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The 10 Best ‘Suicide Squad’ Comics to Read Alongside the Movie

James Gunn’s ‘The Suicide Squad’ is a joyous celebration of the DC Comics Universe. We suggest where to go after you’ve devoured its pleasures.
The Suicide Squad Comics
DC Comics
By  · Published on August 4th, 2021

“Oracle: Year One”

Oracle Year One

Not satisfied with simply transforming Barbara Gordon from Alan Moore’s victim to the Oracle crimefighter, Kim Yale and John Ostrander demanded some space to explore that agonizing change further. In The Batman Chronicles Volume 1, Number 5, the two writers dive into Barbara Gordon’s psychology, allowing the reader to experience her pain and her triumph. While they did not get as many comics to unravel Barbara’s internal war as Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli did with Batman: Year One, Yale and Ostrander’s “Oracle: Year One” achieved the same effect.

In its pages, The Batman Chronicles solidifies Barbara Godron as a real person and not just a piece on a chessboard. The comic bursts with Yale and Ostrander’s tremendous respect for the character, and it radiates into every subsequent appearance. Further intensifying the drama are artists Brian Stelfreeze and Karl Story. This comic looks just as it should feel: stark, raw, and crisp. Every emotion is right there on the surface.



Manhunter appears nowhere in the Suicide Squad comics or movies, but he’s another DC Comics character perfected by Kim Yale and John Ostrander. Their Mark Shaw is the third person to don the Manhunter mantle. Many would argue that the previous versions are more interesting. Pish-posh. Warped by Ronald Reagan’s America, Shaw is a public defender fed up with seeing criminals skirt the system. He does what any Charles Bronson wannabe would do: takes to the streets, and dispenses his own brand of justice.

Typical comic book vigilante stuff? Uh, not really. The Manhunter sect that Shaw adopts was originally composed of unstoppable androids designed by the same Guardians who built the Green Lantern Corps. Not in love with his masters’ uncompromising values, Shaw eventually rebels against the ‘droids. As they do with the Suicide Squad comics, Ostrander and Yale inject heaps of humor and warmth into their oddity.

Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salty Sea

Corto Maltese

Much of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad takes place in the fictional country of Corto Maltese. While this island nation appears routinely throughout DC Comics, its origins rest in the adventure/fantasy comics of the same name. You see, Frank Miller was such a massive fan of Italian artist Hugo Pratt‘s rollicking adventures that he swiped the name of his comic as a reference for The Dark Knight Returns. Homage or theft? You be the judge.

What’s not up for debate is how dang good these books are, and The Ballad of the Salty Sea is a primo place to start. Set shortly before World War I, the comic introduces a character called Corto Maltese. He’s a rapscallion sailor who starts taking orders from the Russian pirate Rasputin but eventually strikes out on his own. The story is populated with various brutes, cannibals, and crooks. Danger rests around every corner, but Corto Maltese always finds an escape.

Kill Them All

Kill Them All

Kill Them All has nothing to do with The Suicide Squad or DC Comics. But it is very much a comic book that James Gunn would enjoy. Spun from writer/artist Kyle Starks‘ deep affection for ’80s action movies, the comic collides three warring personalities together and pits them against a high rise stacked with kill-crazy thugs. You’ve seen Die Hard, The Raid, or Dredd? You got the idea. The heroes are an ex-cop, his ex-partner, and a deadly assassin. To survive they gotta, you guessed it, kill them all. Starks, like Gunn, cranks everything to eleven. The magic occurs when the absurdity breaks for genuine heartache and emotional relief.

While you’re reading Kill Them All, you’re chuckling through the whole thing, but then you reach the end, and you might have a tear in your eye. After devouring this book, you’ll want to track down Starks’ other ’80s tribute, Sexcastle, and then jump on over to his new, upcoming graphic novel from Image Comics, Old Head. That one is about an aged-out basketball player going to war with Dracula. Kill Them All might eke out a tear, but Old Head will make you weeeeeeep.

Predator Versus Magnus, Robot Fighter

Predator Vs Magnus Robot Fighter

You’ve seen The Suicide Squad trailer. You know it’s got a giant starfish kaiju stomping around. It would be easy to recommend several really incredible Starro the Conquerer comics or even comics featuring their Batman-loving offspring Jarro, but this Reading List lives and dies with John Ostrander. In the early ’90s, he and co-writer Jim Shooter, and artist Lee Weeks, crafted a ridiculously enjoyable crossover between Dark Horse Comics’ Predator and Valiant Comics’ Magnus, the Robot Fighter. Since the 20th Century Studios character now belongs to Disney, finding these comics requires a little investigation. Or a click on over to eBay. Do that.

The plot involves a Predator in the year 4001 seeking a prized trophy, an X-O Manowar helmet (uh, it relates to Valiant Comics, but don’t worry about it). The item has fallen into Magnus’ hands, which are hands so strong they smash through robots. Got it? Got it. The two square off against each other, and their battle is absolutely titanic. Predator Versus Magnus, Robot Fighter is extremely silly but equally glorious. It’s very much in the vibe that The Suicide Squad is reaching for with its massively bizarre climax.

The Suicide Squad opens in theaters and starts streaming on HBO Max on August 6th.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)