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Rick Flag of the Suicide Squad (post-Crisis DC Comics) with arms crossed

Colonel Rick Flag

(Post-Crisis version) (Profile #1 - pre-Skartaris) (part #1)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Rick Flag is the leader of several versions of DC Comics’ Suicide Squad. This profile covers the version of the character that appeared from 1987 to 2007 – from the Crisis on Infinite Earths to his apparent death at Jotunheim.

We strongly suggest that you first read our Suicide Squad (Mission X version) profile for context. And keep in mind that all these entries are loaded with S P O I L E R S.

Since this profile covers a lot of ground, it is presented in two parts. .


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Background

  • Real Name: Colonel Richard Rogers Flag.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Richard Montgomery Flag (father, deceased), Sharon Race Flag (mother, deceased), Richard Flag III (son).
  • Group Affiliation: Suicide Squad.
  • Base Of Operations: Belle Reve Prison, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 210 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers and Abilities

Flag was originally a gifted, highly trained military pilot. He has since evolved well beyond these roots, having years of experience as a top special operative, commando and military intelligence specialist.

He can operate a seemingly endless variety of vehicles, from paddleboat to stratofortress . And he can fight with nearly any modern weapon and several types of military hand-to-hand training.

Colonel Flag is not a combat monster or a master of some exotic skills. But he is an experienced operative with extensive training, and a good field commander. In most cases he operates on a low cinematic  levels, conservatively spending his Hero Points .


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Other assets and limitations

In DC Heroes RPG terms his Guilt Drawback means that he has to be careful with his Hero Points spending. So most of the time it doesn’t looks like he has a solid HPs total.

He has twice given a solid account of himself against Batman (and once against the Bronze Tiger), for almost a minute of hand-to-hand combat. But this was done by uncharacteristically burning through his Hero Points. Though he could land hits and take a remarkable amount of punishment, he couldn’t really hurt his nigh-invincible opponents.

Flag is smart. He can definitely come up with intricate yet effective plans. He’s good at leveraging the skills and powers of his teams. His long intelligence background means that he understands stealth, manipulation, decoys and other subtle tools. He and Waller make an excellent pair of mission planners.

While he’s a bird Colonel, Flag doesn’t hold a command. However, he had full authority over the security forces at Belle Reve, which is noted as the equivalent of a Lieutenant Rank in game terms.

Equipment

  • A high-quality, compact Colt M1911 variant. The exact model in our game stats is arbitrary.
  • Wrist radio used for communication among the field team.

Rick Flag, Jr. and the Suicide Squad about to attack Jotunheim

  • Flag can pack additional equipment for some missions, though he prefers reliable basics and will not generally carry big-time equipment. His job is to command, not slug it out with superhumans. Classics include :
    • Low-light binoculars.
    • Uzi submachinegun. The older full-sized model with a wooden stock.
    • Laser rifle. These laser rifles were only used to defend Belle Reve against superhumans. They are fragile and hold a limited charge, and would be of little use in the field. Presumably, it was a modified version of one such rifle that was issued to Deadshot to Operation: Brimstone.
      The basic model was of limited use against the Female Furies, but it could hurt them whereas they ignored firearms.
    • The Belle Reve security team also once produced special firearms of unknown specifications. Those may have been custom-made shotguns holding two or three large-bore, extra-long explosive shells.
    • Fighting knife. Flag produced a military fighting knife but once. It thus seems to have been a mission-specific backup weapon, presumably for stealth missions.
  • In the one known flashback to his Forgotten Heroes years, Colonel Flag is armed with a M16A1 and what I assume is a Colt M1911A1. Some recent flashbacks to the early Suicide Squad (Waller version) missions also depict him with a M16.

Considering the continuity conundrum

Richard Flag is NOT :

  • Richard Montgomery Flag, often called Rick Flag, Sr.. That was his dad. Rick Flag, Sr. led the Suicide Squad of the 1940s and 1950s.
  • The pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Rick Flag, aka Rick Flagg. This is a different version of the character, who uses a different character sheet . This character is covered in a separate writeups.org entry, and is associated with the “Mission X” Suicide Squad that saw publication in 1959-1961.

Rick Flag, Jr. with his pistol on the ground, over a white background

With that out, there are two approaches to chronology :

  • The official DC approach is that the Squad was perpetually created 6 or 7 years ago. Meaning the mid-2000s as of this writing. The bulk of super-heroes stories perpetually started 10-12 years ago. Meaning circa 2000 as of this writing.
  • This approach creates numerous problems and make it impossible for third parties to document continuity in any depth. Our Suicide Squad (Mission X) profile thus suggests a timeline using actual, fixed dates. It should be understood that they are NOT official and are solely used to keep the profiles organised.

In 2008, Rick Flag was retconned into… never having existed, and having been an unwitting impostor all along. This will be covered in the next Rick Flag profile. Don’t worry about that for now.


History (part 1)

Richard Rogers Flag is the son of Richard Montgomery Flag, the Commanding Officer of the Suicide Squadron during the 1940s and 1950s. A special-purpose military unit, the Squadron fought in the Pacific, then in Korea.

Rick Flag, Jr. with Amanda Waller and the Penguin

It was later reinvented as the military arm of Task Force X, a secret agency dealing with extraordinary menaces against the United States.

For more about the Suicide Squadron of the 1940s and 1950s, see the extensive Suicide Squadron article on writeups.org.

Trail of losses

Rick Flag lost his parents when he was but a boy. His mother sacrificed herself to save him from a runaway car. Some years later his father — deeply affected by the death of his wife — sacrificed himself to stop an enormous War Wheel from killing thousands.

These deaths were the continuation of a long trail of blood. It had started in the 1940s. During the war dozens if not hundreds of Suicide Squad soldiers sacrificed their lives so that other may live — and urged their comrades to carry on in their name.

Hardened by the loss of his parents and raised by his father’s lifelong buddy Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Rick Flag grew determined to serve. He became a military officer and a fighter pilot as soon as possible.

Flag was considered one of the finest fighter pilots in the US during these years, though almost all his chronicled exploits occurred on the ground. He was noted for a rivalry with another best-of-the-best pilot, “Ace” Morgan. Morgan would later become one of the Challengers of the Unknown.

Tactical Air Command

Flag was eventually tapped by Gen. Wade Eiling as part of Project Eagle. The goal was to assemble a special forces commando answering to Eiling alone. It was made up of men with a special kind of drive. Flag was the field commander. His men were called Caetano, Eddie Vracek, Vega and “Dutchman” van Damm.

They were presumably all manipulated by Eiling to have an exceptional level of motivation, even by the lofty special operations standards. Among other things, Eiling had them all implanted with post-hypnotic suggestions forcing them to follow his orders.

This Suicide Squad operated in Iran at least four times. They relied on a local named Dr. Raza Kattuah, an archaeologist whom the Americans knew under the code name Rustam. Rustam was a reliable ally for Eiling’s men. But, true to form, Eiling later decided that Kattuah had outlived his usefulness. A US air raid “accidentally” bombed his house.

The hit failed. Kattuah’s entire family was killed, but he survived. Rustam became a sworn enemy of the US, and would become Flag’s nemesis.

Another Squad bites the dust

Gen. Eiling eventually chose to expend his Suicide Squad. A highly-placed foreign ally had become suspected of collaborating with Americans. He thus needed to have his credibility reinforced. Eiling sent his Suicide Squad to kill that man without telling them that he was a US collaborator, then warned the target.

Rick Flag, Jr. and the Bronze Tiger

As intended, Flag’s team was ambushed and killed off. However, Flag himself survived. The trail of blood went on, as the members of this Suicide Squad urged Flag to carry on in their name.

Flag realised that Eiling had sent them to die. But the general simply used the post-hypnotic implants to have Flag stand down and forget about Eiling’s treason.

Mission X (part 1)

After the recovered, Flag was detailed to assist aerospace research as a top USAF pilot. During this research program he met a military physician, Karin Grace. Grace was Flag’s great love, though she bore an unhealthy resemblance to Flag’s mother.

A new, four-man Suicide Squad was soon assembled. This one would not be a special forces unit. Instead, it was caulk over the security gap resulting from the closure of Task Force X. Like with Task Force X’s Suicide Squad, the goal was to foil extraordinary and paranormal menaces against the US and the “free world”.

Gen. J.E.B. Stuart wanted the younger Flag to head this unit. Gen. Eiling agreed – presumably to have a man within Stuart’s organisation.

Mission X (part 2)

The point was for the military to have its equivalent to the Challengers of the Unknown. As such it was chiefly composed of brains rather than muscle. Beyond the well-educated Flag providing military skills, the team relied on two scientists and a doctor.

Rick Flag, Jr. vs. Batman

The physician was Karin Grace. The scientists were Dr. Evans (an astronomer) and Jess Bright (a physicist).

All team members had been picked for their selfless resolve stemming from traumatic events. That was presumably on Eiling’s recommendation, based on the previous Suicide Squad. Though the team’s performance in the field was extraordinary, deep fissures existed within their psyches.

Furthermore there was little precedent with gender-integrated field units. The men’s wish to impress Grace with their exploits became a crutch to ignore their PTSD  symptoms. Flag and Grace decided to hide their relationship from the two scientists. They could tell that it would shatter the team’s exceptional but fragile dynamics.

The Suicide Squad indeed disintegrated during a mission in Cambodia, when Flag and Grace’s relationship was exposed. As detailed in our Suicide Squad (Mission X) entry :

  • Hugh Evans was killed.
  • Jess Bright was thought KIA for decades.
  • Karin Grace experienced a severe breakdown.

Wait in the fire, wait in the fire

What happened between Col. Rick Flag and Dr. Karin Grace after Cambodia was never quite documented.

Flag visited Grace several times at the hospital after her breakdown. But the doctors asked him to stop as it made it difficult for them to treat her post-traumatic stress disorder. Rick never learned that Karin was pregnant and had his son.

Rick Flag, Jr. facing Amanda Waller (Suicide Squad, DC Comics)

Why he never saw her again between the doctor’s request and Waller’s Suicide Squad is less clear. Grace is known to have rebuilt her memories to cope with her severe PTSD, re-imagining her relationship with Flag as hurtful and cruel. It is thus likely that she was the one who avoided contact until she came to desire vengeance for seemingly imaginary mistreatment.

However, one also gets the impression that Flag no longer had the courage to face Grace. He preferred to wallow in his memories of her and used the doctor’s request not to see her as his excuse. Given later events, it is possible that he mashed the loss of two Suicide Squads and of his lover into one ugly neurotic hairball eating at him.

Freedom through vigilance

Rick Flag carried on as a solo operative for military intelligence. Presumably most of his work was for Air Force Intelligence and Gen. Eiling.

Later bits of dialogue imply that Captain Atom (Nathaniel Adams/Cameron Scott), another Eiling operative, was familiar with — and perhaps even a friend of — Col. Flag. Flag did not appear to know Atom’s secret identity, though.

These years of intelligence and special operations work are mostly undocumented.

Forgotten Heroes

One of the Colonel’s last missions was to infiltrate a band of adventurers called the Forgotten Heroes. The Heroes had been assembled by the Immortal Man in his eternal war against Vandal Savage.

Rick Flag, Jr. and the Forgotten Heroes

Savage was after fragments of the meteor that had empowered him and his nemesis during prehistory. To recover these he ventured through space and time. To stall the Immortal Man, Savage assembled a group of operatives whom he called the Forgotten Villains, including future Suicide Squad member the Enchantress.

The Heroes were at that point Congo Bill (in his Congorilla body), Rip Hunter, Dane Dorrance of the Sea Devils, Cave Carson, Animal Man (Buddy Baker), Dolphin and Colonel Flag. Their membership slowly evolved over the decades.

The details of Flag’s infiltration mission — such as whether his backers were Vandal Savage agents in the US government — are unrevealed. So is the length of his collaboration with the Heroes.

From later remarks, one gets the impression that Flag was proud of his time with the Heroes.

Danger trail

King Faraday of the CBI then recruited Rick Flag to help him recover the Bronze Tiger (Ben Turner).

Turner had been brainwashed into serving the League of Assassins. Yet Faraday thought that it was possible to deprogram him and reclaim the Tiger’s unbelievable martial skills for US intelligence.

Rick Flag, Jr. and the Suicide Squad in a Russian prison

Faraday, Flag and a young agent code-named Nightshade (Eve Eden) stormed a League of Assassins base. Flag held off the Tiger in hand-to-hand combat long enough for his allies to eliminate the other assassins and pump Turner full of tranq darts. The three agents returned to the US with Turner, who was deprogrammed.

The Tiger drew the attention of a newcomer in the intelligence world, Amanda Waller, who helped with his deprogramming.


History interlude – A question of time

Here’s a possible timeline for Mr. Fla, assuming that events occur by publication date.

  • Born circa 1930.
  • 1945 – death of Mrs. Flag.
  • Graduates as a Lieutenant circa 1952. The USAF Academy didn’t exist back then, so it seems likely that he was a Naval Aviator who studied and trained in Annapolis.
  • 1955 – Rick Flag Jr. transfers to the USAF.
  • 1956 – Death of his father. Flag, Sr.’s Suicide Squad apparently doesn’t survive him.
  • 1957 – Recruited to join a new Suicide Squad (this one a USAF special forces commando). This unique unit — at a time where the USAF was barely starting to train ground troops to protect air bases — was essentially Gen. Wade Eiling’s private death squad.
  • 1957 – Eiling’s Suicide Squad operates in Iran. In this timeline, it was presumably a follow-up to Operation Ajax , when the CIA and MI6 deposed the Iranian government.
  • 1958 – Eiling sends Flag’s unit to its death. In the comics, the death of this Suicide Squad is a part of the War on Drugs. For this timeline, it would have occurred during the CIA-backed anti-Sukarno  uprising in Indonesia.
    Flag is the only survivor. He is sent to the NACA for aerospace work, where he meets Karin Grace, as part of his recovery.
  • 1959 – the Mission X Suicide Squad is formed.
  • 1965 – mission to Cambodia, the Suicide Squad disintegrates.
  • 1966 – Flag returns to duty, presumably under Gen. Eiling. His career as such is undocumented.
  • 1984 – Flag joins the Forgotten Heroes.
  • 1985 – Flag, King Faraday and Nightshade free Ben Turner from the League of Assassins.
  • 1986 – Eiling agrees to transfer Flag to Waller.

So yes, this means that Col. Flag is chronologically in his 50s or 60s during the heydays of the Yale/Ostrander Suicide Squad stories. See our Aging in Superhero Comics article for more about that.


History (part 2)

The Wall makes an opening

During the mid-1980s, Washington insider Amanda Waller obtained Ronald Reagan’s authorisation to set up a new Suicide Squad. That was despite opposition from members of the US intelligence community.

Rick Flag, Jr. and the Suicide Squad about to intervene in Manhattan (DC Comics)

The Squad had always employed problem individuals and sent them on high-risk missions as expendable assets. Waller took that reasoning one step further by staffing her ops teams with super-villains. This version of the Squad set up shop in 1986 in the Belle Reve prison. This Louisiana pen had been built to hold superhumans and other high-risks prisoners.

Suitable prisoners were offered years off their sentence in exchange for participating to missions and keeping their mouth shut. They were kept in line with tampering-proof explosive bracelets affixed to their wrist. The whole operation was run in full secrecy, and employing costumed criminals meant superior deniability.

Waller couldn’t rely solely on criminals, though. Her ground crew was made up of civil servants :

  • A pilot (Briscoe).
  • Two psychiatrists (Dr. LaGrieve and Dr. Herrs).
  • A computers expert (Flo Crawley).
  • An aircraft mechanic (Mitch Sekofsky) with his own crew.

Later on, the chaplain and the chief scientist of Belle Reve (Rev. Craemer and Professor Callendar) also provided their expertise.

What could possibly go wrong ?

Waller also recruited the two known survivors of the previous Suicide Squad – though that was not her original plan. An experienced intelligence man was needed to command crews of criminals, and she wanted Ben Turner. But her rivals and enemies made that impossible.

Waller was forced to compromise. She ended up having to take Colonel Rick Flag as field leader.

Rick Flag, Jr. about to kill Senator Cray (Suicide Squad / DC Comics)

Flag had the blessing of Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. More importantly his presence in the Squad was the only way to gain the approval of Gen. Wade Eiling.

Waller resented this and distrusted Flag. She suspected that he was some sort of plant. Amanda remained hostile and unfair toward Flag during this entire era, though he occasionally managed to impress even the Wall.

A few good people in a cesspool

Waller then went on to recruit the other Mission X Suicide Squad survivor – Karin Grace, whom she hired as a physician. It seems that Waller recruited her out of spite, to get back at Flag. Grace was quite willing to emotionally hurt Flag – see her writeups.org entry.

Flag and Waller agreed to have Ben Turner become Flag’s second in command. That was more politically workable than Turner being in charge.

They then approached the third member of the CBI team that had freed Turner, Eve Eden. Eden and Waller hammered out a deal so she’d work with the Squad. Flag, Turner and Eden formed the reliable, non-criminal backbone of the Squad and became friends.

They were also the least expendable Squad members. Though Waller wouldn’t have minded terribly had Flag encountered an untimely demise.

Legends

While planning its first operation, the Squad was scrambled to respond to the Legends crisis . This outing was an unexpected success as the team destroyed Darkseid’s gigantic agent Brimstone. They took but one casualty in the process.

Deadshot agreed to join on a permanent basis for personal reasons, as did Enchantress. And Captain Boomerang was forcibly kept on the team as he had proved too much of a secrecy risk.

The Squad began operations but two months after the Darkseid crisis. They launched the strike for which they had presumably been assembled.


Continued in part #2 !

The


Sharing

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe (chiefly Suicide Squad).

Helper(s): Frank Murdock.

Writeup completed on the 25th of November, 2011.

Writeups.org is a non-commercial, community site

We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .