Welcome back to another installment of Bat Signal, my ongoing project to read random issues of Detective Comics with no context. And look who we have today! It’s the star of the wildly unpopular and maligned blockbuster Suicide Squad, Deadshot! I was not a fan of Deadshot from that movie, but in the world of comics I’m typically a big fan of his. We haven’t gotten a Deadshot issue so far, but that’s okay, I’m much more familiar with the character from the classic Suicide Squad series from the 1980s. And I really enjoy him from there. Plus, we don’t really need a whole lot of context anyway, because this is only the second appearance of Deadshot, and his first one is pretty well-explained in this issue. Which maybe seems like it would lend itself to becoming a really boring issue, but it really isn’t. This issue is a goddamn hoot. There’s so much going on in it, and it’s super complicated, but it’s a whole lot of fun. So let’s finish the preamble and get straight to the wackiness.
The issue starts off with Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson Robin) returning to the Batcave after successfully having arrested the Penguin and dropped him off at Blackgate Penitentiary. Apparently Dick is visiting Bruce from college, and they had a great time catching up and beating up the Penguin. So they reward themselves by playing a little grab-ass and wrestling around the Batcave, showing each other that they’re still buddies and capable of fighting. But the little impromptu shenanigans are brought to and end when Robin’s radio goes off and he gets an urgent call from the Teen Titans, forcing him to run off and leave Batman. But that’s okay, because Bruce going to have to get ready to meet his girlfriend, Silver St. Cloud, anyway, and he has one more person to visit that night anyway. However, things are about to become more difficult, because we cut over to Blackgate and see the Penguin getting put into his cell, right next to Floyd Lawton, Deadshot.
Yep, Penguin comes in and immediately starts giving Lawton shit, since he was only in one issue of Batman decades ago and was a one-hit wonder. Penguin starts to brag that he has a laser in his monocle so that he could escape the prison. Floyd then pulls a middle-school bully and just snatches the monocle away from the diminutive Penguin, and uses it to escape instead. So Lawton runs off into the woods, loudly proclaiming his intentions to kill Batman. Which is a good time to see what the Dark Knight is up to. I’m not really sure why he’s doing this, but Batman is popping in on local political boss Rupert Thorne, and the two start threatening each other about something. I really couldn’t gather what was going, because this was clearly a running plot from the other Batman books, but the two growl at each other for a while and Batman heads off into the night. Which is when we’re treated to the super insane scene of the ghost of Hugo Strange showing up and threatening Thorne, who just seems more irritated that anything else.
But there’s no way for me to know what the hell that’s about, so let’s just move on. We next see Bruce Wayne heading out into the streets of Gotham to meet with Silver St. Cloud. This is my first introduction to the character, but I’ve heard a lot about Silver, and I now that she’s generally considered the fan-favorite of all of Bruce’s love interests. And we don’t really spend that much time with her in this issue, but she seems okay. She seems to be getting ready to open some sort of exhibit of modern art, and she and Bruce stop by the exhibit before it opens to stroll around and make sure everything’s okay. Commissioner Gordon is also there for some reason, and he happens to mention to Bruce that Floyd Lawton has escaped prison. Bruce obviously then wants to run off and deal with that, but he has a date with Silver, so the two go have dinner and chat while Bruce struggles to ignore Floyd being out. Although that does take a turn when Silver starts to say some things that imply that she’s figured out that Bruce is Batman, which takes him by surprise. But he doesn’t really press that realization, and just ends the date so she can get to the exhibit, and he can track down Deadshot. Which he quickly does.
We’re then treated to a brief reminder of Floyd’s crazy backstory. He had been a member of high society, who decided to become a superhero. He started dressing up in a tuxedo and domino mask and helped stop criminals in Gotham, until Batman and Robin proved that it was all a scam to place himself at the top of Gotham’s criminal empires. He then spent a massive amount of time in prison, going crazy and spending all of his time preparing his body and mind to defeat Batman. He explains that he used to think that the mind was important, but prison has taught him that strength is the only thing that matters in Gotham, so he’s built this powerful suit complete with wrist-mounted magnum pistols so that he can overpower Batman, and finally conquer him.
Batman and Deadshot then begin fighting, with Batman dodging all of Deadshot’s bullets and trying to get close enough to him to defeat him. But Deadshot manages to escape with a grappling hook fired from his guns, and the two begin racing all around Gotham util the crash through the skylight of a building. And that building just so happens to be the one that Silver’s exhibit is going on in. And that exhibit is bonkers. It’s basically just a gigantic prop of a type-writer, giving us a ridiculous set-piece straight out of an issue from the 50s. Batman and Deadshot fight atop the giant typewriter, using it’s keys and carriage to fight each other with. But, in the end, Batman manages to get the upper hand and knocks Deadshot out, tossing him into the inner workings of the typewriter. So the police arrive, cart Floyd off to prison so he can join the Suicide Squad, and Batman flees off into the night, just in time for us to see that Silver has 100% figured everything out, and knows who Batman is.
This issue is pretty freaking great. There’s a whole lot going on in it, a significant amount of which I didn’t fully understand, but it’s just so fast-paced and full of adventure that I didn’t care. It’s probably helped by the fact that the issue was written by Steve Englehart, one of my favorite comic writers of all time, of the fact that it’s just a fun premise. I do love that Deadshot was just this silly one-off villain who no one had ever thought to bring back, but who has spent his years (or decades) in prison just stewing and becoming obsessed with revenge. So he busts out, builds himself a crazy new suit, and tries to do the only thing that he’s thought about for years. Kill Batman. And it also helps that in doing so he had to go have a silly Silver Age style fight on a giant typewriter. That’s the kind of stuff you expect to see from a Dick Sprang Batman, not one from the late 70s. And it was a whole lot of fun. There’s also a lot of intriguing stuff that I would love to learn more about in this issue, like what was up with the ghost of Hugo Strange or whatever became of Silver St. Cloud learning Batman’s identity, but who knows if I’ll ever find that stuff out since I’ve created such a stupid constraint for myself. But regardless of those loose threads this was a super fun issue that I had a blast reading.
“The Deadshot Ricochet” was written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers, inked by Terry Austin, colored by Jerry Serpe, and lettered by Ben Oda, 1977.