Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that our cinemas have become homes for an endless amount of comic book-inspired films. X-Men, Iron Man, Superman, Batman, Thor, Captain America, and so many others have seen characters and noteworthy comic book storylines adapted for the big screen. As aware as we’ve all become of those popular characters, there is still a bevy of others who haven’t hit the big screen yet. On August 5th, a ragtag group of villains will find their way into the hearts of many fans who were previously unaware of their existence. And wouldn’t it be nice to know a little bit more about these villains before their premier.
In that spirit, we decided to put together this list of the top fifteen storylines that you may like to know before you buy your ticket and find a seat to watch Suicide Squad. Choosing to focus on the group as a whole and some of the more notable members included in the film version, we had a lot of stories to consider. As a result, we included major storylines that are extremely important to illuminate who the major figures are. Although The Joker is being positioned as a major part of the film, we’ve chosen to not look at stories focusing on him, as we are confident that film fans are very aware of who he is by now. Keep in mind, this article will include spoilers of some issues which may be adapted in some form into the film, so this is your Spoiler Alert.
15. Everything Suicide Squad Posts New 52
For those of you who aren’t in the know when it comes to the massive reordering of DC Comics which came about in 2011, known as The New 52, here is your primer. An event that touched pretty much every corner of the comics line, this series began in the shadow of the Flashpoint crossover and started with the cancellation and reboot of every DC title. As you may imagine, The Suicide Squad, like everyone else, was significantly altered because of it.
Starting everything anew, Amanda Waller was seen assembling her team of death row inmates for the first time in this new continuity. A series with its ups and downs in the view of many critics and fans, it includes many major members of the movie team, including Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn and El Diablo. Several years of stories that we’ve chosen to group together for this entry, it seemed necessary to include the newest adventures of the team here in some way as the film may have a similar feeling.
14. Captain Boomerang, Rogues Member
Okay, we admit it, a character whose abilities revolve around boomerangs seems about as lame as possible. Throw in the fact that the character is being played by Jai Courtney, an actor with his fair share of hated films like A Good Day to Die Hard and Terminator Genisys under his belt and the character seems poised to suck. While that is certainly possible, as it is with every character we haven’t seen in action yet, readers of the character know that he could very easily be great. For a great example of how interesting Boomerang can be, we look at the time Owen Mercer, who fights under the guise, joined Rogues, a team of Flash villains. Enjoying the camaraderie, we get to see how this version of Boomerang (who may not be the same as the character in the film) can act as a member of a team, like the Suicide Squad.
13. Almost A Good Idea
The first story after the debut of Suicide Squad’s second volume, there is really one reason that we chose to include it here, all the bodies that hit the floor. A short-lived run that began in 2001, this version of the team worked for Amanda Waller, as is often the case, but also served the will of then President, Lex Luthor. Sent to Iceland to find a guy that we don’t really care all that much about, the notable part of this story is that by the time this single issue has come to an end every member of the group, save one, is believed to be dead. A perfect example of how freely writers of this series are willing to kill off members, viewers of the film who are unaware of the comics should be prepared to see some team members die.
12. The Phoenix Gambit
A storyline that came out at the beginnings of the 1990s, this story picks up after Amanda Waller (are you starting to get she’s an important character) has allowed herself to be placed in prison. After she manages to receive a presidential pardon, a hefty wad of cash in her accounts and is reinstated in a position of power, she brings the Squad together yet again. This incarnation of the team is quickly able to stop American and Soviet forces from coming to blows, an important feat. After they complete this government-mandated mission, the Squad and their handler are free to find their own missions which turns them into a team of mercenaries for the first time. The fact that Amanda (to be played by Viola Davis) actually joins her crew on the field herself, means this story opens up the possibility of seeing a movie version of the character standing shoulder to shoulder with her team. Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing that?
11. Fast Train To The Wet Dark/Swamp Things
Issues in the Batman series of comics (521 & 522), this story is considered one of the best-remembered stories in the history of Killer Croc (to be played by Adewale Akinnuoye), a character set to debut in the film as a member of the team. Starting out the story inside of Arkham Asylum, Killer Croc escapes as his mental state is devolving into a more animalistic one. Hunted by his long-time foe, Batman, he finds his way to some swamps where he briefly finds a measure of peace. Once Batman shows up in the swamps, the pair begins to fight before Swamp Thing intervenes, incapacitating Batman and allowing Croc to go off into the swamps alone once again. Left to his own devices, this version of Croc lives a simpler life which should give people unaware of the effect his animal side has on him an idea of the duality of the character.
10. Gotham City Sirens (Harley Quinn Series)
If the trailers for the film have made anything clear, it is this; Harley Quinn is going to play a major part in this film. If you caught a glimpse of Margot Robbie in the short clips that have been released and were entranced, congratulations, you’ve joined the legions of fans of this immensely popular figure. After she was initially introduced in the comic (more on that later) she quickly became a big enough figure in the DC universe that she started to become involved in the lives of other major characters. If you want to see how she interacts with some of the biggest villainesses in her world, then check out Gotham City Sirens. Starring Harley, Poison Ivy and Catwoman, their formidable personalities make for an incredible trio. Similar in tone and content to what the film may end up being, this series focuses on figures of dubious morals and makes you care about them and their adventures too.
9. Rumble In The Jungle
The story that led to Amanda Waller disbanding the team, we got to see a great deal of important character moments for the team. Showing the team going up against another group of villains that are attempting to usurp their name, the group travels to an island to defeat them and the ruler of the land they call home. Handily defeating their newfound enemies, the despot of the island is actually convinced to kill himself by Amanda Waller in a moment that reveals how far she is willing to go. Additionally, in the story’s most insightful moment for those who don’t know the members well, they each are forced to face their greatest fears inside the island’s jungle. Most interestingly, Deadshot (to be played by Will Smith), a character who has confirmed again and again that he wants to die, sees nothing as there is nothing that he fears.
