As the DC Comics villains expand their control over the DC Universe this fall, writer Matt Kindt will be expanding his own role in the New 52. The creative force behind Dark Horse Comics’ “Mind MGMT” will be writing four of September’s DC Villains Month titles (“Deadshot,” “Solomon Grundy,” “Harley Quinn,” “Sinestro”), and in October he’s launching “Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S.” and taking over as the permanent writer of “Suicide Squad.”
In the New 52, A.R.G.U.S. is a United States government organization run by Steve Trevor, technically supporting and liaising with the Justice League. With the dispersal of the superheroes after “Trinity War,” Trevor realizes he and A.R.G.U.S. are on their own against the amassed DC supervillains. Kindt’s six-issue “Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S.” series is illustrated by Manuel Garcia and ties-in to the main “Forever Evil” miniseries, written by Geoff Johns with art by David Finch.
Kindt also begins his run as the new writer on “Suicide Squad” with a five-part tie-in to the “Forever Evil” event starting in issue #24. With artist Patrick Zircher, Kindt jumps in as the inmates take over Belle Reve and Amanda Waller tries to regain control of the prison and the Squad.
Speaking with CBR News about his new crop of DC books, Kindt — who’s also writing “Justice League of America” during “Forever Evil” along with Marvel’s “Infinity: The Hunt” — touched on what John Ostrander‘s run and team meant to him as a young reader, his character-driven plans for supervillains in Belle Reve and the impact of “Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S.”
CBR News: The big news coming out of DC’s October 2013 solicitations was the news that you’re taking over “Suicide Squad” beginning with your “Forever Evil” tie-in issues. What interested you in taking over the book permanently?
Matt Kindt: I’ve been a fan of “Suicide Squad” since like the ’90s, I think since the Ostrander run. So when they asked me to do it I was like, “Oh yeah!” One of the first things I did was just dig up all those old issues, which reminded myself what I liked about them. I’ve been a fan for, what is it, 23 years I guess!
As a fan, what appeals to you about this team and the Suicide Squad?
I mean, I think the general premise of it is what’s great about it. I like trying to motivate bad guys to do good things — that’s half the story, you know? It’s one thing when you have the Justice League; they want to do good, that’s what they’re motivated to do. But with Suicide Squad you have two stories — you have their mission and what they have to do, and then the other story is how Amanda Waller gets these villains to do this. Then their interaction can have a lot more friction to it. Whereas mostly the Justice League will work together pretty well, they all have a common goal, Suicide Squad doesn’t. They’re super dysfunctional, the ultimate dysfunctional family.
You’re beginning your run with the “Forever Evil” tie-in. How much is that going to affect your take on the book and the team’s status quo once the event is over?
Yeah, definitely, there’s no way you can do a story without addressing what “Forever Evil” is doing, and how big that is. We’re going to see Suicide Squad’s corner of the DC Universe and how it affects them. One of the biggest challenges in this is the villains are taking over, Belle Reve’s broken open so those villains can run loose and do whatever. How do you get the Suicide Squad to do anything good when everybody can just run rampant? [Laughs] Part of the fun of that is figuring out how Amanda Waller can keep the Suicide Squad working despite all this other stuff going on.
Now the Suicide Squad is made up of amoral villains, but you could argue one of the most amoral members is Amanda Waller herself. In your take on the title, how do you describe her and her role on the team?
I think what she’s always been, at least in my mind, somebody who wants to do good but does it in a way that’s isn’t always good — she does bad things for good reasons, or to make things lean more towards her. That’s what makes her an interesting character. I think what we’re going to see in these five issues is definitely more of her, what makes her tick and why she does what she does, what is she afraid of and what motivates her? That’s one of the big things that’s coming up in the next five issues: what makes her tick and what is she afraid of.
Besides Waller, the two pillars of the group that have stuck around since issue one of the current “Suicide Squad” are Harley Quinn and Deadshot. Will the two characters continue to be an integral part of the team moving forward?
Yeah, definitely, I think they’re the heart of the team and the heart of the book. I got a chance to do villain issues on both and I was able to sort of flesh out their characters individually, and also if you read those villains issues they’re sort of tied together at the end. And all that ties together with the kickoff of “Forever Evil” and “Suicide Squad.” So we’ll see them come together and see how they work together once everything’s gone to hell.
Deadshot’s definitely one of my favorites and Harley Quinn has always interested me ever since the one-shot by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm —
Yeah, that was one of my favorite stories!
Tonally how are you approaching the book? Your “Forever Evil” miniseries sounds like it’s going to be more in line with the other event books, but will “Suicide Squad” continue to have that traditional comic book superhero tone, or will it be more in line with “Mind MGMT” or your independent stories?
I think I have a kind of style that I work in. Everything is driven by character so I really think we’re going to get to know that core group of Suicide Squad characters a lot better, and I think that’s my focus. But it’s all against the backdrop of some crazy suicide mission; it’s different in that way, but there’ll still be all the action. But I really want readers to know more about those characters, and I’m excited to write them and reveal more than we’ve seen before going forward.
You’re working with artist Patrick Zircher beginning in October. Will he be the permanent artist on the book?
As far as I know, unless I make him mad or something. [Laughs] I’ve got to be really nice to him because I love his art and I was glad he stayed on. It’s great, the pages he’s turned in are fantastic!
Besides the tie-in with “Suicide Squad” you’re also writing “Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S.” How does that miniseries differ from “Suicide Squad” and the other “Forever Evil” titles?
