We are rapidly approaching the release of the Suicide Squad movie on August 5th. If you’ve never read any, now is a great time to pick up some Suicide Squad comics to get yourself in the mood. It can be confusing figuring out where to start, with so many years of Suicide Squad continuity, so we’re here to help! The DC Comics Database has you covered for all of your Suicide Squad needs. We’re gonna walk you through which eras of the Suicide Squad are worth reading and which are really not worth your time.
Robert Kanigher’s Suicide Squad (1959)
The original Suicide Squad comics of the Silver Age aren’t bad for their time, but they do not hold up very well. They also have almost nothing to do with the later series. The four core characters do make later appearances, but their personalities are completely revised and all relevant information is explained in flashbacks. Really, given that the premise is entirely different also (altruistic self-sacrificing military heroes), the only connection between these comics and the more popular Ostrander era is the names.
These comics were recently released in a hardcover collection if you consider yourself a completist.
John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad (1986)
Suicide Squad (Volume 1) by John Ostrander (and later also Kim Yale, who does not get enough credit) is really where you should start if you want to get into the Suicide Squad. This is the book that reinvented the Squad as a secret government organization sending costumed criminals on deadly missions. In addition to being the book that really launched the Squad as a fan-favorite team, it holds up remarkably well for a comic from the 80’s. Ostrander effortlessly weaves the silly world of costumed criminals with the dark themes of the premise, creating a book that is often tragic and hilarious in equal measures. The series breezes through different genres (war, noir, sci-fi, fantasy, espionage) while exploring themes like redemption, mental illness, utilitarianism, and the ethics of the prison-industrial complex. If you want to get super-technical, the first appearance of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad was in an event book called Legends that told a self-contained story. It’s not a bad book, but it’s kind of hard to track down, and you can easily read the main series without it. I would say it’s only really necessary for hardcore completists. The main SS series lasted 66 issues until it was eventually canceled in 1992. Ostrander would return to the team in 2007 for a limited series titled Raise the Flag that was also well-received.
The books from this era are mostly available on comiXology, which is the easiest place to get them. Here are some helpful links:
- Legends (1986-87)
- Suicide Squad (1987-1992)
- Deadshot: Beginnings (1998 four-issue Deadshot mini-series spun out of the main book)
- Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag (2007)
Keith Giffen’s Suicide Squad (2001)
Keith Giffen‘s Suicide Squad (Volume 2) is considered kind of forgettable, but it’s not bad comics. I wouldn’t recommend starting with it before Ostrander, but it’s a short run of fun stories that stay true to the heart of the premise. The book replaces team leader Amanda Waller with an aging Sgt. Rock, and uses this connection to delve into some of the DCU’s weird WWII history. They open up with a new team composed of old favorite Giffen characters, the Injustice League (also known as Justice League Antarctica). After Giffen famously maimed all of his old playthings the book quickly moved on to more familiar faces. It only lasted about a year before ending.
This series can be found in its entirety on comiXology.
New 52 Suicide Squad (2011)
The “New 52” reboot in 2011 completely revised the history of the Suicide Squad, starting over from the beginning with a new lineup. Most notably, this version of the team added fan-favorite character Harley Quinn (making her a new mainstay of the series). The new Suicide Squad comics have run pretty consistently since then with a variety of writers, including Adam Glass, Ales Kot, Matt Kindt, Sean Ryan, Tim Seeley, and Rob Williams. There has been criticism for not living up to the popularity of the original series, but the new books have also undoubtedly created their own new fans. Most recently, they started a new series with a new #1 issue for the DC Rebirth event.
Here are some comiXology links to find the digital copies:
- Suicide Squad (2011-2014)
- New Suicide Squad (2014-2016)
- Suicide Squad (2016-Present)
- Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana (2016)
- Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Boomerang (2016)