By FRED VAN LENTE
Greetings, back issue bombardiers ! This week premieres The Suicide Squad, film director James Gunn ’ s follow-up to David Ayer ’ mho 2016 extended music television with supervillains. That auspicious event seemed like the perfective excuse to re-read one of my darling serial from when I was a chap, the Suicide Squad as spearheaded ( largely ) by writer John Ostrander, whom in a very dainty turn, can be seen in Gunn ’ south movie. ( You can flush see him in one of the trailers, injecting Idris Elba with homicidal nanites. )
The obvious divine guidance for the original series is the Robert Aldrich-directed carry through classic The Dirty Dozen ( 1967 ) — available, you golden dogs, like TSS, on HBOMax, therefore might I suggest a streaming double-feature ? There, Lee Marvin leads an all-star cast of convicted soldiers on a long-shot foray into against a chateau full of nazi officers and their girlfriends on the evening of D-Day. Since this laughably impossible mission has a high gamble of total failure, the brass springs a set of murders, rapists and thieves from military prison to do it in central for amnesty .
I loved this snap as a kyd ( intelligibly I was a disturbed child ) and when I saw Howard Chaykin ’ s amazing cover for Suicide Squad #1, I immediately intuited how it could be applied to supervillains. It was love at first issue .
here ’ ra my TOP 13 favorite original Suicide Squad stories, every one plotted or ( co- ) scripted by Ostrander himself. love !
In chronological order…
1. Legends #3: Send For… the Suicide Squad! A sort of dry-run for Marvel ’ s two-decades-later Civil War, Darkseid uses Glorious Godfrey ’ s mob-whipping abilities to turn Earth against its heroes in this sprawl crossover plotted by Ostrander, having recently joined DC from First Comics. Heroes being on the come out of the closet gives pitiless government bureaucrat Amanda Waller the afford to trot her Dirty Half-Dozen out to take on the Apokoliptan fire-monster, Brimstone .
One of the standouts of The Dirty Dozen is John Cassavetes ’ drafted Mafia hood Franko, who is constantly complaining, working on side hustles, and defying Lee Marvin ’ randomness authority. The Franko figure here is Captain Boomerang, who, fortunately for Ostrander, was absolve for Squad duty when the creators of the post- Legends Wally West-starring Flash serial deletion loose all of Barry Allen ’ s beloved rogues .
hilariously, his prison term commuted for helping get the better of Brimstone, Boomerang immediately starts committing crimes the identical next offspring of Legends. He gets captured by Glorious Godfrey ’ second mob, forcing Task Force X to go rescue him lest he expose their universe to the populace. Despite writers laying on his australian stress with what I like to call “ Claremontian Density, ” Boomerang ’ s tilt to stab everyone and their mother in the back makes him one of the Squad ’ s most harbor members. ( sadly, early on on, Ostrander decides to have Amanda Waller call him “ Boomerbutt ” every topic, which, let me tell you, never gets any amusing. )
2. Secret Origins #14: The Secret Origin of the Suicide Squad! Lee Marvin ’ s Major Reisman, commanding officer of the Dirty Dozen, is a no-nonsense soldier who got stuck with this chickenshit detail by pissing off the much-nonsense administration one excessively many times. Somehow, he ’ south even scarier than the psychotic under his command…
… just like Col. Rick Flag, field commanding officer of the Suicide Squad, whose Really-Kind-of-Public Origin is told here, along with his civilian counterpart ’ sulfur. Amanda Waller ’ s origin involves her decision to escape the crime-ridden projects of Chicago after losing her son, son-in-law, and conserve to gun ferocity .
Flag ’ s origin involves his guilt over letting his O.G. Suicide Squad teammates get torn apart by a madden abominable snowman, after his beget died heroically slamming his fighter plane into a elephantine Nazi wheel .
This is why I love superhero comics. They are peer parts sublime and completely dazed .
3. Suicide Squad #2: Trial By Blood. Like the Dirty Dozen, the Squad ’ sulfur foremost ( official ) deputation involves an assault on a privy mountain fortress, in this example the hideout of The Jihad, a very un-PC set of super-powered terrorists-for-hire that would never, under any circumstances, get created today ( not that I ’ m complain ). Both missions go FUBAR about immediately. In the Squad ’ south subject, one of their own, Plastique, tries to defect ; and Boomerang lets another, Mindboggler, get killed because she humiliated him earlier ; their elude road is cut off, so they have a despairing fight to escape. The natural process is brutal and electrifying : if only every superhero serial could open arsenic strong as this bipartite .
