The Suicide Squad film might not hit theaters until August, but DC's hoping to tap into the excitement for the film with the new oversized miniseries Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana. And although the writers haven't seen the movie yet, they're incorporating elements of the film — including a character who looks a lot like Will Smith.
Debuting this Wednesday, the six-issue series features two regular-sized comic book stories together in one over-sized issue each month. While Katana co-creator Mike W. Barr is teaming with artist Diogenes Neves for a story about Katana, Brian Buccellato is working with Viktor Bogdanovic on one about Deadshot.
Barr's story brings the writer back to a character he created with artist Jim Aparo in 1983, and although she's technically a member of the Justice League in the current DCU, she'll be interacting with the Suicide Squad in this series — echoing her role as a member of the Squad in the upcoming film.
The Squad will also play a key role in Buccellato's story, which the writer admits had a darker tone than the work he's done at DC In the past.
Newsarama talked to both writers about what readers can expect from the upcoming stories, how the movie influenced their stories and what Barr think of Katana's recent revival.
Newsarama: Mike, you obviously have a lot of history with this character. Is that what appealed to you about this story, to get back to Katana?
Mike W. Barr: Well, yeah. I like anything that deals with the Outsiders, and over the past few years, Katana, it seems, is the one that I keep returned to the most. I've written a couple other stories about her, in the early part of this decade. And I'm glad to come back to this series.
Nrama: Katana is known for her Asian origin and her skill with a sword, but what else do you think makes her special?
Barr: Well, for me, I think it's her attitude. The way I describe Katana is that she's almost always pissed off, in that Katana almost always has her own agenda and knows where she wants to go and knows what she wants to do, and something's always getting in the way of her accomplishing that. And that's where the aggravation comes from.
That's not fun for her, but it turns out to be a lot of fun for the reader, because the reader gets to have a lot of fun watching her cope with that.
Nrama: A big part of her story is her sword, the Soultaker. How much of a role does it play in the story you're telling?
Barr: Her sword, the Soultaker, is a vital part of the story. And when she meets the Suicide Squad, everyone in the Suicide Squad wants the sword as well. So it becomes a very vital prop in the story.
Nrama: Has the concept behind her sword always been the same for you, and can you explain the idea behind it?
Barr: Yes, when Jim Aparo and I created the character back in 1983, besides the appeal of a female samurai, I thought there should be a bit of mysticism there as well. And that came about in giving her the sword, which has the power to absorb the souls of its victims.
I think that's been a big part of the character's appeal since then, and it's something we haven't experimented with a lot, but I hope to be able to a little more.
Nrama: You said the sword plays a vital role. Can you explain what kicks off the story?
Barr: In the first issue, she's traveling to Europe to meet a European scientist, Dr. Jace, who was in the old Outsiders series, of course, basically looking to find out some more about the origins of the Soultaker and its roots in mysticism.
From there, she gets distracted from that into a plot with Kobra trying to take over the country.
And as they say in television, from there, hilarity ensues.
Nrama: Where in Europe does the story take place, exactly?
Barr: It ultimately takes place in the European country of Markovia. Since she's a member of the Justice League, she's using a Justice League craft to get there, which I thought was a good way to exploit her membership in that group.
Nrama: You mentioned the Suicide Squad playing a role in this story, and obviously the character is in the Suicide Squad movie that's coming out. Does that movie influence your story at all?
Barr: Well so far, all I know about the movie is what I've seen online. I've seen a fair amount of pictures of the character, and I've seen a little bit about the story. So I'm looking forward to it. It seems to be the will of the director, David Ayer, that Katana be in the movie, since she's not part of the Suicide Squad comics usually. So I was really glad to see that he apparently likes the character enough to put her in there.
The Suicide Squad appears in the series. They come in in #2 and are basically part of it for the rest of the series, so we get to see Katana's interaction with them and the various members.
Nrama: So you're getting to write other members of the Suicide Squad? Some for the first time?
Barr: Yes, I don't think I've ever written any of those characters before, so DC sent me a lot of the previous comics so I was able to depict them properly.
Nrama: How would you describe the art from Diogenes Neves in this story?
