This week has been a particularly newsworthy one for DC Comics’ two popular teams of villains and misfit anti-heroes, the Suicide Squad and Secret Six. The sequel to the 2016 ensemble film took a major step forward in development with Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn in talks to both write and direct the follow-up, while the Secret Six has a received a live-action pilot commitment from CBS for a potential new series developed by Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) and written by Rick Muirragui (Suits).
With both teams comprised of various villains from across the DC Universe, they share more than a handful of similarities; at least at first glance. However, each team is distinct in its own way from rotating rosters to guiding mission statements. Interestingly, both the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six originally started as Silver Age government black ops teams undertaking high-risk missions, and were both reimagined into something decidedly more villainous.
The modern incarnation of the Suicide Squad was created in the pages of 1987’s Legends #3 by writer John Ostrander and artist John Byrne as a Dirty Dozen-esque team created by the Reagan Administration to take on the forces of Darkseid in the DC crossover event. Recruited by government official Amanda Waller, several notorious supervillains were fitted with explosive devices to ensure their obedience and led on the field by agent Rick Flag, Jr. The ensemble received its own ongoing series, which ran until 1992.
The modern version of the Secret Six was reimagined by writer Gail Simone and artist Dale Eaglesham in 2005’s Villains United #1, itself a tie-in miniseries to another DC crossover event, Infinite Crisis. Organized by a mysterious benefactor named Mockingbird, to take on Alexander Luthor, Jr.’s Secret Society of Super Villains, the sextet was also composed of various villains who were largely regarded as misfits and failures by the greater criminal community in the DCU. Led by a revamped Catman, the group rejected overtures from both the villains and heroes, instead deciding to go their own way following the crossover event.
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