Created by John Ostrander, Len Wein, and John Byrne
NAME + ALIASES:
Amanda Waller, née Amanda Blake
Joseph Waller (husband, deceased), Joe, Jr. and Damita (children, deceased), Martin, Jessie, and Coretta (children), Mary White (sister), Flo Crowly (cousin's daughter, deceased)
The Suicide Squad, the Department of Extranormal Operations
Legends #1 (Nov. 1986)
Created by John Ostrander, Amanda Waller was destined to become one of DCs most memorable creations of the 1980s, a tough, single-minded control freak who would do anything to correct a perceived injustice. She'd been introduced during the Darkseid's stealth attack on Earth's legends (Legends #1-6) and her origin was laid out in Secret Origins v.2 #14 (art by Luke McDonnell and Dave Hunt) before the launch of the ongoing Suicide Squad title.
Waller's espionage career began with her newly-awarded political science degree. The widowed mother of five marched into the headquarters of dark horse Congressional candidate Marvin Collins, singing his praises while candidly admitting that he had little hope of getting elected. She suggested a partnership, combining her common sense approach with his idealism. "I am Amanda Waller," she declared, "and as of this second I am your new campaign director!"
Her sister, Mary White, observed that Amanda decided at an early age that unless you could make her do something, she didnt have to do it. And she didnt have to listen, neither. I learned a lesson our folks never did. You dont fight Amanda; you just give her a taste of her own medicine. She dont like that much.
At the age of 18, Amanda Blake married 20-year-old Joseph Waller and they settled into Chicagos Cabrini-Green housing project. They created a family including children Joe, Jr. and Damita, the first, then twins Martin and Jessie, and baby Coretta. They struggled but got by.
In the span of six months, tragedy struck the Waller household three times. Joe, Jr. was gunned down by gang members and Damita was raped and murdered by a sadistic pusher called the Candyman. Furious that his daughters killer couldnt be arrested without a witness, her father snapped, tracked down the Candyman and shot him. The dying pusher fired back, making Amanda Waller a widow. "No more," she vowed over their tombstones. "By God in Heaven, I swear I'll get them out or kill myself trying."
Her sister Mary watched her swallow her pride to apply for welfare. Amanda refused Mary's offer of assistance while resenting avery penny of government aid. She vowed to take back the power over her own life. She put got the last of her children through college, then herself, then turned her attention to politics. Through Amanda's efforts, Marvin Collins won the election and became an influential voice in Washington DC.
As his aide, Amanda soon found herself aspiring to head grander projects. After stumbling across data on a former government strikeforce known as the Suicide Squad, she approached the President about reinventing the Squad under her command:
"I'm a practical woman. I see a problem, I wanted it solved. There are things, here and abroad, that need doing, but for one reason or another, the government cannot do them. Thats fine. I understand that. But those things still need doing.
"What's needed is a covert group of agents — utterly ruthless, totally expendable. Prisons are full of those kind of people and it costs to keep them there. Especially the super-villains. So why not let them contribute to their country? Make them a deal: do what needs doing, succeed and survive, and keep your trap shut, and well commute your sentences to time served." (Suicide Squad #31)
A field test against the giant beast called Brimstone was a success, and Waller won her Presidential approval. He cautioned her: "The group's existence will depend on the goodwill of whoevers in this office, Mrs. Waller. Remember that."
The Squad had its share of personal setbacks as members drafted for the team were killed but Amandas own powerbase was progressively expanding. Her turn as commander of Earth's intelligence forces during an alien invasion should have been the zenith of her career (Invasion! #2) but it was tainted by a disastrous political scandal that exposed the Squad's existence to the public. In the fallout, Squad member Deadshot unexpectedly assassinated Senator Joseph Cray, who'd attempted to blackmail Waller and the Squad into helping him get re-elected. (Suicide Squad #22) After a Congressional hearing, Amanda was publicly stripped of her duties but privately retained full control of her strikeforce. (#24-25)
Amanda's clout took another hit when Kobra manipulated the Squad and other metahuman U.S. agencies into fighting against one another, an operation that became known as the "Janus Directive" (Checkmate! #15-18, Suicide Squad #27-30, Manhunter #14, Firestorm #86, and Captain Atom #30). Kobra was ultimately taken down but the President was furious, vowing to reorganize all of the agencies: "The only reason Kobra got as far as he did was he played on you people like violins!"