4. Suicide Squad #6: Hitting the Fan. Ostrander was unusually fond of Reagan-era Cold War shenanigans, but they did fuel some of his best stories. For once the DC boldness let him use an actual a-list toys-have-been-made-of-me supervillain, the Penguin, and sets him up dexterously as a passkey criminal strategist adenine well as a first bitcher. A tense clandestine mission to smuggle out a dissident soviet writer goes pear-shaped when Flag & co. discover cipher actually asked the writer if she wanted to be rescued. Its shroud blow, the Squad has to fan out across Siberia to escape the Red Army .
5. Firestorm the Nuclear Man Annual #5: Ground Zero. If you were reasonably baffled by the excessive number of second-tier Firestorm villains on the Squad in both comics and movies ( Slipknot ? Weasel ? Really ? ), the obvious explanation is that Ostrander was writing Firestorm besides, and in reading old issues of the Nuclear Man ’ s title discovered a treasure treasure trove of usefully expendable super-crooks .
Ostrander brilliantly throws down the gauntlet of his Firestorm run by giving Professor Stein cancer and having him convince Ronnie Raymond, the Nuclear Man ’ s other half, to go on a Quest for Peace to destroy the populace ’ south nuclear arsenal. This inspires the united states government to send in the Suicide Squad, augmented by Flamehead ’ mho rogues ’ gallery of Killer Frost, Multiplex and ( post-Crisis ) Parasite. Parasite goes kill-crazy, forcing the Justice League to intervene, which sets up the delectable riddle of Rick Flag having to capture his own Squad so he doesn ’ t blow his cover in front of Batman .
6. Suicide Squad #10: Up Against the Wall. Batman discovers the universe of the Suicide Squad anyhow, and he is none excessively happy about it. He infiltrates Belle Reve Prison as an imprison Matches Malone and grabs all of Task Force X ’ mho files, but then gets discovered and has to fight his manner out. It would have worked, excessively, if it weren ’ thyroxine for that meddling Amanda Waller, who points out that by not wearing gloves as Matches they now have Batman ’ s fingerprints all over his cell. If he exposes Task Force X, she ’ ll unwrap him .
Post-Grant Morrison, Batman ’ second world power is “ I Thought of That, ” so he would have been wearing bogus prints over his fingers or something. But 1988 Batman is placid semi-human and Waller gets a clean W .
Amanda Waller, a non-super-powered master strategist, and a large Black woman who goes toe-to-toe with the DC superheroes and, more than much not, comes out on top, is, as has been much said, the standout character of Suicide Squad and has few comparisons in other media ( Ernest Borgnine in The Dirty Dozen doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate count ) .
7. The Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special: Red Pawn. James Gunn must be a winnow of my fellow 13th Dimension columnist Paul Kupperberg, because to my cognition Thinker and Weasel show up on the Suicide Squad lone twice : in Gunn ’ mho The Suicide Squad ( 2021 ) and in this Ostrander-plotted, Kupperberg-scripted one-shot, where they rather spectacularly murder each other. Dumbass superhero Hawk has gotten captured by the Sandinistas while running guns to Contra rebels. Two competing american english spy agencies send the Squad and the Patrol to Nicaragua to save him without bothering to tell the other. Ostrander ’ s plots specialize in missions that go wholly FUBAR, and when the USSR ’ mho Red Rocket Brigade shows up to defend the prison, this one ’ s no different. Ostrander and Kupperberg make a great team, and Erik Larsen shows off a domination at storytelling even at this young age .
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8. Suicide Squad #12: Blood & Snow, Part Two. Telly Savalas steals the picture in The Dirty Dozen as Bible-quoting racist serial killer whale AJ Maggot, who, the hour they infiltrate the Nazi chateau, knife to death the first blond he finds and tries to kill Jim Brown .
The Enchantress is the Maggot of the Squad, and after about going crazy and trying to kill everybody every time she appears, last does go full moon David Ayer here during a commando raid by the Squad on a cocaine kingpin ’ sulfur compound… led by, of course, Speedy, the DCU ’ s adept on all things drugs, apparently .
She has to be taken down by teammate Nightshade, an apart Charlton hero ( and not, according to Alan Moore, the inspiration for Silk Spectre ) that has rarely been used better before or since .
just as the Dirty Dozen had MP Sergeant Bowren ( Richard Jaeckel ) tagging along as authority babysitter, the Squad has besides traditionally included a assortment collection of lower-tier heroes like Vixen, Shade the Changing Man, Nemesis and the aforesaid Nightshade. …Though on Twitter, Gunn said he decided not to use any non-villains other than Flag in his film .
