The key to a successful universe is balance – something proven to be the case in both fact and fiction – on the page, and on the screen. Everything has its opposite, and you cannot have one without the other. There can be no good without evil, no light without darkness, and no heroes without villains. Thus, we have Suicide Squad – DC’s antidote to its morally conscientious Justice League, and the largely criminal yin to that overwhelmingly valiant yang.
The first version of Suicide Squad appeared in the comic The Brave And The Bold #25 in 1959, and at one point became known as Task Force X. The concept was rebooted by John Ostrander in Legends #3 in 1987, however, and while the first incarnation was created to replace the outgoing Justice League Of America, the rebooted version was based on the idea that an anti-hero team made up mostly of supervillains incarcerated in Belle Reve Penitentiary are recruited to carry out high risk black ops, in exchange for commuted sentences. That organization is overseen by the character of Amanda Waller.
The Squad and its missions are top-secret, so they often find themselves targeted by caped crusaders, such as Batman, who remain unaware of the supervillain’s real motivations. In fact, in Suicide Squad Vol 1 #10, the Dark Knight was infamously forced to abandon his dogged pursuit of Suicide Squad members after being threatened with exposure by the formidable Amanda Waller.
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In addition to regularly crossing the paths of superheroes, the Suicide Squad comic book stories often focus on occasions when the characters are interviewed by prison psychiatric staff. These tales in particular provide fascinating insight into the psychology of these dangerous fictional personalities, who are often implanted with explosive devices that can be detonated by supervising authorities at any time.
The combination of personalities involved in the Suicide Squad in its source material has continually changed over the years, with over fifty characters variously included in its history. Everybody from Poison Ivy to Chemo, from Black Manta to Reverse-Flash, and from Count Vertigo to The Unknown Soldier has featured at one time or another. The team has also appeared in animation, on the TV shows Smallville and Arrow, and is a mainstay of the video game arena. But, as a particularly shadowy organization, it just does not seem to have the cultural prevalence of, say, Marvel’s Hydra, for example.
So, now that director David Ayer is bringing Suicide Squad to the big screen for the first time, it is time to brush up on a little of what to expect. Who are the Squad members we will meet on August 5th, 2016, and what kind of damage are they likely to inflict? Read on to find out.