Amanda was required to report to Sarge Steel:
"Your remaining the head of the Squad permanently will depend on how much of a team player you show yourself to be."
"Why am I being singled out here?!" she demanded to know. "If it wasnt for me, Kobra wouldve won! I'm the one who smoked him out!"
"And you never told me," the President countered. "Youve played the lone wolf too often, Mrs. Waller, and you enjoy it too much. That may have worked under the former administration but it wont work under mine. End of discussion." (Suicide Squad #30)
Mary White, who now served as head of medical facilities at the Squad's Belle Reve prison headquarters, was deeply concerned for her sister's emotional health. Speaking to Father Richard Craemer, she confessed that "I'm scared for my baby sister, Rev — scared that the anger in her is congealing into hate. That hate will kill her, you mark my words!"
Confronting Amanda, Craemer told her that:
"People here call you The Wall and you let them because you like it — you like the image. But its false. You have emotions like every other human being but you sublimate them — and that affects your judgment."
"You systematically surround yourself with people who will act as a natural check and balance to you — LaGrieve did it, Nightshade did it, Flag did it, and so does your sister. You count on them to keep you honest — to rein in your nastier side. By the time the Janus Directive came around, most of them were gone. You were emotionally on your own — and you made some bad calls. And you know it."
"So — what will you do now? Surround yourself again with people wholl put the brakes on you ... or learn to put the brakes on yourself?"
Amanda conceded to think on it. (#31)
Whatever Amanda may have thought, she could not have anticipated that Flo Crowly, her cousin's daughter, would perish on a Squad mission. (#36) In a deep state of depression (#37), Amanda was unprepared when word was leaked to the press that she was still running the Squad. After orchestrating a final, bloody raid on the leaders of the mystical Loa, she ordered the remained Squad members to flee and surrendered to police custody. Mystified by her docile behavior, Sarge Steel observed that its almost like she wants to go to jail. (#39)
One year later, Sarge Steel approached Amanda with the news that a political situation had arisen that required the Suicide Squad's services. She agreed with the stipulation that she be released from prison immediately. No strings, presidential pardon. I get access to prisoners with the same deal as before. Batman helps me on this case. Oh — and you give me a million dollars. Smoldering, Steel agreed. (#40)
The Squad continued to operate for several months, culminating in a mission in the island nation of Diabloverde against a rogue imitation of the team. Amanda announced that she was shutting the Squad down, insisting that it was inherently flawed and that she'd been too stubborn — too proud — to see it. ... "All thats ahead would be more people, our people, getting killed. Its time to stop." (#66)
Amanda was not, of course, the retiring type. She was frequently tapped to head other initiatives like the one to take out Eclipso in the nation of Parador (Eclipso #3, 5, 9, 11-16, 18), to lead an assault on the Silicon Dragons (Superboy v.3 #13, 15) and to recruit Doctor Polaris for defense efforts in the Sun-Eater crisis. (Final Night #1) Amanda eventually brought the Squad under the umbrella of the Department of Extranormal Operations. (Hawk & Dove v.4 #4-5, Chase #2) Within months, she agreed to take the position of Southeast Regional Director with the D.E.O. while still retaining control of the Suicide Squad (Secret Files Guide to the DC Universe #1)
She also served in President Lex Luthor's Cabinet. Luthor was evil and Amanda Waller knew it, from her days with the Squad. In a meeting with the President she recalled a secret cabal of high-ranking officials who'd conspired to control the metahuman community — in which Luthor fervently denied participating. (Suicide Squad #62)