For DC, things have been unusually quiet on the Suicide Squad front since the end of the last comic book series, written by Rob Williams, back in January. That’s going to change in December with the launch of a brand-new ongoing comic title by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, the creative team behind the best-selling Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2 comics.
Taylor and Redondo have been teasing the series for a couple of weeks on social media, offering up glimpses of new characters under the hashtag #SquadGoalsDC — and the fact that there are all-new characters making their debut in the series might be the first hint that this is a new beginning for the team of supervillains turned anti-heroes.
As it turns out, things will be very different for the Suicide Squad when the series debuts, as Taylor revealed when Heat Vision talked to him about taking over the fan-favorite title via email.
Let’s start with the big one: What is the Suicide Squad now? It’s been an army unit of disposable soldiers for special missions, a government agency of daredevils and scientists on the fringe, a covert task force of supervillains for missions either too deadly or politically sensitive for regular operatives, and a private mercenary team for hire to whoever’s feeling most generous. With Event Leviathan taking place in current DC comic books — reorganizing the status quo of the world’s intelligence agencies as it goes — can you even give a hint about what the Suicide Squad is going to be in your book?
For a long time, there’s been a sense of safety around the Suicide Squad. The anti-heroes and villains have gone out on the mission, fought dirty, won dirty and most of them have come home. In our book, that’s not the case any more. The team we send out in issue one won’t all live through the first mission. DC characters with years of history are going to be confined to history after issue one. Truly, no one is safe.
There’s a new regime, and the new regime sees this team as assets and nothing more. They don’t care if they lose them in the field, they can always get more. And they do get more. Alongside fan-favorites like Harley Quinn and Deadshot, all new characters are going to be debuting in this book. New powered people are coming, and they do not want to be there. This is the most divided the Suicide Squad will have ever been. The missions will be hard, but surviving each other may be the hardest of all.
Suicide Squad is a comic with a long history at DC, but one of the constants of the comic, especially since John Ostrander took on the concept in 1986, is change. There are all kinds of recurring characters in the different incarnations of the team, but the only one who’s stuck around continually is the big boss, Amanda Waller. Should fans expect the same this time out??
There are going to be a whole lot of changes in our series. So much change, in fact, that issue two is practically a new number one. But we’re taking that even further. I can’t say how, but the entire book is going to change [and] veer in a direction we haven’t seen in the Squad before. Honestly, I’m not even promising Amanda Waller makes it past issue one.
You’ve been teasing people who follow you on social media with some newcomers to the team — who happen to be all-new characters you and Bruno are creating. I’ll be honest: Between Injustice and DCeased, you’ve gotten a reputation for being a writer unafraid to kill your darlings, literally. Are you creating new characters so you can have cannon fodder down the line, Tom?
Why create new characters to be cannon fodder when you have a list of established characters you can kill off? [Cackles maniacally.]
— Tom Taylor (@TomTaylorMade) September 4, 2019
One of the main things I want to do with this series, and editors Brian Cunningham and Andrea Shea are with me one hundred percent, is to push the idea of these actually being suicide missions. No reader should know what to expect when picking up this book. We don’t want anyone reading our series and thinking, “well, they can’t die because they’re in the movie.” No one is off limits here. Our new characters, and some more obscure established DC characters, offer us a chance to have real stakes. If someone dies in our team, they’re not coming back. We want readers going in with a sense of nervousness. Yes, there will be some despair for our team, but their victories will be sweeter. When and if they survive, it will feel big.
Our characters are from all over the world — we’ve already teased Thylacine from Australia and the teleporter, Wink — and they all know each other. We in the creative team are already close to them, but not as close as they are to each other. We still don’t know who’ll make it and who won’t. Don’t get attached.
One of the joys of Suicide Squad as a concept — in comics, TV appearances and even the movie — has been the chance to see some obscure supervillains from the DC back catalog given their long-awaited due. Again, just looking at your Injustice work makes it clear that you’ve got a deep and genuine affection for DC mythology, so is this a tradition we’ll see continued with the new series? And if so, any names you want to drop as a tease…?
We’ll absolutely see some more obscure villains. We’ll see some very early on, and I have a list of more I want to use if… say, unfortunate things happen to some of them. We have Cavalier, who I think is ridiculous, but the squad needs ridiculous, Shark, Zebra Man — who has great, unique powers, Magpie — who I’ve always associated with that first team-up of Superman and Batman, and others.
“I know, right? Falling to our death. Pretty scary.” – Wink.
— Tom Taylor (@TomTaylorMade) September 6, 2019
The book brings you back together with your Injustice partner Bruno Redondo; the two of you made a formidable team on that book, and it’s clear from the response to your social media teases that fans are excited to see you work together again. What is it about the two of you that gets people so worked up? Or, if you’re feeling too humble to proclaim your combined genius, what is it about Bruno’s work that gets you so excited?
Bruno and I have been working together for around eight years and he’s one of my favorite artists in the world. He’s been off drawing a little book called Justice League for a while, and both of us have been getting edgy with this time spent apart. So, I’m overjoyed we could get him for this.
In many ways he’s my dream collaborator. We speak the same storytelling language, and we have the same storytelling values. We value the acting of the characters above anything else, and Bruno has this rare gift to make readers feel more than almost any other artist. The loud bits and the quiet. He nails comedy and he nails sorrow. His acting is subtle and nuanced. Lots of brilliant artists can draw Batman punching someone in the face and grimacing. Bruno can draw Harley Quinn covering heartache with a smile.
Getting to create all new characters with Bruno for DC is a bit of a dream. We hope you love all the of new characters, and we hope some of them survive our Suicide Squad.
Suicide Squad launches in December digitally and in comic book stores.