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Two years ago, David Dastmalchian was working hard to deliver the biggest performance of his career in The Suicide Squad. Despite the demands of playing the Polka-Dot Man in filmmaker James Gunn’s DC film, Dastmalchian couldn’t help but make time for his Dark Horse comic book, Count Crowley: Reluctant Midnight Hunter.
Now with just one week until The Suicide Squad hits theaters and HBO Max on Aug. 6, the actor is revealing that Count Crowley will return for more issues, some of which he wrote during downtime on the set of Squad.
“There were a lot of new elements we didn’t get to play with before with Vol. 1, including locations, certain kinds of monsters,” Dastmalchian tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The way that monsters interact with each other as well as humans.”
Count Crowley Vol. 1 took place in 1983 and centers on Jerri Bartman, a once-rising TV journalist who moves back to her hometown in the midwest due to struggles with alcoholism. She hosts the nightly Creature Feature, but soon learns her job comes with hidden duties: hunting monsters. Count Crowley, her missing predecessor, was one of the last of the appointed monster hunters in the world. Monsters are actually real, and are trying to control the world’s news and information. It originally debuted with four issues in 2019.
For a time it looked like Count Crowley would never come back. The coronavirus pandemic upended the comic book publishing world and saw Dark Horse make the painful decision to shelve future issues, despite the positive response.
“I was utterly devastated. It was a day I’ll never forget,” says Dastmalchian of receiving a call in May 2020 saying plans for additional issues were dead. “We had our car stolen. The country shut down. I was supposed to go work on something cool for filming. Everything just stopped, and Count Crowley got stopped.”
But in comics, nothing is really dead. The existing issues of Count Crowley continued to sell, as did its trade paperback. The comic book industry rebounded, too, and Dastmalchian eventually got the good news that his book was returning. The next batch of issues, which do not yet have a release date, reteams Dastmalchian with artist Lukas Ketner and editor Megan Walker.
Dastmalchian is the rare comic book writer who is also an actor in major comic book movies. His first film role was in The Dark Knight and he also has appeared in Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp. The Suicide Squad is his biggest role yet, and also earned Crowley some noteworthy fans.
On set, Harley Quinn actor Margot Robbie learned that Dastmalchian had penned a comic, and asked to see them. Each time an issue came out, he’d drop it off for her. One evening, Dastmalchian was eating dinner with his wife, artist Evelyn Leigh, in Atlanta after a long day of shooting when his phone blew up. Robbie had tweeted about her love for the book and urged people to check it out.
“She was genuinely so supportive of the comic and of my writing,” says Dastmalchian, who also has Dune out this year. “She treats everybody like they are important.”
Gunn also showed his support. On Datmalchian’s final day of shooting The Suicide Squad, the actor was touched to see Gunn wearing a Count Crowley T-shirt he’d given him. Others in the Squad family showed their Count Crowley love as well. Steve Agee, who played the Sylvester Stallone-voiced King Shark on the set, accompanied Dastmalchian to a Count Crowley signing in Atlanta’s Oxford Comics. Peter Capaldi (The Thinker) showed up as well.
Says Dastmalchian: “I feel so lucky to be so supported by the Suicide Squad while Count Crowley was coming out.”
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