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[This story contains spoilers for The Suicide Squad.]
It’s difficult to say just who the breakout character of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad; for every fan who falls for Polka-Dot Man, there’ll be someone who just instinctively knows that King Shark is more their speed. (And that’s saying nothing of the creature behind Project Starfish, of course.)
There are two newcomers to the team that demand some further investigation upon leaving the theater, however, thanks to The Suicide Squad post-credits scenes that include new revelations about their fates. If you’re ready to learn more about the strange comic book histories of Weasel and Peacemaker, strap in: they’re stranger — and more deadly — than you’d think.
Peacemaker, played by John Cena, will return for an eight-episode HBO Max series from Gunn. The filmmaker has told The Hollywood Reporter it could be longer than one season, describing it this way: “it’s even more grounded, more natural and more real. But it’s still within a big science-fiction storyline that lasts for one season. The main storyline lasts for that season, so that doesn’t mean there’s only one season of Peacemaker.”
There’s plenty for Gunn to draw from, as the character has a long comic book history, one that includes more than one comic book publisher. Although the character is now a DC property, he debuted from Charlton Comics in 1966’s Fightin’ 5 No. 40, before going on to have a five-issue series of his own the following year. After Charlton folded in the 1980s, DC purchased the company’s superhero properties, spinning them into the DCU and also using them as the basis for a little-known project that some people have heard of, called Watchmen.
(For those curious, the Comedian in that series is an analog for Peacemaker, just as all of the Minutemen are stand-ins for other Charlton characters.)
Once he was folded into the DCU, the Peacemaker was given his own miniseries, where he helpfully explained his mission statement in the first issue: “This is my job and I’m damned good at it. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here risking my life and the lives of all the innocent prey! I’m Peacemaker… and I’ll kill to keep the peace!” The series established both his emotional instability (he spends all four issues tortured by the literal ghost of his Nazi father) and his connection to the government agency Checkmate, which brought him into conflict with the Suicide Squad in the 1989 crossover storyline The Janus Directive. It was his first interaction with the machinations of Amanda Waller — but far from his most important.
That honor belongs to his appearances in the 1992 series Eclipso, where he was one of a group of so-called “Shadow Fighters” brought together by Waller to deal with the threat posed by the titular villain of the series. Things don’t go to plan, though, and Peacemaker ends up sacrificing himself to complete the mission.
Like Weasel, though, death was not the end for Peacemaker, and he returned through unknown means in the 2006 Blue Beetle series, and has since shown up as one of the core cast of DC’s current Suicide Squad comic series — although his true loyalties there are, to be polite, unclear. Sound familiar?
Weasle is played by Gunn’s brother Sean Gunn (also known for his performance capture role of Rocket Racoon). It’s fair to say that Weasel is a pretty deep cut amongst DC supervillains, given that he was only really active for three years in the mid-1980s, appearing in a handful of issues before meeting what could be considered an untimely death, if you’re feeling particularly generous.
Debuting in 1985’s The Fury of Firestorm No. 35, Weasel had what might be the most unlikely origin story: an academic at Vandemeer University, John Monroe created a costumed identity to murder those he believed could threaten his chances of becoming a tenured professor, before he ran afoul of superhero Firestorm, who quickly defeated him. After his initial storyline ended just four months after it had begun, he disappeared into comic book limbo before being inducted into the Suicide Squad in 1988’s Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special.
Things didn’t work out too well for him on the team; on his first mission, he was killed by Rick Flag after attempting to murder the Thinker. In Flag’s defense, he was possessed by the Thinker at the time; the entire situation was a little complicated, in a manner that isn’t entirely unfamiliar for the Squad as a whole.
That wasn’t entirely the end of Weasel’s story; he’s reappeared on a couple of occasions in small roles during bigger stories. In 2010’s Blackest Night No. 3, he was one of a number of zombies revived by cosmic villain Nekron, and in 2013’s Forever Evil: ARGUS No. 5, a version in a rebooted timeline was swiftly dispatched and described as “a joke” of a villain. A little harsh, perhaps, but it’s a joke that James Gunn apparently found pretty funny.
The Suicide Squad is in theaters and on HBO Max now.
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