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DC Comics You'll Want To Read Before The Suicide Squad

"From the horribly beautiful mind of James Gunn..." That's what the trailers for "The Suicide Squad" say. We're certainly going to get a glimpse of "horrible" things, from a talking weasel that kills kids to a villain who thinks a butthole joke is an important part of a mission briefing. It sounds horribly delightful! With a cast this big — including Bloodsport, Peacemaker, Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2, Savant, King Shark, Blackguard, Javelin, and Harley Quinn — you're probably going to want to read some comics before buying a ticket. In case you're wondering, this film isn't directly connected to the 2016 film directed by David Ayer, despite some of the cast reprising their roles.

The Suicide Squad, also sometimes known as Task Force X, is a group of jailed supervillains who are gathered together by a government agent. They're sent on extremely dangerous missions in exchange for time off their sentences. Considering they're usually incarcerated at Belle Reve, "the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A" according to the official Warner Bros. press release, it's probably worth it. Well, unless they die, of course.

We've got a list of comics for you to read before the release of "The Suicide Squad." In addition to the ones we have below, make sure you check out "Brave and the Bold" #28 from 1960 if you want to get a look at the big bad of the film, Starro. He's the giant alien starfish that you see in the trailer, swinging King Shark around like a doll and releasing deadly spores. Fun fact: Starro, also known as Starro the Conqueror, is the first villain that the very first Justice League of America ever took down!

'Trial By Fire:' James Gunn based the film on John Ostrander's Suicide Squad run

"Suicide Squad: Trial By Fire" is a great one for an overall view of what we're going to see in "The Suicide Squad," as it was created by John Ostrander. Director James Gunn has said that Ostrander's run of Suicide Squad comics formed much of the basis for the screenplay. In fact, Ostrander has a cameo that can be spotted in the movie's trailer. 

In this run, the government is trying to keep this gang of supervillains under lock and key, but Amanda Waller doesn't love this idea. Why leave them in prison when she can use these baddies to do her dirty work? The trade off: If they help, they'll get time off their sentences. Let's just say not everyone is going to survive her little projects. You can pick this up as a collected work so you can check out the entire story.

The gang hits an island paradise, but it's not exactly a vacation spot

In the new film, our — ahem — heroes are headed to the fictional island nation of Corto Maltese, which the official synopsis describes as "enemy-infused." They're on a "search and destroy mission" with only Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman, who is reprising his role from the earlier film) to "make them behave." Since they're heading off to a dubious island paradise, it's worth checking out John Ostrander and Kim Yale's "The Final Mission," an arc originally published in "Suicide Squad" #63-66. 

In the story, the gang hits an island nation to take on a supervillain group who call themselves the Suicide Squad as well. The unmitigated gall of these guys, right? It gives a great look into the psyches of this misfit band of expendable evilness and their confrontation with their own difficult pasts. In this one, we get to see Amanda Waller, Cliff Carmichael (a.k.a. The Thinker), Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Poison Ivy, and more go up against the Justice League of America.

Weasel joins Task Force X

In "The Suicide Squad," Weasel is a motion-captured character performed by Sean Gunn, and though we don't know much about his movie-specific backstory, it's worth checking out his first comic book appearance in "Firestorm" Vol. 2 #36. The big one for him, though, is the 1988 crossover special "The Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad" by John Ostrander, Erik Larsen, Steve Haynie and Carl Gafford, in which he joins Task Force X. Let's just say that nothing good happens to Weasel, but it's going to give you a good look at who he is. 

Another taste of what we're going to see happens in the official trailer, and it involves licking a window and a discussion about what exactly he is. Apparently in the film he's killed 27 children, so that gives you a look at the character that has Pete Davidson's Blackguard ready to jump out of a plane to escape him. Still, he may be deadly, but honestly, he's also pretty cute.

Meet everyone's favorite character, King Shark

King Shark (also known as Nanaue) is modeled physically by Steve Agee and voiced by none other than Sylvester Stallone. He's not a hammerhead like he is in the comics (it's probably hard to have scenes with other characters when your eyes are on either side of your head), but a great white instead. You can, of course, check him out on two different TV series: "The Flash" on The CW and the animated "Harley Quinn" show on HBO Max.

