The second big release in DC's on-screen Extended Universe arrives on 5th August in the form of Suicide Squad. In it a team is put together to face off against some sort of threat, with the clincher being that they're all former villains sent on a suicide mission. They also have implants that will explode and kill them if they step out of line.
Sounds fun, right? If you're excited for the film, or hoping that it'll be better than Batman v Superman, here's a bunch of stuff you need to prepare.
Batman: Mad Love, £14
Have you ever wondered just how someone like The Joker ended up with a sidekick/partner/girlfriend? Wonder no more. The trailers show it'll be in the film, but Mad Love chronicles the original origin of Harley Quinn, or Dr Harleen Quinzel as she used to be known. Not to spoil anything, but The Joker does play a big part in setting her on the road to a life of crime. [Buy it here]
Deadshot Beginnings, £14
Like Harley, it looks like we'll be getting a bit of Deadshot's backstory in the film. This comic isn't an origin of the character, but it does feature him in his own solo series following his on-page appearances as a member of the Suicide Squad. It features Deadshot on a mission to kill the crime-boss El Jefe, only to realise that his employers have some ulterior motives. Also Batman is there. [Buy it here]
Suicide Squad: Trial by Fire, £16
The Suicide Squad has been going for an awful long time, but it really came into its own back in the 1980s when John Ostrander took over. Funnily enough those first issues are collected in this volume, so you can go back to the Squad's roots. Sort of. The modern version of the Squad, including characters like Deadshot and Amanda Waller, at least. [Buy it here]
Suicide Squad: From the Ashes, £18
Another good entry point, that sees a reinvention of the Suicide Squad for the comics world of the 21st century. This only goes back to 2008, so there's not as many ongoing collections to read, but if you want to red the source material and can't be doing with '80s comic art and style this is one for you. Unless you want to jump on at the next stage. [Buy it here]
Kicked in the Teeth, £8.24
Speaking of the next stage, this is it. The New 52 is an obvious starting point for all of DC's series, especially since that continuity continues to this day. Naturally the New 52 changes a lot in the DC universe, though the fundamentals of the Suicide Squad remain the same (even if the characters have been given different appearances and backstories). This is also notable for being the first iteration of the Suicide Quad to feature Harley Quinn as a member. [Buy it here]
Batman: A Death in the Family, £13
This one might not be a Suicide Squad-related comic, but it does showcase Batman's greatest failure when the Joker is involved. Namely (spoiler alert) the death of Jason Todd. We already knows that a Robin was killed at the hands of the Joker in the DCEU, and everything points to it being Jason. With both Batman and The Joker appearing in the film, this is pretty essential reading to understand the dynamic between the two characters. [Buy it here]
You can't really have official tie-in Lego sets to a film with a name like Suicide Squad, mainly because Lego is big on the whole child-friendly image - for obvious reasons. Still that hasn't stopped sets from popping up. They don't have any direct ties to the film, but the timing of their release (and the characters included) can't be a coincidence. So here they are.
Both feature Batman, naturally, and between them they also include Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Katana, and Red Hood (for some reason). Plus there are some vehicles that look damn good. [Buy Killer Croc Sewer Smash here | Buy Gotham City Cycle Chase here]
Batman v Superman Ultimate Cut, £15
DC's movies are all going to be interconnected now, so it's probably a good idea to make sure you've seen Batman v Superman before you hit the cinema. Luckily (as of tomorrow) it'll be available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray. This is, of course, the Ultimate Edition which features about 20-30 minutes more than what you'll have seen at the cinema. Some of the extra footage is needless fluff material, and some of it is so important it makes you wonder why it was cut from the theatrical release. In any case, it does a slightly better job of being a good film this way. I do emphasise slightly, though. [Buy it here]
Batman: Assault on Arkham, £6
The new film is the first time the Suicide Squad have appeared on cinema screens, but it's not the first film featuring the group. Set in the same universe as the Arkham games, it follows the group breaking into Arkham Asylum for some reason or another. Batman is also there looking for answers, having just discovered the existence of the supervillain team. Naturally hijinks ensue. [Buy it here]
Arrow Season 1-3 Boxset, £25
Believe it or not, this is not the first time the Suicide Squad has appeared in live-action. They also had a significant role in the second season of Arrow, though characters in the film do pop up all over the first three seasons. Tragically the Suicide Squad arc was cut short thanks to film plans, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the episodes we did get right now. [Buy it here]
Batman: The Killing Joke, £16
If you want to learn more about the dynamic between Batman and the Joker before seeing Jared Leto hit the big screen, and you already read Death in the Family, you better give The Killing Joke a read/watch. It goes into the characters backstory (or one of the possibilities, at least) and features him trying to drive Commissioner Gordon insane to prove any person can go crazy after "one bad day". Purists can buy the comic version by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, but you can also pre-order the animated film that's set to be released on disc on 8th August. [Buy the comic here| Pre-order the film here]