'Explosive Ideas, Ridiculous Twists' in SUICIDE SQUAD

DC is giving another "indie darling" writer the chance to break into superhero comics, as Ales Kot takes over Suicide Squad with May's issue #20.

Kot joins the ranks of other indie writers who just started working on DC books recently, like Ray Fawkes, Jeff Lemire and Robert Venditti.

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On Suicide Squad, Kot says he had "an explosion of ideas" when he sat down to write the pitch for Suicide Squad, and DC was apparently enamored with the ideas. The writer is getting a pretty clean slate as he takes over the title from departing writer Adam Glass, whose final issue apparently eliminates much of the team (teased by the recently revealed gatefold cover for #19).

Kot is also going out of his way to sing the praises of his current DC editor, which feels rare in the current atmosphere of writers citing "creative differences" with editorial.

Working with artist Patrick Zircher on interiors, Kot hopes to create in Suicide Squad something "entertaining, mischievous and relevant," with "ridiculous twists," "snappy one-liners," and "secret histories."

Before joining Suicide Squad, Kot was best known for his creator-owned Image Comics, Wild Children and Change. Both titles were hailed by critics, and his work prompted Image Publisher Eric Stephenson to name Kot as the "breakout writer of 2013".

Newsarama talked to the writer to find out more about his plans for Suicide Squad.

Newsarama: Ales, the cover and solicitation for issue #20 makes it clear that you're shaking up Suicide Squad quite a bit when you come on board. What are you hoping to do with the team, and how does it compare with what we've previously seen in the title? 

Suicide Squad #20

Ales Kot: I want to create the most entertaining, mischievous and relevant Suicide Squad series since the original run by John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell came out.

I am interested in exploring the characters and the (seeming or real?) boundaries between what makes people good and bad. Are people good and bad? Or are we simply defined by our choices, changing every second, far beyond simple black-and-white definitions? I am also interested in the core situation America is in — ethically all over the place. How does that change us?

Also: explosions, cutting things off, sudden deaths, gun fights, fist fights, snappy one-liners, surprising last pages, secret histories, new opportunities...amazing artwork, pop comics experimentation, I want to do it all.

Nrama: DC just revealed the other side of the "surprise" gatefold cover for issue #19, and it features The Unknown Soldier and Harley Quinn killing everyone on the team. How accurate is that cover image?

Kot: I will not tell. Not one word more. But wouldn't it be kind of amusing if nearly every character on the cover really died in that issue?

Nrama: "Amusing" wasn't the word I was thinking, but I suppose we've gotten fair warning if they all end up dead. I know you aren't writing issue #19, but it looks like that's setting up some big changes. Can you disclose what role Unknown Soldier plays in the comic, and whether he's in future issues?

Kot: To disclose the role of the character would be to deprive the readers of the joy of discovering it through the act of reading.

In other words: Suicide Squad #20 comes out May 8th. You will find out.

Nrama: OK, but it's clear something big happens in issue #19. As you take over with Suicide Squad #20, what's the team's reaction to the events that happened, and how does Amanda Waller deal with it?

Kot: Amanda Waller deals with all of it in a fairly explosive manner. I won't spoil what happens in #19, but the situation won't make Waller happy and when Waller isn't happy...well, she might go a bit over the top to ensure everyone knows their place. I mean, she tortured the entire team back in #1 in order to see if they would break under pressure — there's no telling what she does after the team...oh I forgot, I won't tell. 

Suicide Squad #20


Nrama: Then let's talk about the line-up. Can you tell us anything about who's on the team?

Kot: A complete psychopath who might just be a great, great profiler and a man with a past full of blood and oil. Besides that, it's the usual suspects: Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Voltaic, King Shark. Does the team evolve? Surely. Will some new members come on board? Yes. Will some old members die? Indeed. Want to know more? #20, out in May.

Nrama: Does the team have a new mission?

Kot: Aplenty. The plan is to have future missions set in Las Vegas, Mali and one very important place from the original run...and that's just talking about the first six months.

The missions will be very, very diverse, both in terms of setting and objectives. Then there are also the motivations of the Suicide Squad members as individuals — their own missions, so to say. All of that will collide very often, creating a quite explosive mix. It will be volatile.

Nrama: What attracted you to the opportunity to write Suicide Squad? 

Suicide Squad #20


Kot: First and foremost, I always loved the DC Universe. I am enamored with its characters and possibilities. Getting a chance to explore and expand it was an offer I happily jumped at.

Some more reasons:

- The original run of Suicide Squad. I love everything about it. John Ostrander wrote a blueprint of sorts: you can take a look at the Thunderbolts by Warren Ellis & Mike Deodato or Secret Six by Gail Simone and company and trace the influence map all the way back to Ostrander's and McDonnell's work. The density of it, the emotion it's packed with, the complexity of action and themes combining with clear conscious entertainment — this is a classic.

- The explosion of ideas that happened once I sat down and began writing the initial pitch. I wrote pages and pages of notes almost immediately. It felt right.

- My editor, Wil Moss, is a consumate professional who respects my storytelling abilities. Wil hired me because he liked my creator-owned work, and I enjoyed many of the comics Wil edited and co-edited. His suggestions are smart and considerate. His taste is close to mine. When we talk story, we have fun. Working with the right editor can do wonders for any writer, and I always want to improve, so this feels like a strong, positive combination.  

Nrama: You mentioned your creator-owned work. For fans of those projects, how would you compare it to what you've done before? 

Suicide Squad #20


Kot: My Suicide Squad run will be vastly different from Wild Children and Change, which I have released via Image Comics. Wild Children and Change are comics that intentionally go very far beyond the traditional storytelling tropes. Wild Children is a strange combination of a lecture and this meditative punk approach to storytelling, where I lay it all out on the table and own up to all my influences and obsessions so I can move forward. Change is massively influenced by Charlie Kaufman's and Philip K. Dick's ideas about life and storytelling — it's a very paranoid, deeply human piece of speculative fiction that has layers upon layers.

Both of these comics are about reality, about the universal becoming the personal and vice versa — all the while aiming to entertain.

While I am very happy with what I achieved with Wild Children and, especially, Change, the Suicide Squad run will be different from them because it will be much more mainstream comics oriented. I know how the superhero/supervillain tropes work. I am interested in keeping most of them in, playing with them and experimenting, twisting, because staying true to myself as a human being and as a storyteller — both of which are inevitably intertwined -- is the key to creating the stories I am interested in creating. I am interested in staying true to the roots of what made Suicide Squad such a phenomenon in comic book storytelling -- cultural relevance, complex characters, surprising twists. I am interested in creating intelligent pulp fiction firmly set in the DC Universe, which has its own rules and history. I am interested in giving you thrills and ideas.

Nrama: How would you describe what you have in store for the Suicide Squad for the rest of 2013?



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