NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for "Suicide Squad" #1
Although the movie may have been divisive between critics and fans, there's no question that the Suicide Squad is on more minds than... well, than ever before. And if you're a firm believer that all publicity is good publicity, there really is no better time for DC Comics to release its "Suicide Squad: Rebirth" onto the masses. And while the comic may not have a history of being the most renowned title in the company's catalogue (hard to stack up against teams like the Justice League, after all), DC has assembled some serious talent for the Squad's relaunch.
But before anyone assumes that the comic book version of the Squad will reflect the one on the big screen, writer Rob Williams and artists Jim Lee and Philip Tan have actually maintained that they're keeping their distance to avoid similarities. That being said, it's a profitable time for the Suicide Squad, and its most recognizable members. So as two such Squaddies take the spotlight in the DC world, we're counting on plenty of casual readers who will be picking up "Suicide Squad" #1 with the film fresh in their minds.
Before you do, or for those merely curious to see if the comic book team will be treading similar ground, allow us to run down the similarities and biggest differences.
Belle Reve Gets an Upgrade
The film may have depicted Belle Reve, the remote, rundown penitentiary as a nightmare for any convict - a hole in which they could permanently disappear - things are a little different in Issue #1. It should be noted that writer/director David Ayer was actually sticking to the traditional model for Belle Reve, cemented by creator John Ostrander in the 1980s, and adhered to right up to the modern day. But with Williams taking the lead in deciding what kind of prison system the Squad members will call home, he's given their digs a significant upgrade.
The facility may bear more than a passing resemblance to Marvel's 'Raft' - a massive supervillain prison at sea, recently given as serious an upgrade for Captain America: Civil War - but in the world of supervillain prisons, we're willing to accept that the tropes have been locked into place. The inmates seem less likely to be subjected to abuse at the hands of guards in the comics, with each prisoner isolated in their own cells, plucked and transported to a main assembly area out of any modern sci-fi/space penitentiary.
In a few words: the actual 'comic book' side of the reborn Suicide Squad is alive and well, singling these villains out as the very best at what they do (even if it took them a few years to earn their elevated living conditions).
The Same Squad Roster
While the sets may be different, moviegoers will notice almost the exact same Squad roster at work (minus Diablo). It's hard to know if these exact members were chosen with the film's cast in mind, or it's a case of two different storyteller winding up using the same players for their own ends. Normally, the answer would be a simple case of cross-platform promotion - but in the case of the Squad, the members selected actually do have proven track records with the Squad in years past.
As Ayer himself admitted, Deadshot is a no-brainer for any self-respecting incarnation of the Squad, and this new version isn't reinventing the wheel. Similarly, the popularity of Harley Quinn made sure that she became a central figure, if not the actual mascot of the Suicide Squad from the launch of the New 52 onward. Captain Boomerang is just as much a necessity, and filling the 'muscle' quotient is Killer Croc this time around (with some noticable differences from the live-action version).
Enchantress may be the biggest shift from the film, playing the villain on screen, but a reserved, apprehensive member in the comic. Considering that June Moon's struggle to control the Enchantress inside of her goes back to the team's first issues, we'll concede that her presence isn't an effect of the film - but the look and feel of her magic may be a different case.
Katana's Still a Badass Bodyguard
In what may be the most direct adaptation of the film's own tweaks to the DC Comics villain team, the warrior woman Tatsu Yamashiro a.k.a. Katana is once again a member of the "Rebirth" team. While casual comic readers may assume otherwise, the overlaps between the Japanese swordstress and the villains of Task Force X were actually fairly minimal, with the most prominent story involving her saving the life of a few members who were then honor-bound to assist her. But for the Suicide Squad movie, that all changed.
It's hard to know just how many reasons led to Katana's inclusion in the film, since she's not a villain, and the scenes most closely-tied to her mystical weaponry and communion with her dead husband's spirit were cut from the finished feature. But David Ayer made the call to incorporate Katana (Karen Fukuhara) as the personal bodyguard of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman). Williams has kept that relationship intact, describing her as "Flag's second-in-command" - and a badass.
The Squad is Seriously Well-Funded
For all the ways that the movie Suicide Squad proved deadly, resourceful, and unflappable, the one thing that they never were was 'cutting edge.' After all, it wasn't the tools or technology that made these killers and thieves dangerous, just their habits and honed skills. It was because of that, no upgrades were needed - just the weapons and tools they possessed when incarcerated. The version seen in the comics may embrace the same idea, with Harley relying on melee weapons and pistols, and Deadshot sticking to his own arsenal, and so on. But that's where the similarities end.
The funding turning Belle Reve into a massive, cutting edge containment facility has also been spent on the team's deployment. Heading into space for an orbital drop isn't exactly the kind of 'grounded' operation that the film went for, but again, add some science fiction to the mix and the Squad is still mostly the same.
