Following up on a story thread he started in Trinity, writer Rob Williams has found a way to bring Batman onto the same side as Deadshot, connecting in Suicide Squad because of their shared experience as fathers separated from their kids.
Despite their unusual team-up, however, Williams said after this week's Suicide Squad #43, the team-up is building toward a climax that involves Batman and Deadshot "beating the crap out of each other in the desert, with no one around to see it."
Following that, Suicide Squad #45 in August will begin a crossover with Aquaman as the team gets involved in the apparent reappearance of Atlantis on the surface.
William launched Suicide Squad as part of DC's "Rebirth" initiative in summer 2016. Since then, the team has been brushing up against much of the DCU, with the latest storyline, "Constriction," bringing together Batman and Deadshot.
Newsarama talked to Williams to find out more about what readers have seen in the team-up so far, why the future of Deadshot's daughter is up in the air, and what readers can expect of the Suicide Squad crossover with Aquaman.
Newsarama: Rob, this storyline puts Batman and Deadshot together. What's it been like writing these two characters? Has their interaction surprised you at all?
Rob Williams: To a degree. They've got a big history together, really, because it was Batman's appearance that inspired Floyd Lawton to actually become Deadshot. We touched on it back in Suicide Squad #1, but like Batman came crashing through a window and dealt with some folks in Gotham.
So I think Batman's got a key part in Deadshot's heart, in a way, even though he doesn't recognize he's got much of a heart these days.
I think Batman can get to him in a way that other people can't, put it that way.
And then once we put them together, they're both fathers, which is an important point to me. And I think that's one of the reasons Batman breaks Deadshot out of Belle Reve. He wants to give him a chance to rescue his daughter, because Batman didn't know that Damian was being raised by a death cult. So he feels that he wants to give this guy a chance to actually do something where he never had it.
But then once you put them in a car together, driving through the desert, in someplace like Texas and New Mexico, and people are just going to talk. And the conversation between them in the car, when there's nothing else to do, is one of the more interesting things about this arc, I think.
Nrama: It's been fun to get to know Zoe a little bit. You gave her some screen time and showed that she's pretty formidable on her own. In this arc, that's a good thing, but I get the feeling you're building toward something with this character?
Williams: Yeah. You know, during Floyd Lawton's periods of being out of Belle Reve, he's taught Zoe what he knows, which is partly to be deadly and to handle herself.
I think the danger is, and something we explore is, there's a great danger that she will just become the next generation of Deadshot.
He doesn't want that.
But given the world that he brings her into inadvertently, you know, and the fact that Kobra kidnapped her once before and now they go back for more, just to sort of mess with him…
We're all built by our experiences, and unfortunately, she's getting pretty traumatic ones.
So one of the key resolutions of this is whether Zoe will follow in Deadshot's footsteps.
Nrama: This comic book often has to portray street-level fighting, and with Deadshot, you've used this nine-panel grid that depicts his different tactics in action. Are those types of things your choice?
Williams: Partly me and partly the artist. In the last issue, I specified the nine-panel grids and stuff, just to get across that it's very methodical for Deadshot. It's just how he sees the world. That fight is something he would break down that way. It's very structured.
And there's something we do in the coming issue which I really like a lot where you see this fight between Batman and Deadshot, which has been building. But when it comes, I was very keen that it not be a superhero fight. It's two guys just beating the crap out of each other in the desert, with no one around to see it.
I referenced Raging Bull in the script. I really wanted it to be this thing where, you know, you take away the skills and just have them just be brutal against each other.
I really like this story arc. I think it's a lot of fun. It's taken the book in interesting directions where I like to think that superhero stories don't always go.
Nrama: There's also a surprising interaction between Cold and Boomerang. Were you surprised by the humor you found in the interactions between those two? Of course, it doesn't hurt to have Harley right in the middle of it.
Williams: Well, you know, you send Harley and Cold and Boomerang after Batman and Deadshot, and it's completely dysfunctional.
I think Cold comes in and, you know, the Suicide Squad is largely crazy, and Boomerang's not that bright. And then Cold comes in and he's very cool. He just kind of looks at them and thinks, what are you doing? And he says it a couple of times, like, I can see why Waller sent me along. He doesn't quite get it, I think.
And then there's Boomerang bickering with him about how they're both "captains." And you know, Boomerang's like, Captain Cold's a stupid name, but Captain Boomerang makes perfect sense, right? To him. So all that comes into it as well.
In the next issue, there's a kind of North by Northwest kind of homage where they're chasing Batman and Deadshot in a stolen helicopter.
I don't think Cold can see himself being part of the Suicide Squad going forward. He's used to a more professional way of attacking this stuff.
Nrama: After this issue, the next one finishes up the storyline, right?
Williams: Yeah, issue #44. And then #45 and #46 is our Aquaman crossover. So we're Suicide Squading our way through the DCU at the moment.
There's a resolution to a lot of the themes that we set up in this arc, and that finishes in issue #44.
Nrama: Anything you can tease about the Aquaman crossover?
Williams: Yeah, it's called "Sink Atlantis." So I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying the story is about the Suicide Squad having a mission, which may or may not involve trying to sink Atlantis.
I've been co-writing it with Dan Abnett, and he set up Aquaman in that book and King Shark and a few of the others to really almost be Atlantis' very own Suicide Squad. So you're going to get those two groups coming together.
There's potentially a Killer Croc versus Killer Shark fight, because there has to be, right? You know. It just makes perfect sense.
Dan's someone I've known for years. We've both done work for 2000 AD for some time. So it's been really fun to actually co-write this together.