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Review: Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana #3

SUICIDE SQUAD MOST WANTED DEADSHOT AND KATANA #3 CoverAfter Deadshot discovers a shocking secret about his daughter, he’s forced to go toe to toe against the Suicide Squad—and their newest member!

Meanwhile, the mysterious strangers who stepped between Katana and certain death reveal themselves! And while the Suicide Squad may not have heard of the Soultaker, their handler Amanda Waller wants to make sure that Katana is free only as long as she’s helping them take down Kobra!

The third issue of Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana is a bit of a mixed bag with Deadshot’s story by writer Brian Buccellato and Katana’s story, by Katana co-creator Mike Barr, falling short.

Lets start with Buccellato and Deadshot. Floyd is dealing with the revelation about his daughter and the death of his parents and now he has one task on his mind, putting a bullet in Amanda Waller. The story is actually interesting, feels pretty fresh for the character, and more importantly adds a lot of depth to him as well. With the Suicide Squad tasked to bring him in, there’s the dynamic of the team also struggling with what to do.

Lots of action, some real drama, great art, it’s a fantastic story that has built up well over the last few issues. Also, a nice twist at the end that should be fun to see where it goes and hopefully there’s some ripples in the DC Universe concerning it outside of this limited series.

The Katana story continues its tone and direction. There’s nothing particularly bad about the story at all, it feels like a retro story in many ways and that’s completely fine for folks who might enjoy that. It’s Katana and the Suicide Squad taking on Kobra and there’s some entertaining bits to the story, but generally I felt it was forgettable. Entertaining, but not something I’d rush out as something I have to read.

Really, this should be two reviews the quality and tone of the two stories are so different, but as a whole, the comic is an average one between the two. There’s the quality of the Deadshot story and the sub-par Katana story. Combined together, it’s a mixed bag.

Story: Mike Barr, Brian Buccellato
Art: Diogenes Neves, Richard Friend, Viktor Bogdanovic Cover: Cary Nord
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Mike W. Barr talks Katana and Suicide Squad Most Wanted

SUSQ_MW_DEADSHOTKATANA_1_56240e803028b3.04781561Two of the stars of next year’s highly anticipated action movie break out in their own solo adventures in an extra-sized, 6-issue miniseries! This week sees the release of Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana #1.

First, in a story by Brian Buccellato, Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard Friend, Deadshot is on the run, taking on a series of new contracts, and re-establishing himself as the world’s most deadly marksman. But things are about to get complicated for Floyd Lawton when a figure from his past threatens to expose a dark secret…and Deadshot gets word of his next target: Lex Luthor!

Then, writer Mike W. Barr returns to the character he co-created in “Katana, Cult of the Kobra,” with art by Diogenes Neves. Katana needs to know more about Soultaker’s origin if she’s going to have any hope of controlling the sword instead of falling under its influence. Dr. Helga Jace, a Markovian astrophysicist, may be able to shed some light—but before Katana can get the info, Kobra’s forces attack!

I got a chance to talk to Mike about how he got involved with the comic, what it’s like to return to his creation, and what it’s like to see her on the big and small screen.

Graphic Policy: So, the easiest place to start is how did you get involved with the new project?

Mike W. Barr: With artist Jim Aparo, I’m the cocreator of Katana back in 1983. It’s been 33 years now. Which is funny because I’ve gotten older and Katana hasn’t, so I’m not sure how that works out. I got a phone call in May of last year from Geoff Johns telling me that Katana was going to be used in the Suicide Squad movie. So I dropped a letter to Dan DiDio to see if there’s any publishing involved in that project, I’d like to be involved in it. And Dan asked me to write this six issue series, and I was glad to take him up on it.

GP: How does it feel to see the character evolve past the printed page in to other media and other folks handling her?

MB: It’s really satisfying, because the character’s being is being used in a consistent manner as she’s used in the comics. They’re making her a samurai, give her the haunted sword, and give her the attitude which is possibly the most important thing with Katana. The way she’s being used in the Suicide Squad looks really good, and the way she was used in Arrow I also liked very much.

GP: It’s one of the characters that doesn’t change much from version to version, she’s very consistent.

MB: That’s very true. Even the version with the DC Super Hero Girls, the younger version also has the haunted sword, which is kind of funny.

GP: Who is Katana to you?

MB: Katana for me is the essence of the noble lone samurai. When I was creating the character back in 83, I thought it’d also be interesting to also to make the character female. I thought it’d give her an added edge, and added level of complexity, and that seems to have worked out well.

GP: Yes it has.

MB: There aren’t that many female Japanese characters in the DC Universe. So, I think that’s one of the reasons for her popularity.

GP:  Yeah, I wanted to ask about that. When she was created, the landscape was very different for female characters, let alone one of Asian decent. It’s much different than today.

MB:: Yeah, it’s an interesting mix of features that seems to have worked out.

GP: How did you come up with creating the character?

