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Suicide Squad: Robbie Thompson Revels in Bringing Ambush Bug to Task Force X

As DC’s Suicide Squad kicks off its second, shocking story arc with issue #7, series writer Robbie Thompson teases where Task Force X is headed next.

2021 has been a particularly big year for the Suicide Squad. With a critically acclaimed live-action film currently in theaters and on HBO Max, Task Force X’s future looks bright — provided that the motley crew can survive their adventures. Comic creator Robbie Thompson has been helming the adventures of the Suicide Squad since this year’s first glimpse of the team in the alternate timeline of Future State, which served as a lead-up to Suicide Squad.

Since Thompson took the reins on DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller has made it her obsession to build her own Justice League to win over the hearts of Earth-3. However, Waller’s quest has been tempered by the Suicide Squad running into bloody obstacles that led to heavy losses. Now, Task Force X’s odds of prevailing are slimmer to none. In an exclusive interview with CBR, Thompson teased how Waller will react to the Suicide Squad’s bloody setbacks, shared the joys of adding Ambush Bug to Task Force X, and hinted what to expect next as the series releases an annual and kicks off its second arc with Suicide Squad #7.

Also included with this interview is a preview of Suicide Squad #7, penciled by Eduardo Pansica, inked by Julio Ferreira, and colored by Marcelo Maiolo, and lettered by Wes Abbott, as well as the issue’s standard cover by Pansica and Ferreira and colored by Maiolo. Its variant cover, drawn by Kevin Maguire and colored by Alex Sinclair, is also below. Additionally, readers can find a below preview of Suicide Squad Annual #1, drawn by Pansica, Ferreira, and Dexter Soy, colored by Chris Sotomayor, and lettered by Wes Abbott, with a standard cover by Panisca and Ferreira, and colored by Maiolo, along with a variant cover by Gerald Parel

Robbie, in a lot of ways your Suicide Squad run has been the lynchpin of the Infinite Frontier era DCU, from Teen Titans Academy and Crime Syndicate to The Swamp Thing. How is it weaving your story so firmly within this shared comic universe and its various, concurrent series?

Robbie Thompson: It’s been a dream to be able to walk in the shadows of so many different aspects of the DC Universe.

When I first talked with Editor Michael Cotton about the book, being a part of so many different corners of the DCU was a huge selling point, to be honest. I knew it would make the book a part of the larger universe in a unique way, but because Task Force X and Amanda Waller work behind the scenes, it would also not tie us down too much. We could touch on ongoing stories within the fabric of the DCU, while still getting to tell a story of our own.

Amanda Waller’s ambitions have blown up in her face recently, from Red X’s breakout in Belle Reve to Bloodsport’s adventures on Earth-3. Is she finally punching above her weight and how will she react?

Waller is definitely overreaching. From her standpoint, she feels like she has such a solid foundation, that even a miss won’t hurt her. But as we start to see with Red X, and then the events of Suicide Squad Annual #1, these failures are going to cause her to make even bigger and bolder choices. Waller always thinks ten moves ahead, but at a certain point, when the endgame is in sight, there’s only so many more moves you can make, so she’s going to be out of options soon.

But she is desperate to finish her mission, to build a Justice League of her own and take over Earth-3 and make it her own. Why she is hellbent on doing this is a mystery that we will be unpacking over the second arc of our story and it’s part of a much larger story in the DCU!

Superboy is the focus of the Suicide Squad Annual #1, and, with him, you’ve got one of the more powerful lineups Task Force X has ever had. How is it weaving him into the ensemble?

I really have to credit Editors Michael Cotton, Marquis Draper from Future State, and now Bixie Mathieu on the ongoing book, for Superboy’s inclusion in this story, and his ongoing character development. Him being on the team was their idea. Then together we cooked up where he’d be going in our story.

Without spoiling everything, as readers know there’s been something off about Superboy from the first issue and all of that comes to a head in Suicide Squad Annual #1. Adding a “good guy” to a group of “bad guys” had an instant appeal to me, because it created inherent conflict within the group, especially with Peacemaker. But when we started to talk about where we were going with Superboy, and what would be revealed in success, I got really excited about building out that mystery and where we could take the character.

How has your creative shorthand with the art team grown since the start of the Infinite Frontier era?

That’s one of the things I love about collaborating on a story. At a certain point, you do get this shorthand, which makes things easier to communicate. But, even more than that, it creates space and opportunity for everyone to pitch in ideas and moments with all of us working as one to tell a story. I’ve been working with Cotton since Teen Titans, and now with Bixie for quite a while, and we have a lot of fun throwing ideas around and solving problems together.

With Eduardo Pansica, it’s the exact same thing. He is just killing this book and his pages are such a joy to get in my email. If you look at my first script to the latest, you’ll see less and less description. Eduardo has such a strong grasp on these characters and the story that my job is to set the table and then he makes this incredible feast — telling the story and adding all these fantastic moments and details. Same goes for Julio Ferreira, inker, Alex Sinclair, colorist, Wes Abbot, letterer. And I’ve had a similar experience with the brilliant Dexter Soy on the issues he’s done. Just a blast to get to work with so many talented people.

Ambush Bug is joining up the team with Suicide Squad #7. Why did you want to bring him and his unorthodox voice into the mix?

Honestly, because I love that dude.

My brother introduced him to me when we were kids. I’ve always been a fan. Keith Giffen is one of the great storytellers in comics and while he’s co-created so many incredible characters and told so many fantastic stories, my all-time favorite is Ambush Bug. I love Bug’s voice, his weirdness, and he brings a completely different energy to the book and a humor that I felt was needed. When we were building the team of characters for this book, Ambush Bug was top of my list. It’s a childhood dream come true to get to write for that maniac. Nobody can top Mr. Giffen’s work, of course, but we hope we’re doing the character justice.

Future State offered a window into how the Suicide Squad could go. How is it building this story with that potential roadmap in sight?

It’s been an interesting process, since we knew those stories were sort of the “worst case scenario.” Playing against that roadmap has been fun, teasing things to come, but also playing against those expectations. And just because Waller may have failed at getting pieces she had in Future State, like grabbing Bolt for example, doesn’t mean she’s going to stop trying!

What can you tease for the Suicide Squad in the months to come?

So much more Ambush Bug! A tragic death (or two)! Rick Flag forms a Squad of his own to take down Waller! The Squad finally gets rocketed into space! And then they’ll be heading to Earth-8!

Suicide Squad #7 and Suicide Squad Annual #1 hits comic stands on Sept. 7 from DC Comics. Suicide Squad Annual #1 takes place prior to Suicide Squad #7 and should be read first.

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