Jess Bright aka Koshchei the Deathless
(aka Jeff Bright)
We have a series of Suicide Squad/Suicide Squadron profiles that cover a huge amount of history in smaller chapters.
Therefore, please pretty please first check our Suicide Squad orientation page as a table of content.
Squad members Dr. Evans and Jess Bright are often switched. To be fair they were interchangeable, and the vintage series sometimes mistook one for the other. Here we go with what’s stated in the earliest stories, and refuse to budge.
- Real Name: Jess Jeffrey Bright.
- Note: Bright has been called both Jess Bright and Jeff Bright. So we’ve assumed the usual robertbrucebannerisationWhen two different given names are mistakenly provided for a character, assuming that one is actually their middle name. in the name above.
- Other Aliases: Yen Wang, King of the Devils, Koshchei the Deathless, Yāo wáng.
- Known Relatives: None.
- Group Affiliation: At various times the U.S. Army ; Mission X’s Suicide Squad ; Task Force X ; An unspecified PRC government agency ; KGB ; Jihad ; Koshchei’s death squad.
- Base Of Operations: Mobile.
- Height: 5’7” (1.70m). Weight: 150 lbs. (68 Kg.).
- Eyes: Brown. Hair: Brown.
Powers and Abilities
Bright is presented as a physicist, without specifics. But like his friend Dr. Evans he’s a Silver AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. comic book scientist, excelling at any hard science.
Bright seems to be less of a font of scientific knowledge and mathematician than Evans. But he has better engineering skills and a more hands-on approach.
Bright might be the youngest Squad member. That he’s not addressed as “Doctor” might be because he’s too young to have completed his PhD yet, as his work interferes with his studies. He does look young – almost baby-faced.
Perhaps Jess was a teenaged science prodigy.
Bright is the second most physically-adept Squad member. That’s probably because he’s the youngest, and was formally trained as an infantry private.
After his near-death, Bright spent decades developing skills about creating low-to-mid-range metahumans. That included extending his knowledge to areas that were new to him, such as genetics.
He also developed adhesive electronic disks capable of reanimating corpses. Such artificial undeads can be given orders via a sort of master disc, which can broadcast to nearby “zombie discs”.
These “zombies” aren’t meat puppets. The dead person still has the skills, powers, memories, personality, etc. they had in life. Their strength and durability are also significantly enhanced.
Bright later became such an undead, his shattered body reanimated by his own inventions.
Let’s have another bit of typical 1959 American music for chronologically correct atmosphere.
Wholesome trio the Fleetwoods had several hits back then before completely vanishing. One of their hits, “Come Softly To Me”, was a quiet easy-listening thing. Almost a lullaby really.
Man, I hope it won’t make people fall asleep as they read the article.
History (part 1)
During the war in Korea Jess Bright, then a young soldier, met with Rick Flag, Sr.. The wartime Suicide Squad had been re-formed in 1950 to operate there.
Flag and his men, true to their moniker, parachuted in the middle of an artillery bombardment to launch a crazy airborne raid.
Flag himself nearly landed on top of private Bright. Bright was trapped in a foxhole, desperate and waiting for death. While scornful, the older Flag told Bright to follow him. Which is how Bright survived his predicament.
This incident presumably happened in 1951. By our estimates, Flag Sr. and his men were in Korea from the summer of 1950 until early- or mid-1952.
This would mean that Bright was born around 1934, as he seems slightly underage during this flashback.
Holding back the years
In our proposed timeline, this works fine. Jess Bright is born in 1934, lies about his age when war in Korea erupts in 1950, is saved by Flag Sr. in 1951, and is discharged soon after.
Though he has yet to study for a doctorate he’s a young scientific prodigy. This attracts the attention of Dr. Evans, who hires him as his apprentice in 1952.
The two men narrowly escape alive from a comic book version of the Bikini Atoll disaster in 1954, and are recruited by Mission X in 1958 or 1959.
I love it when a plan comes together. Science !
The golden pyramid
Bright apparently died during the last mission of the Squad in Cambodia.
As he and Evans were trying to hold off a yeti with gunfire, the ice under them shattered. They fell into a huge crevasse. Evans hit a rock and died. But Bright lucked out and landed onto the dead yeti.
Both Bright and Evans were declared KIA. Since Flag and Grace had no way to check the crevasse for unlikely survivors.
On a slow boat to China
The scientist lacked the skills and equipment to survive the extreme cold. Therefore, he gutted the dead yeti and found refuge inside.
Several days later, he was found and rescued by Chinese soldiers. But the damage from frostbite had been severe. Bright had lost his fingers, both feet and much of his face.
At this point the mainland Chinese government had begun developing metahumans of its own. Having identified Bright and knowing of his skills, they strong-armed him into collaborating in exchange for special medical care.
Irrationally feeling betrayed by his companions, Bright took the deal.
King of devils
He started working with a scientist named Deng Zho-zhi. Bright quickly acquired superior skills in genetics – these were the crux of Deng’s work to develop metahumans.
