Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!
Flashback to early 1987. I’m a fourteen year old kid, standing in front of the “new arrivals” stand of The Comic Den, my local comic book shop in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. My mouth is fully agape.
There in front of me is the bleakly iconic Howard Chaykin cover for Suicide Squad #1 containing headshots of the eight main characters of the comic. Amidst them is the phrase that I would never forget: “These 8 people will put their lives on the line for our country. One of them won’t be coming home.”
It still sends chills through me.
Truthfully, that statement is made even more powerful by the fact that the eight characters in question are a bunch of “C” and “D” list comic book characters who I still have trouble naming today. Still, it was one of those types of stories that I gravitated towards – and still do. You know the kind: films like The Magnificent Seven, Aliens and Predator; the kind of story where a team is put together in order to overcome some monumental obstacle; where every character is an interesting case study in narcissism and obsessive compulsive disorder.
For Suicide Squad, it’s the story where a team of cast-off, super-powered villains get sprung from prison by the U.S. government, their sentences erased – but only if they do the government’s bidding. Here, that means being sent on missions, fighting against other, tougher, super-powered villains, where the chance of return is minimal at best. Don’t put your money on this motley lot: Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang, Mindboggler, Plastique, Deadshot and the rest.
Chances of a second mission? Virtually nil.
And that makes for some pretty fun reading when you don’t know who is going to star in next month’s issue. It means that anything – anything – could happen.
And in Suicide Squad, “anything” often did.
DC Comics, in a bit of a surprise move, (as this original run of Suicide Squad is a bit of a niche cult classic with a sense of aspiring longevity), has collected the first eight issues of the series in paperback form.
If you’re looking for some team-up fun this week, where death may be found on every page turn, look no further than the “new arrivals” stand at your local comic book shop. Look for Suicide Squad Volume 1: Trial By Fire.