The Suicide Squad

a division of Task Force X/Task Force Omega

Created by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru

» FIRST APPEARANCE:
Golden Age: Star-Spangled War Stories #110 (Aug./Sept. 1963)
Silver Age:
Brave & the Bold #25 (Sept. 1959)
Post-Crisis:
Legends #1 (Nov. 1986)

History

During World War II, a team of unruly and disrespectful soldiers was assembled to fight America's dirty fights. The original team spent much of their tour of duty on Dinosaur Island. These soldiers — considered expendable — were nicknamed the Suicide Squadron. (Star-Spangled War Stories #110) Later in the war, another team was assembled and headed by Capt. Richard Montgomery Flag. In his first mission, Flag was the only survivor. After that he enjoyed increasing success (i.e., decreasing mortality).

After the war, he married Sharon Race. In 1951, with the disappearance of the JSA and other super-heroes, President Truman again called on Flag when he created Task Force X. X would be comprised of two units: the military unit "Argent" (led by "Control") would deal with civilian matters — masked villains and the like. General J.E.B. Stuart would lead the military side to deal with national and international crises. Though Argent's recorded activity ceased after 1960, Stuart's Suicide Squad continued on. Eventually, Flag sacrificed himself to stop the former Blackhawks' nemesis, the War Wheel.

     
Doctor Hugh Evans • Jess Bright • Karin Grace • Rick Flag

Years later, the concept of the Suicide Squad was revived by General Wade Eiling. Eiling had been the engineer behind another government operation called the Atom Project. (Captain Atom #1) Eiling was adept at turning men into highly effective soldiers — by whatever means necessary. One of his first recruits was a young man named Anthony Miller. Under the codename Project Eagle, Eiling completely rewrote Miller's mind. Miller now believed that he was Richard Rogers Flag, grandson of the original Squadron leader. Eiling could also control Flag by uttering a post-hypnotic command "dies irae." Eiling sent "Flag" to lead covert operations. During this time, Flag met his future enemy, Raza Kattuah (Rustam), whose family was killed in a bombing. (Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag #1-5)

After this the Suicide Squad went public and Flag headed a new team including his girlfriend Karin Grace, along with Dr. Hugh Evans and Jess Bright. (Brave & Bold #25-27, 37-39) In one tragic mission in Cambodia, Evans died and Bright was lost. (Secret Origins v.2 #14) Bright was found by the Chinese who nursed him back to health. He was later passed onto the Russians who transformed him into the bionic monster called Koshchei the Deathless. Bright used his engineering expertise to assist in the creation of the Rocket Red Brigade and lent a hand to the nation of Qurac in assembling their metahuman team, the Jihad. Karin secretly bore Flag's son and placed him with an adoptive family. (Suicide Squad #50) Later, Rick was sent to infiltrate the Forgotten Heroes as a spy for the government. (Action #552)

Operatives Tenure First Apperance Status
Sgt. Frank Rock Booster Gold v.2 #20 Booster Gold v.2 #20 Unknown
Rick Rogers Flag (Anthony Miller) B&B #25-Suicide Squad #26 Brave & Bold #25 Believed deceased Suicide Squad #25; rescued Checkmate v.2 #6
Dr. Hugh Evans B&B #25-Sec.O. #14 Brave & Bold #25 Deceased Secret Origins #14
Jess Bright (Koschei the Deathless) B&B #25-Sec.O. #14 Brave & Bold #25 Deceased Suicide Squad #50

Karin Grace

B&B #25-Suicide Squad #9

Brave & Bold #25

Deceased Suicide Squad #9

The Wall — Enter Amanda Waller

Though Flag and Eiling remained active in U.S. espionage, it was a new player — the imposing Amanda Waller — who organized a new Suicide Squad. Waller was a former congressional aide who had lost her husband and two children to violence. She researched the Suicide Squad's past and proposed the resurrection of Task Force X to the president. Under her watch, the Squad would be composed of two types of operatives. More "trustworthy" agents such as Rick Flag, the Bronze Tiger, Nightshade and Vixen would watch out for the Squad's "canon-fodder": super-villians such as Deadshot and Captain Boomerang. Their nefarious members were kept in line by bracelets that could be detonated at any time by the team leaders. Following the first team's success against Brimstone, Waller was given near-free reign to run stealth operations for the U.S. government. (Legends #3) Eventually, the pre-existing organization, Checkmate, was also brought under Waller's wing in Task Force X.

