Hi again, and welcome to the final installment of “Gun Happy New Year,” a retrospective on the life and times of DC Comics’ Deadshot. So far, in Part 1 and Part 2, we’ve looked at the primary universe incarnations of the character in comic books from 1950 through 2011 (and a little bit at his TV, movie, and video game appearances). For this part of the piece, we’ll specifically look at Deadshot in the comics from 2011 onward.
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.
Deadshot’s background of being one of Batman’s top rivals is intact in the New 52, as is his 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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: John 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 Universe: 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.
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 from 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!
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.
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 #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.
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 up to now. Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon; the flames of love extinguished, and fully past and gone—he’s been around for sixty-eight years, but here’s to another sixty-eight for Floyd in the future. Happy New Year!