3 Suicide Squad members you won't see in any sequels

So the Suicide Squad movie managed to survive the gauntlet of executive meddling, indifferent audiences, and Jared Leto’s Joker to land in the history books with a resounding “it’s watchable, I guess.” That might not sound like a success story, but much like air travel, the movie business is defined less by the successful landings and more by the disasters where survivors have to eat their dead while stranded on a mountain.

The set of Batman and Robin was basically a painfully campy Apocalypse Now.

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But what about the comic that the movie was based on? Well, unusually for a comic book movie, this one actually took a good deal more than you’d expect from the source material, including less than impressive members like Captain Boomerang and Slipknot (not exactly characters you’d rush to put on T-shirts or Happy Meals). Originally debuting in 1959, the group didn’t start out as a black ops squad for press-ganged supervillains. Instead, it was a more conventional group of adventurers, with the only familiar character being Colonel Rick Flagg. Yeah, they weren’t subtle with the names back then. The group we’re familiar with was formed during the 1986 “Legends” event, and DC struck gold with the whole “psycho killers on a leash” formula. Or so you’d think, but not every recruit of the Squad was the kind you’re going to see on the big screen.

1. Chemo

One of the creations of DC’s Silver Age “We Don’t Give a Fuck” period was the Metal Men, a group of sentient robots each made out of a different metal, with the bullshit comic book science stating that they had taken on the “personalities” of the metal they were made from: Lead was strong but dumb, Gold was brave and knightly, and Tin was a weakling. What we’re saying is their creator Dr. Magnus presumably had a doctorate in literature, because he sure as hell wasn’t a scientist.

“I’ll create life and then emotionally abuse it, for SCIENCE!”

As silly as the Metal Men were, their rogues gallery was even worse. Since DC decided that they had to match the heroes’ theme of vaguely scientific nonsense, you had villains like the Gas Gang (which were just as gross as it sounds) and more importantly, Chemo. No, not the cancer treatment; in fact, he was pretty much the opposite of that. Chemo started out as a giant humanoid container that a mad scientist was using to dispose of his failed experiments (hey, it was the ’60s; we’re lucky he didn’t just toss the stuff right into the groundwater like everyone else). And apparently he sucked at mad science, because in short order, the container was filled to capacity with all his failed ideas for world domination, and this being a comic book, promptly came to life.

“Oh no, my cartoonishly unsafe disposal methods have backfired on me!”

Since he was basically just a giant glowing septic tank that could walk, Chemo didn’t have much in the way of sentience and mostly just rampaged around and stunk up the place like a latter-day Chris Farley. Instead, other villains began using him as a kind of living biological weapon, letting him loose either as a distraction or to destroy a specific target, which there was a good chance of, since having Chemo around tended to make real estate values drop rather quickly. Just ask Bludhaven, former home of Nightwing.

Of course, since Bludhaven was considered even shittier than Gotham, most people didn’t notice much of a difference.

Amanda Waller apparently decided that a quasi-intelligent abomination that’s literally incapable of telling friend from foe would be just what was needed on a black ops squad, and with the help of Superman, “recruited” Chemo to be part of the latest incarnation of the group. The mission? Bringing the monster Doomsday out of stasis to help take down galactic conqueror du jour Imperiex. Remember Doomsday, the alien monster that beat Superman to death? Yeah, the mission turned out exactly how you’d expect. It’s called a Suicide Squad, not Realistic Objective Squad.

Turns out you CAN beat a pile of smelly sludge to death if you try hard enough.

2. Big Sir

Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like if Lenny from Of Mice And Men was a supervillain and didn’t restrict himself to accidentally squishing animals and the occasional girl to death? No? Because that idea is offensive and tasteless? Well, too bad, because DC did it anyway.

Debuting in 1984, Big Sir was originally a ward of the state who was for some reason kidnapped by Flash’s enemies the Rogues and decked out in power armor (Craigslist didn’t exist yet, so if you wanted to dress up as a giant manchild in weird costumes, you had to resort to kidnapping). Their reasoning was that they wanted him to help kill the Flash because they kept failing at it, but it seems like if a mentally handicapped guy could succeed at it, it’d just make them look even more incompetent, which is a hard task considering that one guy’s entire persona was “the Joker for preschoolers.”

“We tried dressing up like a psychotic pride parade, but that just made him punch us harder.”

To the surprise of no one, Big Sir didn’t do any better at killing the guy with super-speed, and unfortunately didn’t stick around long enough to accidentally murder-hug all the Rogues to death. Like Chemo, B.S. (now that’s an unfortunate, yet oddly fitting nickname for this character) mostly jumped around between different villains who wanted a destructive simpleton to point at a target and hope he smashed the right people this time. He also became a member of the most embarrassing incarnation of the Injustice League, which was par for the course for him. The team was formed to oppose the Justice League International, which at the time had a more comedic slant than previous versions. As a result, their Injustice League counterparts (aside from B.S.) were Cluemaster (think of a bootleg copy of the Riddler), Mighty Bruce, Multi-Man, Clock King (with the power of OCD and bad fashion choices), and their leader, Major Disaster. Yeah, this was basically the supervillain equivalent of the short bus.