8. From The Ashes
The storyline that marked the return of John Ostrander, arguably the writer who is most identified with the series and a man who helped create the team, this story was long awaited. Bringing frequent team leader Rick Flag, Jr. back after he supposedly died, something you should never fully invest in when it comes to comics, it turns out he is stuck on a dinosaur-infested island. We know that must sound ridiculous to anyone who is not well acquainted with the world of comics but trust us, it isn’t as strange as it sounds.
Rescued by his fellow Squad member, Bronze Tiger, Rick looks over some new recruits to the team before they take an assignment from Amanda Waller. Sent to take out “a Dubai-based global conglomerate called Haake-Bruton” the mission goes anything but smooth. A story fraught with betrayal, heavy casualties and ultimately the successful completion of the mission, this story is a great introduction to the ever-changing dynamics of the team.
7. Brave And The Bold 25-27
The first appearance of the original version of the Suicide Squad, it always seems important to us to see how a team like this first came to be. A group of human beings who lack powers of any kind, they still manage to defeat beings that possess superhuman abilities of various sorts. Coming to blows with creatures, instead of the supervillains that would later make up modern versions of the Squad, it serves as a great starting point. Rick Flag, Jr. (to be played by Joel Kinnaman) is set to be a part of the team in the upcoming film and the first version of the team shown here and moviegoers may give him the respect he deserves even though he isn’t played by a star once they read these comics.
The story that led to the reintroduction of The Suicide Squad into the DC universe, which they’ve been a part of for the majority of the time since, Legends got the ball rolling. While Darkseid is trying to turn the regular people of Earth against the superheroes that seek to defend them, Amanda Waller brings together a new team. Sent to take out one of Darkseid’s minions, they completed the mission and were disbanded but came back together to save fellow member Captain Boomerang a short time later. From there, they were off to the races and the nature of the group that we’re set to see in the film was set in place.
5. Mission To Moscow
A story that mostly takes place in Russia, as its title should make obvious, this early adventure of the team has stood the test of time. Sent to free a revolutionary writer from the clutches of the Ruskies, the fact that she doesn’t want to flee alongside them introduces a nuance and depth to the story that makes the genre great. Attempting to escape the country, the Squad eventually battles the People’s Heroes, Russia’s super-powered team, and some are shocked when the writer dies in the midst of the fight. Never considering that their charge would rather die as a martyr; the Squad wasn’t sure how to handle the situation and we love every second of it. If you’re looking for an early story that shows what makes the team such an enduring one before sitting down in the cinema then look no further than this classic tale.
4. The Coils Of The LOA
One of the stories that helped inspire screenwriter David Ayer’s take on the team, as evidenced by a Tweet he sent, it seems like a no-brainer that this story needed to take a spot on our list. As a result, we included it in our top five. After Amanda Waller has angered her governmental overlords by ignoring their wishes, the Squad seems like it is in danger of ceasing to exist. Discovering a group, known as LOA, that wants to bring an army of zombies to life, she sends a stripped down, three-member version of the team, to put an end to it. Including Deadshot and famed villain Poison Ivy, the trio does her bidding but go on the run afterward which gets Amanda in deep trouble. The fact that Ayer seems to have gotten some inspiration from this story makes us wonder if the film version of the team will rebel against their boss in the end.
3. Deadshot: Beginnings
When Will Smith was announced to be playing Deadshot in this film, newbies may have been wondering who that is but fans of the team know Deadshot is one of the most important members. We’re breaking our rules a tiny bit here as Deadshot: Beginnings is actually a trade paperback that brings together key storylines from the character’s history but we didn’t want to leave any of it out. The book includes his start as a killer as he tracks down and kills people who kidnap his son and the issue where he re-debuted and tries to kill Batman. If you want to learn more about arguably the most pivotal member of the team ever who is set to be played by an A-list actor, this should be your destination.
2. Mad Love
This is the story that introduced Harley Quinn, a character that was actually introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, to the DC Comics universe. Although huge fans of the character may be able to name a litany of her stories that they feel are more interesting, there is no story that is more informative for the uninitiated. A psychiatrist in Arkham Asylum, she begins an attempt to treat The Joker, something that would forever change her life. Soon smitten with her patient, she turns to a life of crime to stay by his side and in an attempt to win his affections.
Deciding that the best route to earning his love is to kill his greatest enemy, Batman, she is unsuccessful in her plan after Batman uses her love to get into her head and distract her. Actually angering her would-be love who is outraged that she would attempt to steal the glory of killing his foe, she is brushed aside and taken back to Arkham, this time as a prisoner. Angered by her treatment, she wants nothing to do with The Joker before discovering he left her a get well card and falling for him once again. An encapsulation of the manic relationship between the characters that seem to be positioned as the film’s leads, this tale is perfect fodder for anyone wanting to figure them out for the first time.
1. Up Against The Wall
You may have noticed that we talked about a character that a lot of casual superhero fans have never heard of, Amanda Waller, a lot in this list and there is a very good reason for that. She is a badass character who you don’t want to trifle with and it is imperative that they get her right in the film to appease fans. Often depicted as overweight, the African-American woman looks more like a bureaucrat than someone you need to fear, and she bucked the trend of female characters needing to be scantily clad and stick thin.
Her groundbreaking nature is only one part of why she is so loved by readers though, and no moment proved how awesome she can be better than the one that took place on this issue. The Suicide Squad are under investigation by Batman and she not only stands up to him but successfully manages to back him down by threatening him. Pointing out that in her role as part of the government, she could use her resources to discover his secret identity and release that information to the public; she forces him to keep her team a secret.