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Peacemaker (Charlton Comics)

Peacemaker

(Christopher Smith) (Charlton version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“This is a man who detests war, violence and the dreadful waste of human life in senseless conflicts between nations… A man who loves peace… so much so, that he is willing to fight for it !”


Context

This character profile is specifically about the version of the Peacemaker (Christopher Smith) seen in comics published by Charlton (primarily in 1967). There’ll be a brief recap about the different versions of the Peacemaker though, because we’re cool that way.

Charlton was something of a low-rent comic book company, but it lasted from the 1940s to the 1980s. Some of its Silver Age  production had something to it, notably the work Steve Ditko did for them.

The Charlton characters were eventually snatched by DC Comics. Many of them made a successful transition into the DC Universe after the Crisis on Infinite Earths retconned  them in.


Background

  • Real Name: Christopher Smith.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Unnamed parents (deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: US Government.
  • Base Of Operations: A private château in the Swiss Alps – and apparently a flat in Washington, D.C..
  • Height: 6’2” Weight: 210 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Black (greying at the temples).


Continuity is the barrel of a loaded gun

The Peacemaker has gone through complex reboots and universe shifts. It’s not Hawkman bad (the Peacemaker rates at at a mere 463 millihawkmans ), but here’s a handy recap to keep your ducks in a row :

  • Peacemaker I appears as one of the “action heroes” from comic publisher Charlton in the late 1960s, with eight issues of material (one unpublished) shared with another series, the Fightin’ Five. This is a pretty goofy character, but not intentionally so – he’s covered in this profile.
  • In the early 1980s, DC comics gets the rights of the Charlton material. Back then, the DCU is a multiverse comprising the original versions of Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-S, etc.. The Charlton material (the Question, Peacemaker, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Peter Cannon, Judomaster, Sarge Steel, etc.) is then declared to be Earth-4 within this multiverse, and to always have been Earth-4.
  • In 1985 a Crisis among these Infinite Earths collapses most of these worlds into a single world of super-heroes, New Earth. The Charlton heroes (and villains) from Earth-4 take part in the events of this Crisis, and continue to exist on New Earth.
    However, their entire history and timeline gets retconned to fit into their new milieu. These persons have been turned into updated version of themselves who have always lived on DC’s New Earth and are contemporaries of DC’s own heroes.
  • The Peacemaker reappears shortly after the Crisis (December of 1986), and receives a mini-series in 1988. These are the books that define the New Earth version of Christopher Smith, who continues to appear sporadically in DC stories from then on. This man is quite different from the Christopher Smith in Charlton books two decades prior.
  • Two other men will be called the Peacemaker on New Earth – but neither Peacemaker II nor Peacemaker (Mitchell Black) had much screen time.
  • In 2006, the Peacemaker turns up again (in the Blue Beetle series with pre-Flashpoint Jaime Reyes as the titular character). Though he seems to be a completely different man, the writers confirm that he’s Christopher Smith.
  • Peacemaker (and other Charlton characters) also appear in the landmark Kingdom Come series, set in a possible future of the DC Universe. This man presumably isn’t Christopher Smith (but has his own writeups.org profile).

Powers and Abilities

The Peacemaker has considerable talent for violence. He is an adept hand-to-hand fighter and athlete. He’s also an engineer with tremendous technical skills — he can design and build his own advanced jet fighters, among other things.

Generally, the Peacemaker seems to have whichever skills he needs – usually with a military bent. He’s a fighter pilot, a combat diver, a submariner, a master of all weapons known to man, a marksman with all guns, etc.

Smith’s château in the Swiss Alps includes a secret base, accessible behind a thick steel door in the great cellars. Within is an arsenal of weaponry, apparently personally designed and built by the Peacemaker. The château also comes complete with staff, including a butler and security specialists.

As Christopher Smith, he’s a highly-placed and influential peace envoy working for the President of the US. He seems to command enormous wealth and administrative influence.

Of course, all of this pales into insignificance next to the fact that he’s also a MIT  alumni.

