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The Suicide Squad: Essential Comics to Read For Every Character

the-suicide-squad:-essential-comics-to-read-for-every-character

Amanda Waller: Suicide Squad #10 (1988)

the suicide squad comics amanda waller

(Photo: DC Entertainment)

To an extent, there’s no Suicide Squad as we know it without Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), and her power in the DC universe has been felt across countless appearances. The tenth issue of John Ostrander’s run of Suicide Squad, which features the now-iconic cover of Waller in a standoff with Batman, might be one of the most definitive examples yet.

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Harley Quinn: Harley Quinn #0

the suicide squad comics harley quinn
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

From the moment she debuted in Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has had a unique impact across basically every corner of DC fiction. While she has multiple solo series and countless guest appearances to her name, a good standalone encapsulation of Harley’s energy is 2013’s Harley Quinn #0, a self-aware installment that sees her trying to determine the creative team of her next comic. Not only is the issue a brilliant showcase of dozens of comic talent, but it shows what Harley brings to basically any social situation.

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Bloodsport: Superman #4 (1987)

the suicide squad comics bloodsport
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Bloodsport (Idris Elba) might not be a character general audiences know quite yet — but luckily, his first appearance in 1987’s Superman #4 provides a pretty fantastic entry point. Introduced as a foe of the Man of Steel armed with a Kryptonite bullet, the ensuing pages showcase Bloodsport’s unique family history in some surprisingly poignant moments, as well as some action-packed sequences.

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Peacemaker: Peacemaker #1 (1988)

the suicide squad comics peacemaker
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Peacemaker (John Cena) might be one of The Suicide Squad characters with the weirdest comic history, initially debuting as a Charlton Comics character before joining the fold of DC during the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Just a matter of years later, Peacemaker was given his first solo series at DC (his second overall). The debut issue of the miniseries combines the Rambo-esque elements of the character with his truly one-of-a-kind backstory, and tees up a narrative you’ll want to see play out.

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Rick Flag: Secret Origins #14 (1987)

the suicide squad comics rick flag
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

The longest-running Suicide Squad member is Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), with some variation of the character (later retconned to be a lineage of men with the same name) appearing in the team since its inception in the Silver Age. One issue that reconciles both those 1950s origins and the Squad as we know it today is Secret Origins #14, which seeks to provide “The Secret Origin of the Suicide Squad.” The storyline showcases both incarnations of the team in an explosive but oddly earnest way, one that illustrates what Flag as a character brings to the table.

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Ratcatcher: Detective Comics #586 (1988)

the suicide squad comics ratcatcher 2
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

The Suicide Squad sets out to establish a new version of Ratcatcher (Daniela Melchior), an antagonist who has had a pretty odd role in Batman’s rogues gallery. The initial version of Ratcatcher, a sanitation worker named Otis Flannegan, first debuted in Detective Comics in the late 1980s — and the second part of his first arc is definitely worth checking out. Not only does Detective Comics #586 showcase a unique altercation between Ratcatcher and Batman, but it shows the true scope of the character and their army of rats.

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King Shark: Secret Six #35 (2011)

the suicide squad comics king shark
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Based on the trailers for The Suicide Squad, it definitely seems like King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) is going to be a fan-favorite. While nearly every comic appearance of King Shark brings a similar sort of violent and lovable energy as the film, none do so quite as beautifully as 2011’s Secret Six #35. Not only does the issue show Nanue’s rapport with other DC antiheroes, but it is worth the price of admission just for the memorable way he reminds readers that he’s a shark.

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Polka-Dot Man: Detective Comics #300 (1962)

the suicide squad comics polka dot man
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) might be, as Gunn recently put it, the “dumbest DC character of all time”, but there’s definitely something oddly beautiful in that. His first appearance — technically as “Mister Polka-Dot” — in Detective Comics #300 proves that point in spades. Seeing Batman and Robin go up against the villain is both absurd and wildly entertaining, and adds a new sense of reverence to the way the character has been portrayed ever since.

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Captain Boomerang: The Flash #217 (2005)

the suicide squad comics captain boomerang
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) is arguably among the zaniest characters the Suicide Squad has included, and while that ethos is reflected in the comics pretty regularly, the boomerang-loving foe has also been a part of some emotional moments. 2005’s The Flash #217 might be the best example of that, centering around the surprisingly-poignant funeral for the original Boomerang, Digger Harkness. Boomerang’s significance in the DC universe manages to be reflected in the events that ensue, while also teeing up his son, Owen Mercer, to take on the mantle.

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The Thinker: Suicide Squad #25 (2013)

the suicide squad comics the thinker
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

There is no shortage of iterations of The Thinker (Peter Capaldi) in the pages of DC Comics, but Gunn has indicated that the film’s version is particularly inspired by the still-unnamed “Forever Evil” version of the character. That villain, who first appeared in 2013’s Suicide Squad #25, might not have as storied of a history as other incarnations of the character, but he still plays a key role in those specific events.

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Savant: Birds of Prey #56 (2003)

the suicide squad comics savant
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Savant (Michael Rooker) has had a lesser-known but incredibly memorable impact in the pages of DC Comics, beginning with 2003’s Birds of Prey #56. The issue brought the character — as well as his partner Creole — face-to-face with Black Canary and Oracle, teeing up the first of quite a few partnerships together.

