From writer and generally funny guy Kyle Starks (I Hate This Place; Rick and Morty) and veteran artist Steve Pugh (The Flintstones; Animal Man) comes a new chapter of goofy, righteous bloodshed in Peacemaker Tries Hard #1. Featuring colors by Jordie Bellaire and lettering from Becca Carey, this first issue is 22-pages of the exact sort of absurdity you’d expect from a Peacemaker comic post James Gunn. With a delightfully hilarious script and outstanding character art, this first chapter is certainly a book worth picking up for fans of the HBO Max series.
“Having earned his release from the Suicide Squad, Peacemaker wants to try and do normal superhero stuff for a change. Unfortunately everyone, including the bad guys, thinks he sucks at superhero stuff. But when busting up a terrorist ring introduces Christopher Smith to the cutest thing to ever walk (awkwardly) on four legs, he finds the unconditional love he’s been denied his whole life. That is, until the dog is kidnapped right out from under him by a super-villain who has some very un-super-heroic plans for Peacemaker’s brand of ultraviolence. Will he help an infamously unstable super-powered criminal steal the world’s most valuable-and dangerous-DNA? Honestly, Christopher’s pretty lonely, so it probably just depends on how nicely they ask..”
Writing & Plot
In true Kyle Starks/James Gunn fashion, Peacemaker Tries Hard #1 is 22 pages of irreverent and inane humor with a surprising amount of heart. Christopher Smith, our titular lover of peace, has recently been relieved of duty from Task Force X (aka the Suicide Squad), and is now carving out an existence by taking solo gigs and trying to make friends. Unfortunately, social skills aren’t a part of Peacemaker’s skill set, so forming bonds seems a little out of the question – until he meets the fanciest little Frenchie in all of comics. Naturally, Smith’s handsome new friend becomes a victim of villainous shenanigans, and Peacemaker will have to cut a deal with some criminal maniacs in order to save his new four-legged friend.
Starks’ writing carries an undeniable charm along with his humor in this first chapter of Peacemaker. All of his jokes land in that “everyone is an idiot, but Peacemaker is an idiot and a loser” kind of way. The secret to Smith being so likeable is that he’s so naively pure. He’s driven by one motivation and almost never deviates from that goal, but he’s also just good enough not to be a total psychopath. Starks takes Peacemaker’s oddly well-meaning nature and total doofus-ness and pens a comic with inane charm and a ton of heart. The dialogue is basically one joke or one-liner after another, which may wear on some but is a real treat for those who know exactly what they’re getting into. Starks cleverly uses other DC universe characters to make this sort of feel like an ensemble effort – one that feels very much akin to what James Gunn has been doing in his DC films and television shows. Make no mistake, Peacemaker Tries Hard is very much a grab for the Gunn-era fanbase and his recent work with the Peacemaker character. Those who aren’t a fan of Gunn’s approach to humor will probably want to steer clear of this opening issue as well. For those wanting that exact brand of nonstop, well-intentioned jokes and gags though, Peacemaker Tries Hard is absolutely a read for you.
There is likely no better artist imaginable for the absurd comedy and mild satire in Peacemaker Tries Hard #1 than Steve Pugh. The Flintstones artist brings his eye for character animation and comedic pacing to possibly his goofiest project yet. Every character Pugh draws is alive with personality, with a wide range of facial features to display emotion. Christopher Smith’s face and features scream “dumb jock with a heart of blood-soaked gold,” and it creates both a stellar comedic effect and gives Peacemaker a lot of room for empathy. Pugh’s other great design accomplishment is the French Bulldog. I’m not sure a more well-drawn and personality-filled dog exists in the comics medium. Pugh’s sequential direction nails down both the story’s pacing and the comedic timing. Every moment of visual humor lands thanks to how Pugh focuses in on the physical comedy. My favorite part of the comic in terms of the visual is the dig’s introduction. All of the panels separate with Pugh’s delightful rendering of the pup in the center, and it’s gold. The pencils are really brought to life by the color art of industry veteran Jordie Bellaire, whose work adds a tremendous amount of texture along with the varied tones. Her color work in this comic is dense and vivid, utilizing lighting for a range of aesthetic touches from page to page. Becca Carey’s lettering finishes off the experience with some stellar work. Her dialogue lettering is reflexive and adapts to tone with subtle bolds and font changes. Her SFX work is a real treat here as well, with huge, often comedic letters that fit right in with the utter silliness this book has on offer. Overall, this new Peacemaker story is off to a fantastic start on the visual end.
Peacemaker Tries Hard #1 is a delightful and hilarious start to this new series from DC’s Black Label lineup. Kyle Starks pens a laugh-a-panel script with a ton of heart and charm that, while definitely riffing on what James Gunn has brought to the character, is still plenty of fun on its own. The visuals from Steve Pugh and Jordie Bellaire are brilliantly animated and vibrant, making for a reading experience that nails the comedy of this opening chapter. Be sure to grab this first issue, on sale now!