Recently, one of the characters that appeared on the CW’s Arrow caused a good bit of excitement among comic fans. The man goes by Deadshot, and is one of the world’s deadliest assassins. So, why does him showing up on Arrow seem so cool to us comic geeks? Let me tell you a bit about the character.
Floyd Lawton, AKA Deadshot, started off as a third string Batman villain, at best. He first ran around in a tuxedo as an assassin for hire. Later, he got a much better costume with elements that would become his trademark: the red eyepiece for aiming and the wrist mounted magnum weapons. Even this wouldn’t have been enough to save him from basically becoming a comic book trivia answer if Lawton hadn’t gotten amazingly lucky.
In the eighties, DC Comics produced a miniseries called Legends. One of the things that spun out of this series was a new take on an old spy title, the Suicide Squad. Jon Ostrander, amazing writer that he is, launched a book that had the US Government take advantage of all the supervillains they had in prison. Various criminals were approached, and told that, if they’d go on a deniable mission for the government, their sentences would be reduced or even commuted. The title lived up to its name and many characters died off, but the ones that survived were given emotional depth and background they hadn’t had before, and Deadshot became a very complex and interesting character. Suicide Squad, among other things, also took Barbara Gordon from the paralyzed ex-Batgirl she had been in the legendary “The Killing Joke,” graphic novel and set her on the path to becoming Oracle.
All good things come to an end, and Suicide Squad was eventually cancelled, although they showed up as guest stars in various books, Deadshot one of their core members. And then later, Deadshot got amazingly lucky again. Gail Simone, another incredibly talented writer, did a special called Villains United which eventually led into an ongoing book called the Secret Six. She made Deadshot one of her main characters, and continued Ostrander’s story. Deadshot was a great character who could be summed up simply enough: one of the best marksmen in the world who really didn’t care if he lived or died. Sadly, both Ostrander’s Squad and Gail’s Six were erased from continuity by DC’s recent reboot, but there were some fantastic stories in those two titles.
So, what did they keep for his guest appearance on Arrow? Both names, Deadshot and Floyd Lawton stayed the same. He was an international assassin, which the character has been in the books, and they had his trademark red eyepiece and wrist guns. And he was very, very good at what he did.
What was changed? In the comics, Deadshot has never used poison on his bullets. He doesn’t need to, he’s that good. He doesn’t miss. So why they added that for the show, I’m not sure. It was very out of character for him. Also, the really weird practice of tattooing his victims’ names on himself was an invention for the show. He’s never done anything like that in the comics, and really, when you think about it, makes no sense. Why leave permanent evidence of your crimes on your body?
At the end of his appearance on Arrow, Deadshot’s fate was uncertain. Arrow appeared to have shot him through the eyepiece, which certainly could have been fatal. But I’m hoping a character with comic fan recognition and so much potential wasn’t killed off that quickly. I guess we’ll see as the series progresses, but I wouldn’t be astounded to see Deadshot return to settle a score with “Arrow.”
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