Rick Flag • Bronze Tiger • Nightshade • Deadshot • Capt. Boomerang

Karin Grace returned to the Squad as well, but was revealed as an agent of the Manhunters. Having survived the previous Squad's final mission, she became involved with Mark Shaw (Manhunter III). When the android Manhunters deployed their plan to take over the Earth, Grace learned of their evil nature and sacrificed herself in destroying their base. (Suicide Squad #9)

Death, of course, was an innate part of the Suicide Squad, but that didn't lessen the shock when the team lost its commander, Rick Flag. Flag had gone on an unauthorized mission to Jotunheim, the headquarters of the terrorist Jihad. Flag set off a nuclear explosion and was believed dead. (#25) In truth, he and his adversary, Rustam, were transported to the land of Skartaris by Rustam's mystical blade. There they were forced to rely on each other for survival but could not stem their mutual hatred for long. Flag killed Rustam for good and used the scimitar to return to Earth. He arrived in Qurac, was captured immediately, and remained imprisoned for years. (Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag #1-3) Some time after Rick Flag's death, Waller was given false intelligence from General Eiling that Rick Flag was alive. She convinced his friends, the Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, Deadshot and Boomerang to look for him in a Russian prison in Gurjikev. The team found no trace of Flag, and ran up against the People's Heroes and Stalnoivolk. (S.S: Raise the Flag #1)

Following a fiasco in New Orleans which left many civilians dead, Waller was charged with crimes and plea-bargained for a sentence of manslaughter. She willingly went to prison for a year before she was approached by Sarge Steel to head another covert operation. The formerly disbanded Squad was reformed as an independent operation. This team had no government ties (and thus no government liability if things went wrong) and operatives were paid $1 million per mission. (#39-40) Koshchei eventually returned, seeking revenge on his former teammates by kidnapping Grace and Flag's son. This battle reunited many former members and Bright perished for good in an explosion. (#50)

Vixen •  Oracle • Shade • Dr. Light •  Major Victory

After Waller's imprisonment, a second Task Force X and Suicide Squad were created by a mysterious Cabal within the U.S. government. The Cabal was responsible for killing the subatomic band of criminals infiltrated by the Atom. (#61) Its Suicide Squad members were Bolt, Sudden Death, Shrapnel, Blockbuster II and Deadline. Its Task Force X members included Pathfinder, with a corrosive touch; Kaliber, who fired bolts of his kirilian aura; Metamorpheus, who could take the shape of anyone he touched (and possibly saw) as well as turn his arms into blades; and Sidewinder, whose lower torso and legs could become a snake like tail. (Suicide Squad #64-66) The identities of the Cabal leaders were never revealed, and the fate of their teams is unknown. Waller eventually disbanded her new team, citing a weariness of the death toll.

The U.S. government called on Waller's skills one more time, to combat the threat of alien parasites. She helped mobilize the metahuman community. (Bloodbath #1-2)

