(1986-1994, part #2)
This profile is intended to be read as part of our series of Suicide Squad team profiles.
Here’s the page that lists these articles in order.
History (1987-89 additional data)
Here are Waller-specific details about Suicide Squad operations during the 1987-1989 span.
That includes :
- Some recruitments she made during this era.
- The feuding with Tolliver.
- A side appearance Amanda Waller made in Justice League books during that era.
As part of her medical staff, Amanda recruited Dr. LaGrieve – the Chicago psychologist who had helped her decades before. However, Dr. LaGrieve would eventually quit over ethical differences.
Another early staff recruit was Florence Crawley, the daughter of Amanda’s cousin Edna Mae. Despite being a sysadmin, Ms. Crawley foolishly wanted to take part in Squad missions.
Waller protected Flo from her naïveté as if she were her daughter. But the youth was nevertheless killed on ApokolipsA Fascistic alien world dominated by major DC Comics baddie Darkseid.. Edna Mae refused to allow Amanda to attend the funeral.
During an early-ish mission, the Squad’s head physician Dr. Karin Grace sacrificed herself to destroy a Manhunters base.
To replace Grace, Waller recruited her older sister Mary White. But Dr. White made it clear that she would have none of her little sister’s attitude and intimidation.
Aside from operational snafus, one of Waller’s main problems during this span was the NSC liaison to the Squad, Derek Tolliver.
Tolliver went with the usual combination of smugness, ambition, entitlement and mediocrity.
Tolliver was dead-set upon unleashing the Parasite against Firestorm. As soon as Col. Flag was unreachable, Tolliver ordered the Parasite released – threatening the support personnel at gunpoint.
This, obviously, turned into a disaster.
Tolliver was eager to launch this rotten propaganda operation. Waller soon discovered that he had never consulted with State. A lack that resulted in a critical intel gap about whether the principal wished to be exfiltrated.
Furious, Waller decked him one and threatened to sink his career. At this point, Tolliver’s priority became to neutralise Waller.
He approached a senior Senator, Joe Cray (R – unspecified). The notoriously corrupt Cray was having re-election problems. Tolliver proposed that they blackmail the POTUS. Either President Reagan would order the Squad to eliminate Cray’s opponent, or they’d go to the press about the Squad’s secrets.
(The story specifically references the Iran-Contra affair as the sort of scandal Pres. Reagan sought to avoid).
Overplaying his hand
Tolliver sought to become Craig’s top aide. Then have Waller evicted so he could take command of the Squad – a task for which he was manifestly unsuited.
In his arrogance, Tolliver had never learned much about the other side of Task Force X. Amanda Waller was therefore free to have Checkmate investigate him. They found enough dirt to wreck his life and have him sent up the river for a good 20 years.
Waller used that to, well, checkmate Tolliver. But Colonel Flag had overheard Tolliver bragging about how he would take over the Squad – with tragic consequences.
In 1989, Waller was called in by her bitter rival Max Lord. He needed an expert deprogrammer.
Justice League member Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) had just been discovered to be brainwashed. Kord had nearly killed Lord and Oberon after hearing a key phrase over the phone.
And the Martian Manhunter established that the Beetle had extensive defences against telepathic surgery. These had been implanted as part of the brainwashing.
Waller therefore had to try several brash, risky methods. She thus established that Beetle was beyond the reach of medical techniques. Batman therefore contacted Kent Nelson to resort to magic.
Explosive cranial implant
Amanda Waller received this in 1989. It was part of a new tech developed for prisoner control, but Amanda also saw this as a failsafe in case she ever was captured.
This charge is instantly lethal, as you might expect.
Only one person knows the detonation code – Col. Rick Flag.
Let’s have something from Amanda’s youth. Since the odds that she loved Aretha Franklin are quite high.
History (the L.O.A. incident)
Late 1980s New Orleans had rumours about a cocaine-smuggling voodoo mob called the L.O.A.. With zombies and everything.
Like the rest of the law enforcement and intelligence community, Waller thought this was bullshit.
She even used LOA tales about zombie enforcers to play a sort of prank of Captain Boomerang. Amanda hoped to scare/humiliate him into being more reliable. It didn’t work.
However, she gradually realised that this wasn’t bullshit after an informant was murdered.
Frape an premye
Not only did LOA exist, but they were more than smart enough not to underestimate Waller. And with their tremendous resources, they actually could take on her.
They leaked information about Waller being in charge despite the “Kale” smokescreen. This umpteenth scandal gave President Bush an opportunity to get rid of Waller, with Sarge Steel as his missus dominicusAn envoy of the lord/emperor..
