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There’s only one unit we can summon now ! This is what it was created for ! The Suicide Squad ! Flash Task Force X !”

Sequence

There have been many versions of DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, and of the DC Universe, over the decades.

Things can get intricate. So we strongly suggest reading our Suicide Squad articles *in order*, to keep your suicide ducks in a suicide row.

In-universe, there are five main eras for the Suicide Squad :

  1. The Suicide Squadron of the 1940s. Start there.
  2. Several continuations of the Suicide Squadron and Suicide Squad during the 1950s. These are mostly covered in the above article.
  3. The Cold War Suicide Squad. A.k.a. the Silver AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Suicide Squad, the 1960s Suicide Squad, and the Mission X Suicide Squad. It’s covered in this here article, which is presented in two parts. .
  4. The 1980s/1990s version built by Amanda Waller.
  5. The sundry post-Waller versions, including the post-Flashpoint ones.

As with the 1940s Suicide Squadron, there was interesting additional material in The New Frontier. Same as before, we’ll cover that material but clearly flag it (heh) as coming from a different continuity.

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Overview

The Cold War version of the Suicide Squad was in just six issues of The Brave and the Bold. From August of 1959 (cover date) to December 1961 (cover date).

On the other hand, these dates — early during the Silver Age of super-hero comics — make the Squad a natural answer to the question “who was defeating the comic book menaces after the World War Two heroes retired, but before the modern super-heroes emerged ?”.

(Another answer is the Challengers of the Unknown. But the Squad’s vibe is a better match for the “last line of defence” job, whereas Kirby’s Challs felt more like gentlemen adventurers).

Originally, there’s no link between the War That Time Forgot tales and the Mission X Suicide Squad. Writer Robert Kanigher simply reused cool-sounding terms such as “Suicide Squad” and “Mission X”.

It’s John Ostrander who shoehorned everything into a coherent continuity decades later.

Suicide Squad (Mission X) (Pre-Crisis DC Comics) first cover 3 waves of doom

The timeline discussion

However.

The Ostrander reconstruction has a weakness. It is the same man — Rick Flag, Jr. — who led the 1959+ Mission X Suicide Squad and the 1987+ Amanda Waller Suicide Squad.

This can work in some compressed, sliding timelines  . Where only a few years elapsed between the two.

But our goal is to feature the Mission X Suicide Squad as it appeared in the vintage stories. Not to make something up about how it could have looked if it took place during the early 1980s, or the late 2000s, or whenever a sliding timeline would take us.

Especially since the best hook of the Suicide Squad is that it can fill the gap between heroic ages.

Our solution

We’ll therefore use our usual solution, allowing us to describe the stories as they were published.

It goes :

  1. We stick as close as possible to Ostrander’s account in the foundational Secret Origins vol. 2 #14.
  2. The main exception is that we assume that the Mission X Suicide Squad material took place when it was published – 1959/1961.
  3. This is possible because we assume that the key characters age very little, and were in their prime for decades. See our article about the Leòn Genetic Sequence (LGS) for more about that.

Using this setup :

  • Most Mission X Suicide Squad members were born during the early 1930s, and are in their late 20s in 1959.
  • Which also means that, say, team member Jeff Bright was about 18 when he served in Korea. This matches a flashback in Suicide Squad vol. 1 #50.
  • When Amanda Waller launches her Squad in 1987, surviving team members Rick Flag Jr. and Karin Grace therefore are in their mid-50s. But as LGS bearers, they are still physiologically in their early 30s.
  • So they look but a few years older in 1987 than they did in 1961. Just like they did in the comic books. Simple and clean. No applause please, just send money.

The Silver Age Suicide Squad DC Comics from the Who's Who

This is the official team shot of the Silver Age Suicide Squad in the 1980s Who’s Who in the DC Universe. Unfortunately, this entry got confused between Bright and Evans. Probably because the vintage stories occasionally mixed them up. This mistake is visible even in the art above.

Organisation

Full Name:
Suicide Squad.

Purpose:
Protecting The Free World™ from extraordinary menaces. Protecting Task Force X’s budget from Congress.

One story implies that they defeated some extraordinary criminal conspiracies, earning them the enmity of the underworld. But no such case was chronicled.

Modus Operandi:
Investigative field team with extensive military, medical and scientific expertise.

The team is also granted special assets and authority, and received glowing media coverage.

Extent of operations:
Global, but reacts primarily to menaces against the United States.

Bases of Operations:
Washington, D.C..

Major Funding:
Federal budget line.

Known Enemies:
A number of monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, criminals, etc.. None was a recurrent opponent in chronicled cases.

There is a recurrent subplot about the Task Force X budget being threatened with cuts. Since US defence budgets aren’t known for being cut, this suggests vicious power plays by other security agencies to appropriate the Task Force X budget.

