Suicide Is Painless
♦Welsh writer Rob Williams, who has already made an impact with titles like Martian Manhunter for DC and Unfollow for Vertigo is the regular writer on DC’s new Suicide Squad book, an integral part of DC’s Rebirth line. Tripwire’s editor-in-chief JOEL MEADOWS caught up with him recently to find out more…
TW: What has been your approach to the new Suicide Squad book?
ROB WILLIAMS: That it should be fun, and thrilling and surprising with a dark edge. It has to have that. These guys are the villains. And they’re funny and acerbic and will stab you in the back if you look the wrong way. I mentioned things like punk and Sam Peckinpah in the pitch.
TW: There is extra attention focused on the book thanks to the movie. How much extra pressure did this apply to you as its writer?
RW: It’s more an opportunity than pressure. The movie put the comic in the public’s attention, DC backed it wholeheartedly with Rebirth and giving the book an A-list team in Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair. A lot of people were going to be buying this book. That’s very exciting.
TW: It is also part of DC’s Rebirth of its entire line. How much did you want to mark it out as different from other iterations of the team that have come before and how much did you want to keep certain familiar tropes of the Suicide Squad?
RW: I reread the Ostrander/Mcdonnell run from the 80s, becuase that’s the core of the Suicide Squad concept and did a lot of the character dynamics very well indeed. Rebirth is really about us all going back to the core concepts of why people loved these books in the first place. But you always want to bring your own voice to anything you do. So it’s a merging of the two.
TW: You wrote Martian Manhunter and a couple of issues of Justice League but this is the first high profile DC universe book that you are writing. How much extra pressure did this exert on you?
RW: There is pressure, sure. But it’s far more an amazing opportunity. You’d be crazy not to be excited by this chance to have fun with a core DC book, push the Suicide Squad to the heart of the DCU and work with one of the best comic artists of the past 25 years.
TW: What’s it been like to work with Jim Lee?
RW: A thrill. I loved Jim’s X-Men run back in the day. I bought his Punisher War Journal before that. So, from a lifelong comics fan’s point of view, it’s something I’d never have believed would happen. From a professional point of view, Jim does dynamic superhero visuals better than just about anyone, and he’s very easy to work with. Hugely collaborative. And he brings with him two of the best in the business in Scott and Alex. It’s a ‘win the lottery’ comics gig.
TW: As a man who is obviously very busy in his job at DC, just how much interaction have you had with him?
RW: A lot. As I say, it’s collaborative. Very much so. Jim’s breaking down aspects of my script his own way, so there’s a lot of his ideas in the writing/ And even though Jim’s the co-publisher of the company he’s very accessible and easy to get along with. We spent a fair amount of time together at San Diego Comic Con doing press etc.
TW: With his schedule, how many issues will Billy Tan draw to give Jim Lee a chance to catch up?
RW: The twelve-page format allows for Jim to remain on the book longer, which has in turn freed our Rebirth issue artist Philip Tan up for what is a career-best story starring Katana in Suicide Squad #3. Your’e going to be hearing more about what’s next for Philip at DC in the near future.
TW: Suicide Squad is a team book with lots of characters. Do you enjoy the challenge of trying to make sure that each of them get enough time with each story so it feels balanced?
RW: Well, that’s the challenge with a team book. Give each of them a moment that shows they’re a worthwhile member of the cast – make moments resonate. There’s a real skill to that.
TW: How far ahead have you plotted the book?
RW: We’re tying into the Justice League vs Suicide Squad event beginning with a prequel back up story in issue #8 and again with Suicide Squad 9 & 10. But there’s big plans beyond that. Suicide Squad #2’s cliffhanger is our game-changing moment, as people will see on September 14th. That really effects our plot going forward in a major way. Amanda Waller wants to use the Suicide Squad as weapons to help protect the people. Well, politicians always want more powerful weapons…