #11-12 (by James Bonny, Tony S Daniel, and Tyler Kirkham, December 2015-January 2016), Floyd shows off his kickass hand-to-hand combat skills, fighting Deathstroke to a relative stalemate.

midnighter vs deadshot

After a teeny-tiny cameos in Batman & Robin Eternal #21 (by James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Tony S Daniel, and Sandu Florea, April 2016) and Catwoman Vol. 4 #49 (by Frank Tieri, Inaki Miranda, and Eva de la Cruz, April 2016), Deadshot turns up next in the first legit marquee match-up pitting him against an old Wildstorm character since his dance with Grifter from a few years prior. Midnighter Vol. 2 #7-12 (by Steve Orlando, ACO, and Hugo Petrus, February 2016-July 2016) sees Deadshot versus Midnighter. Good stuff.

Following Midnighter Vol. 2 #7-12, we are treated to Deadshot making more special guest appearances for Harley—in Harley Quinn & The Suicide Squad April Fool’s Day Special (by Rob Williams, Jim Lee, and Sean Galloway, June 2016) and Harley Quinn & Her Gang of Harleys #1 (by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Frank Tieri, June 2016).

will evans deadshot

Suicide Squad: Most Wanted – Deadshot & Katana (by Brian Buccellato and Viktor Bogdanovic, March 2016-August 2016) gives us a nifty retcon fake-out. At first, we are led to believe that Deadshot’s entire history as a wealthy socialite is bunk. However, it’s all a big twist in which Floyd has attempted to steal the origin story of his pal Will Evans. Floyd’s buddy Evans joins the Suicide Squad only to witness Deadshot bail on a mission. Amanda Waller sends Evans to take down Deadshot as punishment. Sure enough, Evans puts a few slugs into Floyd, putting him in the hospital. With Floyd out, Evans becomes the new Deadshot! When Floyd recovers, he’s none too thrilled at the events that have taken place in his absence. When Evans kidnaps Suchin, it’s Deadshot vs Deadshot! Two men enter, only one man leaves. Evans is killed in the duel.

In 2016/2017, DC reboots yet again, pushing in its “Rebirth” initiative. However, Deadshot’s basic New 52 history is kept intact, so his narrative continues on relatively unchanged. Delightfully, the “Rebirth” initiative, which is designed in part to appease fans disappointed with the gist of the New 52, gives a special Suicide Squad one-shot to the father of the team: Joh Ostrander! Deadshot, as part of the early “Rebirth” branding, joins the Suicide Squad in what feels like an old school ride in Suicide Squad: War Crimes Special #1 (by John Ostrander, Gus Vazquez, and Carlos Rodriguez, October 2016). Deadshot also appears in Geoff Johns’ DC: Rebirth #1 (July 2016) and Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 (by Rob Williams and Philip Tan, October 2016) to officially kick things off “Rebirth” style. This Suicide Squad mirrors the one seen in the David Ayer film.

suicide squad vol 5 1

At this juncture, Suicide Squad gets a brand new volume for the “Rebirth” movement. Thus, Deadshot appears in its opening arcs from Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #1-9 (by Rob Williams, Simon Spurrier, Jim Lee, Riley Rossmo, and more, October 2016-March 2017). Right from the start, via a flashback rom the second feature to Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #1, the evil crime-cult known as Kobra kidnaps Deadshot’s daughter Zoe and blackmails him into accepting a risky hit on Bruce Wayne. Seeing no other option, Deadshot contacts Batman via the Gotham underworld and asks him for help. For the sake of his daughter, Batman agrees to assist, but only if there is no killing. Deadshot and Batman kick ass and rescue Zoe, but, of course, Deadshot kills a bunch of dudes (including their leader Lord Kobra). Batman throws Deadshot back into the waiting arms of Belle Reve Prison. This is an important story because it will directly factor into our final New Year’s Eve story at the end of this article!

