The Squadron Sinister

The Squadron Sinister

(pop culture)
The Squadron Sinister was created as part of a game. As revealed by writer Roy Thomas and penciler Sal Buscema in Marvel Comics' The Avengers #69–#70 (1969), an immortal extraterrestrial named the Grandmaster, one of the Elders of the Universe, has for eons manipulated beings from across the galaxy into conflicts for his amusement. He and the time-hopping supervillain Kang the Conqueror engage in a contest, with Earth as the arena. The Grandmaster creates evil duplicates of four superheroes he discovers on a parallel world called Counter-Earth, calling his pawns the Squadron Sinister, while Kang manipulates Earth's mightiest superheroes, the Avengers, into the competition. The superhuman powerhouse Hyperion, caped-and-cowled Nighthawk, superspeedster Whizzer, and “Power Prism”–wielding Dr. Spectrum— aka the Squadron Sinister—make worthy opponents, but lose their match to the Avengers. The comic-book debut of the Squadron Sinister was also created as part of a game. The idea for the Squadron originated at a 1969 party at Thomas' Manhattan apartment, when comics scribe Mike Friedrich suggested that Denny O'Neil, then the writer of DC Comics' Justice League of America (JLA), and Thomas produce an unofficial crossover between their titles, to be published concurrently. O'Neil's effort was subtle: JLA #75 (1969) featured DC heroes fighting evil manifestations of themselves, with Marvel inferences in their actions and dialogue (for example, “evil” Batman threw a trashcan lid at the real Batman, à la Captain America's shield). Thomas' Squadron Sinister, upon closer inspection, was his homage to four JLA members: Hyperion = Superman, Nighthawk = Batman, Whizzer = Flash, and Dr. Spectrum = Green Lantern. “I took the name ‘Hyperion' from a line in Hamlet,” Thomas revealed in the 2005 book Justice League Companion. “Nighthawk” came “from a hoax Richard Kyle pulled on Don and Maggie Thompson's newszine Newfangles, in which he referred to a pulp mag named Nighthawk with a Batman- like character, and later it turned out that pulp had never existed.” Thomas borrowed the name “the Whizzer” from a Golden Age (1938–1954) Marvel superhero, and “‘Dr. Spectrum' was a natural name, given Green Lantern's color weakness.” JLA fan Thomas resurrected his Squadron— this time as superheroes, the Squadron Supreme—in Avengers #85 (1971). The Counter- Earth JLA counterparts have continued to appear for years with a frequently expanding roster of DC analogs in various comics including a twelve-issue Squadron Supreme maxiseries (1985–1986). Sci-fi television scribe J. Michael Straczynski rebooted the Squadron beginning in 2003 in the Marvel series Supreme Power.