This article is part of a large series, presented as short-ish chapters for ease of reading.
So please refer to the Suicide Squad disambiguation page for navigation between chapters. All the articles assume you’re reading the series in the correct order, to avoid repeating the same info over and again.
This profile covers the mercenary version of the Squad. It existed during the early 1990s, after Amanda Waller got out of prison.
To handle volatile situations requiring both high deniability and superhuman force.
The Squad is primarily a mercenary operation. However, it prioritises serving US government interests. And will not go against American interests as Amanda Waller sees them.
Covert deployments using an approximation of, mainly, military intelligence methods. This hinges on mission prep conducted by Amanda Waller.
As before, the Squad uses operatives with a mix of superhuman abilities, extraordinary skills and exceptional equipment.
Relationship to conventional authorities:
Amanda Waller has extensive connections among governmental agencies, and uses those. But the Squad itself has no status, and she is but an ordinary citizen.
In particular, Squad operatives enjoy zero support protection, and cannot expect any sort of rescue op if captured. They’re entirely expendable.
Operatives recruited from American prisons get rewarded with time served, though. This works just like with the previous version of Waller’s Suicide Squad.
Extent of operations:
Bases of Operations:
Early on, none. The Squad runs with what is commercially available, such as hotels.
Later on the Squad has access to an otherwise unused office at the Institute of Meta-Human Studies. Oracle outfits it as a command & communications centre so she can coordinate the more complex missions.
In 1990, a Squad mission cost a million dollars ($2.3M in 2023 USD) – plus expenses.
As Amanda Waller pointed out this is damn cheap. This likely was a discount of sorts, to speed up reputation-building. By the time of Operation: Dragon’s hoard, the Squad was billing three mils.
(Plus, paying most operatives in time served rather than dollars does wonders for the margins. Which is totally different from enslaved labour, of course, of course).
- Vlatavan reactionary nationalist networks.
- Russian intelligence services (chiefly Zastrow and the Red Shadows).
- Kobra cult.
- Thinker (Cliff Carmichael).
- Koshchei the Deathless (Jess Bright).
- Daichi Doku Yakuza clan and their enforcer Catseye.
- The Cabal within US intelligence services, and their Task Force X assassins (Pathfinder, Kaliber, Metamorpheus, Sidewinder).
- Guedhe and his fake Suicide Squad.
- Batman (Bruce Wayne) might work with the Squad in selected circumstances.
- Ditto for Manhunter (Mark Shaw), though he’s even more reluctant.
- Dr. Simon LaGrieve, head of the Institute of Meta-Human Studies. He’s more of an Amanda Waller ally than a Squad ally, but at that point the two are the same. The IHMS therefore provides preferential medical services to the Squad.
- Dr. Callendar, another former senior Suicide Squad ground crew expert, also came to work with Dr. LaGrieve. She’ll help Waller if LaGrieve asks her to.
- Sarge Steel can provide some help if he deems it useful to US interests.
- Nemesis (Thomas Tresser) will collaborate with Nightshade (Eve Eden), but not Amanda Waller.
- The Atom (Ray Palmer) during the war against the Cabal.
Amanda Waller is the boss. Early on she also conducts most of the non-field work such as prep intelligence gathering, mission planning, logistics, sales, etc..
Mrs. Waller is also much more present in the field than before. But not normally in an action role – though the small number of operatives means that she frequently lacks a bodyguard.
During and after Operation: Dragon’s Hoard, Oracle (Barbara Gordon) takes over most of the communications, and some of the planning, intelligence, logistics, etc. aspects.
Roster (trusted field personnel):
Roster (wretched hive of scum and villainy):
Roster (War of the Gods):
Is listed in the History sections.
Amanda Waller conducts most recruitments.
She can still on occasion pull criminals from US prisons. But this hinges on Sarge Steel agreeing to a deal. Which in turn means that he agrees that this would be in the US’ interest.
In many cases, criminals are captured before the operation. The deal is now that they won’t be handed over to the authorities if they survive the mission.
Many of the operatives (such as Lawton, Vertigo or Harkness) are also willing to work for Waller as contractors. Often for personal reasons, or because they know for a fact that she could make their life hell.
The Squad uses what’s commercially available (and expenses it).
Their operations seldom are gear-intensive, though.
Something to evoke 1990…
You know what, Alice in Chains’ debut hit is both a strong chronological marker in rock music – and an excellent tonal fit.
Around June of 1990, the civil war in the small, fictional Eastern European country of Vlatava worsened. Well-connected Vlatavan influence networks sought to drag American and Russian assets into the situation to prevail.
This play had numerous far-right supporters worldwide. This resulted in unauthorised deployment of Red Shadows Soviet special intelligence assets in Vlatava.