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Javelin: Green Lantern #173 (1984)

the suicide squad comics javelin
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Another of the more colorful antagonists in The Suicide Squad is Javelin (Flula Borg), a former Olympic athlete who has turned to a life of crime with the help of his trusty javelin. While Javelin had some memorable outings with the Suicide Squad, his biggest standalone showcase was in his first appearance in 1984’s Green Lantern #173. Seeing Javelin and Hal Jordan go toe-to-toe with each other is well worth the price of admission, as is the understanding of how the character got to where he is.

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Blackguard: Booster Gold #1 (1985)

the suicide squad comics blackguard
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Blackguard (Pete Davidson) is definitely an unexpected choice to join the fold of The Suicide Squad, but if his first appearance is any indication, that’s part of the fun. Blackguard first shows up in the pages of 1985’s Booster Gold #1, and proves to be a thorn in the side of the titular character with the help of The 100 gang.

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Weasel: Firestorm #39 (1985)

the suicide squad comics weasel
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

No character in The Suicide Squad is going to be quite like Weasel (Sean Gunn), the monster inspired by Bill the Cat that definitely has a unique appearance. To an extent, the film is taking the character’s debut in Firestorm #39 to new heights, while still honoring his bizarre aesthetic. In the issue, it’s revealed that Weasel (real name John Monroe) is a university professor who donned a giant Weasel costume to murder his competitors from Stanford university — an idea that plays out just as ridiculous as it sounds.

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Mongal: Superman #170 (2001)

the suicide squad comics mongal
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Bringing Mongal (Mayling Ng) into the fold of The Suicide Squad opens a whole new can of worms, as she and her brother Mongul are tied to one of the weirder cosmic parts of Superman’s canon. If you want to dive right into that, her first full appearance in 2001’s Superman #170 is a good place to start.

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TDK: Secret Origins #46 (1989)

the suicide squad comics tdk
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

It’s clear that TDK (Nathan Fillion) draws inspiration from none other than Arm-Fall-Off Boy, one of the weirdest and most memorable characters tied to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Before he was reeimagined in the 1990s as a character named Splitter, he made his delightfully-weird debut in 1989’s Secret Origins #46. Appearing in a little over a page, Arm-Fall-Off Boy displays his unique ability to detatch his arm and use it as a weapon… before immediately being declined membership into the Legion.

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Sol Soria: Suicide Squad #33 (2018)

the suicide squad comics sol soria
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Another character recontextualized for the world of The Suicide Squad is Sol Soria (Alice Braga), who appears to be a genderbent version of team member Juan Soria. Appearing in just two issues of 2018’s Suicide Squad run, Soria was established as a diehard fan of superheroes who injected himself with nanites to gain superpowers. To an extent, it worked, giving him the ability to unlock any object just by touching it. Suicide Squad #33 dives into his too-short history within the team, in a way that fans are sure to appreciate.

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Calendar Man: Batman #384 (1985)

the suicide squad comics calendar man
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

A recent teaser for The Suicide Squad confirmed a few more DC villains who are hanging out in Belle Reve, including none other than Calendar Man (Sean Gunn). While the holiday-obsessed villain has a number of compelling appearances, most notably in the Batman: The Long Halloween maxiseries, the events of Batman #384 showcase just how powerful he can get.

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Double Down: The Flash: Iron Heights (2001)

the suicide squad comics double down
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

The reveal of Calendar Man also seems to confirm that Double Down is also locked up in Belle Reve — and if you need a refresher on the character, 2001’s The Flash: Iron Heights is the place to start. The one-shot showcases the card-themed villain and his unique set of metahuman powers, as well as a larger conflict with Flash’s new rogues.

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John Economos: Suicide Squad #1 (1987)

the suicide squad comics john economos
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

A few notable DC Comics names appear to assist Waller in The Suicide Squad, including John Economos (Steve Agee). The character, who is a warden at Belle Reve, proves to be an entertaining supporting character when the Squad first gets off the ground. With that in mind, his first appearance in Suicide Squad #1 might be a good starting point.

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Emilia Harcourt: Suicide Squad #17 (2017)

the suicide squad comics emilia harcourt
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Another figure by Waller’s side is Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), who is revealed to be a Russian double agent in the pages of Suicide Squad’s Rebirth run. While her time deceiving the team lasts a number of issues, one of the most memorable might be Suicide Squad #17, which sees her get her comeuppance.

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Starro: Justice League of America #189

the suicide squad comics starro
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

And finally, The Suicide Squad will see its antiheroes and villains going up against an unexpected threat — none other than Starro the Conqueror. A giant starfish kaiju and the first official villain of the Justice League, Starro’s comic tenure has been as bizarre as they are, but nowhere quite as much as in Justice League of America #189 and #190. The two-part arc has become iconic for showing the true terror that can come from Starro’s reign, as all of DC’s mightiest warriors launch a last-ditch effort to stop them.

The Suicide Squad debuts on HBO Max beginning Thursday, August 5th.

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