What they lack in firepower, they make up for in spirit! And near-constant jail time!

The group eventually volunteered for the Suicide Squad in return for having their criminal records cleaned, though it’s hard to imagine what kind of crimes these losers had managed to commit that would warrant a Suicide Squad stint, unless it’s a federal crime to humiliate yourself in public. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t any better at military ops than they were at supervillainy, and ended up completely blowing their first mission when they were supposed to be dealing with a mad scientist who’d taken over an island. In the process, Big Sir was killed in an explosion, while the rest of the team barely survived after getting caught in the crossfire, which seems kind of unfair, since one of the guys who survived only had the power of “really likes clocks”.

“Protect me, Daylight Saving Time!”

3. Dr. Light

Our next entry is of a rather unsavory nature, but it’s also a pretty good testament to the comic book industry’s clumsy and tasteless approach to drama. Our story begins in 1962, when the Justice League first encountered Dr. Arthur Light, a scientist who wore a suit that allowed him to manipulate light. Like literally every other idiot with a PhD in the DC universe (seriously, do they give them out in cereal boxes over there?), he could only think to use his revolutionary invention as a club. After his initial appearances, he took a drastic drop in competence and became a perennial punching bag for the Teen Titans, and in one memorable instance, he somehow managed to get defeated by Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, a group of NON-SUPERPOWERED GRADE SCHOOLERS!

 

Fear the power of their footie pajamas with those stupid butt flaps!

This is when things turned ugly. After years of being a laughingstock, Light ended up in the Suicide Squad trying to earn a pardon for his occasionally successful crimes. One of the group’s early missions brought them into conflict with the patriotism-themed superhero group Force of July. One of the members was a kid named Sparkler, who had the power of energy projection. I say “had” because Dr. Light decided that he’d had enough of getting knocked around by toddlers and gave Sparkler an extra few orifices.

This set the tone for Dr. Light’s future characterization. After a brief and extremely failed attempt at heroism (it’s hard to put a positive spin on a child murderer), Light was killed when the Suicide Squad was teleported to the hellish planet of Apokalips. Off-world, he was promptly shot to pieces and then ended up in actual Hell (again, child murderer). He was eventually resurrected (well, technically he was resurrected twice, but the first time he suffocated in his grave. Seriously, he couldn’t even come back to life right), and DC decided to use him for their infamous Identity Crisis storyline. Why is it infamous? Because DC decided to add “rapist” to his resume.

The series changed Light’s backstory and explained that the reason for his sudden drop in competence was because he had broken into the Justice League’s satellite HQ and sexually assaulted Sue Dibny, the wife of Elongated Man. In response, the Leaguers who caught him had Zatanna give him a magic lobotomy (which also tied into the larger story about the League using mind erasure to protect their identities from supervillains). For some reason, DC took the uniformly negative response to this plot twist as approval, and started showing Light as a rapist in new appearances as well, to the point that fans have nicknamed him Dr. Rape. Long story short, there’s a reason why comics are often accused of misogyny.

Oh, and did we mention sometimes he’s a rapist zombie?

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  • Deneb T. Hall

    If Chemo were to show up in a Suicide Squad movie – or any movie, for that matter – I’d be very happy. Yes, he’s basically the equivalent of a video game boss – he has no real mind of his own; he’s just a great big rampaging monster – but come on, he’s a kaiju-sized ambulatory plastic man-form filled with deadly chemicals! That’s unique, memorable and interesting – if you’ve got to come up with a ‘final encounter’ type enemy, you could do much worse.

    I think the issue with Dr. Light is more how he’s been treated by writers than anything else. I’ve read stories with him where he’s a perfectly competent, even a formidable villain – the trick is just to shy away from the farrago of bad story decisions that have plagued him for many years now.

  • Ian Kacprzak

    Chemo could actually work if DC decided to do do a Kaiju movie with superheroes. Just have a more human villain operating him.

  • Mike Yamiolkoski

    Chemo’s biggest problem as a villain is his origin story; the idea that a bunch of random chemicals from a scientist’s failed experiments could “come to life” is ludicrous, and we all know it. Instead, make him the result of a *deliberate* attempt to create a life form; perhaps a biochemical “rover” for exploration of extreme environments, like volcanic craters or the surface of Venus. This is why it has a rudimentary intelligence (so it can follow basic commands) and why it can spit chemicals (for the purpose of breaking down and analyzing samples). The scientists would have naturally designed it to be very hard to kill, perhaps even making it so it could regenerate from a small intact sample of itself.

    Chemo could really be a very fearsome and plausible opponent, given a little tweaking. As Deneb T. Hall points out, he’s too dumb to be the primary antagonist, but he would make a great obstacle for the heroes to have to fight through.