MB: Well, I was trying to, I had created a lot of character for the Outsiders, a variety of characters. You want guys who are not just big and strong or with great powers, you want to mix it up a bit. I always had an interest in Japanese culture, so I thought it’d not just be interesting to do a samurai, but a female samurai. And the samurai’s blade is the katana, which is a perfect name for the character with the nice sharp “k” sound, and the feminine “a.” It was almost impossible to misspronounce so it worked out well.

GP: What it was like when she was created to the landscape today. What’s your thoughts on how that’s shifted?

MB: It took a long time for her to take off. There was a long time when there was no merchandising for her, forever. All of the sudden, the past couple of years, she’s all over the place. She’s in the Suicide Squad movie, she was on the tv show Arrow last year, she’s on the DC Super Hero Girls website, and she’s been licensed as part of DC’s Bombshells’ lineup. I guess they were looking for diverse characters, and found Katana as one of them.

GP: As the creator, how does it feel to see the character take on this new life?

MB: I’ve been happy with her, because the take on her, they haven’t changed her. She’s always been the same way she’s been depicted in the comics.

GP: Moving on to the comic. You have her taking on Kobra, which haven’t been in the spotlight lately. Why’d you choose them for the villain?

MB: That was part of the comic when they gave it to me. They wanted her to face Kobra. I can assume this is because I had written Kobra in the past with Batman and the Outsiders and I had a great deal of fun doing it. Kobra was one of the last creations Jack Kirby did while he was still at DC before he went back to Marvel. I always liked the characters a great deal, and had a lot of fun doing it because they’re just so evil. It turns out to be a pretty good match.

GP: What were you presented with for the story?

MB: Basically, the parameters I was given was they wanted to have Katana fighting Kobra, and have her meet the Suicide Squad which happens in issue 2. I gave them everything they wanted and it worked out well. I’m pleased with the story because it sort of expands with each issue. You learn more about Kobra’s plan with each issue, and it almost turns out to be something different.

GP: The setting is Markovia, a fictional country with a long history. Why choose there instead of a real country?

MB: Because I’m used to it. It’s a concept I’m comfortable with. The editor and I were talking about where it was going to be set, and we said a European country, we didn’t know where and we both said Markovia. That works out well because it’s a reference to the old Batman and the Outsiders series too.

GP: You’ve been writing for decades. How has writing changed over the years?

MB: That’s not something I think about a great deal… basically because I don’t want to. The quality control has changed over the years. I came in to comics in 1977, actually I sold my first story back in 1973, and comics were made the same way they did since the 1930s. The actual production and printing methods had not changed much at all. Since then there’s been radical developments in the printing, lettering, and coloring. The lettering and coloring are all being done with computers, which none of us could have conceived of 30 years ago. With the writing, things haven’t changed that much. You’re still dealing with a blank page and 26 letter of the alphabet.

GP: Very good point. It’s been awesome to talk to you. Thanks so much for chatting!

Brian Buccellato talks Deadshot and Suicide Squad Most Wanted

SUSQ_MW_DEADSHOTKATANA_1_56240e803028b3.04781561Two of the stars of next year’s highly anticipated action movie break out in their own solo adventures in an extra-sized, 6-issue miniseries! This week sees the release of Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana #1.

First, in a story by Brian Buccellato, Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard Friend, Deadshot is on the run, taking on a series of new contracts, and re-establishing himself as the world’s most deadly marksman. But things are about to get complicated for Floyd Lawton when a figure from his past threatens to expose a dark secret…and Deadshot gets word of his next target: Lex Luthor!

Then, writer Mike W. Barr returns to the character he co-created in “Katana, Cult of the Kobra,” with art by Diogenes Neves. Katana needs to know more about Soultaker’s origin if she’s going to have any hope of controlling the sword instead of falling under its influence. Dr. Helga Jace, a Markovian astrophysicist, may be able to shed some light—but before Katana can get the info, Kobra’s forces attack!

I got a chance to talk to Brian about how he got involved with the comic, the influence of Deadshot’s big screen debut, and who Deadshot is to him.

Graphic Policy: How did you get involved with Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana?

Brian Buccellato: I was talking to DC Comics last year about the next thing I was going to work on and the name Deadshot came up. As part of the conversation, I think Dan (DiDio) was the first to say Deadshot, but once he did, it felt like a natural fit. I tend to like darker material, and he’s definitely that. I jumped at the chance to write Floyd Lawton.

GP: Was the comic always planned as an issue with two characters? Did the project change at all over time?

BB: It was always designed to be a six issue series. Early it was a larger plot, but as I was working on it with my editor, we all moved the story in this direction focusing on Floyd and his personal journey. That became the focus.

GP: Who is Deadshot to you? What do you like about the character?

BB: He’s obviously very good at what he does. He’s an antihero in a lot of ways. What I respond to, is he’s somebody without something to live for. He came with a deficit and he’s very dangerous and very good at what he does because he doesn’t have that fear of dying. So writing the story exploring what type of man is that way was interesting to me. When he have someone who has his own suicidal death wish, giving him something to live for and seeing what he does with that is natural story telling.

GP: Throughout the story it’s clear he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. Having that sort of freedom in the storytelling, you can easily get silly with it. Do you dial back at all to prevent going to that extreme.