Deng nicknamed Bright “Yen Wang” (“King of devils”). He considered that the metahumans the government wanted to create were monsters, and that he and Bright would be responsible for them.
(I suspect that “Yen Wang” is a non-standard transliteration of Yāo wáng (妖王), but I’m not even vaguely knowledgeable about the subject. You might recognise the word “yāo” from the yaoguai monsters in Fallout video games. Unless you’re Sinophone, in which case you presumably didn’t wait for Fallout, but I digress).
Dr. Deng was a brilliant scientist, but bad at politics. During one of the political sea changes in troubled China, he was declared a traitor and arrested.
(In our proposed timeline the Cambodia mission takes place circa 1964. This naturally means that Deng Zho-zhi was arrested during the Cultural Revolution – perhaps in 1968).
Bright — then operating in a wheelchair, hooded and without working hands — therefore lost his only political protection. He was imprisoned as a suspected foreign spy.
Soviet spymaster Zastrow learned of this. Sharp as ever, he negotiated a prisoner transfer with the Chinese.
He also had prostheses built for Bright’s fingers, feet and face.
Bright received a new code name – Koshchei the Deathless. This referred to a Russian folk tale about a magician who hides his soul in an egg so he won’t ever die.
No longer caring about countries and ideologies, Bright worked directly for the Soviets until the early 1980s.
(One panel shows him improving Rocket Red battlesuits. These were partially based on alien technology provided by the Green Lantern Kilowog. So that only could have happened after 1987, meaning that this flashback likely was out of sequence).
History (part 2)
The Soviets later lent Koshchei to Qurac. The Jihad project, to create a terrorist/mercenary super-group, was underway there.
The project had complicated international backing. For instance, factions within the US intelligence community saw the Jihad as the right approach to developing a metahuman fighting force. They considered it as a test for their own future initiatives.
It is likely that Soviet factions also chaffed against their own national policies about metahumans. So having Bright and his ilk work abroad with the Jihad was a good way to develop know-how for when these policies would be revoked.
Koshchei created the following Jihad members :
However, Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad raided and demolished the Jihad’s base. Bright was killed by an explosion, just as he spotted the hated Rick Flag.
The Deathless reanimated
Koshchei had recently developed a strange techno-zombie technology. Quraci researchers used his prototypes to essentially resurrect him as an undead being.
The now-inhuman Koshchei wanted to avenge his death.
He eventually convinced the leadership behind the Jihad to launch a terror raid on Manhattan. Bright hoped that it would trigger a response from the Suicide Squad and thus give him an opportunity to kill Flag and his team.
First we raid Manhattan
Koshchei was present in Manhattan with a new version of the Jihad team. This international strike force included :
- Ravan (a survivor of the first team).
- A new Jaculi.
- A new Ifrit (based on deceased Suicide Squad member Mindboggler).
- A new Manticore.
- Team leader Rustam.
Though he was in the field, Koshchei wasn’t a combatant. He was there to have team members put his zombie electronic discs on the corpses of their victims.
Koshchei’s zombie squad was stopped by an alien, Shade the Changing Man. Shade disrupted the discs en masse, which hit Koshchei with feedback.
But Shade never even saw Bright. He could only deduce that the zombies’ controller wasn’t far, by estimating the range of the discs.
Koshchei returned to Qurac. But it would take a while for the Jihad to rebuild a team of operatives.
Determined to end his vendetta, he instead assembled his own team of techno-zombies. Bright reanimated deceased Jihad and Suicide Squad members to serve as his “death squad”.
He and his zombies went to kidnap the hidden son of Rick Flag and Karin Grace. He then demanded that Flag come to them alone.
Bright fully expected some Squad backup to show up. Thus, he rigged the area with explosives to kill everyone and be done with it.
… or maybe not
What he did not know was that Rick Flag was thought dead by his team mates. He had been apparently killed months before, during an intrusion in the very Jihad base where Bright had died.
Undeterred, Amanda Waller convinced her former ally Nemesis to impersonate Flag to buy time. She then led a team of volunteers (plus Captain Boomerang) to save the boy.
Bright’s plan would likely have succeeded. But Nemesis revealed that the real Flag was dead, and appealed to Bright’s decency and love for Karin Grace.
Reluctantly, the zombie let go of Karin’s son. He then told Nemesis that the main bombs were about to go off.
The Squad narrowly made it out with the kid. But Koshchei apparently remained on the site thinking of Karin – and waiting for the bombs to explode and destroy him.
Bright used to smoke a pipe. Perhaps it was an attempt to make himself look older.
In the first story he was blond. Then he wasn’t.
After Cambodia he had clunky, obvious prostheses over his forearms and hands (with cybernetic fingers). He also had cybernetic feet, and a sort of plate over his nose and neighbouring areas.
After he died he was clearly a sort of mummy. He looked pale, ragged and with minor signs of decomposition.
