Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1 brings together some of DC's biggest egos just in time for the holidays. From Bats to Supes to crazy-ass Harley Quinn, writer Joshua Williamson and artist Jason Fabok kick off DC Rebirth's first major event comic, out now, with an action-packed book that brings the two iconic teams to blows, and features the surprising return of Maxwell Lord and a group of largely unknown supervillains. There's also the Captain Boomerang drag we've been waiting for. (Thank you, Simon Baz.)
Having revealed the existence of Amanda Waller's Task Force X to the League, Batman leads the team on a mission to detain the Suicide Squad and shut down Waller's operation. But the Squad — featuring its newest member, Killer Frost — isn't going down without a fight. (After all, if they don't comply, Waller will literally kill them — those tiny bombs in their necks come in handy at times like these.) While you might think that Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and the Green Lanterns would easily overpower Harley and company, never underestimate the Suicide Squad's will to survive — and their affinity for killing.
“They actually have an advantage against the Justice League because they don't have anything to lose other than their lives,” Williamson told MTV News. “They don't want to die, but every time they go on a mission, they go into it with the idea that they might not return, so that's their advantage. They're scrappy.”
And things get gory. The fight between Killer Croc and Aquaman has “so much blood in it” Williamson wasn't even sure if he was going to be able to get away with it. (He did.) Meanwhile, loose canon Harley Quinn takes on Wonder Woman — but you'll have to wait until Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #2 to see how that goes down. But they're not the only two teams in the ring: The end of the first book introduces another team of supervillains, who have been hiding in the shadows with a nefarious agenda of their own.
Led by Maxwell Lord — who's been mysteriously AWOL since Rebirth's launch this summer — this team of longtime DC villains has only one purpose: kill Waller. Looking at Waller's track record, though, is that really such a bad thing? Lord, like Waller, is also morally nebulous, which makes them fascinating foils for each other.
“He never sees himself as the villain,” Williamson said. “He's always the hero. He's willing to push and do the things that others just aren't willing to do to be that hero and save the world. Everything he's doing he feels like is for a good cause, and that makes for an interesting character who has similarities with some of the other characters in the Justice League and Suicide Squad — like Waller and Batman. He really believes that everything he's doing in the end, people will look back and say he was a hero, but we know he also has a twisted perspective on hope and inspiration.”
Williamson shines a spotlight on the core four of Lord, Batman, Waller, and Killer Frost in the two-part series, but Killer Frost perhaps gets the most important arc. In 2017, Frost will join Steve Orlando's Justice League of America line-up, which means she'll inevitably have a change of heart. But it's not as black-and-white as saying she's a reformed supervillain; Williamson's storytelling has more nuance than that.
“Before she became Killer Frost, when she was just Caitlin Snow, she was very enthusiastic and she wanted to use science to help people,” he said. “When she became Killer Frost, that got stolen from her, and she became a completely different person because of it. She became a survivor. It's such a big part of character. That's why we have Waller state that early on. She's with the Suicide Squad now, but then she gets to see the Justice League and how they work. And that influences her.”
As for the character's badass new design, Fabok told MTV News that he collaborated with JLA artist Ivan Reis to find the perfect look that was both “cool” — no pun intended — and fit the attitude of the character. “Selfishly, I think it's going to be one of those designs that you might see at a Comic Con,” Fabok said.
As the first major event for Rebirth, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad has to accomplish a lot. It has to raise the stakes but also be entertaining. It has to deliver frenetic action while staying grounded in its characters, something Rebirth has done incredibly well since its launch. With so many iconic characters in one book, that may seem like a tall order, but Williamson delivers because he never forgets about his characters. And isn't that why we remember these event comics in the first place?