Killer Croc is No Longer Human(?)
Fans of the comic books might have been surprised to see the classic Batman villain known as 'Killer Croc' in a live-action film, since the comics have typically shown him to be... well, more croc than human. Massive in size, with scales, claws, and occasionally even a tail all blurred the line of believability - he may have been a human once, but for all intents and purposes, he was a crocodile that could walk and talk. But the film took a different approach, staying closer to the human underneath the skin disease (even if it took the same liberties with physiology and strength).
The film's more subdued version was still lifted from the comics - the grittier "Joker" graphic novel by Brian Azzarrello and Lee Bermejo - but the "Suicide Squad" of this new world is clinging to tradition. The extent to which the 'cartoon' of Croc is being embraced is summed up before the first mission begins, when Croc succumbs to vomiting in response to the orbital deployment. Succumbs... and then soon begins drowning in his own copious vomit, filling his suit's helmet. Realism clearly isn't the goal here.
Enchantress Saves The Day
When Rick Flag makes the decision to actually keep Killer Croc from dying in one of the most horrible ways imaginable, he, as always, emerges victorious. Unfortunately, that life-saving move actually put the entire team in jeopardy, sending their aircraft thrusting towards the Earth at breakneck speed. In moments like these, readers realize that not having a legitimate next-level supervillain on the team can limit your options, but thankfully, the good colonel can turn to an unlikely solution: June Moon. Well, actually, the Enchantress dwelling inside of her.
The movie may have shown the Enchantress to be nothing but a vindictive, deceitful hater of the world, eager to rule it and every one of its inhabitants. It's still unclear what changes to that idea Williams and co. will be making, but in this first issue, the relationship is just as complicated. With Flag urging June to unleash the Enchantress, and the young girl refusing out of fear, she never does utter the word needed to grant the sorceress control. Nevertheless, the moment before impact, the Enchantress' voice is heard, mouthing a spell that opens a hole in the Siberian ice, allowing the Squad to safely(?) drift into the waters below.
So, Enchantress: friend, foe, or some combination of the two?
Deadshot & Batman Have a More Complicated History
Amidst the insanity of Croc-vomit and Enchantress-rescues, Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot is actually asleep. Literally. Thankfully, he takes the spotlight in the backup story by Williams and artist Jason Fabok, detailing the path he took before actually joining the Squad. The story begins with Waller approaching him in prison, and outright stating which version of the character's origin is begin adhered to this time around. For reference, the classic origin story for Deadshot introduced him as the son of a wealthy but broken family, working to provide for his daughter, Zoe.
In the New 52, his origin was re-written to that of a hard-nosed kid raised in the poor streets of Gotham's Narrows. In the story, Waller doesn't just confirm that this Deadshot possesses the same "death wish" as his most beloved incarnations, and suspects that he's actually committed to living, if only to protect his daughter (still named Zoe). Showing how well she knows her targets, Waller then regales Floyd (and the reader) with his path to the mask, witnessing Batman smashing into an upper-class Gotham function with style, and realizing that some flair just might help Floyd become something else - something more - for his daughter.
But when he wound up taking a contract (actually, just a meeting) with the crazed cult known as Kobra, he was given the mission to assassinate the same man who had inspired him: Bruce Wayne. And if he refused, his kidnapped daughter would pay the price.
The combination of Batmann Floyd, and his daughter is also used in the Suicide Squad movie, with his daughter's shame over his line of work finally crushing him, surrendering to the Dark Knight. This time around, the story doesn't begin the same: and the team-up between Deadshot and Batman to take down the Kobra kidnappers (with rubber bullets) is much, much cooler. But in keeping with their characters, Deadshot doesn't waste a single second wondering how he can outsmart the cult leader with a gun to his daughter's head.
While Batman might talk him down or concoct some magic gadget for the job, Deadshot does what he does best, riddling the man with bullets. Batman berates him for breaking their deal, and Deadshot takes the blame, accepting that he'll now be taken into custody by the Bat. But in the end, it was all worth it: his daughter lived... but unfortunately, now realized that her father was a cold-blooded killer.
So the trio wind up in the same place as their film counterparts in the end, albeit with the Batman given a slightly larger role in the proceedings.enacity or willingness to get in over her head: she's simply evolved those traits, from a hard-nosed journalist into the kind of mother who wouldn't hesitate to throw on found armor to protect her son.
So there you have it: as "Suicide Squad" Issue #1 hits digital and physical stores, fans of the film, or fans of previous incarnations of the team have some differences and similarities to consider. It's probably for the best that the comic book not stick too closely to the film, since readers have come to expect a heightened, crazed, and supremely slick storyline from the title team. But for those who dug the film and would hope to see elements carried over onto the page, the characters, origin stories, and relationships seem to be similar enough to qualify as welcoming. Where the creators behind the team go from here... that's the real question.
Suicide Squad #1 is available now.
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