"The Deadshot Ricochet"
(17 pages)

Cover pencils - Marshall Rogers
Cover inks -
Terry Austin
Cover colouring - Tatjana Wood

Story - Steve Englehart
Art - Marshall Rogers
Inks - Terry Austin
Colours - Jerry Serpe
Lettering - Ben Oda
Editor - Julius Schwartz



Having taken the Penguin out of circulation once again (in the preceding Detective Comics #473), Batman and Robin return to the Batcave only to find that the younger member of the Dynamic Duo is summoned by an emergency call to the Teen Titans.

Meanwhile, at Gotham Prison, the Penguin is put into a cell next to Floyd Lawton, who tried to take down Batman as Deadshot and has been serving time ever since. Now, however, fate has finally offered him an opening as the Penguin brags loudly about his special laser monocle - which of course he has every intention of using to escape from prison. Seizing the lucky moment, Deadshot snatches the monocle from his cell neighbour and immediately sets it to use for his own escape...

That very same evening, the Darknight Detective pays an ad hoc visit to the Tobacconists' Club to confront Gotham City councilman Rupert Thorne, whom he criticizes heavily for the recent issue of a cease and desist against Batman. Warning Thorne that from now on the two of them will play things the Batman's way, he leaves a fairly shaken councilman behind - whose confidence immediately takes another beating as he seems to see a haunting vision of Hugo Strange (whom he had ordered and seen killed), appearing like a ghost, right there in his office...

The next day Bruce Wayne meets up with Silver St Cloud (a Gotham City socialite who delights in hosting parties for the rich and influential - and Bruce Wayne's current love interest) at the Gotham Convention Center, where her company is hosting the current event. They both run into Commissioner Gordon who informs Bruce Wayne of the recent escape of Deadshot.

Upon hearing this news, Batman goes back in his mind to the first encounter he had with Deadshot a few years back, and he reflects upon the thin line which separates Batman the crimefighting vigilante from Deadshot the crimefighting criminal, and how uncomfortably much they have in common.

As Bruce Wayne takes Silver out for lunch, her constant flow of questions makes him think that she might suspect the truth - that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same person...

As night falls over Gotham City, the Darknight Detective is once again out on patrol, and it is not long before he crosses the path of Deadshot - who has changed his appearance but not his modus operandi.


Following a fight across the rooftops of Gotham City, they eventually find themselves at the Convention Center where they battle it out on one of the exhibits - a giant typewriter.


  Batman finally manages to trap Deadshot behind the over-sized carriage return, and deadshot once again is forced to acknowledge defeat against the Darknight Detective. But as Batman looks up, he sees Silver St Cloud staring back at him, and he realizes that deep down inside her she recognizes him and thus knows - that Batman is Bruce Wayne...


Although quintessentially a done in one Batman story, "The Deadly Ricochet" actually forms part of an eight issue overall story arc which ran from Detective Comics #469 up to issue #476 (later to be published in collected form and retroactively titled Batman: Strange Apparitions).

For this particular issue, Englehart dug up and revived a villain whose last - and only - appearance in the Batman Universe had taken place 27 years ago, in Batman #59: Deadshot.
This required some updating for virtually all of the readership, and Englehart used a number of flashback scenes to fill readers in on who exactly Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot was and what had happened back in Batman #59, whilst his appearance was changed radically by penciller Marshall Rogers (after giving the readers glimpses of what the villian looked like before): Deadshot is no longer the debonair Fred Astaire-like gent with airs; he now sports a tight red outfit and a mask which completely covers (and indeed hides) his face, and Lawton has also upgraded his weaponry to a high precision booster gun which the sniper straps to his wrist.

Whilst not making it to the front row of Batman or DC villains, Deadshot would now be around every now and then and retain the outfit introduced in this issue of Detective Comics.




"WHEREAS I, DEADSHOT, have proved my ability as a crime fighter beyond any reasonable doubt; whereas I have also proved in direct competition to be more efficient and reliable than BATMAN, I hereby petition the people of Gotham City to recognize me officially as --
(Intro from Batman #59)

(from Detective Comics #474, December 1977)


First appearing in Batman #59 (June/July 1950) millionaire Floyd Lawton, who recently moved to Gotham City, is finally ready to put his masterplan to work and embark on a career as crimefighter after perfecting his aim as a marksman for many weeks and months.

Taking on the name Deadshot and wearing a top coat with white tie and black tails together with a black velvet mask, Lawton successfully takes down a number of crooks and criminals and challenges Batman's monopoly on crimefighting in Gotham City. Meeting rather favourable reactions from Gotham's officials, Lawton soon adjusts his goal - rather than becoming equal to Batman, he strives to actually - and officially - replace Batman.


Batman #59 (June/July 1950)

The competition from Deadshot is felt by Batman even on a symbolic level when the Gotham night skies all of a sudden are lit up not only by the Batsignal but also by a Bullseye-Signal...

However, Batman soon discovers not only the secret identity of Deadshot but also his true motives. By driving Batman out of crimefighting, he strives to fulfill his actual ultimate goal: to become Gotham's greatest crime lord. His plan to shoot Batman, however, misfires as the Darknight Detective had previously and secretly altered the aiming sights of Lawton's guns - helped even further by the fact that Deadshot's ethics of not shooting to kill make him miss Batman. It all falls apart, and Deadshot is captured and sent to prison.



Created by David Vern Reed & Lew Schwartz (but officially attributed to Bob Kane) and initially a debonair, almost Fred Astaire-like gent with an air of sophistication to his character, Floyd Lawton in his original Deadshot attire may appear to be somewhat special from today's perspective, but back in 1950 both his special abilities (expert markmanship) as well as his Park Lane (or Avenue, if you will) appearance didn't really stand out at all in a growing crowd of villains which, amongst other things, had several members wearing top hats, including the Penguin - who also happened to be quite good in taking precise shots at the Dynamic Duo.

Thus sharing the fate of many Batman villains who made their first appearance in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Deadshot was thrown into the spotlight just once and then not used again for a long time - the flavour of the day was "give them a new villain every issue" and the number of those who did get to appear regularly and thus became long standing classic villains (such as the Joker) was small and hand-picked. When Deadshot was locked away in a prison in Gotham City at the end of 12-pages story "The Man who replaced Batman!" in Batman #59, it would prove to be a sentence of 27 years in real time - before writer Steve Englehart reminded readers of Floyd Lawton and let him escape his prison cell in Detective Comics #474 (December 1977).



  Whilst acknowledging his origin and original appearance through flashbacks, penciller Marshall Rogers' updated visuals of Deadshot differed radically.

But why bring back this Golden Age villain in the first place?

To a certain extent, it had to do with an editorial policy of acknowledging and referencing the continuity of the Batman Universe, but far more important was the fact that the character fitted really well into the psychology of the Bronze Age Darknight Detective persona and character.

In terms of appearances, however, Deadshot remains a a minor DC villain by all standards. He resurfaced in a few issues of Batman and Detective Comics in 1982 prior to being featured mostly as a member of the Suicide Squad in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was back in the 2000s in the Secret Six and as such has been integrated into DC's "New 52". As a solo villain he has featured in DC's live action TV shows Smallville as well as, most recentlky, in Arrow.


Deadshot generates a certain interest due to his closeness to the Batman character himself: Just like Bruce Wayne, Floyd Lawton is a wealthy man who, upon deciding to fight crime, invested his time and money into a carefully laid out plan in order to achieve that goal.

Interestingly enough, Lawton originally had no interest in becoming a vigilante and actually tried to work in cooperation with the police force, making him far more compatible with and generally more abiding by the rule of law than is the case with Batman.

However, the ultimate goal makes for the fundamental and important difference: whereas the Batman's objective simply is to fight crime, Deadshot's actions were fairly soon dictated by his personal goal of taking the place of Batman - which in turn he would have used to become Gotham City's kingpin of crime.

Deadshot thus personifies e contrario, i.e. by way of an inversion of argument, a justification for the Batman: of course the Darknight Detective operates outside a strict rule of law and the state's monopoly on force, but because he does so only for the sake of or at least in the interest of the general public and without any motive of personal benefit (other than, possibly, his own psychological needs), his actions become acceptable.


In other words: Deadshot helps to define why Batman is not one of the bad guys, and as such his revival by Englehart is an interesting addition to the Batman Universe and provides a key element in understanding the Darknight Detective's mythos. As such, Detective Comics #474 is a classic late 1970s Batman portrayal by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers, featuring an interesting and well paced storyline with stunningly atmospheric artwork.


Apart from an obvious tilting of the hat by Englehart to early adventures of Batman - where oversize props such as the giant typewriter seemingly were the rule rather than an exception - Detective Comics #474 also contains several tongue in cheek cameo references to past DC creators, such as the Fox Gardens restaurant (clearly named after writer Gardner Fox), Weisinger Office Suppliers (the company who created the giant typewriter, named for editor Mort Weisinger), and the Ellsworth Building (named after Whitney Ellsworth).

  "The Deadshot Ricochet" has been reprinted on several occasions: in Shadow of the Batman #3 (1986) [re-coloured], The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told Vol. 1 (DC, 1988), The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told Vol. 1 (Warner Books, 1989), Batman: Strange Apparitions (1999) [re-coloured version from Shadow of the Batman], and most recently in Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers (2011).

Between 1978 and 1980, i.e. shortly after its original publication, the story was also translated and published for different European and South American markets:

  • UK (in Batman Pocketbook #2 from Egmont/Methuen, 1978)
  • Germany (in Batman Taschenbuch #2 from Egmont/Ehapa, 1978)
  • Italy (in Batman #28 from Editore Cenisio, 1978)
  • Brazil (in Batman #13 from EBAL, 1978)
  • Sweden (in Läderlappen #5 from Semic, 1980)
  • Norway (in Lynvingen #5 from Semic, 1980).



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The illustrations presented here are copyright material. Their reproduction for the review purposes of this website is considered fair use as set out by the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. par. 107.


first published on the web 14 December 2014
last updated 23 February 2016