Over the years, DC’s Suicide Squad has had many members. While we saw some of them in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, he left out a lot of good characters, too. (Perhaps wisely, as the film didn’t seem to know what to do with the characters it had.) James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad will mostly have new characters and actors, which is a good thing. It means that they can introduce some of these fascinating characters onto the team:
Eve Eden is both a superspy who worked with Task Force X and King Faraday (and Captain Atom back in the Charlton Comics days) and the princess of a place called “the Land of the Nightshades.” Her mother was the queen of the Land of the Nightshades, but fled when Eve and her brother were only babies due to an evil force called the Incubus. When her mother took her back to the Land of the Nightshades to show her and her brother their true heritage, the Incubus killed her mother and possessed her brother.
As the sole surviving member of the royal family of the Land of the Nightshades, Eve can teleport herself and others through the Land of the Nightshades, as well as create solid and semi-solid shadows in order to use as weapons.
Yes, she is a Goth Princess Superspy and that’s awesome.
Shade the Changing Man
If you think Nightshade’s backstory was wild, wait until you hear about Rac Shade: Rac Shade was a secret agent from the world of Meta, in a dimension near Earth. Framed for a crime he didn’t commit, he stole the M-Vest (which first stood for Miraco-Vest and then Madness-Vest) and escaped to Earth. Unfortunately, the Metan authorities already have a base on Earth from which to hunt him down.
Yes, this does sound like the A-Team crossed with a whole lot of drugs. But Shade was created by probably the most straight-edged person in comics: Steve Ditko. Yes, the co-creator of Spider-Man also created Shade, the Changing Man, whose M-Vest could project forcefields and make him appear to grow to a giant size. (It may help to remember that Ditko also created Doctor Strange and Shade, the Changing Man, like Doctor Strange, explored a lot of weird landscapes in the Area of Madness.)
Shade became a member of the Suicide Squad after helping them escape from the Area of Madness and was probably their strangest member. He helped them out in exchange for helping him return to Meta.
Later on, Peter Milligan would introduce a new Rac Shade for Vertigo that would somehow be even weirder.
Black Orchid is a strange character. When she was first introduced (back in Adventure Comics #428), she was a master of disguise, often impersonating a background character or someone insignificant until she could find and foil the criminal and leave them bound and gagged, with her calling card, the black orchid. And yet, she also had flight, super-strength, and immunity to bullets and flew around in an all-purple costume, meaning she didn’t mind being noticed.
In fact, unlike other superheroes, her secret identity was never revealed in those early stories. A lot of possibilities were teased, but then discarded, even as she joined the Suicide Squad (after all, it makes sense to recruit a master of disguise for a group of black ops spies).
Eventually, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean did a three-issue mini-series about her, where it was revealed she was Susan Linden-Thorn, a woman who had been killed by her abusive husband and then cloned as a plant-human hybrid by a man named Philip Sylvain. In Gaiman and McKean’s Black Orchid, she was finally caught by the bad guys and killed, with an identical clone sister waking up to replace her. (The story is also filled with references and appearances by other plant-based characters like Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing.)
Lashina was one of Granny Goodness’s Female Furies, serving Darkseid on the hellish Apokalips. When Big Barda escaped to Earth with Mister Miracle, Lashina was given the position of leader of the Female Furies, which caused jealousy in fellow member Bernadeth and, on their next mission to Earth, Bernadeth sabotaged their Boom Tube, attempting to kill Lashina and succeeding in stranding her on Earth, where she was found by the Suicide Squad.
She quickly claimed to have amnesia and was dubbed “Duchess” by the staff of Belle Reve, but using her knowledge and skill, she was able to make herself an invaluable member of the Squad. Her true mission, of course, was to get back to Apokalips and kill Bernadeth for what she had done. Eventually, she was able to manipulate a number of other Squad members to go to Apokalips with her, as well as kidnapping the ones that didn’t want to go — and, well, a large number of team members died there. That’s why they call the place “Apokalips.”
Punch and Jewelee
No, the other villainous couple who dress like clowns.
The couple who would become Punch and Jewelee were once a pair of puppeteers on Coney Island until they found some alien weaponry and decided to become criminals and paint the town red. Back in the Charlton Comics days, they fought Captain Atom and Nightshade and were every bit as crazy as their names suggest. After all, they were normal humans who fought against a nuclear-powered superhero.
The duo were arrested and then recruited by Amanda Waller for the Suicide Squad, where they seemed more inclined to entertain each other than care about what the mission was.
Surprisingly, despite their penchant for violence, Punch and Jewelee have one of the few happy endings in the Suicide Squad: after Jewelee discovered she was pregnant, she and Punch retired from the Squad and settled down to “live the Great American Dream.” Which didn’t stop them from returning to a life of crime some years later and, eventually, return to the Suicide Squad.
When Grant Morrison was writing the final issue of Animal Man, he placed himself in the story, an author avatar who could interact and talk to Animal Man and break the fourth wall in a most interesting and spectacular manner.
Of course, then the issue ended...and the Grant Morrison who was inside the comic book found himself trapped. He had been “introduced into the continuity” and now he couldn’t leave. He was no longer the writer of the book — someone else was controlling him. Instead, he was merely a character...who had the power to make things happen by writing it on his laptop (hey, it’s still comics).
So the Suicide Squad recruited him for their War of the Gods (long story). He was killed when he got writer’s block. So it goes.
He’s a shark.
Which characters do you want to see in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad?