BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME
FB@ The Comic Blog
Like a hollow point bullet from his Desert Eagle, Peacemaker has stormed the gates of our hearts. Now that he’s gone from unknown to star in the past year, his keys are taking flight.
James Gunn keeps doing what he does best - irreverent comedy and over-the-top violence. Think of him as the Quentin Tarantino of superhero movies, and that goes double for his stint with the DCEU. WB and DC have let Gunn show the world what he can do when there are no restraints, and I hope his time with the studio isn’t coming to a close. Sure, we’ll see his work again in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but he’s taken things to a new level with his gory and fun takes on the DCEU.
Making stars out of obscure and oddball characters is Gunn's specialty. He planted his flag on the territory with GOTG, and he’s taken his game to a new level with The Suicide Squad. Now, he’s making stars out of the most unlikely of characters with HBO Max’s Peacemaker.
The first three episodes have landed on the streaming platform, and they are as insane and odd as you would expect. Lately, the opening dance number - which is quite possibly the most intentionally bad choreography ever recorded, and that makes it great, especially when Eagley the Eagle poses and squawks for the camera - has gone viral. If you aren't watching, you are missing out on a highly entertaining show filled with Gunn’s trademark quirky characters galore. With him dipping into the Charlton Comics pool of oddballs, there’s no telling who all we might see.
On that note, let’s take a closer look at some Peacemaker and friends’ key issues.
FIGHTIN’ FIVE #40
Now that Peacemaker has danced his way into the spotlight, the key that collectors are hunting down is Charlton’s Fightin’ Five #40 from 1966. This is not one of the more common issues you find at any comic shop in the country. Until The Suicide Squad, did anyone actually care about Peacemaker? Better question, how many of us - even those of us who have been collecting for decades - had never heard his name before he was cast for the movie? You can’t see me (you’re welcome), but I have my hand raised, and it’s as awkward as it sounds.
Since this is a key in low availability that has only been in demand in the past year or so, it makes for high prices. Still, those values are not out of reach just yet. The highest grade sold this month has been the 4.5. So far, two slabs swapped owners online; the first was for $650 on January 13, and the other earned $475 the next day. Last month, the highest grade to sell all year was an 8.5, which brought $2,880 in December and came within $20 of tying the record high.
PEACEMAKER #1 (1967)
When it comes to Peacemaker #1, you have options. Clearly, there can only be one original #1, which was the first time the character starred in his own self-titled series. That particular comic was published in the Silver Age in 1967. Because of that fact, that is the harder issue to find, at least for a decent price and at a higher grade.
The alternative is the Modern Comics reprint that was published in 1978.
Although this is technically a second printing, it is not exactly in abundance. Of course, that’s the appeal of many of the Peacemaker keys, since his keys have never been widely collectible until now. In the case of ‘78’s Peacemaker #1, it was included in a three-pack of comics that was only sold at specific department stores (just don’t ask me which stores those were).
Let’s say you are in the market for one of these Peacemaker #1s. How much can you expect to pay? For the 1967 original printing, an 8.0 has already sold for $1k this month, and that’s just $25 from the record sale. The lowest graded sale on record is a 4.0 that brought $285 in 2020, so that should give you an idea of the price tags you should be looking for.
If those prices are too much for your tastes, do what other collectors have done and opt for the ‘78 reprint. Last month, three different grades - the 9.2, 7.0, and the 6.5 - were bought and sold online. Even at the 9.2 grade, the price tag was for just $145.
Again, here is a less-expensive Peacemaker key to add to your collections. This is another Silver Age addition, so don’t expect the prices to be too low, especially in the higher grades. Still, it’s a much cheaper alternative to Fightin’ Five #40.
Why should you want this comic? For the Peacemaker collectors, this issue marked the first time he was given a proper origin story. Being comics, those origins will change with the times, and that will prove true in this case, but it all started here.
This is a great pick up for all the newfound Peacemaker fans out there, particularly for those on a limited budget. You can have as high as a graded 8.5 for less than $50 based on last year’s sales figures.
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #6
With the rising costs of all those Peacemaker keys thanks to the show, Crisis on Infinite Earths #6 should be a bit more appealing. This is not going to be the first issue to leap out from the crowded field, but it is significant for more than just Peacemaker. This comic marked the entrance of several Charlton Comics characters into the DC Universe, including Captain Atom, Judomaster, Nightshade, Thunderbolt, and the Question, who would inspire the Watchmen’s Rorschach. Before all the Peacemaker publicity, this issue was famous in the comic circles for being the first appearance of one of DC’s most underrated villains, the Anti-Monitor.
Last year, the graded 9.8 sold for as much as $210, which was dangerously close to the record high from 2019. So far in 2022, it has sold for an average of $179.
NEW TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #2
One of the many bright spots for the Peacemaker series has been his disturbed best friend, Vigilante. In the show, he is portrayed as more or less the lighter side of the Punisher. Vigilante puts the hilarity in homicidal, and he has no problem killing, well, anyone who breaks the law. Any law. At one point, he mentions murdering people for vandalzing property with graffiti. By the same token, he’s a nerdy loser outside the costume who is completely in love with Peacemaker, and that’s bound to turn into a bigger plot thread down the line.
Peacemaker should be making a star out of Vigilante, and that will put a premium on his keys. Unlike Peacemaker, Vigilante didn’t come from Charlton Comics. He is a DC original, created in 1941’s Action Comics #42 when Greg Saunders used the Vigilante name. Since the original character is from the Golden Age, the first appearance of the Greg Saunders Vigilante is well out of reach for most collectors. In fact, just three graded copies of Action Comics #42 sold online last year. At the bottom of the barrel, a lowly 1.8 brought $523 in July while a 3.5 had a price tag of $750 in March.
Instead, opt for New Teen Titans Annual #2. After Adrian Chase debuted in New Teen Titans #23, he would make his first full appearance in the Vigilante costume in TT Annual #2.
Already this year, TT Annual #2 is setting new records. Entering 2022, the prior high sale for a 9.8 had been $288. So far this month, it has hit $300+ four times with a record-high $310.
SUICIDE SQUAD #4
How cool was it to see Robert Patrick playing in Peacemaker? Not only was he part of the show, but he is playing a significant part at that. Fans of Terminator 2 understand my joy. The character he is portraying in the show is a composite of two characters, which makes collecting his key issues a bit tricky.
In the comics, Peacemaker’s father is Wolfgang Schmidt, but the show changes the part to August “Auggie” Smith. As we learn in the third episode, he also is known as the White Dragon, a moniker he picked up when he formed a neo-Nazi, white supremacy group apparently in prison.
Since Peacemaker’s onscreen dad is calling himself White Dragon, that has led collectors to Suicide Squad #4. The White Dragon name has been used on and off in DC Comics since the Golden Age, but SS #4 is the debut of the basis for Auggie Smith’s character. This issue featured the debut of William Hell, who would become the racist white supremacist supervillain, White Dragon.
Unlike the Vigilante market, things have not heated up for White Dragon quite yet, but it eventually will. The only graded copy to trade hands online so far this year has been a 9.6 that brought $50 on January 13.
SPECIAL WAR SERIES #4
Another Charlton holdover, Peacemaker and Vigilante get their asses handed to them by the undersized-yet-deadly Judomaster, complete with green uniform that reminded me of The Detachable Kid/Arm Fall Off Boy. In the show, he is the bodyguard for a senator who turns out to be an alien monster. Whether or not Judomaster knew this beforehand is still a mystery at this point, but we do learn that he is deadly with a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto.
In the comics, there have been three characters to use the Judomaster moniker. So far, we don’t know which version of the character is in Peacemaker, so most collectors are still gunning for Special War Series #4. As you may have guessed, the original Judomaster, Hadley Jagger, debuted in this 1965 issue.
If you want to be thorough with you collecting and cover all your bases, the next issue on your list should be 1994’s Justice League Quarterly #14. In this comic, we are first introduced to Tommy Jagger, Hadley Jagger’s son. After the father-son duo handed off the title, it was given to a third iteration in 2006. In Birds of Prey #100, readers met the first female Judomaster, Sonia Sato, and we may see her in the series by the finale.
At the moment, prices are not bad for Judomaster’s first appearance in Special War Series #4. There has not been a graded copy to sell online since last February when a 9.4 brought $380. Only a day ago, a raw copy sold for $64 on eBay, so now is the time to jump on this issue.
MAKING PEACE WITH CHRIS SMITH
John Cena has been a delight so far as the man-child Chris Smith and his misguided superheroics. It’s Peacemaker’s supporting cast that can take this show to new heights, and that will put a premium on all their key issues. Since James Gunn adores the weirdest characters in comics, it is likely we will see more Charlton characters before the series winds down. Personally, I’m crossing my fingers for the Question.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.