Barr: The art is just wonderful. I've worked with a lot of really good artists in my career. I've had the privilege of working with Brian Bolland, Adam Hughes, Alan Davis, Jerry Bingham, and I think Diogenes, if he's not up at the top right now, he's going to be at the top very soon.
Nrama: What's the overall tone of this story? I would assume with Katana and Kobra involved, it's pretty action-packed?
Barr: Yes, there's a great deal of action in it. Katana goes to Markovia to try to find out more about the Soultaker, so it starts out for her as a fact-finding mission, but of course, being Katana, it doesn't stay that way for very long. She gets involved in an adventure — she gets swept into this plot against her will, into helping out the people of Markovia against Kobra.
Nrama: Might you do more Katana stories in the future?
Barr: Yes! It was great being back with the character again, and it's good to see Katana being so active at DC. Not only is she in the Suicide Squad movie, but she's been in the DC Comics Bombshells merchandising as well, and there's a junior version of the character that's been involved in the DC Super Hero Girls website. You can look up DCSuperHeroGirls.com and you can find out all about it.
So it's exciting after all these years to see the character being used in so many ways. I only wish that Jim Aparo were here to see it.
Nrama: And now we turn to Brian Buccellato.
Brian, let's talk about your series. Is this a character you were interested in writing?
Brian Buccellato: It started during a conversation I had with Dan DiDio. I pitched a couple characters, and I think we both decided that Deadshot would be right in my wheelhouse, in terms of the kind of characters I like when I write for myself — darker material. So I think it's a natural fit.
And the idea of this mini-series is to exploit his emotional journey, which is always fun to write.
Nrama: When you say it's right in your wheelhouse, do you mean because it's so dark? Is there something you've done to which you'd compare this story?
Buccellato: Well, I don't think I've done anything quite as dark a character as Floyd in my work in the DC universe. Detective Comics has some darker elements, but it's not really comparable, I don't think. I mean, Bruce is the Dark Knight, but he's not a killer.
I think you'd have to go to my creator-owned stuff, like Sons of the Devil or Foster, tonally, to see more of what this book is like.
That said, it's still a superhero book, so it's got fun stuff like the Suicide Squad, and there's bad guys, and all that kind of stuff.
Nrama: Where do we pick up Floyd's story as you start the series?
Buccellato: He's on a mission in South America when the story starts, and he basically has to kill a lot of people to get some information, and he's more than willing to do that. He's on a solo mission when it starts, and then he ends up teaming up later on with a new character who has a lot of similarities to Deadshot and is probably going for his job, so that's something he has to deal with.
And emotionally, he finds out something in #1 that changes the course of what he wants to do with his life. He made a promise years ago, and time is running out for him to keep his promise. So that takes control over what he's going to do.
Nrama: So you mentioned the Suicide Squad — do they play a role in the story?
Buccellato: Yeah, it's definitely about Deadshot. But you'll see him being part of the Suicide Squad and working for Waller and being under her thumb. And some of the characters from the Suicide Squad are in it. So he's not isolated. It's not like Wolverine off on an adventure on his own. In this case, the Suicide Squad is very much a part of the story.
Nrama: Have you been influence at all by the movie?
Buccellato: I haven't seen the movie, but from the trailers, there have been a few shots of Deadshot and he looks pretty cool. So you may see a character in my story that resembles Will Smith. So we're influenced in that way.
Nrama: What can you tell me about the art and how it helps the tone you're going for?
Buccellato: Victor Bogdanovic — he's pretty awesome. His style is gritty enough for a story like this, and he's really good with big action. He's got a slick inker with him, Richard Friend. And then Mike Spicer, who I'd never seen his colors before, is doing a really great job on it. It's a vibrant book in a lot of ways, but it's still got a lot of grit to it and even some textures in places. So I think, all together, the package is really slick. It came out really well.
Nrama: Do you think Deadshot could support an ongoing series?
Buccellato: Oh, 100 percent. I think he's a really cool character. He's got a really dark side to him. He's a character who, in the Suicide Squad, he's the one character who wouldn't really care if he committed suicide. He has nothing to live for. He's not afraid to die. And I think a character like that, you can go many, many places with.