I feel like I had to throw a full size house ad here, because you really have to be able to read this. This ad had me hooked from the word go.
I’m not sure if it lives up to that ad though- not that it isn’t good, or even as good as the ad….it’s just different. But let’s back up a moment, because some of you are too young to remember a time when Deadshot wasn’t popular.
Seriously, back before Suicide Squad, he wasn’t even a B-lister. He was nothing. Showed up in Batman here and there, but no one cared. John Ostrander took this character and gave him depth. Personality. In fact he noticed that over 1988 that he had TOO much he wanted to do with him, and he was afraid Deadshot may end up dominating the title unfairly so he came up with a plan- let’s do a mini-series.
I knew Deadshot from reading Who’s Who obsessively and the 13 year old me was really into min-series so this was perfect. I actually hadn’t been reading Suicide Squad at the time – this series got me into it.
It stats off simple enough. Deadshot’s son is kidnapped and the ransom is to finish a job from years ago. Instead he goes after his son. Standard superhero fare right?
Except…the kidnapper is his mother. The job is to murder his father, and the gang? this is a special gang. You pay extra fro them because one of the crew is a mentally handicapped child molester who tends to kill the kids he diddles.
How in GOD’s NAME WAS THIS NOT A MATURE READER’S title??? Seriously. It has the comics code seal on it. GENERAL AUDIENCES. Let me tell you, there was no way I should have been reading this at that age. Especially since….how do I put this?
Everything goes horribly wrong. EVERYTHING. As bad as you can imagine it, that’s what happens. By the end everyone is dead….well, not everyone, his mother is paralyzed, good as dead. This is not cheerful reading. There is NO happy ending, but this is a GOOD book and to this day I credit it with single-handedly making Deadshot the star he is in the DCU today.
Twenty years later there was a second mini-series. It’s a follow-up bot to this series (kind of) and to Kieth Giffen’s Suicide Squad (kind of). I almost wonder if this was a story Giffen was going to tell in his suicide squad before it got the axe. It’s not as raw or as gritty though. It follows fare more traditional comic lines, a safer story where the status qoe is restored at the end. A nice follow up and easy to get, but make no mistake, it’s just an epilogue to tell you what happened afterwards. The main event is the 88 series.
I occasionally still see these in dump bins, but even if you don’t I seriously recommend you go out of your way to find this. It’s one of DC’s great triumphs of the 80’s.