The Suicide Squad is a special-purpose unit that has existed in the DC Universe since the 1940s. It is based on minor, obscure stories that started in 1959 in The Brave and the Bold, with the concept having been revitalized by multiple writers.
However there have been many versions of the Squad, and multiple versions of the DC Universe, over these decades. We’re going to spend some time keeping all of that clear.
There are four main eras for the Suicide Squad –
- The World War Two original unit.
- The Cold War-era one which we’re about to discuss, led by Rick Flag.
- The post-Crisis version built by Amanda Waller, led in the field by Rick Flag.
- The sundry post-Waller versions, including the post-Flashpoint one.
The Cold War version of the Suicide Squad didn’t appear much. It was a feature in but six issues of The Brave and the Bold, starting in August of 1959 (cover date) and ending December 1961 (cover date). To distinguish it from others era, we’re going to call this version the Mission X Suicide Squad.
An interesting version appeared in the The New Frontier comic book continuity. Many aspects of this version are compatible with the DC Universe one, and are thus mentioned in this article. The New Frontier stuff is tagged as such. *And* in italics to make it extra-clear which elements come from that Elseworld .
The timeline for the Cold War-era Suicide Squad
The clearest post-Crisis timeline is the one in Secret Origins v2 #14, by Ostrander. This article is based on it.
But first we need to solve a timeline problem.
Ostrander introduces significant retcons to obtain a coherent chronology. A key point is that it Rick Flag led both :
- The Mission X version of the Suicide Squad.
- Field teams later assembled as part of Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad.
This means that the two versions of the Squad — Mission X and Waller’s — are only separated by a few years.
Rick Flag, Jr. looks to be roughly in his mid-30s when serving under Waller. Even assuming that Flag led the previous, pre-Waller version of the Squad while in his late 20s, this means at most 5-7 years between the two versions.
Thus, in the timeline presented in Secret Origins #14, the adventures of the Cold War-era Suicide Squad occurred circa 1980-1982, rather than in 1959-1961.
The stories we’re about to describe clearly took place in the late 1950s. We can’t reinvent them into late 1970s stories — our goal is to describe the material, not invent new versions of the stories. Thus, we are going to apply our usual writeups.org solutions:
- We stick as close as possible to Ostrander’s post-Crisis account.
- We nevertheless describe the stories that happen circa 1960 – normal writeups.org usage is to assume that stories take place at publication dates.
- As usual we are going to assume that the main characters practically do not age, to make it all possible. See our article about the Leòn Genetic Sequence (LGS), which tackles this very problem. The assumption here is that all four members of the Mission X Suicide Squad were LGS bearers – as was, for that matter, Rick Flag, Sr.
- In this hypothesis, Squad members Rick Flag and Karin Grace were born circa 1930 rather than circa 1952. They were thus about 30 during the 1959-1961 adventures of the Suicide Squad. When Waller launches her version of the Suicide Squad, both Grace and Flag are thus chronologically in their late 50s, but biologically and mentally in their mid-30s since they are LGS bearers
- Using this solution, we both have adventures that occur in the exact manner we see in the books. Yet Flag and Grace are the age Ostrander wanted them to be for the stories that start in 1987.
This approach allows us to chronicle exactly what happened in the books. The only thing that we contradict are several dates given in Secret Origins #14, which are moved around to accommodate the much-longer life of the characters (for instance in our account Sharon Flag dies in 1945, not circa 1960).
The strict DC Universe timelines are described later in this document, after the events themselves have been presented.
Protecting the free world from exotic menaces. Protecting Task Force X’s budget from Congress.
Investigative field team with extensive military, medical and scientific expertise and access to special assets and authority.
Extent of operations:
Global, but reacts primarily to menaces against the United States.
Bases of Operations:
Federal budget line.
A number of monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, criminals, etc. though none was a recurrent opponent in chronicled cases.
The Suicide Squad can mobilise nearly any American government force, and some NATO forces if their mission parameters authorise it.
Number of active members:
Number of reserve members:
The Squad is backed by a small structure called Mission X, which is the only active part remaining within the larger, but hollowed-out, Task Force X framework.
Known current members:
During the era chronicled –
Known former members:
Known special agents:
Gen. J.E.B. Stuart remained a close ally of the Suicide Squad, though it is unknown whether he retained authority after the Squad was briefly disbanded in 1960.
Recruitment by Task Force X.
Table of equipment
The Suicide Squad was issued special-purpose gear. The more important bit of kit was a huge airplane, the unfortunately-named SS-1.
The SS-1 flying lab
This heavily-modified, six-jet-engines bomber was often called “the flying laboratory” since it was loaded with just about every piece of scientific equipment conceivable.
DCH The airplane had the following stats [STR 10 BODY (Hardened Defences) 11, Flight: 09, Radar sense: 18, Radio communications: 14, Telescopic vision: 06, Temperature control: 08, Thermal vision: 10, Bonuses & Limitations: Temperature control only for cold, and only along the trail of the SS-1. Note: The SS-1 includes a 12 APs Lab, and ample reservoirs of chemicals such as manganese dioxide or sodium carbonate (plus nozzles to spray those chemicals behind the plane). It has two 8 APs Omni-Gadgets, with a limitation that they must be scientific observation and testing equipment]. The SS-1 had designated ejectable seats, normally used after suiting up a crash suit and helmet (looking like a sort of lighter astronaut suit).