Operatives Tenure First Appearance Status
Rick Rogers Flag (Anthony Miller) Suicide Squad #1-26 Brave & Bold #25 Active. Believed deceased Suicide Squad #25; rescued Checkmate v.2 #6
Amanda Waller Suicide Squad #1-66 Legends #2 Active
Black Orchid (Susan Linden) Suicide Squad #1-22 Adventure #428 Deceased Black Orchid v.1 #1
Bronze Tiger (Ben Turner) Suicide Squad #1-66 Richard Dragon #1 Active
Captain Boomerang (George "Digger" Harkness, Mirror Master II) Suicide Squad #1-66, Superman SFO 2004 Flash #117 Deceased Underworld Unleashed #1; resurrected in Flash v.2 #127; deceased again Identity Crisis #5
Deadshot (Floyd Lawton) Suicide Squad #1-22, 34-66 • SS2 #5-12 Batman #59 Active
Enchantress (June Moon, Soulsinger) Suicide Squad #1-15, 50, 55 Strange Adventrues #187 Active. Deceased Day of Judgment #4; resurrected as Soulsinger, JLA: Black Baptism #4.
Nemesis (Tom Tressor) Suicide Squad #1-24, 50, 59-??, Superman SFO 2004 Brave & Bold #66 Deceased Catwoman v.1 #62, reappeared Superman SFO 2004
Nightshade (Eve Eden) Suicide Squad #1-37, 50-66 Crisis #6 Active
Killer Frost II (Louise Lincoln) Firestorm #64 • SS2 #5-12, Superman SFO 2004 Fury of Firestorm #20 (Killer Frost in #34) Active
Duchess (Lashina) Suicide Squad #9-37 Mister Miracle #6 Deceased with the New Gods; revealed as Lashina: Suicide Squad  #19; revived with all the New Gods in Final Crisis
Slipknot (Christopher Weiss) Suicide Squad #9 • Firestorm #64 & Annual #5 Fury of Firestorm #28 Active. Seen in Identity Crisis #4 (11.04)
Vixen (Mari McCabe) Suicide Squad #11-58 Action #521 Active
Javelin (unrevealed) SS #13, 58, War of the Gods #3 Green Lantern v.2 #173 Presumed dead War of the Gods #3; reappeared Power Company #5; died Chekcmate v.2 #7
Shade the Changing Man (Rac Shade) Suicide Squad #15-37 Shade #1 Active
Manhunter III (Mark Shaw, Privateer, Star Tsar) Suicide Squad #20, 53-57 Justice League of America #140 Active
Ravan Suicide Squad #24-47 Suicide Squad #1 Deceased Suicide Squad #47
Oracle (Barbara Gordon) Suicide Squad #23-66 Detective #359 (Oracle in Suicide Squad #23) Active. Batgirl clue given in Suicide Squad #26; fully revealed as Gordon in #38
Count Vertigo (Werner Vertigo) Suicide Squad #24-66 World's Finest #251 Active
Doctor Light III (Arthur Light) Suicide Squad #24-36 Justice League of America #12 Deceased Suicide Squad #36; resurrected Suicide Squad #52; killed by the Spectre, Final Crisis: Revelations #1
Punch (Clyde Phillips) Suicide Squad #24-39 • Checkmate v.2 #6 Secret Origins #28 Deceased Checkmate v.2 #6
Jewelee (unrevealed) Active
Major Victory (William Vickers) Suicide Squad #30-39, 58 Batman & Outsiders Annual #1 Deceased Eclipso #13
Poison Ivy (Pamela Isley) Suicide Squad #33-66 Batman #181 Active
Atom III (Adam Cray) Suicide Squad #44-61 Suicide Squad #44 Deceased Suicide Squad #61
The Thinker II (Cliff Carmichael) Suicide Squad #50-66 Firestorm #1 (as Carmichael); Firestorm The Nuclear Man #99 (as Thinker II) Killed by King Faraday, SS: Raise the Flag #7
Stalnoivolk (Ivan Illyich Gort) Suicide Squad #53-57 Firestorm #67 Status unknown
Outlaw (John Henry Martin) Suicide Squad #58-66 Suicide Squad #57 Status unknown
Bolt (Larry Bolatinsky) Chase #2-3, Suicide Squad v.2 #3 Blue Devil #6 Active. Deceased Suicide Squad v.2 #3; resurfaced Identity Crisis #1; killed by his son, Terror Titans #3

Single-mission operatives (issue numbers)