I come in peace, part 1

The Peacemaker sports powerful, specialised equipment :

  • His uniform’s fabric is bullet-resistant and includes a thin lining of Smith’s invention, which somehow completely isolates against heat and flame.
  • His jetpack does not appear to have any need for refuelling, is easily as fast as a full-sized plane, and is extremely manoeuvrable. It can even be used to torpedo underwater.
  • His helmet includes radio equipment, a very precise and powerful “laser-ray” built into the forehead area, an “ultra-sonic beam” that can stun anyone in its path (even whilst riding a vehicle), voice duplication equipment, an underwater mode, a pocket radar (which works even deep under the sea), and presumably other gadgets. Somehow, it utterly protects the Peacemaker whenever he flies headlong into a solid object such as a concrete wall.

Schetmatics of the Peacemaker (Christopher Smith)'s costume

Being a modern man, the Peacemaker flies his own custom jet fighter, the U-X. This is reportedly the “most potent warplane ever flown” and seems capable of transatlantic flights without refuelling. Presumably, the weapons pylons were holding extra fuel tanks during that flight.

The U-X is soon replaced by the M3, a long-range Mach-3-capable jet fighter with the same game stats. All the Peacemaker’s jets are equipped with flares to lure IR-guided missiles away, which of course always work.

The Peacemaker’s jets have “atomic engines”, and models that succeeded the M3 seemed to be able to fly at ultrasonic speeds above 300,000 feet. They are armed with an array of small high-performance missiles, which are particularly good at intercepting enemy missiles.

I come in peace, part 2

Smith is described as having an “infinite variety of rays, capsules, etc.”. The game stats describe what was seen in the stories, namely :

  • The Peacemaker’s costume is loaded with a variety of hidden explosives. Along the helmet is some plastic explosive impregnated with RDX and with a hidden fuse. The gloves include a tiny vial which becomes a fire bomb when crushed. Each heel is a block of Pentolite compound. The jet pack includes a reserve of nitrocellulose. There might be others.
  • Hidden in the back of his belt is a small container of “super-concentrate”, a nerve gas that can paralyse large groups of men with but a tiny whiff.
  • A knife sometimes appear on the Peacemaker’s belt. It is sharp and tough enough to cut a shark (!).
  • A pistol shooting knockout nerve gas.
  • An explosive charge more powerful than the hidden explosives.
  • Shark repellant. These capsules diffuse a special sedative cloud underwater, designed against sharks but working fine against most undersea critters. So it’s even better than Bat-Shark Repellant.
  • A palm pistol shooting a bullet that can reportedly penetrate three-inch thick steel.
  • A pistol with an infrared scope shooting medicated pellets that stun instantly.
  • The Absolute Zero Gun, a weapon shooting intense cold. If you want to stay true to the material refer to it as the AZG, pause, then explain in a 1950s TV Dad voice that it means Absolute Zero Gun. Do that every single time it is mentioned.
  • A large, stubby pistol firing explosive shells intended to wreck lightly-armoured vehicles. It is presumably a break-open design, and the Peacemaker seems to carry ten shells for it.

The Peacemaker's super-plane

I reject your reality and substitute my own !

The Peacemaker operates in a strange Genre that only marginally touches verisimilitude (never mind realism). Everything, up to and including the laws of physics, works as convenient for the plot and details and logistics simply never matter. Frex :

  • Smith can change into his full costume (presumably kept in his briefcase) within at most five seconds
  • ripping explosives off the surface they’re stuck to is sufficient to disarm them until one decides they should resume their explosive properties
  • all vehicles have unlimited fuel
  • ballistics are much more an art than a science
  • psychology shares a lot of territory with surrealism
  • distances are highly flexible
  • “dissonance” is something that solely belongs to acoustics

Technically his identity as the Peacemaker is secret, but it never seems to matter and nobody is ever surprised to find the Peacemaker in lieu of Smith, even when he speaks just like Smith and refers to Smith’s job. Basically, his secret identity only ever played a role for dramatic reveals and/or impressing women.

Furthermore, people never seriously search the Peacemaker or strip him of his costume.


History

Smith’s father was an Army officer turned statesman, and his mother was perplexingly described as a “labratory researchist” (sic). Inspired by their example, young Christopher mastered the sciences, and his MIT thesis on inertial guidance systems stated principles that soon became used by NASA engineers.

The elder Smith was interested in all sorts of martial pursuits from flying fighter planes to spear-fighting, which his brass rat son also learned.

Later on, Christopher Smith reportedly established an unofficial speed record flying a X-17 rocket aircraft (presumably a thoroughly modified model, the real-world X-17  being unmanned.)

As a hobby, he built specialised weapon systems such as :

  • medicalised pellets that could be used instead of normal bullets for non-lethal results
  • paralysing nerve gas delivered at supersonic speeds
  • highly advanced jet fighters
  • etc.

The Ambassador’s receptions are noted in society

Christopher Smith, professing to abhor violence, dedicated his life to the cause of world peace. He became a senior ambassador, negotiator and peace envoy for the US, and a permanent member of the Geneva Peace Conference.

As a result of the latter, he permanently established himself in Switzerland. His work put him in contact with menaces and madmen who could not be reined in through diplomatic means, and Smith developed the identity and arsenal of the Peacemaker.

The first case of the Peacemaker took place during Smith’s investigation of a war between two South American countries. As he rightly suspected, the conflict was a result of the machinations of arms trafficker Emil Bork.

Peacemaker (Christopher Smith) cover art

While Smith and his secretary Miss Blair were being driven to the Geneva conference, Bork’s men ambushed them to kill them and steal the documents they were carrying. However, the two Americans survived thanks to a booby-trapped briefcase.

Smith continued to doggedly oppose Bork’s nefarious machinations in Europe and South America. As the Peacemaker he prevented him from starting a war, and when the arms dealer had low-yield atomic missiles launched at a city, the Peacemaker destroyed the missiles.

Smith had the last missile hit Bork’s private jet, seemingly killing him. In the name of peace and opposition to senseless killing, of course.

Sea ventures

In March of 1967, Mr. Smith was investigating tensions between the great maritime powers about fishing rights. As it turned out, these emerging conflicts were the work of a strange fellow named the Commodore, who claimed that all the riches of the sea were his.

The Commodore operated from a nuclear submarine and turned the US, Russia and Japan against each other through stealth attacks and sabotages. But he was soon defeated by the Peacemaker.

After Christopher Smith was provoked by a diplomat from a Balkan nation challenging the US, the Peacemaker investigated and discovered that that nation’s scientists had discovered uranium in Antarctica and were building atomic bombs. Considering this a threat against world peace, the Peacemaker blew up the nuclear base in an exceedingly improbable manner.

Peace is tough

After negotiating a tentative nuclear disarmament treaty, Smith heads the inspection of an uranium mine in Eastern Europe. There, he gets kidnapped by mutated, deformed, enslaved miners. Led by one Beel, these mutates have discovered the underground city of a lost, advanced civilisation.

The mutates intend to conquer the world using the advanced weapons they found, and their radiation-spawned ability to copy the shape of other people. Of course, the Peacemaker blows everything up and stops them, presumably to the relief of the Eastern European country under whose soil the mutates were living.

Peacemaker (Christopher Smith) in the lab with his assistant Nora

Another tinpot dictator then emerges in what seems to be the same, vaguely Turkish area. The tyrant over-arms his country, in particular deploying revolutionary, unstoppable jet fighters. The tyrant defies the US for some unfathomable reason, and the Peacemaker leaps into action to take the dictator down before the US have to deliver a preventive strike.

He engages the squadron of super-advanced planes in his own special jet fighter, and defeats them all before gassing the capital with his special knockout gas to allow for, one surmises, peaceful occupation and disarmament by foreign troops.

Not Moonraker, scout’s honour

The Peacemaker next clashes with Enrico Lucetti. This bloke has a plan to assemble selected specimens of humanity on a special submarine to survive the seemingly inevitable nuclear apocalypse. Lucetti, an Italian nuclear physicist, worked for decades to adapt mankind to the undersea life.

Thus in 1967 Lucetti had his men-fish kidnap a lady friend of Christopher Smith, bombshell and biologist Dr. Gerda Hain. Invading Lucetti’s base and clashing with his small army of fish-persons and tamed sharks, the Peacemaker lets himself be captured, grabs Ms. Hain and bursts out. Somehow, Smith has concluded that Lucetti intends to hasten nuclear war.