The Flying Lab was armed with the following payload:
- A dozen Bombs [BODY 02, Bomb: 16, Grenade Drawback, Dart Bonus]. Those were once used – in a typical Suicide Squad move – to blow out extreme air turbulence to recover control of the plummeting aircraft.
- An experimental A1-Missile with an ’atom warhead‘ [BODY 02, EV (Area of effect 2 APs) 18, AV 04, Flight: 12, R#02, Grenade drawback, Limitation: Flight can only be sustained for five Phases (-2)]. This prototype weapon is shot from the back of the SS-1, usually against something chasing the plane.
- An unknown number of anti-aircraft Rockets [BODY 02, EV 10 (Area of effect 2 APs), Range: 08, R#03, Grenade drawback].
- The jet engines have been occasionally used to burn giant monsters [BODY 06, Flame project (Diminishing): 12, Range: 03, Note: Flame Project has No Range and uses the listed Range instead].
- Since you can never have enough explosives, the Flying Lab carried a nuclear self-destruction charge — normally inert, but which could be quickly armed to destroy whatever held the plane [BODY 06, Bomb: 22, Flash: 13, EMP: 17, R#04, Bonus: All Powers are Combined].
- Evans and Bright once cooked up a special anaesthetic gas that eventually brought down a skyscraper-sized humanoid monster. While it’s not too complicated to use in-game, the workings are a bit intricate to explain for the first time: SPECIAL GAS [Fog: 06, Numb: 10, Poison touch (Bashing): 12, Sleep: 09, Bonuses & Limitations:
- Everything is Combined and active throughout the Fog, with Poison touch being the primary Power of the array.
- Numb, Poison touch and Sleep all ignore Growth as an RV (this includes full BODY derived from Growth, even if it’s Always On and Already Factored In, and Systemic Antidote linked to Growth).
- However, Growth means a delay on the onset of Numb and Poison Touch (Target’s Growth – 06 = delay).
- Numb keeps attacking as long as Poison Touch does.
- Sleep is Physical.
- Sleep can only attack once, and it has to wait for the Phase when the target is knocked unconscious by either Numb or Poison Touch.
- Sleep attacks the *current* BODY value of the target (at this point, likely zero) as an OV/RV.
Flag and Grace sat in the cockpit (Flag as pilot and Grace as co-pilot, radar navigator and bombardier/weapons officer) while Bright and Evans were in the bay with all the scientific equipment.
The Squad went through several versions of the SS-1. Their missions were rough on equipment. The original design, illustrated here, seemed to be a modified Boeing B-47 Stratojet with a greatly enlarged airframe to hold the scientific equipment. Later versions are less clearly seen but they evoke a heavily modified B52 Stratofrotress .
A version of the SS-1 was still in service in the 1980s. Amanda Waller’s engineers retrofitted it into a fast transport aircraft. From the distinctive front loading ramp it might have been a modified Lockheed C-5 Galaxy , though the real Galaxy is much larger than the SS-1 seen in the stories.
It might have been a one-off Lockheed prototype, produced in 1964 or 1965 and delivered to Mission X mere days before the agency closed its doors.
- WRIST RADIOS [BODY 01, Radio communications: 08, R#04].
- The Squad’s handguns are usually the classic Colt M1911A1 [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 07, R#02] – though in the original stories only Flag seems to routinely carry one. Bright and Evans also had one in areas with dangerous animals, but Grace never seemed to pack in the original stories.
- Basic equipment include Diving Suits [BODY 03, Cold immunity: 01] with SCUBA Gear [BODY 03, Sealed systems: 07, Limitation: Sealed systems only to provide air] and experimental Air Pressure Underwater Rifles [BODY 03, Mental blast: 05, Range: 02, R#03, Limitation: Mental blast has No Range, use the listed Range instead – which only works underwater].
- They also go through a lot of parachutes, and usually wear classic World War Two US Airborne helmets when jumping.
- Miniature cartridges. The cartridges are considered to be Exotic weapons and the Squad members carry them on a fully-stocked WW2-style military belt, even while in their civvies. Those are thrown much like grenades, and have a timer that seems to be quickly adjustable between 3 and 6 seconds. As the years pass the cartridges get smaller ; at first they are fairly similar to “pineapple” WW2-era US Mk2 grenades and each Squad person carries about four of different types. Later, it becomes possible to carry 12-15 on a belt, and they look like very fat pens with buttons. The main types of Squad cartridges are:
- Percussion cartridges [BODY 02, EV 10 (Area of Effect 1 AP), Grenade Drawback]. Squad members have also used ’flak cartridges’, which seem to be the same thing.
- Depth charges (same, only waterproof and with an auto-inflatable sleeve stabilising them in water).
- Armour-piercing [BODY 02, EV (Area of effect 0 APs) 11, Gliding (Extend throwing range only): 03, Grenade Drawback]. Those fin-stabilized grenades have a special miniature rocket engine that kicks in about a second after being thrown.
- Ultra-thermo cartridge [BODY 02, Flame project: (No Range, Area of effect 0 APs): 12, Grenade Drawback]. Presumably some sort of thermite.
- Fragmentation cartridge [BODY 02, Bomb: 10, Grenade Drawback].
