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If you watched last night’s episode of Flash, but you aren’t a comics reader, there may have been a few things that showed up that were… weird to you when Barry, Cisco and Wells traveled to Earth 2. Two of those things made me very excited, namely, the quick glimpse of John Wesley Shipp from his days playing Flash, and the ring. That ring, I will not be talking about today, because I pray it will show up again. Instead, we’ll be talking about a guy who isn’t really a Flash character at all.
Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot, showed up a few times on Arrow, and from what I can find, he met Flash in the digital comic based on the show, though it isn’t clear if that comic is canon or not. Whatever the case, Barry Allen knows who Deadshot is, either from Ollie telling him about the guy, or their having met somewhere, sometime. What we saw last night was the Earth 2 Deadshot - a guy who is a terrible marksman. This is the exact opposite from the Deadshot we see in the comics.
Created in 1950 by David Vern Reed, Lew Schwartz, and Bob Kane, Deadshot first showed up in the pages of Batman as a rival for the Caped Crusader. Deadshot came to Gotham, dressed like a magician for some reason, and claimed to be fighting crime. Batman quickly put it together that Floyd’s real plan was to take out the major crime bosses of Gotham, then become the crime kingpin of the city. Batman, not digging the plan, arrested Deadshot. After serving his time in prison, Deadshot became an assassin for hire.
The story of Floyd Lawton is one of tragedy. As a boy. Floyd idolized his older brother. On the other end of the spectrum, Floyd’s dad hated his oldest son and would beat the crap out of him on the regular. Unable to stand seeing his brother beaten any longer, Floyd took out his rifle, loaded it, and set himself up in a tree, waiting for pops to pass by.
When Floyd had an opening, he shot. As he shot, he leaned too hard on a branch, which snapped. The breaking branch threw off Floyd’s shot, and he missed his target, instead striking his brother. It was a kill shot, the first kill Deadshot ever made.
The trauma of the moment lead Floyd down a bad path. He became almost OCD with weapons, training himself to be the greatest marksman of all time, as well as a world class hand to hand combatant who could take on Batman. Over the years, Deadshot became the greatest assassin in history, known for never missing (though he has missed - he was once hired to kill Batman, and obviously he failed). The death of his brother also lead to Floyd having little concern for his own life, making him a perfect fit for the government wetworks team, Suicide Squad.
As a member of Suicide Squad, Deadshot has, time and again, tried to get killed. Ordered to stop the leader of the Suicide Squad, Rick Flagg, from killing a senator, Deadshot took it on himself to assassinate the senator on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Then he happily stood there as police opened fire on him. He survived, but Deadshot was never the same again,
After being released from the Suicide Squad, Deadshot was hired to kill the Pope, but was stopped by Wonder Woman. Another time he missed! This guy is lying in his advertising! What a jerk. Oh, he also tried to blow up a kindergarten. I guess he’s a jerk for that too.
Personally, my favorite Deadshot moment happened during the series Identity Crisis. In it, Deadshot and a bunch of baddies were battling the Justice League. Outpowered by Green Lantern, Deadshot shoots himself in the neck, forcing GL to stop fighting in order to save his life. Deadshot takes the opening and shoots Green Lantern. The deathwish of Deadshot is really his defining trait, which was added to the character by writer supreme John Ostrander.
There is a sadness to a character like Deadshot, a guy who set the stage for two of the better known comic book characters out there, Deathstroke the Terminator and Deadpool, but somehow never found the same popularity. I suppose Deathstroke is cooler looking, and his being a major villain for the Teen Titans surely helped shoot him up in the minds of readers, and Deadpool is fun, breaking the fourth wall and being all insane. Our boy Floyd, he never had that hook, though maybe in 1950, dressing like Jack Donaghy after 6PM and calling yourself Deadshot was enough of a hook. All the same, things are looking up for old Lawton!
With Suicide Squad coming out in just a few months, Deadshot is likely to get a lot more attention. It doesn’t hurt that he’ll be played by Will Smith. Personally, I don’t have much of a connection to the character. I never got deep into the Suicide Squad comics, and I’ve never been a big fan of comic characters whose power is “I have guns”. I did like the way the character was used on Arrow - he showed up a few times, and appears to die in his final appearance. Now with the movie, he is supposedly off limits for TV, which made his showing up in Flash last night pretty neat.