Deadshot

Created by David Vern Reed, Bob Kane and Lew Schwartz

NAME + ALIASES:
Floyd Lawton

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Edward Lawton (son, deceased), Genevieve Pitt Lawton (mother, deceased), George Lawton (father, deceased), Edward Robert Lawton (brother, deceased), Susan (ex-wife), Zoe (daughter)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Suicide Squad, Killer Elite, Secret Six

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Batman #59 (June/July 1950); Earth-One: Detective Comics #474 (Dec. 1977)

History

Floyd Lawton was born into a privileged but dysfunctional family in the small town of Lawton, of which Floyd's father, George Lawton, was the preeminent citizen. Floyd spent his childhood in the shadow of his older brother, Edward (Eddie) Lawton. Although Floyd was devoted to his brother, he was stung by his parents' favoritism and resorted to acting out, joining the Communist Party and even learning Russian to antagonize his industrialist father. (Suicide Squad v.1 #5–6) Floyd also developed an antagonistic relationship with William Heller, the son of some of his family's well-to-do peers. (Suicide Squad v.1 #4)

When Floyd and Eddie were still teenagers, their mother, Genevieve Pitt Lawton, convinced Eddie to kill his father. Although Floyd was aware of the plan, he was unable to stop Eddie from shooting and crippling their father. When Floyd tried to shoot the gun out of his brother's hand, the shot went astray and killed Eddie instantly. (Deadshot v.1 #4) Since Floyd was a trophy-winning marksman, it was widely assumed that he was responsible for both shootings and that Eddie had died trying to defend their father, misconceptions the family did little to refute. (Deadshot v.1 #2) Floyd was emotionally devastated by these events, which left him cynical and self-destructive.

Lawton later married a working-class woman named Susan and had a son, Eddie, named for his late brother. The marriage was rocky and soon ended, leaving Eddie in Susan's custody. (Deadshot v.1 #1–2)

Floyd Lawton is cut from the same bat-cloth. From Batman #59 (1950); art by Bob Kane, Lew Sayre Schwartz and Charles Paris.
The Earth-One Deadshot "returns." From Detective Comics #474 (Dec. 1977); art by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin.

Lawton went on to Gotham City, moving into a mansion and even installing his own indoor target range. He decided to use his skills to become a crimefighter called Deadshot, costumed in top hat and tails and armed with a pair of revolvers. As Deadshot, he tried to undermine Batman while secretly planning to kill him, make it look like an accident, and then take control of organized crime in Gotham while still pretending to be a hero. However, Batman thwarted his plans by surreptitiously sabotaging Deadshot's guns so he would miss every shot. Lawton was then arrested and publicly discredited. (Batman v.1 #59)

Lawton languished for years in prison before stealing a gimmick from his new cellmate, the Penguin, and making good his escape. Eager to avenge himself on Batman, Lawton resumed his identity as Deadshot and adopted a new costume with more powerful integral weapons, although he was swiftly defeated again and sent back to prison. (Detective Comics #474) He was later released through the manipulations of corrupt Gotham political boss Rupert Thorne in exchange for killing Bruce Wayne, who was opposing Thorne's chosen candidate for mayor. Deadshot was defeated by Batman and Christopher Chance, the Human Target, whom Alfred Pennyworth had hired to impersonate Wayne. (Detective Comics #518)

Deadshot spent the next few years in and out of prison, but, unlike so many of Batman's foes, he decided not to make a full-time career of his vendetta against the Caped Crusader, instead becoming a freelance assassin. 

Notes

Because Deadshot first appeared in 1950, it would be reasonable to conclude there were both Earth-Two and Earth-One characters, although this was never addressed or confirmed. In Batman #59, Lawton was depicted as being in his thirties or early forties, and explained that he could not become a policeman because his right leg had been rebuilt with steel plates after he was wounded in action during World War II. This could only have been true for the Earth-Two version of the character.

Deadshot's second appearance was 27 years later, in Detective Comics #474 (Dec. 1977). His first encounter with Batman was shown in flashback, but this new version of the character was not 50+ years old. There was no indication given that the Earth-One/post-Crisis Deadshot ever served in the military or suffered such an injury.

