SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad” #1, on sale now.
Batman doesn’t trust Amanda Waller. Neither do Harley Quinn, Deadshot and the other members of Suicide Squad. And apparently, as we learn in this week’s “Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad” #1, Maxwell Lord has a whole other level of hate on for the oft-maligned director of Task Force X.
CBR connected with series writer Joshua Williamson, who is concurrently writing “The Flash” for DC Comics, and discussed the major players from both titled rosters, as well as, the team assembled by the aforementioned by Maxwell Lord, which includes some major surprises.
Williamson also shared his thoughts on the misconception that Suicide Squad is not up to the task for facing off against the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, the importance of Killer Frost/Caitlin Snow to the overall story and why it’s the perfect time for DC Rebirth’s first event series, which will be released weekly starting this week. That’s right. Weekly. Each issue is 40 pages and is illustrated by Jason Fabok, Jesus Merino, Andy Owens, Fernando Pasarin, Robson Rocha and the legendary Howard Porter.
CBR: There’s a great John Steinbeck quote to open this story: “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” Who are you talking about here? My guesses are Batman, Amanda Waller or Maxwell Lord.
Joshua Williamson: That quote is definitely a part of the story, and part of what’s going on with some of the characters, but whom it is specifically talking about, I can’t really say just yet. [Laughs] By the ending, you’ll know whom it’s talking about.
[Simon] Baz has a great line the first time the League faces off against the Squad, which basically asks the same question that I, and I am sure many other readers, are thinking: “Isn’t this a little one-sided? That dude just has boomerangs.” I agree. Isn’t the Suicide Squad in way over their heads?
People are underestimating the Suicide Squad. Deadshot pretty much nails it when he tells Batman, “Every damn day we walk out into the world with no expectations of a tomorrow. The odds are always against us. Except today. You see, the Justice League doesn’t kill… but we do!” The Suicide Squad has nothing to lose, and the Justice League does have something to lose. Again, people underestimate the Suicide Squad. Look at the amount of things that they have gone through. In this situation, they have a shot. When they go up against the Justice League, they could win. Part of that is because they know that they don’t have to hold back. They can go full strength up against them, and the Justice League will not do the same.
I always knew that this was going to be part of it. It’s funny — when I first got the job, it was definitely something that was discussed in the writer’s room. We knew people would think this confrontation would be one-sided, and because people were underestimating them as heroes, I wanted to point that out right from the start. Flash tells Simon almost immediately, “Don’t underestimate Boomerang. He’s a killer.” We move on from there, and you’ll see what happens in the upcoming issues.
While icons like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman power the Justice League, Suicide Squad is a red-hot property in its own right, fueled in part by the big movie from this past summer and the success of Harley Quinn in comics. Beyond Harley, the main players aren’t necessarily household names, but it’s interesting that you have added Killer Frost, who was recently introduced to the mainstream audience on “The Flash” TV series. Why the decision to add Killer Frost to the Suicide Squad roster?
I think she just adds a different perspective. That was one thing, for sure. When Killer Frost was first discussed as being a person joining the team, it wasn’t intended to be a big deal. They just asked me what I thought about adding her, and I started to go in this direction of examining Killer Frost as this character, how conflicted she is and a lot of the thoughts she has. You go back and read the one-shot that Sterling Gates wrote for Villains Month a few years back when they first introduced the character of Caitlin Snow, you see a person that just really wants to help and gets really excited about trying to save the world. She really wanted to be a good person — and then had that taken away from her, which gave her an interesting perspective. Slowly, she became more and more crucial to the story.
I think that’s the thing that she brings — this fresh set of eyes, because it’s the first time, really, that she’s be involved in something this big. She was sort of involved in “Forever Evil,” but really this is the first [event where] she is in the heat of it. Getting her perspective on Waller and Suicide Squad and the Justice League and also those peoples’ perspectives on her, especially in terms of what the Justice League thinks of her as they encountered her. To me, that was the big thing that she brought was different perspective to the situation.
The series is billed and titled as “Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad,” but there is a third team in play, as well, led by Maxwell Lord. And man, he has assembled quite a roster from the far reaches of the DC Universe past, present and future. Is there one character of this group that is really going to wreak havoc on Justice League and Suicide Squad?
I think Lobo being part of the team is one of the bigger pieces of it. We had a lot of talks about that team, what they were going to be and what it meant for the characters and what it meant for DC Rebirth. In some ways, these characters represent different things. As an example, Johnny Sorrow is a JSA bad guy, and Emerald Empress is a Legion bad guy. That was all very intentional, but I think Lobo is one that people will really enjoy. Some of my favorite moments in the series come from Lobo. Emerald Empress has some really big moments, too, that we’re really excited about — really, all of them do. Rustam has some cool moments. I am glad to see Doctor Polaris back; He was one of my favorite Ray bad guys. And it was a lot of fun getting to write Max Lord. I have always liked Max, but once I had an opportunity to write him and I started getting into his head, and you see it in the first issue, you see that he really believes that he is a hero. He is the only person who can be trusted to save the world. The more time I spend in his head, thinking of him as a hero, he has become really fun to write. My favorite moments in the whole series really come from Max Lord.