9. Suicide Squad #22: Final Round. widely viewed as the high point of the series ( including, according to this oral history, by its creative team ), this is the climax of a long-running subplot in which a US senator is threatening Amanda Waller ’ s fund if she doesn ’ triiodothyronine use Task Force X to take out his political enemies. rick Flag takes it upon himself to solve this riddle by assassinating the senator himself, forcing Waller to send the Squad after their deserter drawing card. With orders to stop Flag by any means necessary, Deadshot interprets those parameters rather liberally in a very Deadshot-like manner… by killing the evil senator himself. It ’ second brilliant .
10. Deadshot #4: Astride a Grave. From the beginning of the series, Deadshot has been, like Charles Bronson ’ s Joe Wladislaw in The Dirty Dozen, the even-keeled, hyper-competent cause of death. But upon ditching the Squad in #9 on this tilt, he stars in a mini-series so dark I needed infrared goggles to read it .
news bulletin : Deadshot is highly messed up ! Assuming I have this proper, his ma hired his brother to kill his father and he killed his brother trying to stop him ( by accident ). now, in the introduce, Mom hires a pedophile to kidnap Deadshot ’ s kid to lure him binding for revenge. Deadshot kills the child molester, then finds his ma and cripples her in front of his Belle Reve therapist .
Comics ! They ’ rhenium not just for kids anymore !
however, I found this story super-compelling, so possibly I ’ m the one who needs therapy. Ostrander is joined by wife Kim Yale as co-writer for this mini and she stays on as Squad co-scribe reasonably much for the remainder of the discharge, and does a fantastic job. Luke McDonnell ’ s artwork here is some of his best across the entire Squad class of books .
11. Suicide Squad #27: Janus Directive: Scattermove. I was perplexed by why John Cena ’ second Peacemaker was getting indeed much airplay in The Suicide Squad until I read this eleven-part crossing over, a phrase I greet with the lapp enthusiasm as “ reoccurring gonorrhea. ” ( Couldn ’ thyroxine spring for an evening twelve, huh, DC ? )
basically, Kobra has gotten the privy organizations from a lot of mid-list DC books to think one has turned on the others, so they all fight. Peacemaker, who is contractually obligated to spout his catchphrase “ I love peace so much I ’ ll kill for it ” once per appearance, is affiliated with Checkmate, the spy agency under Task Force X, and, by crossover-association, the Squad .
As part of this twist intrigue, Bronze Tiger, the strong-but-silent Robert “ Napoleon ” Jefferson ( Jim Brown ) of the Suiciders, leads a motlier-than-usual Squad to attack perennial Outsiders punching bags the Force of July, unintentionally killing many of them in a brutal fight. After getting his buttocks repeatedly handed to him by the New Teen Titans, first-time Squadder Dr. Light has developed a pathological concern of children, which I found extremely hilarious for some reason .
Post- Janus Directive ( if not during ), the reserve comes down with a serious case of The Nineties ( even though it ’ s still 1989 ). Teeth-clenching and “ dark ” storylines dominate — like the one where Waller and her crew straight up murder a bunch together of New Orleans juju mobsters. For the most separate, though, the fib discharge remain hearty to the very end, no mean feat .
12. Suicide Squad #34: Armagetto. In the third emergence of the series, the Female Furies attacked Belle Reve to bust out Glorious Godfrey, imprisoned since Legends. In a long-running storyline obviously suggested by inker Karl Kesel, Lashina gets left behind and she joins the Squad under the identity of the Rambo-esque “ Duchess. ”
For many issues I had no idea what the point of this B-Plot was until here ; last, she kidnaps much of the Squad and takes them to Apokolips to beat the crap out of DeSaad ’ south sister and wrest back control of the Furies. It is wholly bonkers and I love it, particularly the Amanda Waller vs. Granny Goodness throwdown promised on the cover .
13. Suicide Squad #46: Choice of Evils. In speaking of dubious storylines that actually kind of pay off, remember when Ray Palmer appeared to die and a new atom showed up with a costume that looked like the ’ 90s threw up on him but no one was surely if this was Palmer in disguise or some other guy with shrinking powers ?
Me neither. Anyway, that ’ second who ’ mho on the overlay .
besides file under there ’ s-no-way-they ’ d-get-away-with-this-today : The Squad invades Jerusalem to bust out Kobra for reasons besides complicated to get into here. The Mossad ’ s own super-team tries to stop them. unfortunately for everyone, Dybbuk, the Israeli superteam ’ second A.I., has had its cyber-mind poisoned by Kobra and decides to attack the Dome of the Rock and ussher in an era of chaos equitable as the Faux-Atom infiltrates Kobra ’ sulfur cell. pure super-espionage insanity ensues. Talk about going out with a sleep together !
MORE From FRED VAN LENTE
— COMIC BOOK DEATH MATCH: New Teen Titans vs. Uncanny X-Men. Click here .
— The TOP 13 Mike W. Barr BATMAN Stories — RANKED. Click here.
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