Written by John Ostrander
Art by J. Calafiore
I’m usually not big on fill-in issues, especially those that feature a completely different creative team. Gail Simone and Nicola Scott have been wowing me on a consistent basis on this title, so it’s a little disappointing that they had nothing to do with this issue. However, this was still a decent read, mostly due to the fact that it was written by veteran scribe John Ostrander and it focuses exclusively on Deadshot, a character he is quite familiar with from his work on DC’s fan favorite title Suicide Squad. This issue has a fascinating premise, and while the ending was a tad rushed, it helped to flesh out a character who I just recently became familiar with and until now seemed slightly one-dimensional.
The plot hinges on Floyd Lawton, Deadshot’s alter ego, meeting with an old aquiantance, the Reverend Richard Craemer, in a diner to talk about the murderous impulses he has been having. Floyd confesses that he’s been having these intense urges to kill anyone and everyone around him, and while he has not yet acted on them, he doesn’t know how long he can hold out. As they talk, he recounts the time he murdered a group of junkies that were squatting in his old house and the first couple of encounters he had with Batman. He tells these tales to Craemer after first warning him that he could kill him without batting an eye, and yet Craemer doesn’t flinch or run away.
The breakthrough that Craemer gets out of Floyd seems a little “Psych 101,” but the reader gets the feeling that Deadshot knew what was causing these impulses and just needed someone to talk to about it. If only for these pages, Ostrander gives this sarcastic, cold-blooded killer a brief moment of humanity. It makes for a quieter, more introspective issue than we’re used to from Secret Six, but after the craziness of the previous arc, it’s nice to slow down and just spend some time in the head of one of the title’s main characters.
This isn’t to say that this issue is completely devoid of violence, because there are plenty of bloody deaths…they’re just all either imagined by Deadshot or carried through in his flashbacks. On the first page, Calafiore nicely shows the severity of Lawton’s condition by following a normal panel in which Lawton is sitting in a booth at the diner with a red-hued panel in which everyone in the diner lies dead, with Lawton sitting in the same booth, only in costume as Deadshot. This effect, which reads like a brief jump cut in a movie, is repeated a couple more times in the book, but not so many times that it seems overused or tiresome. It’s a great example of how comic art can and should be used to visually reinforce the story.
Despite these great moments in the book, the story’s ending is slightly unsatisfactory. We’re given a brief glimpse into Lawton’s psyche, only to have him close back up the minute Craemer offers a theory as to why these impulses keep occurring. Still, again, there’s not much to complain about here for a one-and-done fill-in. It at least made me want to check out Ostrander’s earlier work with the character. This book, while not matching Simone and Scott’s brilliance, earns 4 out of 5 Ventilated Foreheads.