Long story short, the Peacemaker was right (obviously), the vast undersea base is destroyed in explosions (obviously) and Lucetti is killed by his own sharks (obviously).

So many mad masterminds, so little time

Shortly after this episode Smith recruits Nora O’Rourke, an Irish-born American secretary with martial skills and full security clearances.

As evil opponents of the Peacemaker discourage the other girls from making it to the job interview, the undaunted O’Rourke repulses her attackers even though they escalate to lethal measures. Being the sole applicant who made it to Smith despite considerable opposition, O’Rourke is easily hired.

The Peacemaker's chateau and super-plane

Bulgarian mercenaries then attack the château. The Peacemaker is forced to destroy his special vaults to prevent the theft of his prototypes. He is kidnapped, and the Bulgar boss decides to force him to repair his huge stock of hijacked advanced weapons, many of which have been damaged when his men stole them.

Obviously, the Peacemaker sabotages all the weapons he was supposed to repair and defeats the hijackers. D‘uh.

The Peacemaker then foils two slightly more notable villains – Mr. Blaze and Chufru the Golden Pharaoh. See their writeups.org profiles for more.


Description

A “TV dad” hero of the 1960s, usually wearing a suit and a serious, manly, grown-up air. He radiates truthiness  and moral right.

The distinctive Peacemaker helmet is reportedly styled after some depictions of the god Vulcan.


Personality

Smith is a stolid late Golden Age /early Silver Age action hero, who opposes unnecessary war everywhere. He doesn’t have much of a specific personality beyond the generic heroic mould of that era.

Though the stories back then were presumably written in earnest, it’s hard for a modern reader (and many contemporary readers, I suspect) not to be jarred by the blatant hypocrisy of it all.

One of the very first things we see Smith doing is killing two thugs because the briefcase of this fighter against war is loaded with a deadly nerve gas, quite obviously illegal by the terms of the Geneva convention which he is supposedly has dedicated his entire life to upholding.

Smith later clearly states that he considers the diplomatic and legal means to his disposal to be ’inadequate‘ in stopping warmongers, and that his cause justify employing whatever means he feels are useful. Sometimes he seems to go an extra mile to lower casualties, sometimes he doesn’t seem particularly concerned with those.

… through superior firepower

Likewise, though he has reportedly sworn never to use a weapon, Smith owns an enormous arsenal and numerous models of military vehicles, and occasionally reflected on his mission while fondling a high-powered rifle. He builds all sorts of deadly weapons which he always somehow finds himself forced to use for the greater good.

The Peacemaker will at the least provocation decide that legal and peaceful means cannot possibly work. And of course, he keeps encountering wildly unlikely “ticking bomb” scenarios.

The Peacemaker is thoroughly dedicated to world peace… through American supremacy. In the stories America is axiomatically good, always correct, and all the aggression always come from godless Communists and uppity unaligned nations.


Quotes

“The countries involved should be buying farm tools, staple foods and building schools ! Instead… they buy tanks and guns and bombers… and kill each other in a war neither of them wants !”

“He must be stopped… and I cannot succeed with peaceful methods ! I’ve resisted taking this step… but… in this case, violence must be met with violence ! Although violence is against everything I stand for there is no other solution !”

(To an arms dealer) “I work for peace, Mr. Bork ! Where you go is where I’m needed most !”

“Nuclear furnaces ! But – I can’t die until I’ve blocked the plans of these madmen !”

“Why ? Because man is civilised… governed by law. But unfortunately, there are madmen who will not obey those laws, and will not submit to the sanity of diplomacy ! The Peacemaker is an ‘action-buffer’ between those madmen and global war !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Peacemaker

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Uphold Peace
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Presidential envoy ; Vigilante
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 011
Init: 021 HP: 060

Skills:
Gadgetry: 08, Martial artist: 07, Military science: 07, Scientist: 06, Thief (Escape Artist, Stealth): 05, Vehicles: 06, Weaponry: 07, Weaponry (Peacemaker helm laser): 08

Advantages:
Confidant (Nora O’Rourke), Credentials (US gov’t, Medium ; US military, Medium ; US intelligence, Medium), Expertise (Weapons and military vehicles, Military Traffic Analysis), Familiarity (Diplomacy, Intelligence work, SCUBA diving), Genius, Headquarters (Expansive, a castle in the Swiss Alps), Insta-Change (somehow, Smith can change into the Peacemaker within seconds), Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:
Office of the POTUS (Low), US Intelligence agencies (Low), USAF (Low), Geneva Peace Conference (Low).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward “World Peace” (actually Pax Americana).

