Better Know a Squad: The Comic Book Roots of 'Suicide Squad'

Learn where each of DC's new movie stars debuted and where they're at today.
Howard Chaykin/DC Entertainment

The movie lineup for Suicide Squad includes characters from across the comic book series' decades-long history, making up a team that has never quite existed in the pages of a DC Entertainment publication … yet. In the week where the Squad movie hits theaters and a new Suicide Squad comic series launches with the prologue Rebirth issue, here's a quick guide to the four-color history of cinema's favorite bad guys.

Amanda Waller

First appearance: Legends No. 1 (1986)

Despite her occupation — and she's had many throughout her comic career, including a stint as a freelance mercenary — "The Wall," as she's affectionately called (but rarely to her face), is consistently portrayed as a Machiavellian schemer who really does believe in serving the greater good. It's just that her definition of what that is — and the corners she's willing to cut in service of that greater good — differs from most people.

Current comic book status: still heading up the Squad in the relaunched Suicide Squad comic, and showing up in the current Batman series as well.

Deadshot

First appearance: Batman No. 59 (1950)

Although he wouldn't see it this way, Deadshot is the heart of the Squad, having been an active part of every iteration since the 1980s. A hired assassin with a death wish, Floyd Newton sees himself as a loner and outsider, but can't help but form bonds with the rest of the team despite himself. He's even sacrificed himself for a mission before, only to be brought back to life afterwards … much to his disappointment. Although she'd never admit it, Deadshot may be the one member of the Squad Waller respects, and perhaps even trusts.

Current comic book status: serving his time with the Squad, as usual.

Boomerang

First appearance: The Flash No. 117 (1960)

A former company mascot gone bad (That's where the boomerang gimmick came from), Boomerang's M.O. is that he is … well, just the worst. Offensive, stupid and bigoted, his one saving grace is his aim … and even that can fail him depending on how much he's had to drink. A longtime Squad member — he was one of the first members of the team in 1986 — he's almost a lucky charm for the team's misadventures despite how little he contributes to the mission. Plus, Waller likes to call him Boomerbutt just to irritate him, a rare show of humor on her part.

Current comic book status: After a brief absence — and a temporary death, because comics — Boomerang is once again a member of the team in the new Suicide Squad comic book series.

Harley Quinn

First appearance: "Joker's Favor," Batman: The Animated Series (1992)

Harley is a relatively recent addition to the Squad, only signing on in 2011 as part of DC's New 52 reboot of the concept. The comic book incarnation of the character has proven to be central to the group dynamic from that point on, however, with her background as a psychiatrist coming in useful … especially when it comes to leaving her open to manipulation by Waller for her own ends.

Current comic book status: This is actually a little complicated. Quinn is an active participant in the Squad in the regular Suicide Squad comic book, but there's also the Harley Quinn series, which apparently shows her post-Squad life. Don't ask, just buy it, as comic great Jack Kirby once wrote.

Katana

First appearance: The Brave and The Bold No. 200 (1983)

Katana started life as a superhero and sidekick to Batman as part of the Batman and the Outsiders comic book in the 1980s. Outside of that property and subsequent revivals, she's also shown up in superhero teams Justice League of America and Birds of Prey, as well as headlining her own short-lived series in 2012, all the while maintaining her mystery as a modern-day samurai who uses a sword inhabited by the soul of her dead husband.

Current comic book status: Katana only recently joined the team in the recent Suicide Squad Most Wanted miniseries; she'll appear in the regular Suicide Squad comic moving forward.

Enchantress

First appearance: Strange Adventures No. 187 (1966)

A creation of 1960s comics great Bob Haney — few other writers would call their lead "the switcheroo-witcheroo" to explain that she has multiple personalities, one of whom has magical powers, after all — the Enchantress is trouble for whomever she works with, because it's never clear when she's going to end up turning on her team. She served with the Squad in the 1980s incarnation of the team, and has also been part of two supernatural superhero teams: Shadowpact and the Justice League Dark.

Current comic book status: The last time June Moone — yes, her secret identity rhymes; what else should you expect from the mind behind "the switcheroo-witcheroo"? — was seen in the comic books, she had been healed by the Justice League Dark and disappeared to recover from being artificially split into two separate beings.

El Diablo

First appearance: El Diablo No. 1 (2008)

A former criminal who finds himself cursed to be the host of a demon — hence his fire powers — Chato Santana is the third character to call himself El Diablo in DC's comic book history, and the second to be cursed by the same demon. He joined up with the Squad at the same time as Harley Quinn, but his time with the group has seen him wonder whether he truly belongs with them, or if his fate lies elsewhere.

Current comic book status: El Diablo will anchor the new series of Suicide Squad Most Wanted as he leaves the Squad and tries to go it alone. Whether that will work out remains to be seen, but the odds aren't that good when anyone tries to leave Amanda Waller behind …

Killer Croc

First appearance: Detective Comics No. 523 (1983)

Former wrestler and circus sideshow act Waylon Jones doesn't look like a crocodile because of a radioactive accident or anything so dramatic — it's apparently a skin condition that is responsible, although that doesn't explain away his superior strength and occasional bouts of cannibalism. But, you know, a man's gotta eat even when he looks like a monster, right … ? More soft-hearted than may initially seem to be the case, Croc has nonetheless served as a minion for Lex Luthor, Black Mask and other supervillains throughout his career.

Current comic book status: Judging by promotional material, Croc will show up as one of the members of the Squad in the new Suicide Squad comic book.

Slipknot

First appearance: Fury of Firestorm Vol. 28 (1984)

Slipknot has not had a charmed comic book existence; after a period as an enemy of Firestorm, he comes to the attention of Amanda Waller, who recruits him for the Squad — only for things to go terribly wrong when he doesn't believe Waller's threat of a booby-trapped arm band, resulting in an explosion that severs his right arm above the elbow. Things got worse in later life; having replaced his arm with a cybernetic stand-in, he's killed in battle when his arm malfunctions. Really, it was never good to be Slipknot.

Current comic book status: almost certainly due for a revival any moment now. We can but hope that any future Slipknot will have better luck than the original.

Rick Flag

First appearance: The Brave and The Bold No. 25 (1959)

Technically, the Rick Flag in the supervillain version of the Squad is Rick Flag Jr., son of the original Flag, who anchored the original Suicide Squad strip in the 1950s; that the second Flag ended up leading the team decades later is either an incredible coincidence or a sign of an obsessed son. (It's the latter.) In contemporary DC mythology, Rick Flag has just been reintroduced as an all-American hero with a past that's thrown him in jail. Who knows what secrets lie in his past … ?

Current comic book status: Re-introduced in this week's Suicide Squad: Rebirth No. 1, Flagg will lead the Squad in the new regular Suicide Squad series launching in two weeks.

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