  • Blockbuster (dies, Legends #4)
  • Mindboggler (dies but alive now, digitally) & Plastique (Suicide Squad #1-2)
  • Chronos (#4)
  • Penguin (#5-7)
  • Speedy (#11-12)
  • Captain Cold (#16-18)
  • Shrike (dies, #24-25)
  • Silent Majority, Lady Liberty (die, #29-30)
  • Mr. 104 (died, but alive again), Thinker I (died, but alive again), Weasel and Psi (all die, SS/Doom Patrol)
  • Big Barda (#34-37)
  • Batman (#40-43)
  • Katana (#53-57)
  • Enforcer II, Karma, The Writer (all die) Black Adam, Catalyst, Firehawk, Maser, Silver Swan, Sportsmaster II (#58)
  • Multiplex, Parasite (Firestorm #64 & Annual #5)
  • Firebug, Deadline and Schreck (Suicide Squad #64-66, all but Deadline killed by Deadshot in Deadshot v.2 #5)
  • Knockout, Sidearm (dies, #14)
  • King Shark (dies #15, but alive again, Superboy #13-15)
  • Cameron Chase, Copperhead, Sledge (dies #3, Chase #2-3)
  • Flex, Thermal and Quartzite (Hawk & Dove v.4 #3-5)

Who's in Charge Here?

After Waller' departure from the espionage scene, several one-time Squads were assembled by the U.S. government. (Superboy #13-15) The third pair of Hawk and Dove were also the target of a Squad (Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Count Vertigo, Shrapnel, Flex, Thermal and Quartzite). (Hawk & Dove v.4 #3-5)

When Lex Luthor was elected to the White House, Waller served as his Secretary of Meta-Human Affairs. When Luthor learned that Imperiex was heading for Earth, he created Project: Suicide Squad: Chemo, Plasmus, Shrapnel, Steel and Mongul II under the leadership of Manchester Black. Their mission was to free Doomsday and reprogram the monster to attack Imperiex. (Adv. of Superman #593-594)

Another member of Lex Luthor's cabinet was chosen to reactivate the Suicide Squad full-time. This was none other than the legendary World War II hero, Frank Rock. Or so it seemed. This "Sgt. Rock" was Luthor's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and following the Imperiex war, he was recruited by the Unknown Soldier to assemble the new Squad. Also onboard was Rock's old comrade, Bulldozer. Their main operatives included Deadshot, Killer Frost II and Major Disaster. The team was very short-lived and in their final battle against a new Jihad, Amanda Waller's daughter, Havana, was killed. "Sgt. Rock" disappeared, leaving behind only a face mask and Bulldozer said mysteriously: "It was nice to feel young again." During this time, Task Force X was renamed and upgraded to Task Force Omega. (Suicide Squad v.2)

When Lex Luthor's true colors were exposed to the world (Superman/Batman #1-6), his presidency ended and Amanda Waller and Sarge Steel were both imprisoned for treason. But someone else kept the Squad alive. A mysterious duo enlisted Nemesis to disguise himself as Sarge Steel and convince Pete Ross to drop out of the Presidential election. Steel was removed and Waller was nearly assassinated by a Squad made up of Killer Frost, Boomerang, Double Down, and King Shark. She was saved by Superman, but the puppet masters remained in shadow. (Superman Secret Files 2004)

NOTE: Keith Giffen, writer of the second Suicide Squad series, gave no clues to the true identity of Frank Rock and conceded that the real Frank Rock probably did die in World War II. He purposely killed off Havana and Modem so that no other writer would "mess with" them. Bulldozer is another mystery. Said Giffen, "I like the fact that it ends in a really, really bizarre way that you can read whatever you want into it."