jl vs ss

The big crossover Justice League vs Suicide Squad is next.
Maxwell Lord breaks into the Catacombs Prison in Death Valley and releases the original members of the Suicide Squad—Doctor Polaris, Emerald Empress, Lobo, Johnny Sorrow, and Rustam. While Max Lord is busting out the original Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller sends the current Suicide Squad to the small tropical island of Badhnisia to fight the Brimstone Brotherhood. The Justice League flies to Badhnisia, cleans up the Suicide Squad’s mess and offers to help them get out from under Amanda Waller’s modulation. Waller orders her team to attack, prompting an all-out war between the Suicide Squad and Justice League. The JL defeats and captures the Suicide Squad relatively easily until Killer Frost debuts a new power, the ability to suck up anyone else’s powers to redouble her own. After draining Superman dry, Killer Frost beats the entire JL on her own. The JL are stuffed into containment cells in Belle Reve before a gloating Amanda Waller. Batman escapes custody and confronts Amanda Waller. Learning about Max Lord’s jail bust, Batman and Amanda Waller call a truce. The JL is released and joins the Suicide Squad to watch the security footage of the jailbreak. Max Lord’s team crashes into Belle Reve and begins fighting the Suicide Squad and Justice League. Lobo chases Batman, Amanda Waller, and Deadshot down a long corridor. Seemingly unstoppable with healing-power, Lobo charges only to get his head blown up by Batman, prompting Deadshot to say “Damn, Batman.” After Eclipso takes over the world, Batman recruits Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Lobo, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, and Killer Frost into a “substitute Justice League.” Cyborg booms the substitute JL to DC where they engage with the Eclipso-JL. Max, despite his tattoo, gets completely taken over by Eclipso, expectorating black bile, which releases Eclipso himself. All over the planet, people turn into Eclipso demons. Pretty soon, the substitute JL is overwhelmed too, except for Batman, Lobo, and Killer Frost, who eventually save the day.

Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #10-15 (by Rob Williams, Simon Spurrier, Giuseppe Cafaro, John Romita Jr, Eddy Barrows, and more, March 2017-June 2017) continues Deadshot’s narrative. Rustam’s metahuman terrorist group known as The Burning World murders a bunch of corrupt politicians (secretly part of the secret organization called The People), attacks Washington DC, and breaks prisoners out of Blackgate Prison. The Suicide Squad defeats the Burning World in an epic battle. Batman then deals with the aftermath of the jail break in Gotham, kicking ass and returning convicts back behind bars.

By the time we reach Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #16-18 (by Rob Williams, Tony S Daniel, Sandu Florea, June 2017-July 2017), Amanda Waller has brought Zod out of the Phantom Zone in an effort to bring him into the Suicide Squad, but the evil Kryptonian’s powers are too strong. He releases spirits from the Phantom Zone and puts an impenetrable black shadow dome over Bell Reve. Batman, unsure of what is happening inside, immediately begins using WayneTech satellites to keep tabs on the situation.

suicide squad vol 5 22

In Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #22-25—”Kill Your Darlings”—(by Rob Williams and Agustin Padilla, September 2017), Russian government agent Karla—a lovely nod to John le Carré—converses with Amanda Waller, showing her a video of the Justice League fighting in a ruined city—part of a strange “What If?” computer simulation. Amanda Waller then siccs the Suicide Squad (Katana, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, El Diablo, Enchantress, and Killer Croc) on Frost in Gotham City. As revenge against Frost for having escaped her clutches, Waller uses Diablo to transfer a disease pathogen into Frost. The pathogen causes Frost to lost control of herself. A pissed-off Batman arrives to survey the situation. Using the brain-bomb frequency, Batman is able to quickly nullify the entire Suicide Squad except for Katana, who doesn’t have a brain-bomb in her skull. Katana reluctantly slashes Batman in the back, taking him out. Task Force X choppers arrive to retrieve the downed Suicide Squad and an unconscious Frost. At Belle Reve, the Suicide Squad argues with Waller, specifically over the recent deaths of teammates Rick Flag and Hack. (Hack is dead, but Rick Flag is actually just trapped in the Phantom Zone.) While Batman deals with Killer Croc and infiltrates the prison, Harley Quinn and Katana breach through the prison’s network firewall and learn that Waller has betrayed the US Government and given all of her detailed metahuman files to Russian government agent Director Karla, who unleashes multiple foreign Suicide Squads to attack multiple locations across the globe as part of his “Joseph Protocols.” Batman then takes out Enchantress before being joined by Katana—who apologizes for attacking him earlier—and Harley, who drags an unconscious Frost. Batman takes Frost and escapes in a military jet while Katana and Harley fight a bunch of Suicide Suit security robots. Meanwhile, Deadshot and Diablo discover that Waller is under the possession of Russian metahuman Gulag, who is a member of Karla’s elite Russian version of the Suicide Squad known as The Annihilation Brigade, which also includes Cosmonut, Tunguska, and Tankograd. Harley and Deadshot fight the possessed Waller and abort her missile attack against Batman. Captain Boomerang—previously thought to be dead—rejoins the Suicide Squad and helps them corner Waller. Katana then slices Waller, releasing her from Gulag while killing the latter in the process. Waller and the Suicide Squad then fight the remnants of the Annihilation Brigade, killing the rest of them at the site of their control center where a deceased Karla—having committed suicide—is found as well. Meanwhile, the Justice League fights against sixteen separate international versions of the Suicide Squad. From the control center, Harley activates their brain bombs, killing all of them in an instant. Later, Waller visits Batman and Frost at the JLA Sanctuary to explain that she had been possessed, but also to apologize.

