Those who have been reading DC's current Suicide Squad series know how wonderfully bonkers it can be sometimes, spotlighting a team that features some of the most lethal and yet surprisingly endearing characters we've seen in the Squad in some time. Match, Nocturna, Culebra, Talon, Peacemaker, Ambush Bug, and the rest of the cast all contribute something special to the mix, and things are only getting better thanks to a second team that's out to shut Amanda Waller down for good. Suicide Squad #9 continues to shake up the series and add new pieces to the chessboard, and ComicBook.com recently had the chance to talk to writer Robbie Thompson about the issue, if the recent movie influenced the series and its character, and what the future holds for this delightful cast.
First, we had to talk about the second Suicide Squad team, which is led by Rick Flag, who it seems was freed from Waller's prison by Peacemaker. We also get a new addition to the team in The Fisherman, and we wanted to know why Thompson chose these particular members for Flag's team.
"We wanted a group of recognizable faces for that reveal so that it really felt like Flag was building a formidable lineup," Thompson said. "We also wanted to play with audience expectations. Waller and Flag both have Squads of their own in Future State: Suicide Squad, but now some of the characters that were on Waller's team, like The Fisherman that you mentioned, are actually on Flag's team. The idea being that Flag's actions are (hopefully) affecting the outcome of Future State, so maybe he'll actually have a shot at stopping Waller before she succeeds in her master plan. And a big credit to Editor Mike Cotton for the specific characters in the lineup. When we first spoke, there was an amazing list of rogues Mike had his eyes on for his book, and we really relied on that list. At that time I was really excited to add a Parademon to the crew, because I've always loved their look. Fisherman was on that list and he felt like such a creepy fun addition."
While Thompson has a love for all of these characters, there are a few that have become bigger favorites as the series has moved along.
"I think in the first half it was Waller and Peacemaker. It's really hard not to enjoy writing them. And it's also really hard not to imagine Viola Davis and John Cena saying their lines! Over the course of the second half of the larger arc we've been working on, though, I've really enjoyed writing Match and the emotional journey he's been on," Thompson said. "We knew from Issue 1 that he wasn't *really* Superboy, but I have to say when we got to that reveal in the Annual, it was still a gut punch. I love Ben Reilly and Captain Rex, too, so maybe I just have a soft spot for clones."
While the book deals with some darker themes (they literally went to hell at one point), Ambush Bug is always good for a bit of lighthearted fun, and Thompson has wanted to work with him for some time.
"He's been a bucket list character for me since I got into comics," Thompson said. "My brother introduced me to him when we were kids and I've been a fan ever since. Keith Giffen is a genius. Fans can expect more fourth wall breaking, more silly jokes, and hopefully he lives through what's coming!"
One of the wild cards of the group has been Talon, who has given the impression that he's gone insane but recently revealed that he's been playing the long game, and we wanted to know what Thompson could tease about what's next for the character.
"That's definitely been our slowest burn, but we've had fun teasing that out. As you'll see in Issue 9, there's a big reveal about his true intentions, and this will most directly affect the Squad member he's grown closest with, Culebra," Thompson said. "We hadn't really planned on the two of them bonding, but it's been fun to see their relationship grow, and he's going to take her into confidence in Issue 9. Hopefully they both live through what's coming next soon, too!"
Now, Waller has often been depicted as someone willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, but that ruthless streak has really taken on a life of its own in this series, and if it seems that she's really started to lean hard into the more villainous side of things, that was intentional.
"Our mission statement was to take her badass, super-planning ways and make her turn all that up to eleven. So, yeah, she has totally turned to a more villainous side in our series and that was by design from our first talk. We're going to slowly reveal why she's taking things to such extremes as we ramp up to our biggest event after Issue 12. There's a reason Waller is hellbent on taking over Earth-3, and that reason will have huge ramifications for the entire DC Universe," Thompson said.
Waller's ruthlessness has made it even easier to root for the team she wields like a weapon, and two of the standouts are Match and Nocturna. While Thompson didn't plan it out that way, the two have essentially become the book's Jim and Pim.
"Haha, that's great to hear, and thank you! To be honest, that came out in the telling of our story. It wasn't something we planned on. But in telling Match's story, we needed a way for him to externalize his trauma, and that ended up taking the form of a budding relationship with Nocturna," Thompson said. "They felt like such opposites that it started to feel like an organic, workplace romance. They're basically our Jim and Pam. And a big credit for that working belongs with Eduardo Pansica and Dexter Soy, who really are the ones that bring those characters, and all the rest, to life. Our Editors and I really reacted to what those two brought and I'm excited to see where they go – if they live through what's coming!"
Peacemaker has also left a big mark on the series, exploring his own internal conflicts and how his core mission aligns with Waller's, and we wanted to know if during the outline phase John Cena's version of the character ever factored in.
"I love what a maniac he is! When I got the job, I knew John Cena had been cast but hadn't seen anything from the movie. Having said that, John Cena is such a wonderful actor and performer that I got a sense that his character was going to be dark and interesting and funny. Like I said, it's been impossible not to imagine him saying the lines, and the same is now true, having seen the movie a couple times, for Idris Elba and Bloodsport," Thompson said. "With Peacemaker, we set out to try to humanize him a bit, and him having a front-row seat to someone like Waller, who is even more committed than he is in some ways to peace at any cost, felt like a place for him to learn and grow as a character. He's still a maniac, but he's starting to grow a conscience as well, which is good for his personal growth, but will make him vulnerable as well."
Now, Thompson has been able to work with some dream characters here, including Ambush Bug, but he does have a few he hopes to work in at some point.
"There were a few characters recently that we wanted to use in later issues that nobody said no to, per se, but those characters were busy in continuity doing other things. So hopefully those are characters we'll get to play with down the road. But DC and Mike have been really open with the toy box. And the number one character I wanted on the team was Ambush Bug, so that's been a dream come true and I'm so grateful to Mike and DC for letting me take him for a spin," Thompson said.
Suicide Squad #9 is available in comic stores and on digital storefronts now.
What have you thought of Suicide Squad so far? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things comics with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!0comments