Suicide Squad

Shortly after the Crisis, Deadshot was sent to Belle Reve prison in Louisiana, where Amanda Waller recruited him for the new Suicide Squad. Lawton was offered a deal: accept dangerous missions for the U.S. government in exchange for clemency. His first mission was the destruction of the monster called Brimstone. (Legends #1-3) 

Deadshot became a core member of the new Suicide Squad. He was ruthless and amoral enough to have no qualms about the Squad's dubious ethics — he had no compunctions about killing opponents outright  — and he was psychologically damaged enough for Waller to easily manipulate. Team psychiatrist Simon LaGrieve posited that Lawton had a death wish and secretly relished dangerous assignments as a way of flirting with suicide. Lawton's therapist, Marnie Herrs, developed an unprofessional fascination with her patient and eventually decided to investigate his family history in an unsuccessful attempt to break through his shell. (Deadshot v.1 #1)

Around that time, Lawton learned that his son Eddie had been kidnapped by thugs hired by his mother, who was attempting to blackmail Floyd into killing his crippled father. (Deadshot v.1 #2) Eddie was killed before Floyd could rescue him (#3) and Deadshot retaliated by killing everyone involved with the boy's abduction. After explaining to Herrs what had happened to his brother, Floyd crippled his mother with a single bullet, putting her in a wheelchair like her estranged husband. (#4)

The incident left Lawton's psychological state more tenuous than ever. Soon afterward, Waller dispatched him to stop Rick Flag from killing Senator Joseph Cray, who had attempted to blackmail Waller into supporting his reelection campaign. Deadshot's solution was to kill Cray himself, shooting the senator between the eyes. That reminder of his brother's death caused Lawton to snap. Addressing Flag as "Ed," Deadshot urged him to escape and then provoked a near-fatal shootout with D.C. police. (Suicide Squad v.1 #22)

Deadshot narrowly survived and spent weeks in the Belle Reve infirmary, recovering from his wounds. Waller later allowed him to escape after he, Poison Ivy, and Ravan helped Waller kill the leaders of the criminal organization called the Loa. (#39) When Sarge Steel freed Waller from prison a year later, Deadshot was one of her first recruits for the reorganized Suicide Squad, which no longer worked directly for the U.S. government. (#40–43) 

In a rare gesture of camaraderie, Lawton later agreed to accompany teammate George Harkness (Captain Boomerang) on a personal trip to visit his family in Australia. (#46) Their relationship was badly strained when Harkness' antics caused Lawton to lose his luggage — including his costume and weapons — en route to a Squad mission. (#47) 

Lawton worked with the Squad sans the costume, which subsequently fell into the hands of a European assassin eager to claim Deadshot's identity and reputation. Lawton killed his rival and left without reclaiming his equipment. (#51) However, after Henri Ducard mailed him the bloodstained costume (#63), Lawton put it back on and wore it for the Squad's final mission, not even bothering to repair the bullet hole in the forehead. 

Freelance Assassin

Deadshot joined a group of the world's best assassins, the Killer Elite. The group's origin was unknown, and all its members were first gathered together shortly after Neron's campaign to enslave Earth's super-villains. (Underworld Unleashed; Justice League America #105) It is likely that some or all of these assassins sold their souls to Neron in exchange for some boon. The Killer Elite competed against the Body Doubles for a contract from Requiem Inc., who wanted to kill a man named Richter. Deadshot surreptitiously sabotaged his team's victory because he was dating Body Double Carmen Leno at the time. (Body Doubles #1)

They were next seen when the Joker infected a host of super-villains with his mania. The Killer Elite laid siege to Iron Heights prison, but were beaten back its warden, Gregory Wolfe, and prison guards. They were teleported away from there by Warp to the Keystone City Jail, where Deadshot also "Jokerized" Captain Boomerang. They were all brought into custody by the Flash. (Flash v.2 #179)