On the American end, there were too many sympathisers for Sarge Steel to determine which intel and agents were reliable. And insane superhuman Count Werner Vertigo was active in Vlatava, which made military recon too risky.
Back to the Wall
Given the mess, even Steel had to accept that they needed something like the Squad. And he knew that having Waller run such an op was the only way to keep the risk profile under stupid levels.
Waller thus could impose her terms, and a new version of the Suicide Squad was born.
She also offered an alliance to Batman. He cautiously agreed, as he sought to arrest Stalnoivolk.
Waller and Batman recruited and/or captured a team. Waller then pretended to betray her US clients to work for the Vlatavan government.
As she expected, the Vlatavan ruler attempted to coerce them into working for free. Waller pretended to fold – everything was going as she had planned.
I don’t need your civil war
Waller’s plan ran into a snag when Deadshot (Floyd Lawton) was sent to kill her. But she easily convinced him to work for her instead, by paying him one dollar more than William Heller did.
In the meanwhile :
- The Squad gathered enough intelligence for Amanda Waller to confront Soviet spymaster Zastrow. She now knew enough about his plan that it wasn’t worth it for him to remain in Vlatava.
- Batman unearthed the pro-Vlatava network with access to Steel’s office.
- Poison Ivy kidnapped Count Vertigo.
- Ravan assassinated the Vlatavan ruler.
- The Bronze Tiger and Vixen ambushed and took down Stalnoivolk.
- The deal with Batman was fulfilled.
- Steel had to admit that Waller was a key contractor.
- The situation in Vlatava deflated to a more conventionally manageable level of unrest.
- Zastrow’s plan to create a scandal to sink PM Gorbachov had to be aborted.
Zastrow’s reactionary, internecine plot also showed how the Cold War dynamics of previous decades were over. A new world order was emerging, which would likely result in high demand for the Squad.
The Atom (Ray Palmer) then contacted Amanda Waller and Sarge Steel.
He told them of his brutal clashes with a rogue cabal within US intelligence agencies. Steel and Waller were interested in investigating this. They helped Palmer fake his death.
Waller then recruited an imprisoned burglar, Adam Cray, to become the new Atom. She correctly assumed that most people would think that the new Atom was a disguised Palmer.
This left Palmer free to investigate.
Steel agreed to contract the Squad when the time would come to strike. Since he didn’t know whom to trust within the intelligence community.
Operation: Jerusalem serpent
Waller was next hired by Egyptian officials. They were concerned about Kobra cult activities in Israel. And wanted her to make sure that the Mossad had things under control.
Egyptian suspicions were correct. Kobra (Jeffrey Burr/Naja-Naja) had secretly corrupted the Dybbuk, an artificial intelligence working for the Mossad.
He then deliberately let himself be arrested. That was to finish convincing the Dybbuk to control Israeli forces into blowing up the Dome of the Rock .
The team lost Ravan as the fanatical assassin attempted to murder Kobra. But Waller’s ace-in-the-hole the Atom (Adam Cray) determined what Kobra’s plan was before it was too late.
The Squad was too short-handed to bring the situation under control. But they delayed the Dybbuk long enough for the Hayoth, the Mossad’s metahuman commando, to intervene.
Hayoth’s leader Ramban convinced the Dybbuk to stand down by engaging him in a rabbinical debate. This defused the situation.
Thankful for Waller’s help in averting a catastrophic holy war, Ramban shielded the Squad from the Mossad’s anger. He had Israeli soldiers drive her back to the airport.
After the op, the Institute for Meta-Human Studies agreed to treat the mentally unbalanced Count Vertigo and the wounded Vixen.
You’d better think
However, the IMHS had recently lost control of the new Thinker (Cliff Carmichael). Dr. LaGrieve asked for Mrs. Waller’s help – especially since Carmichael was after their ally Oracle (Barbara Gordon), who had been trying to help.
Amanda cracked the case by herself. She used the original Thinker (Clifford DeVoe)’s helmet to gather electronic intelligence. Her great willpower allowed her not to fall prey to it.
Oracle agreed to resume working with the Wall. And LaGrieve agreed to help bring Carmichael under control as a Squad asset, since there was no better solution to neutralise him.
Respect the Flag
Waller and Turner prepared the mission with other friends of the late Rick Flag — Nightshade (Eve Eden) and Nemesis (Thomas Tressser). Both hated her guts, but they had a common cause.
Unexpectedly, Deadshot volunteered. Lawton also brought an unconscious Captain Boomerang.
The improvised, going-in-blind op narrowly succeeded – mostly thanks to Tresser and Eden. The boy was rescued, and Bright chose to be destroyed along with his zombies.