- Anaesthetic cartridge [BODY 02, Poison touch (Bashing): 10, Grenade Drawback. This cartridge is chiefly useful when shot from an adaptop-gun (below) since it has to penetrate the skin, but I assume it could also be used as a stabbing weapon.
- Anti-pyro cartridge [BODY 02, Flame control (extinguish only): 09, Grenade drawback].
The Squad will almost always Team Attack with their cartridges, which are generally used against various types of dinosaurs and alien spaceships. In order to facilitate their quasi-systematic Team Attacks, they seem to carry a similar mix of cartridges, presumably in the same order.
As can be seen from the numbers, these specialised weapons were very powerful – they clearly outperform even 2010s military equipment. Between this power, Team Attacks and Hero Points, the Squad could occasionally destroy giant monsters, UFOs, and McGuffins with just what they carried on their belt.
- Adaptop-guns [BODY 05, Range: 04, Ammo: 01, Note : Range to propel Miniature Cartridges]. This weapon looked very much like a 1896 “broom handle” Mauser, though with a much fatter barrel. The Adaptop-guns were a late development in the arsenal of the Suicide Squad.
- (In the New Frontier continuity, the Squad had a more military streak and used the following weaponry :
- Flag and Bright both had what seemed to be a early M14 .308 Assault Rifle [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 06, Ammo: 08, R#02, Advantage : Autofire].
- Grace and Evans each used a Thompson M1 submachinegun [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 07, R#02, Advantage : Autofire].
- The team is also very often depicted with one or two members equipped with a M2-2 Backpack Flamethrower [BODY 03, Flame project: 07, Ammo: 06, Range: 03, Rec. STR 01, Advantage: Autofire, Bonus: Flame Project does Continuing Damage (like Disintegration) for up to 5 Phases, Limitation: Flame project has No Range, use the listed Range, Drawback: MPR (heavy and cumbersome – cutting movement speed by 1 – unless your STR is 2+ APs above Rec. STR)]. They also have access to “super-bazookas” (M20A1B1 Infantry Rocket Launcher) and the like, for instance to engage giant robots. See the heavy weaponry articles on writeups.org for stats.
The DC Universe Suicide Squad occasionally had such weapons – but on the covers, not in the stories themselves. Assuming that they used military weaponry in some unpublished adventures like they did in the New Frontier continuity wouldn’t thus be much of a stretch.
Wartime Suicide Squadron (1943-1947 ; 1950-1952)
The ancestor of the Suicide Squad is the US Army’s Squadron S. During World War Two, this ragtag band of loose cannons and borderline psychopaths was tasked with securing the supposedly strategic Dinosaur Island.
Due to both the extremely dangerous environment and the constant brawls and knife fights among the men, the “S” was said to stand for “Suicide”.
A general became sick of the waste. He decided to give even those men a fighting chance. However he realised it would take an extremely tough CO to hold this appalling unit together. He selected a TBF Avenger pilot, Cpt. Richard Montgomery Flag, himself a haunted and dangerous man.
Flag was the sole survivor of his squadron. Months before they had spotted an under-escorted Japanese aircraft carrier during a routine patrol. They chose to attack, knowing that it was likely to kill them. Sinking a carrier was worth it in their eyes.
The squadron leader ordered Flag to take the tail of the formation as they dove in. Flag saw his comrades shot to pieces by the flak. Surviving thanks to their sacrifice, he scored a direct, point-blank hit with his torpedo. As he did he heard dying voices over the radio urging him to carry on for them.
Flag took his new command of Squadron S. After demonstrating that he could beat up any troublemaker giving him lip, he proceeded to reshape them into an elite fighting unit with remarkably broad training. The Squad soon became a Rangers unit. Though the bulk of their operations took place on Dinosaur Island, Flag himself led commando raids worldwide with men hand-picked from his elite unit.
Lt.-Col. Flag and Sharon Race married shortly after the war was over. But Mrs. Flag was killed weeks later when she saved her teenaged son from an out-of-control car. The Suicide Squadron was shut down during the same general time frame.
Perhaps at Flag’s request, the unit was reactivated in the earliest days of the Korean War . It was one of the first to experience combat in the land of the quiet morning in the summer of 1950.
Un-American activities (1952-195x)
While the Squad was fighting and dying in Korea, the US lost their key protectors. In 1951 the House Un-American Activities Committee subpoenaed the Justice Society of America and demanded to know their identities, forcing the super-heroic Society to disband and retire.
In the wake of the JSA’s disappearance numerous other mystery men chose to follow suit. President Truman soon came to realise the consequences. There was now practically nobody to stop super-villains, alien scouts, giant monsters, Communist super-spies, dinosaurs, super-gorillas and other paranormal menaces of the day.
In 1952 Truman created a new agency code-named Task Force X that would deal with such exotic threats. Their military forces, tasked with engaging giant monsters and the like, were based on the Suicide Squadron and led in the field by Rick Flag. Their intelligence arm was a separate agency withing Task Force X, named Argent.
Several years after the creation of Task Force X a heavier version of the WWII weapon of mass destruction called the War Wheel was unleashed upon America. Even the Suicide Squad’s air force was unable to damage the gigantic vehicle. Eventually Flag, experiencing flashbacks to the voices he heard on the radio in 1942 when he lost the rest of his TBF squadron, crashed his plane into a weak point.
His sacrifice knocked the War Wheel down.
Flag’s kamikaze run — perhaps circa 1956 — apparently marked the end of the Suicide Squadron. The Squadron seems to have collapsed nigh-instantly despite being a military unit. What happened remains unknown. Our entry for Richard Montgomery Flag includes some discussion of the subject. Argent, the intelligence agency, continued operations.
Rick Flag, Jr.
Gen. Flag’s son, also named Richard, was (in our proposed timeline – see above) born in 1930. Atypically for the times, his parents only married much later. He enlisted as soon as he could to become a cadet, though by the time he graduated and got his wings the war in Korea was over.
(The USAF Academy didn’t exist yet. It is likely that Flag studied at Annapolis to become a midshipman and transferred to the US Air Force later on)
Flag Jr. became one of the US military’s best pilots, and developed early on a not-so-friendly rivalry with the USAF’s Kyle “Ace” Morgan. Morgan would soon leave the Air Force to challenge the unknown.
In 1957 and 1958 there was another Suicide Squad. It was a commando unit assembled by USAF General Wade Eiling as his private death squad. This team was unique – back then, the USAF was barely starting to train ground forces to defend airbases, and an elite infantry force was highly atypical.
Eiling had picked Rick Flag, Jr. to command it. Eiling presumably named the unit Suicide Squad in honour of Flag’s father, to harness the son’s motivation to defend the familial legacy. The General wanted to experiment with soldiers with an abnormal level of motivation and tolerance for risk. All the men on the team had been unethically manipulated to reinforce their drive.
They also received post-hypnotic override implants in case they ever discovered the truth.
This Squad mostly operated abroad, conducting what would be now considered typical special operations and black ops work. Known members were called Caetano, Eddie Vracek, Vega and “Dutchman” van Damm.
Mission X (1959-196x)
For Eiling these elite soldiers were expendable. He eventually just spent them for strategic expedience. Flag, Jr. was the only survivor of this suicide mission. He was then selected as an astronaut training program candidate – which is where he met Dr. Karin Grace.
(In this timeline the program that led to the Mercury flights started a bit earlier than in the real world — 1957 or 1958 rather than 1959 — and/or the special NACA committee for space exploration was more extensive than in the real world).
Dr. Grace was a USAF physician, who worked with NACA in the nascent field of space medicine. She had previously served with an air rescue unit, but one mission in the mid-1950s — presumably in Việt Nam — went wrong. Though her unit rescued several downed pilots, including her lover Steve, the air rescue plane was itself hit by a storm on its way back and crashed at sea.
The doctor managed to get on a floating wing debris. Steve, however, was too badly wounded. He refused to let her try bring him on the wing, knowing he would just drag her to sink with him. Pushing her back, he drowned under her eyes, urging her to carry on for him.
(In the New Frontier version, Karin Grace dragged several wounded men, including two badly burned pilots, onto the wing debris. Not having any drugs or medical gear, she could not save any of them during the two weeks they spend drifting, watching them die one by one despite her best efforts.
The only person still alive when another rescue unit found the wreck, Dr. Grace was in a state of shock and surgeons had to cut out the dog tags she has been clenching in her fist for days.)
The traumatised Grace was nicknamed “the ice doctor” at NACA, in large part for her aloofness toward the men who were interested in the beautiful physician. Flag was originally among their number, but when he was told about Dr. Grace’s backstory he decided to tell her about his father.
The two bonded over their respective losses, and became lovers.
Creation of Mission X
Argent, the remaining Task Force X agency, gradually stopped responding to requests. It vanished during the second half of the 1950s. Even Task Force X did not know where all the Argent assets had disappeared.
After the President Kennedy assassination, Argent went rogue. They would operate deeply undercover for decades, though Argent would meet its end at the hands of Amanda Waller during the 1980s.
Thus, by 1959, Task Force X was an empty shell. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was one of the few persons left within Task Force X. He decided to take action since some sort of interim force was necessary to handle unusual menaces. Stuart received the support of Gen. Wade Eiling.
Being familiar with the younger Flag, Stuart decided to recruit him with Eiling’s blessing as the leader of a small unit. Since both sides of Task Force X were defunct, he created a new, much smaller structure under Task Force X called Mission X. Mission X would have but one field team, the new Suicide Squad, which would just be a 4-man affair.
This name was also a legacy from the battles at Dinosaur Island. It had been the code-name of special missions led by US Army Rangers in the area. Mission X assignments during the war where also high-casualties assignments, even for elite troopers such as the Rangers.
Flag had Dr. Grace transferred to this unit. Mission X staffers then recruited two civilian scientists, physicist Jeff Bright and astronomer Dr. Hugh Evans.
Jeff Bright and Dr. Evans
Dr. Evans and his young assistant Jeff Bright had been working together for several years. The defining moment of their collaboration occurred whilst they were working on the American atomic bomb development program.
The two scientists were scheduled to join the rest of their detonation observation team. Howbeit, their Jeep broke down in the middle of the desert. In the distance, they saw a sudden fireball erupt into the sky – the bomb had gone off hours before its scheduled detonation, fatally irradiating everyone in the observation post.
Bright and Evans managed to repair the Jeep and tried to save their colleagues. But the dying men refused their help since they knew the radioactivity would kill their would-be rescuers. From the ruined post, they urged the two scientists to carry on for them.
(In our proposed timeline, the catastrophic test could have been the real-world 1954 disaster at the Bikini Atoll, the Castle Bravo thermonuclear detonation . Castle Bravo was the worst nuclear disaster in US history, with massive fallout).
(In the New Frontier continuity, Evans and Bright accidentally locked 5 colleagues in a bunker, and could not free them before the bomb went off, barely making it to the minimum safe distance when it became obvious that it was too late).
Mission X policies
Thus, the new Suicide Squad was made up of broken people with psychological problems and a bad case of survivor syndrome. Yet it proved amazingly successful after it went into action in late 1959. They employed heroic courage, clever tactics, cinematic scientific analysis and experimental science and technology.
The Squad defeated a number of strange atomic menaces – many of which conventional military force had been ineffective against.
The Squad’s rules of engagement were colour-coded. While all the colour codes are not known, “Condition Blue” meant conducting the mission on an unofficial basis. “Condition Red”, on the other hand, allowed Squad members to commandeer all sorts of troops and resources as necessary, up to and including experimental manned rockets.
The Squad did not run undercover missions. In fact they were minor celebrities. Mission X’s budget was constantly threatened with axing, and it was presumably J.E.B. Stuart who decided to publicise his agents so Congressmen would be reluctant to cancel Mission X’s budget.
Mission X’s Suicide Squad in action
The first documented mission of the Squad was to stop a rolling red wave of heat which emerged from the ocean. The wave had simply vaporised the US Air Force’s fire-fighting foam bombs. The Squad managed to freeze it, but a giant monster with a freezing touch emerged from the resulting mountain of ice.
The Squad found a way to neutralize the monster’s freezing touch, but it started draining chlorophyll around him. So they resorted to an experimental moon rocket and dumped the monster into the Sun (!) since it kept adapting to attacks and manifesting new powers. The monster was left orbiting the Sun.
The Suicide Squad managed to pilot their rocket back to Earth – using nearby meteors to accelerate the rocket until they could make it back against all odds. However, unknown radiation from the meteors (presumably related to the white dwarf matter used by the Atom (Ray Palmer)) made them shrink to a size of about one inch.
Forming a human pyramid to reach the rocket’s controls despite their new size, they landed safely. But they soon discovered that they were practically in the middle of a submarines base of ’the enemy‘. Sailing a matchbox as a raft, they used the matches to repel an aggressive seagull, then to paddle into the enemy base, which they intended to sabotage no matter what.
Sneaking into the base, the Squad ingeniously destroyed it despite their diminutive size. The strange effects of the meteors dissipated as they were paddling away, allowing them to commandeer a seaplane and fly away in triumph.
After these amazing adventures, the Squad members were granted their first furlough. They decided to all go together to Paris (’even the Parisians’ recognise the famous Suicide Squad, the caption tells us).
However, while riding the metro, they stumbled upon a burrowing giant serpent. It wrecked the train and started rampaging through Paris. While the French military attempted to stop the colossal snake, which proved to be immune to field artillery, the Suicide Squad had hundreds of workers assemble a giant plastic bag. Using it as giant parachute, they jumped from an helicopter and managed to wrap the bag around the reptile’s head, asphyxiating the monster.
The Squad then investigated the disappearance of one professor Duane. The scientist had just invented a strange formula that could grow living things to an incredible size. After defeating a giant moth and a giant caterpillar, they discovered a gigantic humanoid monster. It absconded with Karin and a handy experimental nuclear bomb, taking both to San Francisco.
The rest of the Squad :
- Sedated the monster.
- Rescued Karin.
- Disarmed the first stage of the bomb before it could detonate in the middle of the city.
- Towed the giant monster far away into the sea.
- Sent it to the bottom – where the second stage of the experimental bomb went off.
They theorised that the creature had actually been professor Duane, mutated beyond humanity by his mysterious formula.
Mission X’s Suicide Squad back in action
The Suicide Squad was briefly disbanded, presumably as a result of the much-dreaded budget cuts. This lasted for but a few months – at which point Dr. Grace was inexplicably mesmerised into painting a strange series of pictures of dinosaur attacks on the US.
This was weird enough that the Squad was reactivated under the authority of one General Brent. The Squad’s investigation led them to confront intelligent otherdimensional dinosaurs sharing a hive-mind installed by English-speaking aliens. As a result, Mission X was reinstated.
Back in action, the Squad was summoned when a plane carrying secret weapons to an allied country was destroyed. The only survivor was delirious and ranting about a cyclops. The Squad was parachuted near the crash site, and ran into the one-eyed giant before they even hit the ground.
The cyclops was an ancient monster from Classical times, who had warred upon a kingdom because he wanted their Queen. The monocular man-mountain had been brought down by a hero named Atho, using an arrow rubbed with special herbs. The cyclops slept in a cave for 25 centuries before waking up and accidentally destroying the lost plane.
Exploiting her resemblance with the ancient Queen and the fact the monster had no way to realise centuries had gone by, Karin distracted the massive monocular misantrophe while the rest found the lost experimental rockets. They set them to self-destruct so they could not fall into the wrong hands. Their Polyphemus-like opponent was killed when the rockets, which he was using as spears, exploded.
The Suicide Squad then had a few days off, and spent these taking photos for a charity auction. They were allowed on top of the Statue of Liberty for a few shots, but the Statue was then attacked by a gigantic pterosaur. They managed to briefly repulse the flying lizard with special cartridges, but it flew away after grabbing a USAF jet in mid-air.
(In the New Frontier continuity, Dr. Evans heroically dies at that point. He’s caught by the giant pterosaurl and detonates all of his explosives while in the beast’s mouth, saving the rest of the team.)
Chasing the giant pterosaur (and encountering other, similar beasts), the Squad landed within a cloud from which the dinosaurs came. It was actually a titanic camouflaged spaceship. The pilot was a giant green humanoid. It callously used his giant pterodactyl-like animals as hunting falcons fetching him whatever he wanted to acquire – planes, boats, lighthouses, statues, etc.
The Squad escaped the ship after arming the nuclear bomb aboard their flying lab. They parachuted out, and the bomb seemingly destroyed the spaceship, including its pilot and hunting ’birds’.
During a deployment in an undisclosed desert, the Squad was trapped by the mirage people. The Americans were challenged to a competition lest the mirage people cause worldwide chaos.
The Squad members were helpless since the mirage people’s illusions were perfectly realistic. Yet they did not fall for the final manipulation. Their foes tried to have them kill each other thinking they were mirages – but looking into but each others’ eyes, they all realised they were the genuine article.
The next chronicled case occurred after they crash-landed their special plane in a remote desert. There, they soon found the skeleton of a giant dinosaur and the wreck of a giant humanoid robot, which had seemingly perished fighting each other.
Exploring the area, they found a small hidden sea, explored it, and got swallowed by what seemed to be a giant marine dinosaur. They washed ’ashore‘ inside the beast to find an entire forest populated by, you guessed it, dinosaurs. Inevitably, a giant pterodactyl grabbed Karin and flew away.
Investigating (and shooting the occasional attacking dinosaur), the men of the Suicide Squad discovered that the ’beast‘ that had swallowed them was actually a dinosaur-shaped starship with a natural habitat dinosaur zoo inside. Everybody got out safely just before the ship left Earth.
The Squad was then sent to unveil the secret of the Sculptor-Sorcerer. This man was suspected of turning crimefighters and criminals of note into lifelike golden statues. The Squad launched a media campaign announcing that they were hunting down the famous criminal Sneeko, hoping to lure the Sculptor-Sorcerer out in the open.
The plot worked a little too well. The Squad was trapped and turned into gold statues, which the Sculptor-Sorcerer eventually agreed to sell to the underworld for execution. However his assistant, a beautiful native girl with a pet gorilla, saved them because she thought Flag was too handsome to die.
The Squad arrested the bad guys, though the gorilla was unfortunately shot. Bummer.
For its entire existence, Mission X’s Suicide Squad was beset by internal tension. All 3 men were attracted toward Karin Grace. Flag and Grace had chosen to hide their relationship from Bright and Evans, knowing that the overall psychological state of the team was fragile. They rightly feared that the truth could provoke irrational reactions in their jealous colleagues.
Furthermore, super-heroes started returning to action during the 1960s as McCarthyism receded in the past. This weakened Mission X’s bargaining position when it came to its ever-threatened budget.
The final mission of the Suicide Squad took place in Cambodia. The team was parachuted in to investigate credible reports about abominable snowmen and hidden golden temples. The date is unrevealed, though in our proposed timeline 1965 works fine.
The team did indeed run into a genuine yeti. It left Rick knocked out and wounded. Worried about him, Grace finally let slip that she loved him – to the furore of Bright and Evans, who learned that they had been deceived all along.
The team discovered a mysterious golden temple hidden in a crevice, but they were too busy disintegrating over the Grace/Flag relationship. Emerging from the crevice and chased by the yeti, they argued over who would stay behind and sacrifice himself to save Grace and the rest of the team, over Grace’s vehement protestations.
As they did the thin ice bridge they were on collapsed. Flag tackled Grace and they both landed in safety while Evans and Bright were engulfed by the shattering ice along with the yeti.
The fates of the Squad members are as follow:
- Grace developed severe PTSD over the loss of Bright and Evans. This was caused by guilt and powerlessness and the existence of previous trauma. Psychiatrists soon requested that Rick Flag stop seeing her, and they lost contact. Flag thus never knew that Grace was a few weeks pregnant during the Cambodia disaster.
Dr. Grace was suborned as a Manhunter agent and a plant within the US government’s superhuman forces. She eventually rebelled and sacrificed herself to destroy a major Manhunter base, completing one last Suicide Squad mission.
- Flag immersed himself even further in spook work. He was sent to infiltrate a team called the Forgotten Heroes, who were investigating the mystery of the golden temples like the one the Squad had discovered in Cambodia.
During the late 1980s, Amanda Waller arranged for Flag to become the field commander for her version of the Suicide Squad. Flag died in action to destroy an enemy base, though more recent revelations have cast complex doubts over his biography.
- Doc Evans died in the fall in Cambodia – or earlier if you use New Frontier continuity.
- After the Cambodian disaster, Jeff Bright was captured by Chinese troops, traded with the Soviets over some political issue between the two countries, and became known as Koshchei the Deathless.
For more details, see the individual profiles.
Mission X was closed. President Johnson , like Truman before him, soon realised that it left the country too vulnerable to superhuman threats. He created a new agency – S.H.A.D.E. (Super-Human Advanced Defense Executive), presumably circa 1966. S.H.A.D.E. had a much, much lower profile than Mission X and operated under multiple layers of secrecy that only accrued as the decades passed.
For folks wishing to use the strict DC continuities, here’s a description of the differences between these and our merged timeline.
Pre-Crisis Earth-1 timeline
In the original continuity there is no Rick Flag, Sr.. Rick Flag was his TBF squadron’s youngest pilot and served in the Pacific during World War Two. From his portrayal it seems that he enlisted underage, and he was probably born in the mid-1920s.
The squadron that sacrificed itself so he could torpedo a Japanese carrier was his, and Flag continued his career with the military.
Karin Grace is about the same age, and also served in the Pacific during the war, which is where the medical plane crash occurred. In the original version Grace is a flight nurse, not a doctor. This leads to her recruitment by Mission X, where she meets Flag.
By inference, the premature atomic detonation that should have killed Bright and Evans occurred during the Manhattan Project, or just after it.
The unit is originally named “Task Force X” (and once “Task Force 4”, probably a typo) but will later be called “Mission X”. Their adventures start in the summer of 1959. The Squad is never really depicted as a military unit – for instance they vote to take decisions.
The Squad vanishes in 1961, but Rick Flag (now called Rick Flagg for some reason) reappears in 1984. He’s recruited by the Immortal Man to join the Forgotten Heroes. Flagg mentions a mission in Cambodia, during which the Squad discovered a strange golden temple.
Nobody dies during the mission, but upon learning of their discovery the government immediately disbands the Squad. It seems that they lost contact. Perhaps they were forbidden to contact each other.
In terms of publication, the members of the Forgotten Heroes had their adventures during the early 1960s (1959-1961 for the Squad, 1965-1967 for Animal Man, 1960-1964 for Cave Carson, 1960-1967 for the Sea Devils, 1968 for Dolphin…). But as they join the Forgotten Heroes there’s no sense that two decades have passed.
During the last chronicled adventures of the Forgotten Heroes, the Monitor announces that the Crisis is starting. Thus Earth-1 — which is where the adventures of the pre-Crisis Suicide Squad likely occurred — soon ceases to exist and is replaced by New Earth.
Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths timeline
As previously noted, the changes between our ’merged‘ version and the version in Secret Origins v2 #14 lie in the dates. In the post-CoIE timeline :
- Rick Flag, Jr. is born circa 1952, the same year when President Truman creates Task Force X. Sharon Flag dies saving him in 1960. Rick Flag, Sr. dies taking down the War Wheel in 1962.
- Rick Flag, Jr.’s career as a military pilot presumably starts circa 1974. His rivalry with Ace Morgan takes place in the late 1970s (whereas our merged timeline conserves 1957 as the date for the creation of the Challengers of the Unknown).
- The adventures of the Mission X version of the Squad presumably take place during the early 1980s — 1980 to 1983 is my best guess. While the monster seen in the flashback panel is based on a vintage Suicide Squad monster, one assumes that their adventures were different since most of what happened around 1960 simply wouldn’t fly around 1980.
The press releases seen in the flashback panel mention foiling a monster and eliminating a dinosaur.
- Rick Flag is sent to infiltrate the Forgotten Heroes (that he’s still working as a special agent is not mentioned in the pre-Crisis version) in, presumably, 1984. Flag remains with the Heroes from 1984 until the Crisis on Infinite Earths, in 1986.
- In 1987, Sarge Steel and Amanda Waller brief President Reagan over the history of the Suicide Squad. Against Steel’s advice, the President authorises the launch of Waller’s version of the Suicide Squad. Waller then gets Flag to lead her field teams.
The 2007 Raise the Flag mini-series, taking place in the past of Amanda Waller’s version of the Suicide Squad, presented a different version of the immediate post-Crisis timeline.
Presumably, John Ostrander’s goal was to adhere to the sliding 10 years time scale of the DC Universe, which necessitates constantly retconning everything that cannot be ignored. The main differences are:
- There existed a Suicide Squad, run by Richard Montgomery Flag, during the 1940s and 1950s. It was a covert action group using prisoners from military stockades for high-risk missions, and was deployed during WWII and in Korea. Flag died without having a known descendant, and there was no known Suicide Squad unit for several decades.
- It was presumably during the 1990s that Gen. Wade Eiling revived the concept. His Squad wasn’t made of prisoners, but of military specialists from various branches of the service capable of taking on high-risk missions.
- An amnesiac elite soldier, Anthony Miller, was told that he was Richard Rogers Flag, the grandson of Richard Montgomery Flag — though Richard Rogers Flag did not exist. Eiling also told him that he had been picked to lead the new version of the Squad. From context, every member of the Squad had likewise been manipulated and fed lies.
- Eiling’s goal was to field soldiers that were highly determined, even by the lofty Special Operations standards, yet expandable and would serve him personally rather than the State. Each soldier was implanted with a post-hypnotic suggestion allowing Eiling to bring them under his thrall just by speaking a key word.
- This Suicide Squad included soldiers called Caetano, Eddie Vracek, Vega and “Dutchman” van Damm. The unit had somewhat tense group dynamics, and was deployed to conduct high-stakes special operations worldwide, including in Qurac.
- The unit was sent to its death in an undisclosed South American country to reinforce the credibility of an informant within a drug cartel. Eiling wanted a dangerous, credible American assassination attempt to take place, but warned the informant beforehand so it would fail.
- ”Rick Flag” was the only survivor and discovered Eiling’s betrayal, but was swiftly brought in line through the post-hypnotic suggestion. Presumably this happened circa 1996.
- A new version of the Squad, led in the field by “Rick Flag”, was formed by Eiling within days of “Flag’s” return from South America. At this point of the DC’s sliding scale, the Challengers of the Unknown had just been formed, with a strong media profile and a great track record in exploring the unexplainable.
Eiling wanted to have a comparable team, and had already recruited “two scientists and a medic” for “Flag’s” second Suicide Squad. It is not directly stated that these persons are Evans, Bright and Grace, though we will assume that they were.
- Presumably the Flag/Grace/Bright/Evans version of the Squad operated from roughly 1997 to 2002. What it did is unknown, though given Ostrander’s previous efforts it likely resembled the original adventures. How this Squad met its end is unchronicled, but there’s no reason to assume that the Cambodia mission didn’t happen more or less as chronicled post-Crisis.
- In this timeline “Flag” and Grace were presumably born circa 1968, Bright in the early 1970s and Evans in the 1960s. It is likely that Grace, Bright and Evans had also been manipulated by Eiling and implanted with a post-hypnotic suggestion. Nothing is known about their biography.
- In this timeline Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad was assembled in 2004, and Eiling loaned “Flag” to serve as a field leader so he would have a man within the organisation of his rival Waller. ”Flag” only learned the truth about his actual identity 4 years later and collaborated with Waller in taking down Eiling, who had since been transformed into a superhuman.
In Booster Gold v2 #20, Booster travels to 1952. He runs into a version of the Squad that only Rip Hunter knew about.
At first glance this version appears to be garbled. Bright and Evans are switched around – but that happens often and the version here is the erroneous one in Who’s Who. Evans identifies as “Evan Hughs” and the man in charge identifies as “Frank Rock”.
However, they also use fake FBI identification, then pretend that they’re CIA, so providing fake names isn’t much of a stretch. Furthermore, if this took place in the context of the post-Infinite Crisis timeline, one assumes that Rock is there since there was never a Rick Flag, Jr..
This would mean that the persons who served with the Anthony Miller Rick Flag” in the late 1990s and early 2000s were not Grace, Evans and Bright.
This story features Karin Grace being in her 20s. This is perfectly fine in the timeline proposed in this article, and impossible in the DC Universe (especially with the ten-years sliding timescale), given her appearances in the earliest version of Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad.
Marvel Universe History
The similarities between the Mission X Suicide Squad and the Fantastic Four are obvious. The simplest hypothesis for importing the Suicide Squad into the Marvel Universe would thus be that they are the future Fantastic Four, who worked for Task Force X for 2 years before gaining their powers.
(The similarities are in turn largely in inherited from this version of the Suicide Squad being based on Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown.)
The FF are known to have had adventures before their fateful flight – Ben Grimm in particular flew missions for military intelligence. The role of Rick Flag Sr. could become that of Daniel Grimm, Ben’s older brother whom Ben admired.
Daniel fakes his death at the government’s request after World War Two to lead the Suicide Squad under the code name “Richard Flag”. He briefly meets Reed Richards in Korea, leading Reed to suspect that Ben’s brother is still alive.
Daniel Grimm dies in 1959 against the War Wheel, leading Gen. J.E.B. Stuart to approach his brother Ben. By that point Ben Grimm is a Korean War ace with ties to military intelligence. Given the nature of the missions, Grimm (the new Richard Flag) suggests his buddy Reed Richards.
As they are considering their next recruitment choices they are asked to go to Paris to deliver urgent NATO documents. Susan Storm strongarms Reed into taking her along for a free vacation to Paris, along with her kid brother Johnny. There they neutralise a giant serpent, and Richards advocates for recruiting Susan and Johnny given their impressive performance during that case.
In this context Johnny’s talent for vehicular mechanics would be emphasised and would extend to some simple electronics, allowing him to assist Reed to whip up some Gadgets. Susan might be closer to the Ultimate Universe version of the character. For instance instead of dreaming to become an actress she might be trained as a nurse and taking intensive night courses to become a pharmacologist. By comic book logic that would give her solid knowledge of various fields vaguely related to chemistry.
The adventures thus occur slightly out of order, with the first one — the invincible monster in the red wave — actually occurring last, and the second one — destroying the sub base whilst tiny — having already occurred after a different start, probably involving Dr. Henry Pym.
The last case of this Suicide Squad thus becomes the attempt to foil the adaptable monster found in the red wave, then discovering that it won’t work. There isn’t a space rocket that just happens to be around for them to commandeer. The space vehicle is the one that Reed has been building as Suicide Squad equipment, but is not finished due to budget cuts. In fact it likely never will be since Congress axed the Mission X budget in the hours before the red wave appeared.
Thus, the Suicide Squad decides to sacrifice themselves by luring the monster to grab the incomplete spaceship (everyone knows that the radiation shielding is not finished and that it will likely be a suicide flight) and leaving Earth with it to slingshot it toward the Sun. As it turns out they inexplicably survive and are transformed, though Mission X is at that point busy crating the equipment and closing the offices.
As they come back a week later, the Suicide Squad are thought KIA and there’s nobody expecting their return. Still determined to serve, the fantastic foursome decides to form a private venture.
Source of Character: DC Universe.
Helper(s): Darci, Tachoene.