The Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad(pop culture)
Congressional aide Amanda Waller knew that desperate times require desperate measures. A squat but beefy African American bearing more than a passing resemblance to Oprah Winfrey (circa 1986), Waller discovers the classified dossier of “Task Force X,” aka the “Suicide Squad,” a rag-tag band of operatives led onto dangerous covert missions by team commander Rick Flag (this Squad was first seen in The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #25, 1959). When the despotic Darkseid dispatches the fiery giant Brimstone to Earth in 1987's Legends #3 (written by John Ostrander, dialogued by Len Wein, and penciled by John Byrne), Waller realizes that stopping this monster is a suicide mission. And thus she has no choice but to “Send for … the Suicide Squad,” reviving Task Force X as a paranormal patrol. But who would serve on such a foolhardy assignment, of which survival is far from certain? Supervillains with nothing to lose. Waller promises amnesty to Blockbuster, Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, and the Enchantress, and the Suicide Squad, the “expendable” superteam, is born. Spinning out of Legends into its own title, Suicide Squad was, during its 66-issue run (1987–1992), one of DC Comics' most daring and least predictable series. Ostrander and co-writer Kim Yale (with pencilers Luke McDonnell, John K. Snyder III, and Geof Isherwood) embraced the cast—largely discarded or underdeveloped adversaries—and gave them the personalities they lacked, with bickering among the ranks the norm. Character backstories were fleshed out, and, in a prophetic pre–September 11, 2001, move, international terrorists were one of the recurring threats requiring the Squad's talents. Of particular note was the Jihad, a superpowered terrorist clan (including Rustam, Djinn, Ravan, Jaculi, and Manticore) from the Iraq-like nation of Qurac that nearly succeeded in destroying Manhattan in 1988; post–September 11, the Jihad has been renamed the Onslaught. Captain Boomerang and Deadshot were chief among the Suicide Squad's core members, and over the course of the series a legion of lethal luminaries marched in and out of service, some dying in action, including Black Adam, Captain Cold, Chronos, Count Vertigo, Dr. Light, Killer Frost, Nightshade, the Penguin, Plastique, Poison Ivy, and Punch and Jewelee. A few superheroes and anti-heroes such as the Atom, Nemesis, Vixen, and even Batman participated in Suicide Squad cases, and the series afforded the first consistent exposure to former Batgirl Barbara Gordon in her role as information broker Oracle. Waller was the series' most interesting character, using any means necessary, from blackmail to negotiation, to coerce supervillains into her corner. A 2001–2002 Suicide Squad revival by writer Keith Giffen and artist Paco Medina lasted twelve issues and added former Injustice Gang members (including Big Sir, Clock King, and Multi-Man, who were killed in the line of duty) into the mix, with old warhorse Sgt. Rock leading the group. The Suicide Squad blasted onto television in 2005 in the “Task Force X” episode of the Cartoon Network's Justice League Unlimited (2004–present), scripted by popular comic-book writer/artist Darwyn Cooke. The animated Squad consisted of Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder), Captain Boomerang (Donal Gibson), Clock King (Alan Rachins), Deadshot (Michael Rosenbaum), Plastique (Juliet Landau), and Rick Flag (Adam Baldwin); their mission: stealing a powerful artifact from the Justice League's headquarters! Waller has continued to appear on JLU.