Writer Rob Williams and superstar artist Jim Lee will give readers a taste of what's coming after Rebirth in Suicide Squad with this week's Harley Quinn & Suicide Squad April Fool's Special. And the writer said this one-shot leads right into some ramifications that will pick up in the upcoming Rebirth ongoing series.
Williams is already known to DC readers for the clever yet quirky Martian Manhunter, as well as his Vertigo title Unfollow. With Suicide Squad, he'll be incorporating some of his signature humor, but the title will also have a sinister, dramatic edge.
And although this week's one-shot is said to lean much heavier on comedy than the eventual Suicide Squad series probably will, the special turns more serous during the third act to act as "almost a prologue" to the new Rebirth series.
Williams' Rebirth Suicide Squad ongoing launches as a twice-monthly title in August, with art from Lee as well as Philip Tan.
Newsarama talked to Williams to find out more about the tone of the new Suicide Squad, how Harley Quinn & Suicide Squad April Fool's Special leads into the new series, and why Harley Quinn is tapping into her psychologist side again.
Newsarama: Rob, let's talk about the Harley Quinn & Suicide Squad April Fool's Special, which features art by one of your eventual Suicide Squad artists, Jim Lee, as well as Sean "Cheeks" Galloway. We're conducting this interview on April Fool's Day, so it's very fitting.
Rob Williams: Yeah, I just got a copy of the comic this afternoon.
Nrama: Also fitting. So did DC come to you with the idea to do this?
Williams: Yeah, DC suggested it. Jim Lee rang me up and said, "We want to do a Harley Quinn April Fool's Special and I'm going to draw it." And I was like, "OK! I'll do that!" I mean, Jim Lee's going to draw it.
As you said, it's April Fool's Day today, when we're talking. There's this great expectation to the name April Fool's because it's like, with Harley, you think, "all the jokes are going to be hilarious!" But then with April Fool's, it's almost got to be twice as funny.
But Harley lends herself to comedy. That's part of her. But also, what we do in the book is go into her history of being a psychotherapist in Arkham before she became Harley Quinn. And she gets to start up a supervillain therapy group called Evil Anonymous. She effectively offers a 12-step program to super villains.
So we see a little more depth to Harley's value. But it's mostly just lots of laughs, to be honest.
Nrama: So I assume she goes after various super villains to be in her therapy group? Any guest stars you can name? And is the inclusion of the superillains what makes it different from some of the other "Harley" stories being released by DC?
Williams: She goes after people like Killer Moth and the Toymaster. And there are some other guest stars I don't want to give away.
But what makes it different is that Jim and I are doing Suicide Squad together as part of DC Rebirth. I can't go into any detail about it, but at least it's been announced.
Nrama: So this ties into your Rebirth story?
Williams: This acts as almost a prologue to Suicide Squad. There are certain things that happen here which, even though they seem kind of frivolous and kind of fun, actually play into where we're going with Suicide Squad.
So if you are going to read the Jim Lee Suicide Squad book — and why wouldn't you? It's Jim Lee doing Suicide Squad — if you read this, you're going to get a hint of where we're going.
Nrama: For people who might not have checked out your work on Martian Manhunter or on your Vertigo book Unfollow and may be unfamiliar with your writing style, is the April Fool's special a sneak peek at your work?
Williams: I don't know about that. I mean, that's a weird one, because tonally, this April Fool's thing is predominantly a comedy, but it also has a sinister, dramatic edge to it. And one thing I like doing with my work, no matter what I work on, I think, is I like trying to tick a couple of different boxes. I like the comedy side of it, but I also like drama and I like to build tension, which hopefully you've seen if you've read Unfollow or Martian Manhunter.
So this issue is more ostensibly for laughs than some of my stuff. I've done comedy strips over the years for 2000AD and really enjoyed it. And that's maybe a bit more like this.
But you'll see, in the final act of the Harley April Fool's book, suddenly there's a big sort of act shift. The third act goes in a completely different way. It's completely different from the rest of the book.
You're going to see a bit more of that with Suicide Squad.
Nrama: Oh, but I'm sure you'll have some humor in Suicide Squad.
Williams: There will always be comedy in my work. I pretty much can't help myself. It just happens.