Before "Arrow" premiered its third season on The CW, DC Comics began running a digital series following the adventures of Oliver Queen and company that takes place between seasons two and three. Today, with "Arrow: Season 2.5" chapter 11, we finally get a focus on the bad boys of the "Arrow" universe, the Suicide Squad, with a two-part arc that sends the sometimes villains into a hot zone to talk down an insane terrorist.
To find out more about the arc, as well as offer a first look at the pages from the issue, we talked to writer Keto Shimizu -- who in addition to writing the comic, also writes for the show:
MTV News: You're finally breaking out the Suicide Squad for a solo outing, what's it like to bring the focus on them?
Keto Shimizu: It's just wonderful! I'm so excited to have this story show up on people's iPads. For me, it's been really great getting this opportunity to contextualize the Suicide Squad in an adventure considering the current climate internationally.
To be able make this political fantasy in a way… It's if the Suicide Squad existed and could go on an adventure to political hot-spot places, what would that look like, and what could come of that?
MTV: The arc you've been running in the back of the series so far – and are blowing out here – is obviously based on something very gritty, and very real. So when you're playing with that in a superhero comic, what do you have to look out for? What do you do so you make sure you're treating the real material in a respectful way, while still making it exciting for comic book readers?
Shimizu: At least what I tried to do was not completely demonize anybody, because of these issues, these events happening in the world are very complex. We can't really say who is right, and who is wrong. Obviously kidnapping girls and killing people is wrong, but why are people lashing out in this way?
I don't have an answer. I can't say exactly what's happening, and why people are becoming these monstrous versions of themselves. But what I wanted to do with this comic was explore some of the angles, and introduce some characters that can offer some insight into how to approach the issue, and why maybe they did the things they did.
As someone diving into this world of comic book writing for the first time, I wanted to tell a story that resonated for me with own concern for what's happening in the global atmosphere right now, and to tell it in a way that was sensitive to the cultures involved, and of course to the complex nature of all the issues.
MTV: It's also an interesting contrast to the main story you're running, which has super-powered Mirakuru soldiers, costumes, and all the trappings of a superhero comic. I imagine that was a conscious choice, to give two very different feels to the stories.
Shimizu: Definitely. ["Arrow" Executive Producer] Marc [Guggenheim] allowed me to spearhead this run, and to allow it to feel that different… And to allow the Suicide Squad to have their own adventure. We got a different artist, and obviously I got approval from Marc, and he's been teaching me how to [write comics].
But he really gave me free reign on how exactly to weave the story together, and how to flesh everything out. He's been so wonderful, and such a great mentor in all of this, it was definitely a conscious choice on his part to allow this run to be its own thing.
MTV: The Suicide Squad – and A.R.G.U.S. to a certain extent – have been off the board for most of this season of "Arrow." So I imagine you have slightly freer reign to imagine what's been going on with them, and where they're going pre-season three.
Shimizu: Definitely! You'll be seeing the Squad in the season, but it will be different. It will be a different Squad, and this run sort of helps set that up… Why the Squad looks different when you see them again; and some of the issues they'll have to deal with heading into season three.
MTV: One of the things I've really been enjoying about the digital comic is how you've been revealing information concurrently with what's happening on screen. Things that it wouldn't have made sense for us, the viewers, to have known before the season started, but now that they're out there you can almost reverse tease in the comic. So are we going to see teases like that in this Suicide Squad arc?
Shimizu: Yeah, certainly. What you'll be seeing on the show will be fleshed out in a big way in these two chapters. You'll see what's set up for the Suicide Squad later in the season, but also what's happening in Oliver's world.
MTV: I know they're entirely separate things, not just comics and TV, but TV and movies, but obviously the new "Suicide Squad" movie cast is looming pretty large in people's minds. Has that influenced at all how you're approaching the Squad, both on TV and in the comics?
Shimizu: There's certainly a lot happening in the film world on the "Suicide Squad," and we're all excited to see what they're going to do with these characters we all love, and see their interpretation come to life.
Obviously, DC, they'd rather not have multiple versions of their characters happening in film and TV. Certainly that affects what we're allowed to do in regards to Suicide Squad. But at the same time we exist in a totally different universe, and our characters are going to be very different from their version of the characters.
We're just trying to tell the best story we can with the people we've already established, and to make the best version of it that we're allowed to do. [Laughs]
MTV: On that note, a lot of fans were buzzing after TCA about the idea of an "Atom" spin-off from "Arrow," but I know they've been talking for an even longer time about how great a "Suicide Squad" spin-off would be. But based on what you're saying, it sounds like that's something that's going to be better served for comics than for TV.
Shimizu: Yeah, I imagine so. And as heartbreaking as that is, and as much a lot of us would like to see a "Suicide Squad" TV show exist, in light of what's happening in the film world, it doesn't seem like it's a possibility.
MTV: But maybe we could see a "Suicide Squad" spin-off comic, if this arc does well?
Shimizu: That is out of my jurisdiction! [Laughs] I would absolutely love to do it because I love these characters, and I love writing them – and as someone who was a huge fan of the John Ostrander years of "Suicide Squad," and how he would go these hot-button places and contextualize them with these incredible characters, that is something I would just love to do.
"Arrow: Season 2.5" is available digitally from DC Comics now. Check out the official info, below:
The Suicide Squad takes center stage as Diggle joins forces with the likes of Deadshot, Bronze Tiger and new member Ravan to take down a maniacal warlord! Don't miss part one of our special "Crisis in Kahndaq" special, drawn by guest artist Szymon Kudranski!
Story by Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu
Script by Keto Shimizu
Art by Szymon Kudranski
Color by Jim Charalampidis