Rob Williams' Suicide Squad run culminates later this year with issue #50, and the writer - who has been on the title since the onset of "Rebirth" - is tying up loose ends and trying to mix character-focused stories with some final bombastic, action-packed events.
Included in those events is the title’s upcoming crossover with Aquaman, which takes the squad to the streets of Atlantis in an effort to sink the island nation that just rose into the surface world. The event kicks off in August and brings Williams together with fellow British writer Dan Abnett, who’s the regular scribe on Aquaman.
Before that, this week’s Suicide Squad #44 wraps up the “Constriction” storyline that saw Batman guest-starring in the title along with the humor-inspiring addition of Captain Cold.
Newsarama talked to Williams to find out more about the “Constriction” conclusion, how Abnett and Williams got together for the crossover, and what readers can expect from the writer as he finishes his run on Suicide Squad.
Newsarama: Rob, one of the more surprisingly interesting characters in the current story arc is Zoe, Deadshot's daughter. She's really been at the heart of the story, even as Batman has been guest starring. Are we going to see more of Zoe in action in this week's issue of Suicide Squad? And do you agree that Zoe is kind of at the heart of the story?
Rob Williams: Yeah. Zoe's journey as Deadshot's daughter is about this whole idea of fate, and are you, as a child, fated to follow your parent's path?
All along, it feels like she's going to be the new generation of Deadshot. And although Deadshot is a cool character, he's also a killer. He's a killer for hire.
And Zoe isn't at this point. She's still relatively an innocent.
So that's the moral quandry of this at the end.
You're either going to see Zoe following in her father's footsteps or not.
And of course, along the way with that, as you said, we have Batman as well.
There’s loads of action in this arc too. There’s lots of comedy in it too, with Harley and Boomerang and Captain Cold and those guys.
At the end of last issue, you saw Batman and Deadshot jumping off a cliff, and the helicopter that Harley and Boomerang and Cold were following in goes over the edge of a cliff too. All that stuff’s in it, but hopefully it’s like any good story, with an emotional core to it. The emotional core, really, is the battle for Deadshot and Zoe’s souls, and the culmination of Batman’s journey.
Nrama: How would you describe Batman’s role in that quandary?
Williams: His journey in this story has been to try to save two people, really. He’s been trying to save Zoe, but in a lot of ways, he’s trying to save Deadshot as well.
But whether or not that’s possible at this point, after all the crimes Deadshot’s done, is another matter.
Nrama: Is Captain Cold sticking around?
Williams: Cold being in it was just a result of talking to Josh Willamson, who had put Cold into Belle Reve Penitentiary. So I was really glad to do that, and he was a fun addition.
But I think they need him back.
I think he’s a temporary addition. He was fun while he was here though.
Nrama: Coming up next, you have the “Sink Atlantis” storyline with Aquaman. I think you already mentioned a possible Killer Croc versus Killer Shark battle, which is worth this crossover alone. But how did this crossover idea come together? Were you and Dan Abnett working together on the Fourth of July (while everybody from DC was taking the day off), and you thought, hey, let’s work together?
Williams: We were scheming to take the colonies back for the United Kingdom. That’s what you’re implying there, isn’t it?
No, no, actually it was DC’s idea. They asked if we wanted to do this. I mean, I’ve known Dan for years because we’re both from the 2000AD school. And we’ve run into each other a number of times over the year in the U.K. comics scene. And I like Dan’s writing a lot.
It was very easy in that regard, because we get on well and I think we work well together.
It became this big, collaborative thing between not just us, but the Aquaman editorial team and the Suicide Squad editorial team. We all kind of bunkered down and came up with what we think is a fun storyline whereby Atlanta … Atlanta? Atlanta doesn’t rise. Atlantis rises. We don’t want to sink Atlanta.
Nrama: Uh huh… I knew it.
Williams: [Laughs.] No, no, Atlantis rises in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and suddenly that throws the geopolitical landscape into all kinds of flex.
And America suddenly has a potentially hostile, major power off its shore.
Nrama: This happens at a pretty important point in the Aquaman story, with the shift of power that’s happening.
Williams: Right, Mera is going to be crowned as queen of Atlantis. And it’s a very tenuous time in terms of politics in the Aquaman book.
And America is in a position where they want to do diplomacy, and they want to have peace with Atlantis. But there are certain factions in the American government who don’t necessarily feel that way.
One of the things about Suicide Squad is that Task Force X is completely deniable. They can be sent in somewhere to do things, and if they get caught, they’re just supervillains and the America government can go, no, it wasn’t us.
So that’s exactly what happens. The Suicide Squad gets sent into Atlantis, to send it back to the bottom of the ocean where it belongs.
As always, with stories like this, not everything goes according to plan and there are certain ulterior motives by people that make it much worse than it first appears.
Nrama: The Aquaman characters are so stately and regal compared to Task Force X. Are they kind of bumping up against each other in this story?
Willaims: Yeah, it kind of works, though. When we talked about it, we found a lot of common ground. In Dan’s story now, Aquaman is almost like the Batman of Atlantis. He’s not the king at this point. He’s kind of hiding out in the darker, scummier areas of Atlantis and hanging out with his own little crew who are effectively the Suicide Squad of Atlantis.
So I’m kind of grasping for a Godfather type thing where, while the coronation is going on in the regal part of Atlantis, you’ve got the scummy areas and all that’s going on below the surface. And you get to see this class system in Atlantis.
For Mera, she’s thrust into the role of queen, so she has to be the public face, but she might have different feelings below the surface. And Aquaman’s in a position where he doesn’t want to ruin this for Mera. He wants to try to save the day and save Atlantis. But he doesn’t want to come bursting in on Mera’s coronation and trash the place. You know?
So there’s lots of really fun, interesting character aspects in this story as well as being a big, bombastic sort of thing.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what’s coming up in Suicide Squad?
Williams: Well, my run is finishing with issue #50. We’ve got an arc taking us through to the end, and I can’t say anything about that final arc.
There’s some stuff I’m really excited about, like Boomerang getting a spotlight moment. I love writing Boomerang. I mean, he’s possibly my favorite character of the Squad.
And then at the end, I’m trying to tie together some of the threads that I’ve left dangling throughout the “Rebirth” run. Hopefully by the end, there’s not many things that have been left unanswered along the way. If you’ve read the run all the way through and you’ve enjoyed it, you’ll find our ending quite satisfying. There will be things that you’ll recognize. That’s a little cryptic, but I hope people will enjoy what’s coming.