The Suicide Squad made sporadic appearances over the years, consisting of different operatives. Deadshot was sent with Bronze Tiger, Count Vertigo, Shrapnel, Flex, Quartzite, and Thermal to capture the third incarnation of Hawk and Dove (who had allied with other former Squad compatriots). (Hawk and Dove v.4 #3-5)

Following the war, the operative known as the Unknown Soldier recruited a mystery man to head up a new Suicide Squad. This man posed as the legendary World War II hero, Frank Rock. Also on board was Rock's old comrade, Bulldozer. Their main operatives included Deadshot, Killer Frost II and Major Disaster. In their final battle against a new Jihad, Havana (Waller's daughter) and Modem were killed. After this, "Rock" disappeared, leaving behind only a face mask. Bulldozer stood up out of his wheelchair and walked away commenting, "It was nice to feel young again." (Suicide Squad v.2)

Deadshot was hired to assassinate David Cain before Cain could testify about framing Bruce Wayne for the murder of Vesper Fairchild. He instead chose to hand Cain a gun and give his quarry the opportunity to end Deadshot's life. After a brief fight Cain shot Deadshot in the chest. Deadshot was rushed to an emergency room, where much to his dismay, he pulled through. (Batman #606, 607)

Deadshot attended one of the super-villain community's semi-regular gatherings at the Injustice Gang's old satellite headquarters. (Identity Crisis #2) He learned from Doctor Light that he was once mind-wiped by Zatanna and the Justice League of America. Deadshot spread this story throughout the underground. (#4)

Deadshot was apprehended along with Monacle and Merlyn when the Justice League were hunting down super-villains, in response to Sue Dibny's murder (wife of the Elongated Man). (#5)

+ Powers

Deadshot is not a metahuman, but he is perhaps the DC Universe's most skillful sharpshooter, capable of astounding feats of marksmanship. His weapons of choice are the rapid-fire "wrist magnums" built into his redesigned costume, which can fire a variety of solid or explosive ammunition and can be fitted with a grapnel and line.

He has also used various ordinary firearms and, on certain Suicide Squad missions, experimental laser weapons. His red eyepiece includes telescopic and thermal vision lenses for targeting and his uniform incorporates some measure of armor protection. Although Deadshot is a ruthless and deadly opponent, his sense of self-preservation is at best erratic, which sometimes leads him to take unreasonable risks like forgoing body armor or deliberately missing easy shots.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:  

  • Action Comics #895–896
  • Batman #351, 354, 369 , 400 , 591 , 592 , 606 , 607
  • Batman: Gotham Knights #56–57
  • Batman: The 12-Cent Adventure #1
  • Birds of Prey #104-108
  • Body Doubles (Villains) #1
  • Countdown #r43, 42, 39, 28
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #10
  • Deathstroke #49
  • Deathstroke, the Hunted #41
  • Detective Comics #474 , 518 , 520, 536 , 797
  • Firestorm, the Nuclear Man Annual #5
  • Flash v.2 #179
  • Fury of Firestorm #64
  • Hawk and Dove v.4 #3-5
  • Identity Crisis #2, 4-6
  • JLA #34
  • Joker: Last Laugh #4
  • Justice League America #105-106
  • Justice League International v.1 #13
  • Justice League of America v.2 #15
  • Millennium #4
  • Showcase '93 #7-11
  • Superboy v.3 #13 -15
  • Underworld Unleashed #1
  • War of the Gods #3-4
  • Wonder Woman v.2 #61

» SERIES:

  • Legends, 6-issue limited series (1987)
  • Suicide Squad v.1, 66 issues (1987-92)
  • Deadshot v.1, 4-issue limited series (1988)
  • Suicide Squad v.2, 12 issues (2001-02)
  • Deadshot v.2, 5-issue limited series (2004)
  • Villains United, 6-issue limited series (2005) & Infinite Crisis Special #1
  • Secret Six v.2, 6 issue-limited series (2006)
  • Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag, 8 issues (2007–08)
  • Salvation Run, 7 issues (2008)
  • Secret Six v.3, 30 issues (2008–11)