Comics legend Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Punisher) and artist Garry Brown (The Massive) team up for a brutal, smart, and darkly hilarious opening issue with Peacemaker: Disturbing The Peace #1. Featuring colors by Lee Loughridge and letters from Rob Steen, this DC Black Label comic fuses Ennis’s twisted humor and sharp military & political writing with a top-notch visual aesthetic to create the perfect start to a story reintroducing America’s favorite peace-loving professional killer.
“Long before joining the Suicide Squad, Christopher Smith, code name Peacemaker, meets with a psychiatrist—a woman dangerously obsessed with his bizarre and violent past. From his tragic childhood to his military service overseas to his multiple missions with Special Forces, Smith has more than his share of skeletons in the closet. But who’s actually analyzing whom? And will this trip down memory lane result in yet more fatalities?”
Writing & Plot
I imagine Garth Ennis was grinning like a madman as he was penning the script for Peacemaker: Disturbing The Peace #1. The fact that he hadn’t written a Peacemaker comic until now seems strange, as I could scarcely imagine a better melding of writer and character. The narrative here takes place in the form of Christopher Smith – a.k.a. Peacemaker – meeting a psychiatrist as she evaluates him before he is permitted to join a U.S. Special Forces team. The rest of the story works as a semi-frame narrative consisting of flashbacks to Smith’s traumatizing early life and prior military engagements.
Ennis is able to perfectly navigate both the twisted humor and surprisingly cool intellect of our deadly protagonist. The humor doesn’t come as much of a surprise, between Ennis’s own history and the applauded live action interpretation of the character via James Gunn. However, it’s the shocking and smart delivery of the Preacher writer’s brand of gallows humor that really sets this comic apart. The psychiatrist who comes to see Christopher serves as the audience character. Her morality would tend to mirror ours. But because we are seeing these insane acts of over-the-top brutality from our readers’ perspective, they come off as humor juxtaposing the psychiatrist’s horror.
Ennis, in his signature style, also offers incisive bits of brutal commentary on our government’s military. I’m not going to get into spoilers, but makes some pointed remarks through his plot about recruiting and ignoring/hiding the ugliest sides of international military operations. Ennis has always excelled at criticizing world governments for how they conduct their armed forces. I’m pleased to report that he is still at the top of his game in this regard – if not better than he’s ever been.
Artist Garry Brown brings a gritty, almost 90’s Vertigo aesthetic to the grim and darkly humorous events of Peacemaker: Disturbing The Peace #1. Brown’s heavily crosshatched pencils bring a sense of menace and foreboding to every scene. Whether this was the intended effect or not, Brown’s style is a clever touch for keeping this comic mired in unpredictability. He utilizes a great amount of detail in his character animations and designs, especially for a bunch of figures who are dead/dying/going to die. His visual direction is busy yet easy to follow, with panels being laid over each other as he bounces from present day to flashback. Brown fits in well among other artists who have worked with Ennis, with a definitive style that serves the story well.
Lee Loughridge’s colors finish off the visual style with a smoky, semi-watercolor look. He complements Brown’s work by using the darker end of every color he chooses. This is stellar for setting the tone for every page. One that really sticks out is near the beginning when Christopher arrives home from school on a um…fateful day. The room he walks into is colored with a hazy, almost sick-looking shade of light green. Another is a gorgeous shot of a purple early morning sky when Peacemaker is on an op as he looks over a beach he just swam to. His work here is some truly fantastic stuff. The letters from Rob Steen have a classic design to them, with some great and well placed SFX letters as well. Visually, this team puts together a fantastically designed comic that serves the story immensely well.
Peacemaker: Disturbing The Peace #1 is a deviously funny and immensely entertaining start to this new mini-series starring DC’s funniest sociopath. Garth Ennis’s script shows the Irish legend is still in top form, with his signature blend of gallows humor, naturalistic dialogue, and ever-incisive political commentary. The visuals from Garry Brown and Lee Loughridge are detailed, gritty, and well directed and give this opening a great artistic aesthetic. Be sure to grab this new #1 when it hits shelves on 1-25!