As with any major event crossover, a multitude of tie-in series and surprise deaths are anticipated for the DC Comics "Death of the Family" event currently making its way through the Batman titles. But one corner of the DCU fans may not immediately expect to play a role is the series known for its crossing of character and then killing them off: "Suicide Squad."
Starting with today's issue #14, the monthly comic by writer Adam Glass and artist Fernando Dagnino will pick up its own piece of the "Death of the Family" action for two issues – namely the twisted relationship between event antagonist the Joker and team member Harley Quinn. The reunion has been promised since Glass redefined Quinn's origin in "Suicide Squad" #6 and 7, and the writer told CBR of his plans to take the relationship all the way towards Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Batman" title.
Below, Glass digs into Harley's history with "Mister J" as well as the rest of the many interweaving subplots that drive "Suicide Squad" each month including the fate of Deadshot, Amanda Waller's history with Team 7, the motivations of the Black Spider and more.
CBR News: In a way, this Joker story has been in the offing for "Suicide Squad" as much as it has been for "Batman." In issues #6 and 7, you wrote a big story about Harley Quinn's past and present and how they related to the Joker's disappearance after he lost his face. When you were working on that, did any word come down to you about where Joker might finally return?
Adam Glass: Obviously we knew that eventually the Joker would return, but we had no idea when. One of the first things in dealing with Harley that I wanted to do was explore who Harley is outside of the Joker. He was gone. Perfect timing. In fact, the whole conversation about that started back when DC asked me who I'd want on my Suicide Squad team. I said, "Harley!" And they said, "But Harley's off in Arkham Asylum." "Well...what if she's not? What if in this brave new world, she didn't go to Arkham right away?" The truth of the matter is, she had a history at Arkham. If we want to think about how the legal system works, that's probably the last place they'd send her to – a place where she used to work and then flipped out.
So the idea started there. Harley was out on her own, and Joker was gone. The question of how that leads to who she'll become fit perfectly. And there was an opportunity when we saw what happened to Joker's face to keep him alive without seeing him. Then we could learn more about her story. Those two issues sold well, and the fans seemed pretty responsive to it.
Now, this has all worked itself out. My natural telling of her story and its unfolding fits in perfectly with the Joker's return and his new place within the DCU. I'd love to sit here and claim that we planned it all out, but a lot of this is just a mixture of good luck.
On the other side of the coin from Harley and Joker's issues, you had been playing with this story of Regulus – a kind of arch-villain for our team of villains – since the #0 issue. How did that thread help or hinder where you take things in this week's issue?
Well, the end of issue #13 took one of the team off the table. Deadshot sacrificed himself against Regulus, and we're left with both of them apparently dead. And I think the truth of that becomes clearer at the beginning of #14 where we open at Deadshot's funeral. As the Joker's returning, we're dealing with all the fallout of that now. What does his death mean? We've learned that within the Squad, most of them had no idea they were sleeper agents. So now they need to be deprogrammed. There's a lot of fallout from the last story.
And in the middle of all that, who comes to throw a monkey wrench in everything but the Joker? His story and Harley's story and their reconnection asks what this means not only for the Squad but for the DCU. That's what we'll play with. So the truth is that this is a very balanced story where the fans who are with us month in, month out and want to see where the Squad is at continue to get that story. Meanwhile, we get to tell a story for everyone showing up to see what's going on with Harley and the Joker as well.
We spoke some in San Diego about how you chose different characters to play a part on this team with a high turnover rate, and I've grown to get the sense that some of the tougher villains – even the smaller ones – come from Batman's world. Is there a connection between the Gotham rogues and how you view the Suicide Squad?
When I originally started the book, I asked for a couple of characters, and they told me, "That's too many Batman villains." [Laughs] The reason you go to that well is that there are so many great ones. Batman's rogue's gallery is second to none. He has the greatest array of villains in comic book history. With that said, I got Harley and Black Spider who some people forget comes from Batman's world. Even Deadshot technically comes from Batman's world even though those latter two are so far back in the memory of the DCU that it slips our mind. But technically, that's three characters coming out of that world.
So you can't help but have Batman and Gotham bleed into our stories on some level. And anytime the Joker makes an appearance, obviously it's a direct connection to Batman. That's hinted to in our book – how all these stories and pieces connect up with one another. Scott Snyder already wrote a little piece of "Batman" that showed Joker and Harley together, and Joker asked her to do a favor in standing in as the Red Hood. That whole story starts in my book, and we explain how that all happened.
On the non-Batman side, you've also recently gotten to reintroduce Captain Boomerang onto the team. He's someone with a long history with the franchise. What are your goals in this story for people like him and the rest of the team who won't have as much impact on what the Joker does next?
The good news about being on the book as long as I have been is that we planted a bunch of seeds. Some of those have grown quicker than others because of crossovers or characters that are very connected to Harley and Deadshot. People wanted to see those stories in the forefront for a while, but we've got a lot of other players waiting in the wings. King Shark has a mystery to him. Who is he? Why is he there? We'll be dealing a lot more with that in the coming books. There was a reason he got to where he is – a goal. But he forgot about it because he was dehydrated by Amanda Waller who was playing her own game with him. He eventually forgot what his purpose was, but soon he'll remember, and that's not going to be good for another Squad member.
Then we've got El Diablo. He's been hearing the voices of what he thought was God, but it turns out it wasn't God. It was someone else, and now he feels betrayed. He'll start to accept the darkness within him and maybe realize that that's the only place he can be who he really is. Black Spider was revealed to be a traitor, but the guy was a hero, and he had a really interesting relationship with Waller. Why did he betray her? What is his play? What does he believe? That's all about to get fleshed out.
And of course, there's the question of "Were Harley and Deadshot a fling, or was there something deeper there?" Deadshot always played it like he wasn't interested. He just said, "I want to get my rocks off, and then get the hell out of my way. This was a weird situation, and I took it." Now he probably wishes he didn't. [Laughs] When's the last time he had this situation where he wakes up and says, "What did I do last night?" only to look down and realize he's literally got the girl from "Fatal Attraction" next to him?
And of course, there are questions surrounding Waller. We're starting to see something from "Team 7" bleed into our story a bit and some ghosts from her past. All those relationships are still out there. There's a lot going on. We've built up a program, and we cut off the hand of Resurrection Man. What are we doing with that hand? All of these plans are in the offing. There's no lack of story lines to the book, and I think for the fans who have stuck with us, they'll start getting next moves and conclusions.
Not to add another one onto the pile, but in the #0 issues one the of the big hints in both your book and "Birds of Prey" was that Starling has some connection to the Squad as a double agent. Is that something that will be showing up again soon?
Absolutely. I think us and "Birds of Prey" are on a crash course. I can't promise when it'll happen, but I will say that all our paths will cross.
"Suicide Squad" #14 is on sale today from DC Comics.