He’s a man who loves peace so much, he’s willing to fight for it.  It’s a bit of a paradox…

Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of The Peacemaker #1 awaits!

Peacemaker1CoverTHE PEACEMAKER #1
Writer: Joe Gill
Penciler: Pat Boyette
Inker: Pat Boyette
Letterer: Pat Boyette
Editor: Dick Giordano
Publisher: Charlton Comics
Cover Price: 12 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $75.00

Previously in The Peacemaker: As early as 1945, Charlton Comics was producing content in all genres of comic book tale: Westerns, cowboys, horror, romance…  They even made forays into the world of superhero stories with ‘Yellowjacket Comics’, featuring an insect-named hero who is absolutely NOT Henry Pym.  But by the 1960s, those efforts were few and far between.  Though they still had the publishing rights to the Golden Age Blue Beetle (a character who passed through diverse hands in his journey from the dawn of the Golden Age to DC Comics), Charlton wasn’t doing a lot in the super-duper vein until Marvel Comics hit it big in the early 60s, adding fuel to the Silver Age fire started by DC.  The Action Hero line revamped Blue Beetle, revived 50s space-hero Captain Atom, even launching new heroes like Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt.

That’s where Christopher Smith comes in…


By day a respected diplomat and believer in pacifism, Smith is called in around the globe when dictators and would-be world-beaters raise their heads.  In this case, the wannabe strongman is attacking the fishing lanes, leaving the global superpowers on the brink of war as they blame one another for sabotaging the supply of food.  Fortunately, Christopher Smith is more than just your average ambassador, and has a few tricks up his short sleeves…


With only one second to spare, The Peacemaker defuses the bomb, denying The Commodore another victory.  Using the explosives to fend off the villain’s trained sharks, Peacemaker then trails the Commodore’s frogman back to his mobile base of operations…


Amazingly, Peacemaker doesn’t bother with subterfuge or sneakery, instead cold-cocking the frogman and storming the ship, making his way straight to the bridge.  The Commodore isn’t sure what to make of this mysterious helmeted figure, but The Peacemaker quickly makes it clear that, while “pacifism” is Christopher Smith’s stock-in-trade, his masked alter-ego has methods of his own…


…specifically, triggering a massive atomic explosion to consume the villain, his mobile lair, and anyone foolish enough to defy him.  Racing for the exits, The Peacemaker and his new prisoners escape just in time for the ship to be consumed in a massive atomic-powered explosion!


“The Man Who Love Peace So Much, He’ll Nuke You If You Don’t Play Along.”  There’s your tagline, Charlton!  You can use that for free!  (Or, you could, if your company hadn’t ceased publishing sometime in the 80s.  Bygones.)  That story is pretty typical of the sort of fare The Peacemaker would face in his regular adventures, and for the era, is a little bit progressive.  At the very least, Pat Boyette’s talents as an artist can offset any eccentricities in the writing.  One thing is sure, the man knows how to open a story…


As a master of all weapons, inventor of many new ones, and a man who despises violence in all its forms, Christopher Smith knows how to stay cool in the face of affront, even when a fellow ambassador mysteriously attacks him and threatens war if he or his country attempts reprisals.  Once again, where Smith’s skills fall short, the skill set of his “other self” quickly come into play, including his aeronautical design skills…


Taking to the air over the “unnamed Balkan nation,” Peacemaker quickly discovers bombers ferrying heavy loads of equipment back and forth, tracking the shipments to Antarctica, where he discovers something both shocking and infuriating…


Faced with a heat-seeking missile, The Peacemaker quickly out-thinks his opponents, killing his engines and sending a super-heated flare back at the source of the shot, causing the attackers to destroy their own position with their own attack!  It’s remarkably clever, and once again puts a few holes in the whole” pacifist” theory.  (Honestly, it’s easy to see why the gritty 80s reboot implied that Smith has severe personality issues.  He’s remarkably contradictory in his actions.)  Bringing his plane down for an engineless landing on Antarctic ice, Smith steps out into the cold, wearing short sleeves, and casually strolls towards his destination.


I’ll say it now: Even Batman doesn’t have that kind of stones.  Infiltrating the installation, using his special nerve gas bullets (which are theoretically non-lethal, but sound really terrible anyway), The Peacemaker is discovered by the bad guys, who turn on the high-speed turbines to pull him to his doom!


Whoa…  That’s…  Wow.  Smashing through the turbines of a nuclear furnace at the SPEED of SOUND, wearing a helmet packed with plastic explosives (and still in short-sleeves), The Peacemaker suddenly realizes the key to unraveling the game of deceit and death in which he finds himself enmeshed: Maximum property damage!


Another nuclear detonation, another dollar!  All in a day’s work for The Peacemaker!  One has to admire Christopher Smith’s chutzpah, even with a marked lack of restraint in his adventures, and he’s clearly a little more super than his action hero compatriots.  The issue ends with a little ‘turnabout is fair play’, as the Fightin’ 5 (a Charlton military unit in the vein of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos or The Blackhawks) wrap up the issue.  Since Peacemaker’s first appearance was as a backup in the 5’s by-now-cancelled title, it feels like a nice favor on the part of Ambassador Smith…


In this story, Fightin’ 5 commando Irv “The Nerve” is killed, leading to his replacement with a lovely Russian defector known as Sonya, keeping the team’s name descriptive.  Having only ever read this Fightin’ 5 story, I can’t say too much about it other than the fact that Pat Boyette’s decision to letter his own work really helps to offset the readability issues from Charlton’s normal typeset lettering, seen in these panels.  All in all, though, it’s easy to see why The Peacemaker has such rabid fans and why he’s so difficult to successfully revamp.  With the huge dichotomy at the heart of his character concept and charming Pat Boyette art, the adventures of Christopher Smith are charismatic and full of Cold War tension.  Still, The Peacemaker #1 has some bizarre-but-forgettable plotting, leading to a slightly above average 3 out of 5 stars overall.  Never one of Charlton’s heaviest hitters, The Peacemaker nonetheless is a character who has massive untapped potential, if only someone at DC could stack the creator deck correctly…



Lovely art and an intriguing character concept don't QUITE overcome the strange plotting and wacky story bits, but it's still an entertaining read.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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