Genre:
In DC Heroes terms, Humour.

Equipment:

  • PEACEMAKER HELMET [BODY 14, Chameleon (Voice Only): 03, Detect (Radio emitters): 08, Heat vision: 10, Radar sense: 12, Radio communications: 08, Sealed systems: 08, Sonic beam (Area of Effect 0 APs): 08, Water freedom*: 06, Bonus: Somehow, the Peacemaker can use the RV of the HELMET as his own whenever he Charges].
  • PEACEMAKER BODY ARMOUR [BODY 07, Cold immunity: 02, Flame immunity: 06, Invulnerability: 07, Skin armour: 02]. Hidden throughout the BODY ARMOUR are miniature escape artistry tools.
  • JET PACK [BODY 03, Flight: 09].
  • U-X JET FIGHTER [STR 08 BODY (Hardened) 10, AV 06, EV 08, Range: 09, Flight: 11, Gliding: 02, Radar sense: 20, Sensory block (Radar): 20, R#02, Note: Gliding is a giant parachute that can be deployed if the jets are switched off (and is treated as being Form Function) ; Sensory Block is a device that jams all radar-guided devices in a large radius]. Models that succeeded the M3 seemed to be able to fly at ultrasonic speeds above 300,000 feet – maybe Flight: 13.
  • The JET FIGHTER is equipped with a dozen ADVANCED MISSILES [BODY 02, AV 06, EV 12, Flight: 12, R#02, Grenade drawback, Schtick (Disarmer (AV)), Limitation : Flight can only be sustained for five Phases (-2)].
  • HIDDEN EXPLOSIVES [BODY 02, Bomb: 08, Ammo: 06, Miniaturisation: 06].
  • OMNI-GADGETS. Apparently five of those, with about 7 ABCD APs. Gadgets which I suspect were actually Omni-Gadgets included:
    • SUPER-CONCENTRATE CONTAINER [BODY 02, Knockout gas (Area of Effect 6 APs): 07, Grenade Drawback].
    • Fighting Knife [BODY 6, EV 03 (05 w/STR, 08 w/Martial Artist), Sharpness (EV): 01].
    • Nerve Gas Pistol [BODY 02, Knockout gas: 06, Range: 02, Ammo: 06].
    • Explosive charge [BODY 01, Bomb: 10, Grenade Drawback, Note: Bomb is somehow Selective in its blast radius)].
    • Shark repellant [BODY 01, Aura of pain: 07, Grenade Drawback, Limitation: only usable underwater against sea life].
    • Armour-Piercing Derringer [BODY 02, Projectile weapon: 04, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 05, Ammo: 01, Range: 02, Limitation: Projectile Weapon has No Range, used the listed Range instead].
    • Pistol with IR Scope [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 07, Telescopic vision: 02, Thermal vision: 06, R#02].
    • Absolute Zero Gun [BODY 02, Ice production: 09, Limitation: Ice production can only be used to perform cold-based attacks]. This was also produced as a cannon, with Ice production: 12, mounted aboard a jet fighter.
    • Anti-Vehicular Pistol [BODY 02, Projectile weapon: 08, Ammo: 01 (Long Reload Time), R#02].

The Irish rover

Nora O’Rourke is a confident and low-key sidekick, usually arriving when the situation is somewhat contained but often showing a keen deductive mind and strong research skills.

Dex: 03 Str: 03 Bod: 03 Motivation: Thrill
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Secretary
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 003
Init: 011 HP: 010

Skills:
Martial artist (incl. Techniques): 04, Scientist (Research): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Advantages:
Expertise (Secretarial work).

Equipment:
Nora was equipped with special shoes which could release Knockout Gas and Fog when the heel was broken away.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Charlton comics circa 1967

Helper(s): Darci

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