Is it time for you to read or re-read the best Suicide Squad comic books? The new DC movie The Suicide Squad has finally come out in theaters and can be watched on HBO Max in the US!
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Suicide Squad was first made in the 1950s, but the version you know and love is more from the 1980s thanks to a dramatic makeover by John Ostrander, Len Wein, and John Byrne in the DC event Legends. Amanda Waller was also added to the team.
In the Suicide Squad comic that came out after Legends, Ostrander came up with the idea we know today: a group of costumed criminals who can get out of prison by doing secret missions for the government, knowing that their employers will fully disavow them if things go wrong.
In the past, there have been a lot of different Suicide Squad teams because of a lot of deaths and changes to how the team worked. This raises the question: Which Suicide Squad team is the best one of all time?
We’ve made a list of the best Suicide Squad stories to read before or after James Gunn’s new movie, The Suicide Squad. We didn’t need the threat of our head exploding to do it.
1. Suicide Squad: Death is for Suckers
When Deadshot died in 2012-2013, there were two stories: a Harley Quinn/Joker story that took place at his funeral, and a story that took place when Yo-Yo, Deadshot, and the team found out they had been resurrected.
Writing Adam Glass was able to show how Harley changed after her break-up by having her ex-boyfriend come back. He made her into a more independent, self-realized character who quickly became a key piece of the Suicide Squad puzzle under his direction.
This shows the kind of unique character development that Suicide Squad is known for. In the last story, it shows how the resurrected Yo-Yo and how his return from the dead changed him are the focus.
Glass started the new Suicide Squad in the New 52, and the third arc of his run is called “Death is for Suckers.” It fits the title’s unique narrative structure well, with the only flaws being a little too much Joker and quick resurrections of key characters that weakened the core premise that villains could be killed if they don’t follow the rules, which lowered the stakes.
2. Suicide Squad: Discipline And Punish
“Discipline and Punish” is a character-driven arc that looks at the Suicide Squad as a group, and the long-running DC military character Unknown Soldier’s appointment as its new leader serves as a catalyst for this self-reflection.
The Unknown Soldier is a tough guy who is good at making tough decisions. His military rules clash with the ramshackle nature of the team’s new members, which makes for a great story.
Reading about how Amanda Waller gets things done is also a good way for people to learn about how she does it. For example, she sometimes hires death row inmates to fly drones or use Resurrection Man’s metahuman abilities (his name implies that he gets better when he dies) to raise dead Squad-mates back from the dead. And that doesn’t even include hiring James Gordon Jr., the son of James Gordon, as a profiler/advisor for the team. That’s a big deal.
Writer Ales Kot and artist Patrick Zircher did a short but powerful job with Suicide Squad. They took advantage of some of the most dangerous parts of the idea.
3. Suicide Squad: The Final Mission
In 1992’s The Final Mission, Amanda Waller herself leads a Task Force X-like group called Task Force X-II, which is made up of people who were quickly hired. They have to take down a vicious metahuman revolutionary who has taken over the government of the fictional Caribbean country of Diabloverde.
This movie shows a different side of Waller. She is known for being ruthless and calculated, but this movie shows that she cares about people and wants to fix things that have been done in her name.
Co-creator John Ostrander and Kim Yale, who co-wrote “The Final Mission,” both had a lot to say about Suicide Squad over the years, and it was a good way for them to say farewell.
4. Suicide Squad: The Three Waves of Doom
It doesn’t look like the Suicide Squad we know today, but its first storyline is a good example of how the concept would change.
It doesn’t have convicts forced into military service or a “gung-ho” Black woman in charge. Brave & The Bold #25 from 1959 doesn’t have either of these things. It was 1959. Preposterous!) If you look at the movie, you’ll see that long-time field leader Rick Flag is flying a “flying lab” and leading a team of scientists against 1950s Cold War sci-fi threats.
There are a lot of dangerous missions the team takes on in this first movie. The name “Suicide” comes from that, not from the threat of being executed by their handlers, which is what makes later movies so different from this one.
The original Suicide Squad isn’t the team that people would come to love, but it shows the military background of Rick Flag and a prototype of the team before Waller changed it to look like her own.
5. Suicide Squad: The Phoenix Gambit
New rules and new boss: anyone who pays them.
1990’s ‘The Phoenix Gambit’ skips forward one year after Amanda Waller was sentenced to prison. DC has used this tactic many times since. It turns out that Waller and the Squad haven’t seen each other for 365 days, but when we do, we learn that she has changed the group’s name from Task Force X to a group of freelance mercenaries that can be hired by anyone.
The A-Team with a body count? Ding!
Batman is the first person they work for, of course.
You should talk to him. He’s got a lot of money.
When Batman and Waller work together, they come up with a new team, mostly made up of old friends, but with a few new people in there, too! Because of the Vs, l, and t in the word “Vlatava,” you can guess it’s a country in Eastern Europe at the heart of the US and the USSR’s long-running Cold War fights.
The Phoenix Gambit is the second time John Ostrander and Kim Yale reworked Waller’s team. This is a rare case of a team being “rebooted” not for a new marketing or creative team, but because the creators wanted to make the story better.
Suicide Squad: The Phoenix Gambit is like a new season of a long-running, well-known TV show. It shows how flexible the team is and how the characters change and react after they have had bad experiences.
6. Bad Blood (2020)
By Tom Taylor & Bruno Redondo
Taylor and Redondo made Injustice a must-read, so it might have been expected that they could handle Suicide Squad. Their approach, which saw them drop almost all of the traditional characters in favor of an all-new (and diverse) cast, and give them a mission that went far beyond “get the bad guys,” was still a pleasant surprise.
This isn’t just because the new characters were almost instantly recognizable. Taylor and Redondo also had fun with Deadshot and Harley Quinn (spoiler alert: one of them doesn’t make it out alive). It’s not even that the ultimate bad guy of this series was a surprise to many people. What made “Bad Blood” work was that it found a new reason for the series and stayed around long enough to bring things to an end before they became boring.
Check out Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2. If you like it, you should already know about them. Do you know that the show is about an evil Superman and superheroes who fight each other in a video game? I do. But it’s also one of the most upbeat and exciting DC superhero shows in recent memory! This, as well as the new Injustice: Year Zero even more so. Taylor’s DCeased, with Trevor Hairsine, is another good place to go if you haven’t already been there. It’s even good for people who don’t like zombie stories!
7. Burning Down The House (2017)
By Rob Williams & John Romita Jr.
So why didn’t anyone come up with a story that asked the obvious question: Why doesn’t anyone just kill Amanda Waller? It’s more than surprising that it took so long for someone to come up with a story that asked the obvious question.
So, of course, there must be more to it than that. There’s a whodunnit over who did it, and what it might mean for the Squad as a whole that their handler has been shot dead, and so on. Williams makes a murder mystery into something much weirder, and Romita’s art is fun to look at because it makes you think of all the different grimy scenes you’d expect from him in this twisty story where nothing is what it seems.
Check out the rest of Williams’ run, especially his climactic stories, which emphasize even more that no one can run with the Squad for too long without having blood on their hands and a price to pay. Williams may have been a little more political than he thought when he wrote “Drain the Swamp” and “Shock and Awe.”