The Mary Sue Interview: Frank Tieri on Convergence: Suicide Squad & All-Female Justice League
The Mary Sue: For fans still confused about the whole “Convergence” event, can you sum it up briefly for us? Especially for those who may be new to the idea of an “event” or, conversely, those tired of them?
Frank Tieri: Basically it’s cities from different time periods in DCU history forced to fight each other by a powerful entity named Tellos. This after having to live under domes for a year… so yeah, you might understand why they all would be pretty pissed off and want to hit something.
In my case, Suicide Squad has them hitting Kingdom Come. And Justice League has the team taking on Flashpoint Aquaman.
But as for anyone who’s “tired” of events like this? Hey, what can I tell ya? My advice to these people is always the same… don’t buy it. No one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to buy something you don’t want. The thing is, sales show that most fans DO want events like this. And as long as that happens, the Marvel’s and DCs of the world will just keep pumping ‘em out. That’s just the way it is.
TMS: Convergence: Justice League features the all-female team of Zatanna, Jesse Quick, Supergirl, Vixen, Jade and Mera. You mentioned in another interview this being Dan DiDio’s idea but what was the thought process there?
With all the books in the event, DC tried to give each book its own angle, its own flavor. So between me and editors Marie Javins and Brittany Holzherr we were racking our brains and then Dan bursts in and is like, “It’s an all-female team!” And we’re like, well, of course it is. Why didn’t we think of that? It really was the perfect fit.
TMS: The all-female Avengers book was announced around the same time as you revealed the lineup of your book, was there any hesitance as to how it might be perceived?
Tieri: Well, first of all, sorry A-One Sauce or whatever it is you’re calling yourselves, we DEFINITELY got announced first. We got there first. We’re the Columbus of this shit. Or something.
All joking aside though… why would either book be hesitant? So there’s two female team books… so what? Ya know, when I used to be on panels at cons and women used to ask why there weren’t more women-centric books, my answer was very simple… sales. I would tell them, if you want more women comics then you have to support those books. Show the industry you want them. So yes, just like with the events argument, it comes down to sales, especially with the big companies. We’d be naïve to think that it doesn’t.
But you know what? The game has changed now. Women are a growing part of this industry now more than ever. And most importantly, they’re letting their voices be heard and doing so with their wallets. And as long as that happens, comic companies will respond. And if you look, they have responded… they’ve had to. The demand is there. Harley Quinn, Captain Marvel, Starfire, etc. Keep supporting those books and they’ll keep making ‘em, folks.
So again, no. We weren’t hesitant at all. The market is there now… for both books. And that’s certainly not a bad thing.
TMS: So what will be the main challenge for this team of pre-Flashpoint era heroes in the story?
Tieri: Flashpoint Aquaman is a dick, basically. He’s who they’re up against but when he sees Mera, all bets are off. He’s focused on her, kidnaps her… everything else is secondary. Now the JL are coming after him to save her but there is one thing they don’t realize yet that we find out at the end of issue 1. And that’s that Aqua-douche is not alone. He has his whole army with him in the waters of his Gotham harbor. And sea monsters. And all kinds of marine life. Even little Nemo fishes.
So yeah, the girls will have their work cut out for them, to say the least.
Tieri: When last we saw the Suicide Squad in this timeline, they had disbanded. But when the dome comes down, Amanda Waller and Oracle are brought back into service and have to organize a new squad for their fight against Kingdom Come. Their mission? Take out Green Lantern and his New Oa flying fortress which will prevent the KC heroes from using it as a base.
And what a team she’s organized! In addition to SS regulars like Poison Ivy, Deadshot, Boomerang, Vertigo and Bronze Tiger, she’s recruited a who’s who of that era’s bad guys with Bane, Star Sapphire, Black Manta, Deathstroke and Cyborg Superman. And—as we learned at the end of issue #1—Oracle has recruited a member of her own…
SPOILER ALERT, KIDS!
TMS: You’ve got a lot of characters to work with here but I’m sure fans are interested to see that the original Amanda Waller is the one we’ll be getting this time around. What can they expect from her?
Tieri: Well, I’m just going to go on record here… Not a huge fan of the new Amanda Waller. Give me the pleasantly plump “Wall” Waller any day over the current version. I hate when comic book companies do that and suddenly every character—even the supporting ones– look like they stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.
They do the same thing with older characters. There’s too much of an effort to “Poochie” everything now so that everybody has to look young and “hip”. Like an older guy can’t kick ass. Liam Neeson doesn’t seem to have trouble with it and damn it if I’m going to disagree with Liam Neeson. He’s got a very particular set of skills, ya know? [Editor’s Note: Oh, we know.]
Anyway, getting back to Waller and I can safely say that more than anyone in the series, this is HER story. She’s been as much of a constant for the Squad as anybody and now she has to really step up her game. This time if her mission fails, the fate of her world lies in the balance so she CAN’T fail.
And yet, when we open issue 1, we see that she does. She’s dying, betrayed by her own team. How that all plays out in issue 2 will be a bit surprising, I can promise that
TMS: Tell us a bit about Tom Mandrake’s work here. What do you think of his take on Alex Ross’ classic Kingdom Come characters and New Oa?
Tieri: Considering the story we’re telling here is part murder mystery/ part superhero story, Tom—who I worked with before on Weapon X, by the way—was a great fit for this. He has a darker, moodier style than most which a book like Suicide Squad calls for. He can do creepy and he can do action scenes—and our story calls for both.
TMS: How do your Justice League and Suicide Squad stories fit in with the overall event? Will readers get just a fragment of the stories in your issues or does it also stand on its own?
Tieri: I think the idea was for most of these to stand on their own—and that’s how I approached my two books. So while yes, you know this is part of a larger event that plays in the background, the idea is to be able to read these stories and enjoy them on their own. And I certainly believe you can do that in my case with my stories.
TMS: Talk to us a bit about the rest of your creative teams. What’s the overall process been like and are you happy with the final products?
Tieri: Well, first of all let me give high praise to my editors Marie Javins and Brittany Holzherr. You think it’s easy to put together a project like this? To wrangle all us idiots together and make something like this fly? There were a lot of creators, a lot of different books and a lot of moving parts and I think they pulled the whole thing off pretty nicely.
We’ve already discussed Tom Mandrake but let me give a tip of the hat to Vincente Cifuentes as well. I especially loved the scene in issue 1 where Aquaman’s stooges summon the kraken and Supergirl just clobbers it. That scene—and something that involves Mera towards the end of iss 2—are my favorite scenes in the series.
TMS: So what can we expect for your finales for your respective books?
Tieri: In SS, we’ll find out who the traitor on Waller’s team is and what’s her final fate… not to mention the fate of her city. Not much of a SPOILER ALERT but here we go… not everybody makes it out alive. (It is called Suicide Squad, ya know…)
JL sees the girls take on Aquaman and like the entire friggin ocean. And through it all, NOT REALLY A SPOILER ALERT… Aquaman is still a dick. We’ll just have to wait and see if he gets what’s coming to him, won’t we…
The first issues of both books are out now. Convergence: Justice League #2 from Tieri and Vicente Cifuentes will be in stores next week, May 6th, while Convergence: Suicide Squad #2, with art by Tom Mandrake, will be available May 13th.
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