Known allies:
The Suicide Squad can mobilise nearly any American government force. And some NATO forces if their mission parameters authorise it.

Suicide Squad (Mission X) (Final Frontier version) Grace Evans Bright Cooke

Grace, Evans and Bright in the New Frontier continuity.

Membership

Number of active members:
Four.

Number of reserve members:
None.

Organizational structure:
The Squad is backed by a small structure called Mission X. It seems to be the only active part remaining within the larger, but hollowed-out, Task Force X framework.

Known current members:
During this era :

Known former members:
None.

Known special agents:
Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was a close ally of the Suicide Squad. But it is unrevealed whether he remained in charge after the Squad was briefly disbanded in 1960.

Membership requirements:
Recruitment by Task Force X.

Soundtrack

Something to evoke 1959, lessee…

Okay, one notable #1 was the Browns’ “The Three Bells”. It is a translated cover of an Edith Piaf song. So that sounds somewhat odd to Francophone ears, who keep expecting Ms. Piaf to start singing, but it’s a great vintage song.

Plus, both the arrangements and the lyrics are very 1959, so that’s why we’re looking for.

The SS-1 flying lab

This heavily-modified, unfortunately-named, six-jet-engines bomber was often called “the flying laboratory”.

It was loaded with every piece of scientific equipment that could be crammed in.

Core 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.

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 carries two 8 APs Omni-Gadgets, with the limitation that they must be scientific observation and testing equipment.

The SS-1 had designated ejectable seats. These normally were used after suiting up in a crash suit and helmet (looking like a sort of lighter astronaut suit).

Suicide Squad - 1960s DC Comics Silver Age - applied chemistry

Ordnance

  • 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 turbulences 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.
  • A number of air-to-air 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, Flame Project can only be fired behind the plane].
  • Since you can never have enough explosives, the Flying Lab carried a nuclear self-destruction charge. It’s normally inert, but can be quickly armed [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. Here’s a modelisation that’s simple to use but takes a bit of verbiage. 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 active Growth APs)- 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.

Operations

Flag and Grace sat in the cockpit. Flag as pilot and Grace as co-pilot, radar navigator and bombardier/weapons officer.

Bright and Evans sat in the bay with the scientific equipment.

The Squad went through several versions of the SS-1. Their missions were rough on equipment.

The original design seemed to be a modified Boeing B-47 Stratojet  with a greatly enlarged airframe.

Later versions are less clearly seen. But they evoke a heavily modified B-52 Stratofortress  .

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  . But the real Galaxy is much larger than the SS-1 seen in these stories.

Perhaps this plane was a one-off Lockheed prototype. Produced in 1964 or 1965 and delivered to Mission X mere days before the agency closed its doors.

Suicide Squad - DC Comics - 1960s version airplane in action

The original SS-1 flying lab.

Other equipment

  • 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].
    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.
  • 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. Squad members usually wear World War Two US Airborne helmets when jumping.
  • Adaptop-guns [BODY 05, Range: 04, Ammo: 01, Note: Range to propel Miniature Cartridges (below)]. This weapon resembled a 1896 “broom handle” Mauser, albeit with a much fatter barrel.
    The Adaptop-guns (or “adapters”) were a late development in the arsenal of the Suicide Squad.

In one 1987 flashback panel, Flag and Bright operate indistinct small arms, Evans has what seems to be a .45 semi-auto handgun, and Grace a compact revolver.

Suicide Squad - DC Comics - 1960s Mission X - adaptop gun adapter

Adaptop-gun.

Miniature cartridges

These are in DCH terms Exotic Weaponry. Squad members carry them on a fully-stocked WW2-style military belt, even while in their civvies.

Those are thrown much like grenades. Cartridges also 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, 12-15 can be carried on a belt, and they look like very fat pens with buttons.

The main types of Squad cartridges are :

  • Percussion cartridges a.k.a. flak cartridges [BODY 02, EV 10 (Area of Effect 1 AP), Grenade Drawback].
  • Depth charges. Same thing, only waterproof and with an auto-inflatable sleeve stabilising them in water.
  • Armour-piercing [BODY 02, EV 11 (Area of effect 0 APs), Gliding (Extend throwing range only): 03, Grenade Drawback]. Those fin-stabilized grenades have a 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 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 dinosaurs and alien spaceships. To make that easier they seem to carry the same mix of cartridges, presumably in the same order.

    These specialised weapons were powerful. They clearly outperform even 2010s military equipment. Between this power, Team Attacks and Hero pointsDC Heroes RPG concept expressing narrative importance/immunity., the Squad could occasionally destroy giant monsters, UFOs, and McGuffins with just what they carried on their belt.

    The Silver Age Suicide Squad throws hand rockets (DC Comics)

    Gear in New Frontier appearances

    In the New Frontier continuity, the Squad had a more military streak.