King Shark's first appearance as more than a cameo came in "Superboy" #0, but the best place to check out his underwater work is in The New 52, the era of DC Comics in which he was forced into the Suicide Squad by Amanda Waller. The best place to start is the "Forever Evil" storyline from 2013-2014, by writer Geoff Johns and artist David Finch. In the story, Waller messes with King Shark's father Kamo, and he falls for her lies. In fact, this one is a great look at Amanda Waller as well, in addition to some good Harley stuff and an appearance by Lex Luthor. King Shark promises to be a fan favorite, and though we might not get a ton of his backstory in the film, this storyline will give you a proper introduction.

Batman's least favorite fashion victim, Polka-Dot Man

The most colorful of a very colorful group, Polka-Dot Man is played by David Dastmalchian, who has straddled the divide between DC and Marvel, having appeared in both "The Dark Knight" and the "Ant-Man" movies. Polka-Dot Man and his suit covered in spots have been around for quite a while, having first appeared in "Detective Comics" #300 from Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff back in 1962. He's not a big fan of Batman, and in the past, he has even given up his villainous alter-ego.

A good story to check out is "Batman: GCPD" from Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo, and Bill Sienkiewicz from 1996, in which Polka-Dot Man loses his powers. This is a rough story for him, but it gives us a look at who he is underneath his colorful outfit. It's also worth looking at the "Final Crisis" storyline from 2009, in which he meets his end. Polka-Dot Man, also known as Abner Krill, is clearly having a rough time in this film, as we learn from the trailer. Bloodsport says, "We're all gonna die," to which Polka-Dot Man replies, "I hope so," with tears in his eyes. Poor guy. Poor villain. At least he gets to show off his dance moves in the trailer.

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world for Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn is a pretty well-known character at this point. As you may know, she didn't start her existence in comics, but rather joined them after premiering and becoming a fan favorite on "Batman: The Animated Series," for which she was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Margot Robbie's first turn as Harley was a highlight of the otherwise much-maligned 2016 "Suicide Squad" movie, and the new "Harley Quinn" animated series on HBO Max (which is most assuredly not for children) is also worth watching. Same goes for Robbie's starring turn in 2020's "Birds of Prey," which saw Harley getting over the Joker for good and finding independence with the help of some new friends.

If you want a great comic, though, the best place to start is 1994's "Batman Adventures: Mad Love." This Eisner Award-winning turn from Dini and Timm gives us a look at Harley's backstory as Dr. Harleen Quinzel and how she fell in love with the Joker. It also explores her dependence on him and shows her attempts to leave him. Honestly, it's a pretty heartbreaking story, and it's a must-read for fans of Harley. Take a look at her later story with Poison Ivy in Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's Black Label mini-series "Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey" for a much healthier relationship.

Learn Ratcatcher II's family history

Though we're not seeing Otis Flannegan's version of Ratcatcher in the new film, we will get to know Ratcatcher's daughter Cleo Cazo, aka Ratcatcher II, played by newcomer Daniela Melchior. When the original Ratcatcher first appeared in the "Detective Comics" #585 story entitled "The Ratcatcher" from Alan Grant, John Wagner, and Norm Breyfogle back in 1988, he was a rat-catcher in Gotham City who claimed to be able to train rats. 

In the story, the rodent-loving guy has taken to the sewers and is holding prisoners. He's not being very nice to them, either. What Otis can't do, his rats certainly can, and they "love" their pops enough to take it out on his enemies. Though they can't really take down Batman, they certainly try! It's worth checking out his origin, just to get a sense of who he is and who his daughter might be. We don't have a lot of information yet about Ratcatcher II, and we can't wait to see what she does with her little buddies.

Seriously, do not cross Amanda Waller

Amanda Waller is the brains behind the Suicide Squad, played in the new movie by Viola Davis, as she was in the David Ayer film. Waller was created by John Ostrander and Len Wein with John Byrne back in 1986, and she's been all over DC comics, animated series and live action series and films. She might be morally ambiguous, but she's wildly entertaining. 

There are so many comics to choose from, but "Suicide Squad" #22 gives us a look at her ruthlessness and threats to the rest of the Suicide Squad because Rick Flag got it into his head to do a little work for her on his own. It all works out for her best interests, as it usually does. You can also check out her showdown with Granny Goodness (who isn't in the film, as far as we know) in Ostrander's "Apokolips Now!" storyline in "Suicide Squad" #33-36.

