After bringing readers closer to understanding Amanda Waller in his previous story arc, Suicide Squad writer Rob Williams is now turning his attention to Deadshot as Batman teams up with the villain for a journey to rescue his daughter.
But chasing Batman and Deadshot will be a team comprised of Harley Quinn, Boomerang, and a brand new addition to the Squad: Captain Cold.
According to Williams, this week's Suicide Squad #41 kicks off a possible road to redemption for Deadshot. In fact, redemption is a theme in most of the stories he's been exploring in Suicide Squad since the author launched the title as part of DC's "Rebirth" initiative in summer 2016.
Newsarama talked to Williams to find out more about Captain Cold joining the team and how the just-started storyline has elements of both Raging Bull and Midnight Run (is there a Robert DeNiro theme here?).
Newsarama: Rob, you've done quite a bit with these characters during your run. But lately you've been spotlighting various characters. Were you hoping to explore some different themes with these up-close stories?
Rob Williams: Yeah, we're into issue #41 of the reboot, and I've done a lot of the full group stories. So I thought it would be really nice to have a change of pace and sort of concentrate on one or two characters.
This is really Deadshot's story. It's a follow-up to a plot thread I began in Trinity #16, whereby Kobra have got a vendetta against Deadshot because Deadshot killed one of their leaders years ago.
So in order to get revenge on him, they kidnap Deadshot's daughter. And Deadshot wants to go after her, but he's locked up in prison.
He begs Waller to let him out and Waller refuses.
But Batman was there in Trinity #16, and this all resonates with Batman, I think because of Damian and how Damian was raised by an insane killer cult. And Batman couldn't be there and couldn't save him.
So he wants to help Deadshot do this thing, go after his daughter. And then Batman's going to put Deadshot back in prison. He's not breaking Deadshot out for any other reason.
As far as the theme, it's about parenthood and also whether redemption's possible, which I think is at the heart of Suicide Squad anyway, because these are all villains. You're always trying to dig into them and find out how redeemable they are despite the terrible things they've done.
So I think Batman, at his heart, is a hero who saves people, and I think in his own way, he's trying to save Deadshot here. But he would never admit that.
Nrama: This week's issue ends with Captain Cold showing up. Is that something you're just trying out for awhile? Can you describe what his role is in upcoming issues?
Williams: I was talking to Josh Williamson and he basically offered the character on a plate. He said, "Look, I'm going to put Captain Cold in Belle Reve, and if you want to use him, you can for a while."
We've really stuck, largely, to the core Suicide Squad cast. But I love Captain Cold, and I jumped at the chance to add a new team member.
It's a new dynamic, but also, this story is harkening back to films I love, like Midnight Run, which is a mismatched buddy road movie. So there's this squad that's chasing Deadshot and Batman, who are trying to stay off the grid, so Batman's not using the Batmobile and all those things because everyone's going to be looking for that.
So I like the idea of Captain Cold and Boomerang and Harley Quinn being sent out to chase Batman and Deadshot down.
So I guess you've also got a little bit of The Fugitive in this, and you've got a little North by Northwest. There's even a little bit of Raging Bull at one point as well.
I guess I've brought bits of these movies I love into the Suicide Squad tableau.
Nrama: So as Harley, Boomerang and Captain Cold go after Batman and Deadshot, how do the other characters get involved?
Williams: Well Katana, she has a long, emotional connection with Batman, you know, from the Outsiders. And she has a chance to stop them, but she doesn't. In a previous issue of Suicide Squad, she turned against Batman and felt terrible about it and apologized to him.
At the end of this issue, she makes it good with Batman by letting him go.
So I think Waller knows she can't trust Katana.
And Killer Croc is virtually catatonic because he's got so much grief for the Enchantress, who recently died, so he's not going to do anyone any good.
So that's why Waller sends Cold, Boomerang and Harley to go get Batman and Deadshot. She says to bring them back alive, but if you can't bring them back alive, I'm really not concerned.
It's a fine line with Waller. She's basically a good guy, but there's a lot of bad guy with Waller as well. It's always a sort of tap dance along that line of moral ethics.
Nrama: Yeah, you spotlighted her in the last storyline. And even though I could relate to her somewhat, she still didn't come out of that looking good.
Williams: But hopefully, in the last arc, you could see where she's coming from. It doesn't justify her actions, but you can see the hurt and the damage that Waller went through, and how she tried to protect her family. She lost three family members in tragic circumstances.
That doesn't justify what she does. But she's willing to make the tough choices. She could so easily be a supervillain. And she almost is.
Nrama: This issue's art really stood out. But you have a revolving team of artists now, right?
Williams: Yeah, we do. This issue was Eduardo Pansica, who's been with us for a little while now, and he's terrific. But because we've been going at this with two issues a month, it's impossible to have one artist solidly on the book.
But yeah, Eduardo is a really terrific talent, I think.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what's coming up in the next few issues?
Williams: Hopefully, there's the best Batman and Deadshot fight you'll ever see in your life. That's the Raging Bull fight I mentioned before. I was very keen that it should be quite a brutal boxing match rather than a traditional superhero battle.
It's just a case of trying to push these characters as hard as they'll go emotionally, trying to put their souls on the line.
Also, DC readers are going to see the return, which we teased here, of Jeffrey Franklin Burr, who was the original Kobra and who's been dead awhile.
That's the threat. They're bringing his soul back from the dead.
It's got a lot of emotion, and a lot of humor, this arc. I think it's one of my favorite things we've done with the Suicide Squad book since I've been on.