    They used the following weaponry :

    • Flag and Bright both operated what seemed to be early M14 .308 Assault Rifles [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 often depicted with one or two members equipped with a M2-2 Backpack Flamethrower. 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 only on the covers, not in the stories. Still, assuming that they occasionally used the same ordnance as in New Frontier isn’t a huge stretch. *Unless* you want to lean into the 1950s aspect of defeating stuff through scientific knowledge, rather than shooting impressive guns a lot.

    Several panels show the New Frontier version of the Squad with one or two 1960s-style sci-fi guns. Perhaps lasers.

    Suicide Squad - DC Comics - New Frontier version - combat dinosaur

    History (part 1)

    You’ve recently read our article about the Suicide Squadrons and Suicide Squads of the 1940s and 1950s.

    Therefore, this history section can start after the fall of Task Force X during the mid-to-late 1950s.

    Rick Flag, Jr.

    Rick was the son of Sharon Race Flag and Richard Montgomery Flag, a.k.a. Rick Flag, Sr..

    He followed in his father’s footsteps, and became an amazingly effective military officer.

    The best pilot within the USAF was either Flag, or Kyle “Ace” Morgan. But Morgan left the service and joined the Challengers of the Unknown.

    The Eiling Suicide Squad

    After the fall of the Task Force X Suicide Squadron, there was another Suicide Squad. It was active in 1957/58.

    It was a commando unit assembled by USAF General Wade Eiling as his private death squad. Back then, the USAF was barely starting to train ground forces to defend airbases. An elite infantry force of aviators was unprecedented.

    Eiling specifically picked Rick Flag, Jr. to command it. The General presumably named the unit “Suicide Squad” in honour of Flag’s father, to harness the son’s motivation to defend the familial legacy.

    Suicide, it’s a suicide

    The General wanted to experiment with soldiers with an abnormal level of motivation and tolerance for risk. This likely was an attempt at recreating the “secret sauce” of the Suicide Squadron.

    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 special operations and black ops work. Known members were Caetano, Eddie Vracek, Vega and “Dutchman” van Damm.

    For Eiling these elite soldiers were expendable. He eventually sacrificed the team for strategic expedience.

    Flag, Jr. was the only survivor.

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    History (part 2)

    Rick Flag was selected as an astronaut training program candidate. This 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

    Dr. Grace was a USAF physician. She worked with NACA  in the nascent field of space medicine.

    She had previously served with an air rescue unit, but one mission went terribly wrong. The rescue plane crashed at sea, and she watched her lover Steve die. Karin was the only survivor.

    The traumatised Grace was nicknamed “the ice doctor” at NACA. Since she was aloof toward the men attempting to pick the beautiful physician up.

    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

    After Task Force X’s Suicide Squadron had to be disbanded, Argent — Task Force X’s remaining half — gradually stopped taking orders. They eventually vanished.

    After the President Kennedy assassination, Argent fully went rogue. They would operate deeply undercover for decades, only meeting their end at the hands of Amanda Waller during the 1980s.

    Thus, by 1959, Task Force X was an empty shell. Yet General J.E.B. Stuart needed agents to defend the Free World™. He started by recruiting Rick Flag the younger, with General Eiling’s encouragements.

    Flag would lead a much smaller structure under Task Force X. It was called Mission X – presumably after the old Dinosaur Island mission code used by Rangers. Mission X would field but one four-person team, the new Suicide Squad.

    Flag brought Grace in. Mission X handlers then recruited two civilian scientists, physicist Jeff Bright and astronomer Dr. Hugh Evans.

    Evans and Bright had narrowly survived a nuclear weapons research disaster, which fatally irradiated their colleagues. Like Grace and Flag, the traumatism left them exceptionally determined to serve.

    The Silver Age Suicide Squad parachutes (DC Comics)

    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. The Squad employed heroic courage, clever tactics, cinematicThe level of power and (un)realism found in a spectacular action movie.-grade scientific analysis, and experimental science and technology. They defeated extraordinary menaces that conventional military forces were ineffective against.

    The Squad’s rules of engagement were colour-coded.

    • “Condition Blue” meant conducting the mission on an unofficial basis.
    • “Condition Red” allowed Squad members to commandeer all sorts of troops and resources as necessary. Up to and including experimental manned space rockets.
    • There presumably existed other codes, but these weren’t witnessed.

    The Squad did not conduct undercover missions. In fact, they were minor celebrities.

    Task Force X’s budget was under constant threat. Therefore, one suspects that J.E.B. Stuart publicised his agents so Congress would be reluctant to cut Mission X’s budget.

    Continued !

    In we’ll discuss the Silver Age adventures of the Squad, its fall, and various less-detailed timelines for variants over this Suicide Squad that appeared in DC Comics over the decades.

    Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

    By Sébastien Andrivet.

    Source of Character: DC Universe.

    Helper(s): Darci, Tachoene.