This month saw the debut of One-Star Squadron, a new six-issue miniseries released by DC Comics. The title stars an eclectic array of relatively-obscure DC Comics heroes and antagonists, who make their way in the world by working for Heroz4U, an organization that offers everything from low-scale superheroics to appearances at events to Cameo-like personalized videos. The idea of the group being "where heroism meets capitalism" brings in a number of different opinions and viewpoints — particularly from Red Tornado and Power Girl, who both have wildly-different outlooks on the group's future.
The book is the latest DC Comics title from writer Mark Russell (Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex) and artist Steve Lieber (Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Hawkman), and the pair's talents combine together to create a hilarious and surprisingly-poignant love letter to the publisher's weirder characters. Ahead of the release of One-Star Squadron's second issue, ComicBook.com got a chance to talk to Russell about his work on the series, and what fans can expect for future issues. We also spoke about collaborating with Lieber, why the DC universe has so much potential for good satire, and more.
So much of your work in the DC space takes a very satirical and humorous approach to things that have existed for such a long time. What do you think it is about the DC universe, in particular, that is so perfect for that kind of storytelling?
Well, I think it's people struggling to maximize their potential, a lot of people struggling to be more important than maybe the world will let them be. I always find compelling, about superheroes in general, somebody asking themselves the big questions about what the world needs from them. To me, it's really the core of any sort of meditation on power or any sort of moral introspection that we might engage in is that question, "What is it that the world needs from me?" I've always found superheroes, and heroes in the DC universe in particular, to be really good vehicles for asking those questions.
One-Star Squadron #2 is set to be released on January 4, 2022.prevnext
What has it been like, so far, to see the fan response to the series?
It's been amazing and very gratifying. Because to be honest, this title – like most of the titles I do — I was not sure if it would work at all. It seemed like a recipe for potential failure when I agreed to do this. So to see it actually come together, and be good, and for people to be responding to it is extremely gratifying.prevnext
What can you say about any other character cameos as the series goes on? I've seen that people are so excited about The Heckler coming back, and some of the more deep cuts that you've introduced.
I really wanted to work The Heckler. The Heckler was one of the few deep-dive characters I knew a decent amount about going into this. He's just so much fun to write, because he's just always coming in with a cutting line here and there, so I knew I definitely wanted to put him in there.
Other than that, I really wanted to work in characters that seemed like they would have different backgrounds and different looks. Characters that you wouldn't normally think would ever belong together, like G.I. Robot and Firehawk, just to give the reader the impression that this was a workplace for heroes of last resort. This is where they are all coming to together, not because they necessarily choose to together or they belong together, but because they have nowhere else to go.prevnext
Power Girl also plays a key role in the book. What can you say about her role in the book, after Issue #1 sets it up in a very fun way?
Power Girl is somebody who is kind of dealing with a crisis of conscience, in that she sees the limitations that superpowers have on actually changing anything in the world. She realizes the world is more or less run by money, and so she tries to dive in with both feet into that world, with somewhat disastrous results.prevnext
I love having Red Tornado at the center of the book. I've loved some of his other solo stories over the years, like his miniseries in the 80s. Were there any particular incarnations or interpretations of Red Tornado that you drew from when putting him at the center of this book?
Not really. What I really drew from, in choosing Red Tornado, was the fact that he is an android learning to become a human, which I always find very compelling. He is sort of like the Alexis de Tocqueville of humanity — "no one sees us clearer than the outsider." I wanted him to be the eyes through which we looked at ourselves as a species.prevnext
What has the collaborative process been like with Steve? It feels like both of you have such a very similar sensibility, in terms of humor in comics.
Basically it's like two kids daring each other to do something at a train yard or something. I will send him the script, and he will send back some sketches or artwork that's slightly goofier than my script, and then I'll have to one-up him yet again in the lettering. We're really a bad influence on each other, and I think that that's what makes it work.prevnext
ComicBook.com: The second that One-Star Squadron was announced, I was like, this is so perfect. The collaboration between you and Steve, as well as the premise, just make it so incredible. It feels so unique in the tapestry of the DC universe right now. How did the book initially come about?
Mark Russell: They had originally pitched it to me as sort of a "Justice League for hire" comic, which immediately intrigued me. I wrote down a story, sent it off to the editors really quickly, and then when they suggested Steve Lieber as an artist, it all just fell into place. I said, "Not only do I want Steve Lieber as the artist, but now that you've offered him to me, I will accept no other." I insisted upon Steve after that, because I could just envision what it would look like at that point, and it really informed the storytelling.prev