Operatives Tenure 1st Appearance Status
"Frank Rock" (unrevealed) SS2 #1-12 Our Army at War #95 Status unknown; may have been an impostor.
"Bulldozer" (alias Horace Eustace Canfield) SS2 #1-12 Our Army at War #95 Status unknown; may have been an impostor.
Major Disaster (Paul Booker, Bennett Brodsky) SS2 #1-12 Green Lantern #43 Revealed deceased in the Crisis, 52 #24
Havana (Odalys Milagro Valdez) SS2 #2-12 Suicide Squad v.2 #2 Killed by Rustam II, Suicide Squad v.2 #12
Modem (Wesley Percival Sloan) SS2 #2-10 Suicide Squad v.2 #2 Deceased Suicide Squad v.2 #10

Single-mission operatives (issue numbers)

  • Mongul II, Chemo, Shrapnel (all die), Manchester Black, Plasmus, Steel II (Adventures of Superman #593-594)
  • Big Sir, Clock King (both die), Multi-Man, Cluemaster: Suicide Squad v.2 #1
  • Larvanaut, Eliza, Putty (all die, Suicide Squad v.2 #3)
  • Blackstarr, Reactron (dies #7, Suicide Squad v.2 #6-8)
  • Solomon Grundy (Superman #182)
  • Hawkman, Star-Spangled Kid, Power Girl, Wildcat (Suicide Squad v.2 #12)

Can't Stop the Wall

After Maxwell Lord left Checkmate in ruins, the organization was reogranized by the United Nations. Amanda Waller was appointed White Queen which, though powerful, kept her from running field operations. Although she was nominated for the position of Black Queen several times, the appointment was always blocked because of her recent affiliation with Lex Luthor. Her solution was to reignite the Squad as a "pet project," with the help of her Checkmate underlings, King Faraday and Count Vertigo.

Her first operations under these circumstances were stealthy indeed. As she had in the past, she recruited from among the incarcerated and chose Atom-Smasher to lead a mission against Black Adam. (52 #24) Waller chose other Belle Reve inmates to complete the team: Captain Boomerang II, Electrocutioner, Plastique, Vertigo and the Persuader. (#33) Atom-Smasher's team successfully goaded Adam's brother-in-law, Osiris, into murdering the Persuader on live television. (#34) The murder was a media sensation that shined a light squarely on Black Adam (and led him to madness). Adam ultimately committed genocide in Bialya, Atom-Smasher refused Waller's renewed requests to lead they Squad there as well. (#45)

Perhaps because of her access to intelligence in Checkmate, she also learned the incredible news that Rick Flag was alive. She sent the Bronze Tiger to retrieve him from Saqar Prison in Qurac and the Flag became the cornerstone of her new Squad. (Checkmate v.2 #6) Waller knew that if her Squad activities were discovered, she would lose her position in Checkmate. But the drive to run covert ops was far too strong to stop her from moving right under Checkmate's nose — several times. She collected Icicle, Mirror Master, Plastique, Punch & Jewelee, Javelin and the Tattooed Man for a mission to Myanmar that revealed a secret Chinese metahuman research facility. (Checkmate v.2 #6) She also attempted to prevent Bane from taking power in Santa Prisca. When this mission went sour, she was forced to blackmail the Checkmate operative Fire into cleaning it up. (#11)

Her relative success emboldened Waller and she recruited scores more criminals for a mission to take down the corporation Haake-Burton. This company manufactured an untraceablem killer poison called the Scarlet Tears. Among her new recruits was perhaps Waller's biggest triumph — General Wade Eiling. The former U.S. intelligence commander had gone mad and transferred his brain into the body of the indestructible Shaggy Man. Now known simply as "the General," Eiling was under the thumb of his former inferiors. Eiling attempted to betray Waller on this mission, but Flag, Plastique, Deadshot and Faraday were instrumental in helping Waller maintain control. (Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag)

Waller did her best to hold onto her position in Checkmate but was outplayed by her fellow "royals." Mr. Terrific, Sasha Bordeaux and Col. Khalid uncovered evidence that Waller's blood was infused with trace amounts of the OMAC virus. This technically classified Waller as a metahuman and violated Checkmate's "Rule of Two" (only one meta for every "normal"). She resigned but was undeterred. (Checkmate #20)

