The first major event of DC Comics’ “Rebirth” era is “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad,” pitting the two superteams against each other in a miniseries written by “The Flash” scribe Joshua Williamson and illustrated by a team of artists, starting with recent “Justice League” alum Jason Fabok. But before “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” starts late next month, the story will get a prelude in December’s “Suicide Squad” #8, a Killer Frost-centric back-up tale from series writer Rob Williams and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli.
Killer Frost — who also is at the center of tonight’s episode of “The Flash” on The CW — has been confirmed as a major part of the “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” story, and will co-star in the subsequent “Justice League of America” series spinning out of the event. But Williams’ involvement in the event story doesn’t stop there, as January’s “Suicide Squad” issues #9 and #10 both tie-in to “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad,” in a story said to have significant impact on the Squad going forward.
CBR spoke with Williams about his approach to writing Killer Frost, his involvement in the larger picture of “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad,” working with artists ranging from “Rasputin” alum Riley Rossmo to DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee, the ongoing “Black Vault” storyline and the still-ambiguous fate of Captain Boomerang, who despite seemingly meeting his demise at the hands of General Zod in “Suicide Squad” #2, has appeared on covers for “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad.”
CBR: Rob, Killer Frost is in an interesting position because the character has a high profile due to the Flash show — though at this point she’s mainly been seen in her civilian identity — and this latest version of the character has only had a handful of appearances, despite “Killer Frost” as an identity being around for years now. What was interesting to you about writing the character?
Rob Williams: In a way, with the strength of “The Flash” TV show and the profile of the character, and introducing pretty much a new version, it’s like a blank slate, in a way. She’s getting a really high-profile way of kicking off; she is going to be a part of the “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” event. I was asked to write this eight-page personnel file — we’ve been doing those cool personnel files in “Suicide Squad,” and they’re really character pieces. Much more so than the wham-bam action of main book.
In this story, Killer Frost is brought into Belle Reve, and she is introduced to the Suicide Squad, and to Amanda Waller, and all the things we know about the Suicide Squad; but really, from the point of view of me trying to get a handle on her and who she is and where she’s coming from in this story. It’s like the first day of prison — she’s going in and trying to give off the vibe of being menacing, which you have to do to survive in such an environment, but you also get a sense of the inner self. She was an incredibly smart woman, she was a scientist. She hasn’t left behind, totally, the person that she was. She’s still that scientist, she’s still that engineer. As often is the case with these types of character, that life has been ripped from her.
Did the version of the character on “The Flash” TV show loom in your mind at all when writing Killer Frost?
A little bit. Not overtly, I suppose, because as is often the case with the TV or the movie versions of those characters, they come from the same place and the same heart, but are slightly different people. We watch “The Flash” show, my son and I love it, so to be quite frank, that’s my main awareness of the character Killer Frost. When I was told she was going to be part of the event, and she was going to be joining the Suicide Squad, she’s going to get a real opportunity to be front and center.
Obviously, we all hope the event will sell huge, and people will be as excited by it as we are. It’s a great opportunity for people to get to know this version of the character.
The prelude story is in “Suicide Squad” #8, and issues #9 and #10 are both tie-ins to the “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” event. How closely have you been involved with that story as a whole, and putting together the overall event?
It’s very much Joshua Williamson’s show. As is always the case, we’re carrying through the same office, the editors — Andy Khouri and Brian Cunningham — have kept us abreast. We knew that issue #9 and #10 of “Suicide Squad” was going to tie-in.
You’re going to see a really pivotal event which influences everything that happens in the main event book, and you’re going to see that in “Suicide Squad” #9. And it’s drawn by Riley Rossmo, who has done a beautiful job on it. It’s a mission Amanda Waller would rather the world never knew about, and you’re going to see it. But I won’t say who’s on that mission, as that’s part of the fun of the book.
Riley Rossmo is an exciting name to be attached to this series, and a very different style than some of the other big-name artists you’ve already worked with on the series. How much fun has it been working with so many different artist collaborators on this series?