“A.R.G.U.S.,” first of all, is new; it’s a lot of new things and I’m establishing some characters that were secondary or sidelined characters but are now part of this team, Steve Trevor’s the star. It’s just fun to be able to launch something from the ground up. Literally, I’m building it as A.R.G.U.S. is rebuilding themselves! They were kind of decimated and they’re rising from the ashes of all the stuff that’s happening in “Forever Evil” and figuring out what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. A lot of their problems are just trying to come up with a headquarters, what’s going to be their base of operations, and I think it had to start there. I really wanted to makes the headquarters they lived in unique and visually cool, but it also has a great story to it. I don’t want to spoil any of it so I’ll just say their headquarters is going to be as much of a character as the others.
Steve Trevor is really the driving force. He thinks Wonder Woman is dead so he’s super pissed and we’re going to get to see him sort of go on a rampage. It’s going to be neat! [Laughs] The other struggle for them is going to be how do you stand up against super powers in general? How do you stand up against all these villains? They’re just human beings, they don’t have powers, so they have to come up with a way to stand toe-to-toe with the more powered characters. That’s going to be one of the fun story points.
Readers have seen Steve Trevor in “Justice League” and in “Team 7” which laid out who he was five years ago. Besides rampaging, how would you describe Steve Trevor in “A.R.G.U.S?”
Oh, in the beginning he’s out for revenge. He thinks Wonder Woman’s dead and he’s kind of obsessed with that; there’s this scene in issue #1 where they’re in the White House and it’s trashed and he runs into Deathstroke and Cheetah and a bunch of other people and has to fight, and gets his butt kicked. Then as Cheetah’s running away you see that she’s got Wonder Woman’s lasso — kind of a spoiler! That’s kind of a spoiler for issue #1! [Laughs] But that’s going to dictate everything that comes after, as far as the team goes. Wonder Woman is dead and what’s she doing with this lasso? That’s going to play a big role in the story.
Outside of Steve Trevor you’re also brining in one of the Female Furies — is the whole team little used DC characters, or are you creating some new guys as well?
I want to do a little of both because I thought there are a lot of characters floating around DC that don’t get a lot of screen time or you see here or there so I didn’t want to waste those. There’s going to be Agent Gunn, he’s going to be a main player and then Etta Candy who has my favorite name in all of comics, she’s going to play a bigger role. She’s a character to me who’s always been an interesting sideline character and it’s going to be fun to push her into a more active role that she’s not necessarily equipped for. A.R.G.U.S. is decimated, so it’s next man up, who do we have, you have to get in there and get to work. So she finds herself pushed into a role she’s not used to.
I do have a new character who is an ex-agent of S.H.A.D.E., because I thought he would be a fun contrast with the difference between the S.H.A.D.E. agents and the A.R.G.U.S. agents. He’s going to be a little quirky! And then Duchess, she was in the old “Suicide Squad” and she was a Female Fury and she has kind of a history. So it’s going to be fun to throw her in as the one super-powered member of the team with all these regular human people. I’m being as vague as I can here because I don’t want to spoil the story points! But her back story is super cool, it’ll be awesome. In the most generic way possible I’ll tell you that! [Laughs]
In general how closely is “A.R.G.U.S.” tied into Geoff Johns’ “Forever Evil” series? Will we have to read all the books branded “Forever Evil” to get your story?
No, I don’t think so. You don’t have to buy them all, though that would be ideal! [Laughs]
I think it works on its own but also as part of a larger whole, so I’m working closely with Geoff so that my thing works on its own, but when you read “Forever Evil,” you’re going to get an added experience. If you read one or the other you’ll go, oh that’s a cool story, but if you read both of them you’ll see how one thing in the background here leads into a larger story in the other guy’s thing. What Geoff’s doing makes my story richer. While they work on their own, they make the story stronger if you read both.
You’re a writer who began as an independent with your espionage stories, and what you’re doing over at Dark Horse fits into that super independent mold you’ve carved out for yourself. So when you began doing so much work with DC I think a lot of your long-term fans were surprised as you’re style is not like the traditional superhero narrative. For you as a writer, what led you to want to work on all these various superhero titles at DC and to being part of a large event like Villains Month and “Forever Evil?”
I grew up reading superhero comics, so there’s always been that background of being a fan when I was a kid and into high school. But when I started doing my own thing I didn’t really want to or need to bring another superhero into the world. I wanted to do stuff about spies and some crazy, quirky stories that aren’t superheroes. There’s a lot of other genres you can hit with indie stuff or just non-superhero books that people will still like. Then what I found was I had been doing this long enough on my own that when DC asked me to do something they were coming to me with things similar to what I do and the stories I like and the style I work in rather than me trying to go get work at DC and try to be some that I thought they wanted. They came to me with what I do, and that ended up being the best way to get into it. I was not necessarily seeking it out but they asked me to do this or that. When they asked me to do “A.R.G.U.S.” at first I said, “I think I’m too busy.” I left it at that and then I went to bed at night and thought, “Man, that’d be new superheroes in the DC Universe,” and I started thinking about it and getting ideas and realized if anybody else writes that I’d be super jealous. So the next day I said, “I’ll do it.” [Laughs] I can’t let anybody else write that! I’m just having fun doing that stuff.
It’s been really fun working with Geoff Johns and talking to him over the phone about superhero ideas and having lunches and just talking about different concepts, characters. Honestly, it made me feel like I was thirteen again. I’m just sitting around with my friends brainstorming ideas about what to do with the characters, and what if this guy fights that guy? The most fun to me is that collaborating, especially with “A.R.G.U.S.” With “Suicide Squad,” everything is tying into “Forever Evil” so I feel I’ve been brought on as the super-collaborator with Geoff and all these books have been intertwining and working together, and that’s been the most fun!
“Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S.” begins October 23; Kindt’s run on “Suicide Squad” starts October 9.