BB: I don’t think so, because I don’t consider myself that type of guy who does over the top type of stuff. I try to be grounded in all of my writing. Even when you’re writing characters who can fly, or lift an airplane, I try to be grounded in my approach and it’s not he’s a 90s Deathblow, Killboy type of character where he’s a knockoff version of Wolverine. He’s a troubled guy. He’s a guy that’s dangerous in a real way. He’s dangerous because he isn’t afraid to die. The challenge of a writer is to put him in situations where there’s real threats and taking him through the meat grinder. That’s good storytelling. To me that’s more interesting than seeing how many people he can shoot and what type of body count he can have.

GP: You have him team up with a character named Will Evans, who’s not someone I know. Evans makes a comment that there’s some history. Is that continuity? Something you created?

BB: He’s a new character. He’s a brand new character. He has an important role in the story and he’ll be a big part of all six issues. I don’t want to give spoilers, but he’s important.

GP: The issue is interesting in that it dives in Deadshot’s past. You’re hinting at that and there’s a nice twist at the end. Did you do a lot of research for the character?

BB: Any time you have the honor of writing a character who has had a long and important run you owe it to the character, yourself, and everyone, to understand where that character came from. I read all the major mini-series and tried to understand him as best I could. I do that with any character I write. That’s the right thing to do, it helps inform your choices. And some times it helps inform your choices so that you don’t repeat a story that’s been told. A lot of characters have been around a long time, and there’s been a lot of stories told. If you don’t think to read those, you might accidentally rehash what’s been seen before.

GP: The character is getting some major screen time in the coming months and the profile is increasing. As a writer is that on your mind?

BB: Only when you say “yes.” You know it’s going to be awesome. The Suicide Squad movie comes out, it’s going to be cool. People are going to be talking about him, and Will Smith being Deadshot. You’re excited about it, because you might have more eyeballs on the comic book that you’re writing. When you sit down to write, none of that was in my head. Storytelling is storytelling and it comes character first, not from any kind of external force.

GP: With it being a six issue series, how do you as a writer approach that differently than an ongoing? What about the series also featuring a story with Katana.

BB: Even if it was an ongoing series, you’re probably not going to write a twelve issue story arc. Four to six issues is a great length in terms of story arcs. You want to write something that’s interesting and feels important to yourself. And that’s it. As far as it being piggybacked with Katana. I started writing it, I don’t think they made a final decision in how they were going to package it. Even if they had, I don’t think it’d have impacted how I’d have told the story. At the end of the mini-series, you want to leave it in a place that feels natural and if it’s successful you can spin it out. But, I told the story in six issues because that’s what I knew it’d be.

GP: When writing the character was there something you found you particularly enjoyed that you didn’t think you would?

BB: He’s such an interesting person. He’s tortured. Out of the Suicide Squad members, he’s the one that’s suicidal. There’s some natural things that you can exploit when writing Deadshot. But he’s a cool character. He’s an assassin. He rocks a mustache. Not many people can rock a mustache. I think he’s an interesting character and he has something that’s a real deficit in his life. I think when you have a character that’s really good at something, but also really bad at life, they’re interesting to write about. Being bad at life, he doesn’t care about anything. He’s haunted about his past, which we explore.

GP: For as much of a loner as he is, he’s also the senior member and leader of the Suicide Squad. There’s this weird dichotomy in that.

BB: Yeah, he’s sort of the reluctant leader. I remember in college someone saying the best type of leader is the reluctant leader, the benevolent despot, someone that doesn’t want the job. And I think that totally fits Floyd’s character. Sadly for Floyd, he’s a guy that if he didn’t have the Suicide Squad and didn’t have something else to do, who knows what he’d be doing. He’s not a happy person. I think he needs the Suicide Squad and he’s sort of fell in to being the leader and I think he’s really good at it.

GP: The other thing that strikes me about the character is that he doesn’t care if he lives or dies, but he’s also not suicidal, trying to take his own life.

BB: Yes. Right. When I say suicidal I mean he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. And that makes for a very dangerous person because he’ll make choices without regarding for his own safety, which makes him very good at what he does and very dangerous. But, he’s not going to kill himself. Will he go out there and test his mettle and if he dies he dies? Yeah.

GP: Thanks for chatting!

Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot/Katana in January

Two of Amanda Waller’s most lethal weapons get their time in the spotlight with this six-issue miniseries coming in January 2016!

In a story written by Brian Buccellato with art by Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard Friend, Deadshot is on the run after escaping Belle Reve Penitentiary, taking on a series of new contracts and reestablishing himself as the world’s deadliest marksman. But things are about to get complicated for Floyd Lawton when a figure from his past threatens to expose a dark secret… and Deadshot gets word of his next target : Lex Luthor!

Writer Mike W. Barr returns to the character he co-created in “Cult of the Kobra,” with art by Diogenes Neves! In this new tale, Katana endeavors to save an entire nation from takeover by the mystical threat of Kobra. But first, she’s going to have to learn the origin of her sword Soultaker, if she’s to maintain control over it instead of falling under its influence.

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