This week, the second volume of Lee Bermejo's series Suiciders began to take readers even deeper into the world of post-disaster "New Angeles." But the new installment, Kings of HelL.A., also switches focus to new characters, making the new #1 easy for brand new readers to pick up and dive into the Vertigo series.
At the center of the first volume of Suiciders was a televised sport known as the Suicide Games — a futuristic and deadly version of American Gladiators, where competitors have been enhanced by drugs and wear high-tech armor.
In this follow-up story, Bermejo teams up with former Red Lanterns artist Alessandro Vitti. The six-issue second volume focuses on a generation that has grown up after the "Great Quake," and characters connected with their street gang called Kings of HelL.A.
Previously, Bermejo was best known for as an artist on projects like Wednesday Comics: Superman and the Joker graphic novel. Bermejo both wrote and drew the first installment of Suiciders, which was also his debut as a writer of an long-form comic book series, launching last year before the DCU book We Are Robin, which he also wrote.
Newsarama talked to Bermejo to find out more about the second volume of Suiciders, how easy it is for new readers to pick up, and what the addition of Alessandro Vitti brings to the title.
Newsarama: How do the events of the first volume of Suiciders lead into the beginning of the new #1, and how does this start a new chapter for the book?
Lee Bermejo: The first volume takes place 30 years after "the Great Quake," and Kings takes place 15 years earlier. People who read the first arc know that in the end, things very much where moving back in time to move forward. Same can be said for this new chapter.
I'm getting deeper into the world and people will see how the wall was built and the effects that had on the people of New Angeles. There might also be some familiar faces at one point or another.
Nrama: For people who might not have read the first volume, can this issue be a jumping-on point?
Bermejo: Absolutely! I think about the book like seasons of a TV show like True Detective or American Horror Story where each season features a different cast of characters inhabiting the same world. Since each 'season' goes back in time, people should start to realize pretty quickly that the story will end essentially where New Angeles began, at the earthquake itself. How we get there is the fun.
Nrama: You said you're getting deeper into the world — what part of the world of Suiciders do we get to know in this volume?
Bermejo: We're getting to know the city before the wall was completed, before the social divide became so extreme and evident. The city is still recovering from the quake and from the secession from the United States. We'll actually see the border this time around and get to know a bit of how things function in New Angeles.
Nrama: Who are the main characters this time around? You mentioned that there might be some familiar faces. Will we still learn more about what happened to characters from the first volume?
Bermejo: This arc is all about the "quake babies," children who were born right around the earthquake. They don't know what life was like beforehand and are essentially the first generation in this new Los Angeles.
Trix and Johnny are brother and sister, both members of a teenage gang called the Kings of HelL.A. We see how the city's destruction has shaped their lives and attitudes. They don't think about life as permanent. It's something that can be taken away from them anytime, either by act of God or act of man.
We also get to meet one of the first Suiciders and see what happens when a fighter actually survives the game. There's also a cannibal... you know, as there should be.
Nrama: Of course there should! Let's talk about the art. Obviously, you're an artist yourself, so can you describe what Alessandro, your new artist on Suiciders, brings to the visual landscape of this volume?
Bermejo: Alessandro brings the necessary amount of grittiness and authenticity mixed with a great sense of dynamics and character. He's bringing a lot of himself into the project, and has really made these characters his own. I think people will very much recognize the world they saw in the first arc but with Vitti's twist.
I couldn't be happier with the way the project is turning out. I knew as soon as I saw Vitti's work he was the right guy for the job and I think he's doing the best work of his career.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell potential readers about this chapter of Suiciders?
Bermejo: I think that readers will really start to get an idea about what this book is saying with this arc. In the first series, I really pushed readers into the deep end by giving them a story about a new world without explaining everything about it, and that was so that each series would add a bit more brick to that foundation. I'm beyond excited for people to see this new side of the world.