In New Super-Man #14-16 (by Gene Luen Yang and Billy Tan, October 2017-December 2017), we learn that Deadshot speaks fluent Mandarin. This arc features Kenan Kong and his Justice League of China, Suicide Squad, Emperor Superman, and the living embodiments of the Yin and the Yang.

Deadshot shows up for Scott Snyder’s awesome Dark Knights: Metal crossover next—in tie-in issues Nightwing Vol. 4 #29 (by Tim Seeley and Paul Pelletier, November 2017), Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #26 (by Rob Williams and Stjepan Šejić, December 2017), Green Arrow Vol. 6 #32 (by Benjamin Percy, Joshua Williamson, and Juan Ferreyra, December 2017), and Justice League Vol. 3 #33 (Joshua Williamson, Tyler Kirkham, and Mikel Janín, January 2018).

After a Suicide Squad adventure versus Red Hood and The Outlaws in Red Hood & The Outlaws Vol. 2 #16-17 (by Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, and Veronica Gandini, January 2018-February 2018), Deadshot appears in Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #27-32—”The Secret History of Task Force X”—(by Rob Williams, Barnaby Bagenda, Wilfredo Torres, Eleonora Carlini, Scott Eaton, and more, December 2017-February 2018), which brings us up to speed with Floyd’s interactions with the Squad.

new talent showcase 2017

New Talent Showcase 2017 #1 (by D Proctor, Erica Harell, Lalit Sharma, Jagdish Kumar, and Beth Sotelo, January 2018) features a cool Deadshot solo story, the first solo issue for Floyd in quite some time.

new trinity new years eve deadshot

Finally, that brings us to the most recent Deadshot appearance in comics. New Year’s Eve! Trinity Vol. 2 #16—”Old Acquaintance”—(by Rob Williams, V Ken Marion, Sandu Florea, and Dinei Ribeiro, February 2018) shows Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jon Kent, Damian Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Diana, Steve Trevor, and pretty much everyone else you can think of attending Bruce Wayne’s New Year’s Eve party right in the heart of Times Square, New York City. With only hours until the ball drops, Kobra initiates a plan to get revenge against both Batman and Deadshot for the murder of their leader, which occurred at the hands of Deadshot earlier in the year (in the previously mentioned flashback from the second feature to Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #1). (Batman was present for Lord Kobra’s death, and has, as such, earned Kobra’s wrath as well. Plus, they already hated him.) Kobra kidnaps Deadshot’s daughter Zoe, which leads to Bruce ditching the party and rushing to Belle Reve. Batman forces Amanda Waller to release Deadshot for the night, citing that he owes her from her “Kill Your Darlings” debacle (in the previously mentioned Suicide Squad Vol. 5 #23-25) from a few months ago. Not long afterward, Superman and Wonder Woman quickly join Batman and Deadshot, helping them fend-off mutated snake soldiers. After chasing decoys all over Manhattan, the heroes (and villain) wind up fighting snake men at Bruce’s party. As the New Year’s countdown hits zero, one of the snake men activates a suicide quantum energy bomb. A snake man acting as a Kobra suicide-bomber has just activated a quantum energy bomb at Bruce’s New Year’s Eve party in Times Square, New York City. While Wonder Woman and Batman defeat two other snake men, Deadshot kills the suicide-bomber. Superman throws the lifeless snake man into the sky where he explodes at a safe distance. Kobra’s threat is over, but, sadly, Deadshot’s daughter Zoe remains missing, having been kidnapped by Kobra earlier in the day. Batman vows to find her.

And there you have it. The complete life and times of Floyd “Deadshot” Lawton. Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon; the flames of love extinguished, and fully past and gone—he’s been around for 68 years, but here’s to another 68 for Floyd in the future. Happy New Year!

trinity 16 final page 2017-2018

About Collin Colsher

Collin Colsher, the creator of The Real Batman Chronology Project and disCONTINUITY, is a writer, filmmaker, teacher, and comic book historian that currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has lectured at various universities, libraries, and book fairs. Collin has also served on the jury for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, which is sponsored by the US Library of Congress.
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