Her next gambit was her most ambitious yet: to round up the world's most troublesome villains and ship them off to a prison planet. With the help of Bane and Multiplex, the Squad became the scourge of the criminal underworld, collecting costumed thugs left and right. (All-Flash #1, Countdown #44, 43, 39) Waller also turned the tables on her own Squad members, sending Deadshot and Bane off as well. (Salvation Run #1-2) The planet was codenamed "Salvation," and was intended to be these criminals' final destination. Eventually, criminals who escaped the Squad found their way to the Justice League. When the League learned about Salvation, they and Flag traveled to the planet and discovered that the villains were nowhere to be found. (JLofA v.2 #17-18) They had in fact been diverted by Desaad to a hellish planet as part of his scheme to train elite Parademons. (Salvation Run #5)

Operatives Tenure First Apperance Status
Amanda Waller Checkmate v.2 #6-present Legends #2 Active
Count Vertigo (Werner Vertigo) SS: Raise the Flag #1-8 World's Finest #251 Active
King Faraday SS: Raise the Flag #1-8   Active
Bronze Tiger (Ben Turner) SS: Raise the Flag #1-8 Richard Dragon #1 Active
Rick Rogers Flag (Anthony Miller) SS: Raise the Flag #1-8 Brave & Bold #25 Believed deceased Suicide Squad #25; rescued Checkmate v.2 #6
Captain Boomerang II (Owen Mercer) 52 #33-present Identity Crisis #3 Active
Plastique (Bette Sans Souci) 52 #33-present Fury of Firestorm #7 Active
Deadshot (Floyd Lawton) Countdown #43-present Batman #59 Active
Multiplex (Danton Black) Countdown #43-present Firestorm #2 Active
The Thinker II (Cliff Carmichael) SS: Raise the Flag #4-7 Firestorm #1 (as Carmichael); Firestorm The Nuclear Man #99 (as Thinker II) Killed by King Faraday, SS: Raise the Flag #7
The General (General Wade Eiling) SS: Raise the Flag #4-8 Captain Atom #1 Active
Chemo (none) SS: Raise the Flag #4-8 Showcase #39 Active
Bane (unrevealed) SS: Raise the Flag #8 Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 Active

One-mission operatives (issues): Atom-Smasher, Electrocutioner, Persuader (dies) (52 #33) /// Icicle, Mirror Master III, Punch (dies), Jewelee, Javelin, Tattooed Man (Checkmate v.2 #6) /// Blackguard, Cliff Carmichael, Windfall (all die, Raise the Flag #7), Marauder, Twister, White Dragon (die #8) /// Virtuosa, Yasemin (dies, Suicide Squad #67, Secret Six #17)

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

Golden Age:

  • Star-Spangled War Stories #110-111, 116-121, 125, 127-128

Silver Age:

  • Brave & the Bold #25-27, 37-39
  • Booster Gold v.2 #20

Post-Crisis:

  • Adventures of Superman #593-594
  • All-Flash #1
  • Brave & the Bold #25-27, 37-39
  • Captain Atom #30
  • Chase #2-3
  • Checkmate! #15-18
  • Checkmate v.2 #7, 11, 18, 19
  • Countdown #44, 43, 39, 28
  • Doom Patrol & Suicide Squad #1
  • Firestorm #64-65, 86, Annual #5
  • Justice League International v.1 #13, 27
  • Justice League of America v.2 #17-18
  • Legends #1-3
  • Manhunter #14
  • Salvation Run #1-2
  • Secret Origins v.2 #14
  • Superboy v. 3 #13-15
  • Superman v.2 #182
  • Superman Secret Files 2004
  • War of the Gods #3

» SERIES:

  • Suicide Squad v.1, 66 issues (1987-92)
  • Suicide Squad v.2, 12 issues (2001-02)
  • Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag, 8-issue limited series (2007–08)

» SEE ALSO: