The start of DC's first post-Rebirth crossover event, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, culminated with the revelation that Maxwell Lord is back in play, and that he has assembled his own high-powered Suicide Squad that will be taking the fight to the Justice League.
Lord was introduced during Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis's Justice League years, where he was the "money man" behind the Justice League International, responsible for getting them diplomatic status with the United Nations. He turned evil in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, when it was revealed that he had secretly been working with the spy organization Checkmate for years in the hopes of cutting the world's metahuman population off at the knees. Later, he and Suicide Squad founder Amanda Waller would war for control of Checkmate -- which is really what seems to be driving the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad narrative again.
While there were certain characters -- Johnny Sorrow and Maxwell Lord -- who looked more or less like they had the last time we saw them, and Eclipso, who has returned to his male appearance from before he started his alliance with Jean Loring, others were redesigned by series artist Jason Fabok. There was some reworking done on a handful of the villains in "Maxwell Lord's nightmare army," as they're described on the cover of next week's #2.
"I designed most of the characters," Fabok told ComicBook.com during a recent interview. "The goal with that was that we had discussed not redesigning but updating them a little bit."
We asked him for some particulars, and Fabok gave us some insights on each of five characters, which you can see below.
Lobo: "I kind of said let's go with the classic Simon Bisley look [for Lobo] because it was so good back then, why change it? He already looked perfect at one point – why change it?"
Emerald Empress: "We were having a little trouble where we didn't want to mix up her and Enchantress. They both have similar color schemes and both ahave similar outfits. That one we kind of batted around a couple of different designs until we came up with something that looked classic but paid homage to the old and brought it into new territory.
Rustom: Jim [Lee] had ideas about Rustom. He said 'think about something like Assassins Creed, so we blended that with the original character.
Dr. Polaris: I think the one where we went a little more off-script was Dr. Polaris. That one I kind of drew from the original look, I drew from the '90s look, and there was a look that he appeared in one of the Justice League Unlimited cartoons I believe. So we kind of mixed those three together to come up with something, and then Jim had a specific idea that he wanted for the helmet. It was really fun; we batted around a lot of things like that.
Killer Frost: The other character that we redesigned was Killer Frost. That one was Ivan Reis and I, we actually teamed up. He had some ideas and I had some ideas and then we kind of blended them and we came up with the design in the end and we were really happy with it. I had a lot of fun drawing the character.
Last but not least -- as we noted above, Fabok didn't redesign Maxwell Lord -- but we asked him if it was a little weird to be drawing a superhero epic featuring more than a dozen over-the-top characters, where the "big bad" is a dude in a polo shirt. Here's what he had to say about that...
Maxwell Lord: "I do feel with a character like [Max] you have to really establish him with that page-turner establishing shot [at the end of the issue]. We got a couple of areas to play with that in this first issue. In the opening sequence, drawing it was a challenge to not show who this guy was – who this villain is who's entering this complex. The challenge was, how do you establish where he is in space, and play with camera angles, so you never really reveal who he is? That way you can save the big page turn at the end of the book. I'm sure fans that go into this book who haven't already heard who's here and what's going on, some long-term DC fans might pick it up, but by the time you get to the end, there's that big two-page spread with all those villains there – and then that last page. I think fans are going to get pumped up and excited, especially long time DC fans who have been reading DC for years. Sometimes the most simple characters are the most fun to draw. You don't need lots of flashy armor to make the characters cool because their attitude and personality is so strong itself that it just comes through in the artwork."
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Justice League vs. Suicide Squad started today. You can get the first issue at your local comic shop or on ComiXology. The series will run weekly between now and January 25, with tie-ins in Justice League and Suicide Squad, before it ends, launching into a new Justice League of America title.