With Killer Frost, the eight-pager is [illustrated by] Giuseppe Camuncoli. I’ve been a fan of his work for the last few years on the Spider-Man books. He’s terrific; he’s got a fantastic, clean style. The main “Suicide Squad” book, that’s been a dream. We’ve got Carlos D’Anda doing the Killer Croc story with me, we’ve got Christian Ward on the Enchantress story — he’s a terrific British artist, with a really vivid, vibrant color style. And then Riley Rossmo coming on to do this issue #9, which is big, widescreen action — he brings a very different aesthetic than Jim Lee on the main book.
And it’s all grist for the mill from the writer’s point of view. Every day you’re getting pages in from all these different artists, and they’re all world class. It’s not the worst job I’ve ever had, put it that way.
Issue #8 is the last issue before the tie-in, and the main story deals with the ongoing “Black Vault” arc. Do things come to a bit of a head in issue #8, or does it flow pretty freely into the tie-in in #9?
There’s a natural ending to the first part of this arc. Belle Reve is affected by the black sphere, and people are starting to go a little bit loco — more violent, primal tendencies are coming to the surface. That storyline ends with #8; there’s a big reveal at the end of #8. But the overall A-plot of General Zod and the black sphere, all that stuff, that’s ongoing. That’s going to go in some really unusual directions a little bit further down the line. There will be big repercussions for the event stuff, as well.
One of the very big moments in this “Suicide Squad” series so far was the, I’ll phrase it like this, apparent death of Captain Boomerang — it sure looked like he did die, but then we saw him on one of the “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” covers.
This is comics, Albert. That could be a doppelgänger, that could be a hologram, it could be anything, as you know.
It could be literally anything! But can we look towards the main “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” story for hints of what’s going on there?
It’s Joshua Williamson’s story, and it’s its own thing, as you’ll see. We collaborated a bit, and talked through a few things, Joshua’s great. But you can read “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” without reading the normal “Justice League” book or the normal “Suicide Squad” book. Obviously we’d love it if you did, but if not, you can go in kind of cold.
Certainly in “Suicide Squad,” what’s happening at the end of Joshua’s story is going to lead into our next arc, and have some big repercussions. There are going to be dues to be paid at the back end of this. It’s a story with stakes.
I’m curious to hear more from you about what the experience has been like writing this book, this year in particular — “Suicide Squad” seems like a neat book to write at any point, because of the characters and concept, but doing it this year, in the Rebirth era, and a major film released with almost all of the characters you’re using — what’s it been like writing this book? How has it been different than other superhero books you’ve worked on?
It’s the profile. When I was asked to pitch for the book, I didn’t know a lot — I certainly didn’t know that Jim was going to draw it. That’s a great thing in someone’s career — when you get that phone call, and you just realize a company’s putting all of its resources behind this.
But then the momentum of Rebirth, the sales of Rebirth, we were all coming in off the back of that — it was huge. It was really exciting. When I went to San Diego this year, it was a week or so before “Suicide Squad” launched — it’s a great opportunity. Not just from a career standpoint, but also creatively; getting a chance to work with Jim, and people like Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair. Some of the best in the business.
Then off the back of that, we’re doing the personnel files, and suddenly you’ve got Gary Frank pages arriving in your inbox. You’ve got Ivan Reis pages. It’s been a fantastic thing. It’s been a huge amount of hard work. I think any time you go up through the strata of a company, you get more eyes on [your work].
Twice a month, too.
Yeah! I’m not speaking out of school in saying twice a month is a challenge. But it’s a challenge for everyone. Everyone’s working their butt off. I wake up in the morning, Jim’s pages are there — the guy’s got a day job as the Co-Publisher of DC Comics. The commitment people are showing to try and make this a really fun, exciting book — and hopefully we’ve done that. Fingers crossed people keep enjoying it.
You’re also writing the characters who were maybe the most popular Halloween costumes of this year.
It’s interesting! It’s an interesting experience. But it’s fun. I enjoy writing Harley. If I’m being honest, I enjoy writing Captain Boomerang more than I enjoy all of then, which worries me, because he’s the biggest scumbag. [Laughs] My writing voice seems to naturally flow to Captain Boomerang.
“Suicide Squad” #8 is scheduled for release on Dec. 14. Check back with CBR tomorrow for more on “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad,” in an interview with Joshua Williamson and Jason Fabok!
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