PEACEMAKERMedium: Comic Books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1988
Creators: Paul Kupperberg (writer) and Tod Smith (artist)
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In 1983, when DC Comics bought the superheroes published by Charlton in the 1960s, it brought some notable properties into its stable — properties such as Captain Atom, the first character created by Steve Ditko (Spider-Man); The Blue Beetle, a version of which goes back to the very early days of comic books; and Thunderbolt, critically acclaimed since his first appearance. But it also acquired a bunch of
turkeys, such as Son of Vulcan, a low-quality rip-off of Marvel's Thor; and The Peacemaker, based on the questionable concept, popular among politicians at the time, of using violent means to create peace.
The first glimmering of DC's Peacemaker turned up in Watchmen, the company's 1986 graphic novel about superheroes written by Alan Moore (The Ballad of Halo Jones), which has influenced the genre ever since. One of its major characters, The Comedian, was based on him, as the rest had been based on other Charlton heroes. The Comedian was a nihilistic murderer, among other things, as part of his public sector career.
When Peacemaker himself returned, in a four-issue mini-series starting January, 1988, it looked like they were simply starting to publish the old one again — but only on the surface. Inside, Christopher Smith (or Schmidt, as he'd been called at birth) wasn't the same at all. To begin with, his father, a World War II concentration camp commander who had suicided in front of him on his fifth birthday, haunted him. So did everybody he'd ever killed, who lived inside his helmet, and yes, it was very crowded in there. This may explain why he chose a career in diplomacy, but sometimes put on a costume and turned warrior. The new Peacemaker was created by writer Paul Kupperberg (Arion, Lord of Atlantis) and artist Tod Smith (Omega Men).
After his four issues, Peacemaker hit the guest star circuit. When he'd outlived his usefulness, he was killed off in a conflict with Eclipso, whose functions include acting as a Grim Reaper (no relation) for superheroes that aren't needed anymore. But apparently word of his demise didn't get around widely enough, because someone just like him turned up in an issue of Justice League International.
Then somebody else, a Mitchell Black, started wearing a costume reminiscent of his and calling himself Peacemaker, but he got killed off too. Then the original turned out not to have died after all, as often happens with superheroes, and took the costume and name back. And that's where Peacemaker currently stands.
Nowadays, nobody takes his original raison d'etre, that he loves peace so much he's willing to murder and maim for it, seriously. But in a comic book milieu in which The Punisher and Vigilante can exist, a hero who uses unconscionable means to achieve what he, for one, considers good ends, can find at least enough of an audience to survive.