Charlton Comics character Peacemaker joins the DCEU

Peacemaker is played in "The Suicide Squad" by John Cena and his very shiny helmet. Did you know that the character wasn't originally a DC property? He came from Charlton Comics, which was scooped up by DC Comics in the 1980s. He first appeared in "Fightin' 5" #40 from Joe Gill and Pat Boyette back in 1966. As you may know, he's not only going to be in "The Suicide Squad," but he'll show up again in his own self-titled HBO Max series. 

A good place to get to know him is in the three-issue story arc beginning in "Vigilante" #36. Let's just say this guy isn't exactly the same sort of hero that, say, Superman is. He will do pretty much anything to ensure that peace reigns. Anything. In fact, Peacemaker's most well-known quote is, "I am Peacemaker. I want Peace. I love peace. Enough to kill for it." In the movie's trailer, he says, "I cherish peace with all my heart. I don't care how many men, women, and children I need to kill to get it." Oof. 

One more thing; that Peacemaker helmet is epic, and as you can see in the trailers, John Cena is rocking it. He also lets us know in the trailer that the name "Project Starfish" is slang for a butthole, if that gives you a better idea of who he is.

Bloodsport did what to Superman now?

We've got Idris Elba in the house for this one, yet another person who's appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe now joining the DC Extended Universe. He'll be playing Robert DuBois, a.k.a. Bloodsport. As you know from the trailer, Bloodsport has a little beef with Superman, apparently having shot him with a Kryptonite bullet. Ouch! He's also being recruited by Amanda Waller, who uses his young daughter Tyla (Storm Reid) as bait. 

Check out "Superman Vol. 2" #4 from John Byrne to see not only Bloodsport's origin story, but his battle with Kal-El. Bloodsport goes on a rant here about 'Nam, and takes off on his motorcycle. You can just see Idris Elba doing that, can't you? Of course, having a heat-producing hog isn't exactly going to allow you to hide from Superman. As for that little mention of shooting Superman in the trailer? Well, in this comic story, Bloodsport shoots him with a Kryptonite needle. That almost sounds worse! In the story, we also get a look at exactly why he was ranting about Vietnam, and it's heartbreaking.

The one where Captain Boomerang and the gang fake their own deaths

Jai Courtney is back in "The Suicide Squad," reprising his role as Captain Boomerang. While you might already be familiar with the character from Courtney's performance in the 2016 film, it's worth checking out Boomerang's comic book turn with Amanda Waller in "New Suicide Squad" #17-22, an arc titled "Kill Anything" from Tim Seeley and Juan Ferreyra. In this one, Task Force X has been declared dead thanks to Harley Quinn's maneuvering. Off they head to live their lives free from prison and deadly missions. Unfortunately, that doesn't work so well for them as the Fist of Cain, a death cult that helped them escape their former lives, is trying to kill them. 

Guess who they have to call to save their bacon! It's Captain Boomerang. He and Deadshot don't get along, so this isn't exactly going to be a walk in the park. Amanda Waller helps out as well, and she doesn't like Captain Boomerang any better than Deadshot does. You wouldn't think a boomerang could do that much damage, would you?

From the Doctor to the Thinker

Peter Capaldi is playing Thinker, and as fans of his run on "Doctor Who" know, he can act the heck out of a genre role. The first character to use the Thinker alias — real name Clifford DeVoe — originally appeared in "All-Flash" #12 in 1943, and would go one to face off frequently with the Flash on page and screen (you may have seen him in the CW series, played by Neil Sandilands). He's got a nifty helmet called the "Thinking Cap," which allows him to become telekinetic and telepathic, though we don't know the exact powers he'll have in the new film. 

There have been several versions of Thinker, including one who tried to be good towards the end of his life. You'll find him in Ostrander's work, of course, and that version of him is Cliff Carmichael. We know it's not going to be the DeVoe version of the character according to a tweet from Gunn himself. To get a good sense of him (and the version we might see), it's worth checking out 1990's "Firestorm" #99, in which we get to see Carmichael turned into the Thinker. This may not end well for him, but hey, Gunn did tell us all not to get attached.