Special-purpose intelligence agencies in the US were brusquely reorganised, leaving Waller without any meaningful authority.
End of line ?
By this point, Waller strongly suspected that L.O.A. was about to launch a gambit to dominate the national coke market. Which is why they wanted her and her Squad out.
This plot, using modified cocaine, would likely kill hundreds of thousands. Determined to stop that, Amanda illegally assembled a team from the few prisoners still held in Belle Reve.
- Deadshot (Floyd Lawton).
- Poison Ivy (Dr. Pamela Isley).
- Ravan the thug.
Dr. Isley analysed the modified cocaine found on “zombified” junkies. With this data, Waller became certain that the L.O.A. had started its deadly plot.
The Wall went rogue, leading her three murderers in the field. They swiftly worked their way up the chain of L.O.A.’s New Orleans pushers, using Poison Ivy’s truth serums for rapid interrogation.
Just say no
The Wall and her crew found the L.O.A. HQ. There were 45 minutes left before the order to distribute massive amounts of modified cocaine would be given.
The foursome stormed the building, and executed the L.O.A. leadership.
Waller then dismissed her three operatives. She called the NOPD and waited to be arrested among the corpses and cocaine.
Being at the end of her endurance and aware that she was on a spiral of hatred and violence, Amanda Waller wanted to be sent to prison.
She requested a plea bargain without playing hardball with the government. The charges were dropped to manslaughter. The Wall was also denounced as a vigilante having acted without government sanction or support.
Amanda Waller spent a year in prison.
Suicide Squad therefore skips ahead by one year. But time jumps can be an issue in shared universes.
In the unlikely case you need a tight timeline :
– The Janus Directive mess takes place in May, 1989 (cover date).
– Operation Ghavam, the fake Eiling lead about Flag, the Apokolips mess and everything up to the dissolution of the Squad is crammed into June, 1989. Which also helps explain why Amanda is so burnt out.
– Mrs. Waller is in prison from July, 1989 to June, 1990.
– Squad operations resume in late June. So the events of Suicide Squad Vol. 1 #40-44, while cover-dated from April onward, actually start in late June.
Between the Janus Directive storyline and the Phoenix Gambit storyline the Squad didn’t interact much with outside characters. Well, except for Apokolipsian ones. So that works well enough.
History (back from the big house)
Though Waller wanted to do time, she never expected to serve her full sentence.
She knew that sooner rather than later, the government would need the Suicide Squad. It was too useful. And it was too difficult to implement without her experience.
When a situation arose, the Wall already had a fully-developed, take-it-or-leave-it offer for the government.
Back to the Wall
Here’s a bullet point list of engagements for this new version of the Squad. For the actual data, see the matching Suicide Squad (Amanda Waller version) team profile :
- Operation Phoenix Gambit. Op in Vlatava during the civil war.
- Operation Jerusalem Serpent. At the behest of the Egyptian government, foiling a Kobra plot in Israel.
- A mission to rescue Rick Flag’s young son from Koshchei the Deathless.
- Operation Dragon’s Hoard. Recover a large shipment of Soviet weapons bought by a Yakuza clan.
- A strike at Black Adam’s behest during the War of the Gods .
- A trap to dismantle a conspiracy within the CIA to build Suicide Squad-like strike teams.
- Deposing mad dictator Ghede in Diabloverde, to foil the same conspiracy.
After a fashion
During the fall of the Squad, Sarge Steel had gone out of his way to wreck Mrs. Waller’s medical work to free Ben Turner from being the Bronze Tiger.
One of the first things Waller did after leaving prison was to have Ben Turner located, then enlisting Mari McCabe (Vixen)’s help to get him back.
Mari despised Amanda’s line of work, in part because killing made her magical totem more dangerous. But she was still in love with Ben, and knew that Amanda was his best chance at recovering his sanity.
They found Mr. Turner in Ogaden, and brought him back. Even as a psychologically broken mess, Ben retained enough affection for Mari and Amanda to go along with them.
Though Mari couldn’t salvage her relationship with Ben, she did a few more missions for Amanda. She had been launching her own fashion house, and Squad money allowed her to buy back the other co-founders’ shares.
Boggles the mind
During the subtle plot to help the Atom (Ray Palmer) finish off the Cabal, the Hayoth overplayed their hand. Their operation hadn’t really been cleared with the US authorities, or the Israeli government.
Mrs. Waller seized that occasion to strongarm them into working for her. She sought to rescue Mindboggler (Leah Wasserman), who had fallen during an early Squad mission. She had been turned into the Jihad’s Ifrit.