He still had prosthetic hand and feet, but the faceplate had been destroyed and he didn’t bother replacing it. He no longer needed it since what little was left of his nose was gone.
Bright was a good-guy, serious scientist with a pipe. Like all Suicide Squad (Mission X) members he was brave and dedicated to the point of self-sacrifice. He was determined to serve even though that eventually meant death.
And like all Squad members he was a calm, competent thinker who worked well under pressure and faced enormous odds without flinching.
However, like all Squad members, his strength stemmed from his losses. Thus, it rested on some serious neuroses. While they weren’t apparent on a day-to-day basis, when the fetid waters of guilt and resentment finally broke it was a disaster.
Bright might have suffered minor brain damage when he seemed to die. He then went through a severe shock as he discovered how badly he’d been crippled.
This triggered a paranoid reaction building up on his survivor’s guilt and associated issues. He was now convinced that Flag and Grace had deliberately disposed of Evans and him so they could elope.
After that his mental state just kept deteriorating. He no longer cared about anything but a/ his work and b/ destroying Rick Flag and everything associated with him.
Bright now saw himself as moral and murderous.
He wasn’t proactive about his obsession with killing Flag. But every few years he’d grow agitated and want to do something, checking whether a credible opportunity existed.
Bright was proud of his work, even though it was obviously problematic.
Deep down, Koshchei remained a decent man. He could be reasoned with, and still had his memories. He also was dimly aware that he was deluding himself, and that no-one was to blame for his condition.
It didn’t take that much to convince him not to pull the trigger. He remembered owing his life to Flag’s father, Flag helping him numerous times, he wanted to honour Karin Grace’s memory once he was told that she had died, etc..
Underneath Koshchei he remained Jess Bright of the Suicide Squad, a determined hero facing death to protect others.
“We’ve adjusted air pressure to minus 459.72 degree Farenheit !”
“I know it sounds crazy — but they use ordinary salt to lower the freezing point of snow and ice !”
“Our job is to plot a course for Rick from the Sun to the Earth ! The slightest deviation — and we’ll miss Earth by thousands of miles !”
“Perhaps they went underground to escape the deadly cold ! Perhaps — this is the last of the dinosaurs !”
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
|Dex: 04||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 05|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 05|
|Init: 013||HP: 035|
Acrobatics (Climbing): 04, Animal handling (Horses): 04, Gadgetry: 05, Military science (Demolition): 05, Scientist: 07, Vehicles: 04, Weaponry (Exotic, Firearms): 05
- Credentials (US Military, High ; NASA, High ; US Intelligence, Medium ; NATO militaries, Medium).
- Dream Team (with Karin Grace, Doc Evans and Rick Flag, Jr.).
- Expertise (Parachuting, SCUBA diving).
- Familiarity (Military equipment and protocols).
- Schtick (Brainstorming (Scientist ; Doc Evans)).
Mission X (High) plus those derived from his Credentials.
Minor Psychological Instability.
Mission X agent.
See the corresponding Suicide Squad article.
Koshchei the Deathless
Here’s what could be witnessed about Bright’s abilities as the Deathless :
- Improved scientific skills. A possible suite is Genius, Medicine: 03, Medicine (Enhancement): 10, Gadgetry being upped to 06, and a new Expertise or two.
- A Distinct Appearance and a MPR (normally be a SPR, but the permanent protheses moderate that). The Appearance escalates to Strange after he becomes a zombie.
- Bright is at this point insane :
- He has a Serious Psychological Instability.
- His Motivation becomes Psychopath.
- While he wants to kill Flag and anything associated with him, it’s not an Irrational Attraction. He’ll plot, wait for opportunities, etc..
Observed facts about this technology :
- Ordinary persons turned into zombies had DEX 04 STR 05 BODY 07.
- Bright himself seemed to have about DEX 06 STR 06 BODY 08 as a zombie.
- All Koshchei-animated zombies can be shut down by destroying the BODY 01 disc at the base of their neck. It’s a Trick Shot, if one knows what to aim at.
- As a guess the zombies had Self-Link (Animate dead): 08. That would mean that no score for a Deathless zombie can exceed 08.
- All zombies looked drained, bloodless and desiccated. This may be a hint that zombie discs replaces the blood with something else. Koshchei’s “zombies” are akin to mummies, but without wrappings.
- Koshchei could remotely monitor and give orders to an unrevealed number of zombies – at least a dozen. The information was presumably conveyed over Radio Communications (Encrypted): 06. There was no interface per se. Bright used cybernetics in his skull to do it.
- Early on, it meant that it was possible to inflict cyber-feedback upon him through the radio link with the zombie discs. It is possible that he then corrected for this.
- Corpses recognisable among his “death squad” were Mindboggler, Manticore, Ravan, Jaculi II (tentatively) and another, plus a cadre composed of Shrike, Psi, the Weasel, Mister 104 and Jaculi I.
Source of Character: DC Universe.
Helper(s): Ethan Roe, Darci.
Writeup completed on the 22nd of August, 2011.