In the wake of the mission, Amanda Waller and Eve Eden struck a deal. Nightshade resumed working for the Squad. This was :
- In part so she could receive specialised medical care at the IMHS.
- In part because Ben Turner was too sick to play the role Rick Flag had once played in keeping Waller’s ruthlessness under control.
Operation Dragon’s hoard
The Squad was then contracted by a Japanese industrialist and foe of the Yakuza. He wanted them to destroy a large shipment of stolen weapons bought by the Daichi Doku Yakuza clan.
Complications abounded :
- The stolen weapons were Russian. The Russian security service therefore sent Zastrow and his Red Shadows to recover their stuff.
- One of the thieves betrayed the others in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge therefore learned that the weapons had been stockpiled in a secret Cambodian location whilst waiting for the sale, and decided to grab those for themselves.
- The Squad’s client was assassinated by the Daichi Doku.
- Zastrow predicted one of Waller’s move. One of his Red Shadows, a vampire named Schreck, could thus put Nightshade under his thrall.
- Waller was shot multiple times by yakuza enforcers. The Atom (Adam Cray) saved her and got her to the hospital in time for emergency surgery.
With Waller out, Oracle was forced to assume command. Thankfully, all operatives but Cray were experienced professionals. And Katana (Yamashiro Tatsu) came to their help for familial reasons.
The operation was successful and the weapons were destroyed. Waller survived her wounds through sheer orneriness.
War of the gods crossover event
As she was still in her hospital bed, Black Adam contracted the Suicide Squad. He needed cannon fodder to assist in an assault against Circe.
Waller agreed to help save the world. She quickly assembled a large team that stormed Circe’s island, running into Bana-Mighdall warriors and bestiamorphs.
The hastily-recruited roster was a tad odd :
- Some of Waller’s core guys – Nightshade, Cpt. Boomerang, Deadshot, Count Vertigo, Bronze Tiger.
- The Captains of Industry, based at the Institute for Meta-Human Studies (back then Firehawk, Maser, Catalyst and Silver Swan).
- Major Victory.
- Karma, once of the Doom Patrol.
- Obscure criminals Enforcer (Mica Love), Javelin and Sportsmaster (Victor Gover).
- The Writer, which was a strange Grant Morrison meta-joke that John Ostrander briefly built upon.
The team took casualties, and had to retreat when the island tore itself asunder.
On the other hand they recovered a captive Poison Ivy, which came as a surprise.
Steel and the Atom (Ray Palmer) then launched a sting operation. They sought to trap those members of the intelligence cabal who had been after Palmer for years.
Waller and Steel learned about the full extent of the conspiracy, the links between the US and the Jihad, and President Bush ’s implication in the plot.
Waller then threatened the President with leaking her data to the JLA. The POTUS agreed to dismantle the Cabal.
While the operation was successful, Adam Cray was killed by intelligence agents who thought that he was Ray Palmer.
Waller was also taken aback when she realised that her Squad had been the blueprint that the Cabal wanted to follow for their superhuman death squad.
Flattery will get you nowhere
The US intelligence cabal wasn’t the only organisation that wanted a Suicide Squad-like operation.
In the Caribbean nation of Diabloverde, CIA-backed dictator Guedhe hired super-criminals from American prisons. His Suicide Squad was :
- Blockbuster (Roland Desmond).
- Bolt (Lawrence Bolatinsky).
- Shrapnel (Mark Sheffer).
- Sudden Death (Dwayne Wainwright).
What little was left of the local resistance thought that this pseudo-Suicide Squad had been organised by Waller. They sent an amateur assassin after her.
The hit failed. But Waller thus learned about the Diabloverde “Suicide Squad”.
Infuriated, she had the assassin give her one symbolic peso to hire the real Squad. She then used her own money to finance this op.
Task Force X reborn
Unbeknownst to Waller, the intelligence cabal that she had hoped to shut down by threatening the President was still active. It formed its own team of superhuman operatives, which they called Task Force X.
Waller’s Suicide Squad clashed with the Squad assembled by the CIA for Guedhe. But they were attacked by the new Task Force X whilst so doing.
Despite these odds, Waller and her operatives beat all comers. Then took out the reputedly invulnerable Guedhe, freeing Diabloverde.
Several Task Force X assassins were taken alive, and their interest clearly was to collaborate.
You expect me to fight like a goddamn mule
Though the mission had been a success with no casualties, Mrs. Waller was exhausted. Seeing two even-less-principled versions of her Squad back-to-back, and hallucinations in the Diabloverde jungle, had depleted her endurance.
She therefore shut down the Squad.
Source of Character: DC Comics.
Writeup redone on the 27th of February, 2023.