This long shot was a complete success. Ms. Wasserman’s consciousness was recovered, and turned a new leaf. And Hayoth’s artificial intelligence Dibbuk gained numerous human traits while interacting with her.
The two were soon married.
Though the operation in Diabloverde was a success, Waller was exhausted. It was a combination of :
- Wear and tear from being in the field, stress, and age.
- Her constant guilt about dead Squad operatives, which had flared up anew with hallucinations created by the Diabloverde jungle.
- Disgust at seeing superhuman death squads mimicking her innovations and experience.
By this point, Amanda considered that there was no good way to make her Squad concept work after all. And that what she had unleashed would likely end up doing far more harm than good.
This small Caribbean nation, named for the abnormal properties of its jungle, was in a dire state. The dictator’s reign had been complete horror, as his brain was rotting, and the faux Squad had caused much death and destruction.
Mrs. Waller therefore agreed to serve as an interim President. There was a lot of rebuilding to do, and the harrowed Diabloverdans had nobody left with governance skills and experience.
History (Eclipso crisis)
Six months later, Bruce Gordon and Mona Bennett came to Diabloverde.
They had extensive intelligence about the evil god Eclipso having taken over the nation of Parador. But while this could easily turn into a global catastrophe, they couldn’t get anybody to believe them.
Sarge Steel made it clear that the US gov’t wouldn’t intervene. However, he suggested that they consult with Amanda Waller in Diabloverde.
Mrs. Waller was reluctant to get involved. But she thought there was something to Bennett and Gordon’s warnings. She asked Calvin “Cave” Carson, who owed her a favour, to show the couple how to sneak into Parador to gather intelligence.
Forcing her hand
Most of the team was captured. But a wounded Carson escaped, and warned Waller.
Though she wanted to wash her hands of this, Mrs. President couldn’t in good conscience let Gordon and Bennett die.
She started digging. She soon established that :
- A shipment of poisoned cocaine had been deliberately shipped from Parador, killing an unclear number of people.
- A Paradorian drug lord, held in a US prison, was willing to pay big for Eclipso to be ousted.
- Bennett and Gordon had narrowly escaped from the living Hell that was now Parador.
President Waller therefore had the means and motives to put a strike force together. And wanted Bennett and Gordon to lead it, since Eclipso clearly was reluctant to kill them.
To dethrone a dark god
Waller assembled a motley crew of heroes and anti-heroes. She also planned two missions :
- One dummy plan for Eclipso to gather intelligence about.
- The actual plan.
The actual plan more or less held. However, Eclipso then located Waller’s operatives and sent in the mind-controlled Paradorian military. In the ensuing carnage, most of the team was seemingly slain.
(Predictably, the deaths that most stuck were those of the female and minority characters – Dr. Midnight (Dr. Beth Chapel) and Wildcat (Yolanda Montez). Commander Steel (Hank Heywood) and Major Victory (Bill Vickers) also remained dead, but had close successors).
Furtherworse, the US government turned against Waller for her unsanctioned paramilitary op in a foreign country. This likely came from President Bush, since Sarge Steel was also arrested for having provided Waller with off-the-record intel and contacts.
Trial by darkness
Waller, Steel, Gordon and Bennett thus underwent a highly publicised trial organised by the United Nations.
However, a number of major super-heroes came to testify about the danger Eclipso posed. They also described Gordon’s previous successes at stopping the dark god.
Incensed by this, Eclipso barged into the courtroom, killing multiple random persons. He demanded that the defendants be judged guilty. Otherwise, he’d use his recently-procured nuclear missiles against the US.
This failed. The UN decided to take action against Eclipso with Waller, Steel and Gordon organising the effort.
Furthermore, the Phantom Stranger had been discreetly collecting dark diamond fragments used by Eclipso.
The officially-sanctioned strike was much heavier. With :
- A bunch of Justice League members and reservists.
- Anti-Eclipso solar ordnance, design by Dr. Gordon and Prof. Simon Bennett.
- Fighter-bombers with anti-Eclipso solar payloads.
- Several elite infantry platoons with anti-Eclipso equipment. One of those was personally led by Waller.
Parador was liberated from Eclipso occupation. The Phantom Stranger and the Spectre then exorcised Eclipso from Earth for the time being.
This profile ends with part #3. Which includes one last bit of History, the game stats, the Description, lots of quotes, extensive characterisation notes, etc..
Source of Character: The appearances of the Wall as written by John Ostrander and Kim Yale, plus a few later ones to reach Zero Hour.
Helper(s): Michael, Capita_Senyera, Mike Winkler, Gareth Lewis.
Writeup revised on the 4th of March, 2023.