CBR had a big reveal last week that there was one more character joining Max Lord’s team: Eclipso, who may be the most powerful character in the whole series.
It’s good that we’re talking about Eclipso. Spoiler alert: He’s actually not a member of the team. [Laughs] That’s the most I should really tell you, but he does play a really big part. And you’re right. He really is the most powerful person in this lineup, but he’s not a member of this team.
Well, there you go! I have loved the work of Jason Fabok since his breakout on “Detective Comics” a few years back. What does he bring to this project?
My second job for DC Comics was back in 2010 on “Superman/Batman,” and I worked with Jason. It was actually his first job for DC Comics. This is really a very special moment because I think I can say that this is easily the biggest thing that we’ve ever done. He’s been involved with a lot of big stuff, with “Darkseid War” and “Justice League,” but not something quite like this. This is a huge event book that we’re working on together, and there’s something really special about that when you consider that we both sort of got started together may years ago and now, this is the first time that we’ve worked together since.
Jason’s great. Even back when I wrote for him years ago, we just sort of clicked and got along really well and the work just kind of flowed. The same thing happened with this. The moment we started working with each other, we just started emailing each other and talking about things. And I have to say, he is really hitting it out of the park. The stuff that he does in this series, which you can see in the very first issue, is so big. And he added a lot of character in a lot of the scenes. And a lot of action too. He makes it flow really well. And that was a bit of a worry because this is a big issue and lot of things happen. There was part of me that worried that it didn’t all connect and Jason took care of it. With all of the work that he put into it, you could really feel the flow.
You’ve mentioned a few times how big this series is both in terms of actual page numbers – as each issue is 40 pages – but also in terms of scope and scale. Do the events that happen in “Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad” reverberate beyond this series and the ongoing monthlies “Justice League” and “Suicide Squad?”
There will definitely be ripple effects, like you said, in “Justice League” and “Suicide Squad.” And there will be some stuff even in “The Flash” too, actually. Obviously, I write “The Flash,” but there will be some stuff in there that spins off from this series.
There haven’t been that many crossover events since the dawn of The New 52 and now DC Rebirth. Why is it the right time for this event series?
I think Rebirth was such a good thing for DC. It was such a big part of this year. We wanted to end 2016 on a big beat, and having “Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad” be this big beat that carries us into 2017 is awesome. The stuff coming up next year is amazing. There are so many really cool, big things coming. I think that’s why we decided to do this now. We started talking about this before Rebirth started. Even then, I wasn’t involved yet. I was going to be a part of it, but I wasn’t writing it yet, and I was really curious. I just wanted to know what it was. I really wanted to know what we were doing. And it actually got moved up because I think we were all excited about it. At first, it was something smaller, and then it just kept growing and getting bigger and it became this big event that we were all really excited about.
I don’t want to read too much into this, but what does it say about the current zeitgeist in America when characters, let’s call them anti-heroes, like Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Boomerang are sharing top billing with the World’s Greatest Heroes, namely Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman?
I don’t think that it means anything about the current state of affairs. I have always been a fan of villains. You go back to even the 1980s and you look at characters at Marvel and DC that were 100 per cent villains but they started becoming heroes and getting their own books and their own series. And especially, at the end of the eighties, there started to be a push for more dark and gritty books. I don’t think what’s happening now is necessarily new. I just think people are taking advantage of it differently. I think that DC saw they had something and if you look back even to the New 52, there was a push for more Suicide Squad even then. They just recognized that they had this thing. It was a unique book in the line. It was something different than the other superhero books. And they were able to push that.
People like villains. I love villains. It’s why I was really excited about being a part of this book, and why one of my favorite parts of “The Flash” is the Rogues. If you look at me and my career, I’ve actually done a lot of books that involve villains. So maybe for me, it’s just my perspective but I don’t think this has anything to do with what’s happening outside of the books. Look at Geoff Johns too. He loves Captain Cold and working with the Rogues too. And he just did “Forever Evil” a couple of years ago. People like villains so I think something like Suicide Squad is just different from the rest of the heroes. And again, with Rebirth, all of these characters are kind of a reassertion of hope so you have to have the opposite of that. And that’s what Suicide Squad. They’re a ragtag group of supervillains that are trying to find some kind of redemption, and I think people can relate to that.
“Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad” #1, by Joshua Williamson and Jason Fabok, is on sale now.
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