PEACEMAKER: DISTURBING THE PEACE #1/ Story by GARTH ENNIS/ Art by GARRY BROWN/ Color Art by LEE LOUGHRIDGE/ Letters by ROB STEEN/ Cover by JUAN FERREYRA/ Variant Covers by GARRY BROWN, LEE LOUGHRIDGE, RYAN BROWN, AMANDA CONNER & ALEX SINCLAIR/ Published by DC BLACK LABEL
I went into Peacemaker: Disturbing The Peace #1 with certain expectations. With a script by The Boys co-creator Garth Ennis and a humorous variant cover by Amanda Conner, how could I not expect this to be a darkly humorous take on the world of espionage in the same vein as the hit HBO Max series Peacemaker? I should have known better, with all my years of critical writing, to have expected anything regarding a TV tie-in comic. Because I forgot that Garth Ennis writes far more than twisted satires of genre fiction and that DC Comics doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to releasing material that is tonally consistent with the media based on its books.
Rather than a slapstick-fueled, action-packed romp, the first issue of Peacemaker: Disturbing The Peace is all about a conversation and exposition. The story centers upon Christopher Smith, the Peacemaker, as he speaks with the psychiatrist assigned to assess his mental fitness pending assignment to a new special forces unit. Naturally she has concerns, given his past, which they discuss in detail.
This Christopher Smith is a drastically different character than the one played by John Cena. Rather than being raised by a racist supervillain to follow in his footsteps and rejecting his teachings to become a warrior for peace, this Christopher Smith was the sole survivor of his parents murder/suicide pact. He was then briefly raised by a pair of bank robbing sociopaths, who adopted him after killing his foster father and stealing his car, not knowing a young Christopher was in the backseat.
While Garth Ennis is known as a fantastic writer of dark comedy, he is also known for writing stark serious war comics that examine the lives of those brave men who took up the soldiers’ duty. This is the Ennis who wrote 90% of Peacemaker: Disturbing The Peace #1’s content. The final 10%, mostly involving Chris’ criminal foster parents, is freely and admittedly parodying the movie Natural Born Killers. (To Ennis’ credit, he makes no pains to hide the reference, and Smith admits to watching a lot of movies that may have colored his memories of his childhood.)
Unfortunately, this look back at the Peacemaker’s past is rather dry stuff. Ennis being Ennis, there are flashes of wit throughout. Unfortunately, that does little to escape the problem that this comic is entirely built around two people talking about the past, with little sense of urgency.
The artwork by Garry Brown is similar subdued, though it fits the grim and gritty nature of the story quite well. Lee Loughridge’s colors paint the finished artwork in largely muted tones, with brighter reds and oranges punctuating the action-filled flashbacks and darker shades accenting figures in the foreground. The final effect is interesting, if not always eye-catching.
Those coming into Peacemaker: Disturbing The Peace #1 expecting the same hijinks-filled hilarity of the HBO Max series will be sorely disappointed. That being said, there is the start of an interesting story here and the artwork matches that story, beat for beat. Readers should come in with an open mind and not expect the Garth Ennis of The Boys and The Pro.