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Friday, 17 July 2015

Comics Explained: Suicide Squad

At Comic Con this year the trailer for the Suicide Squad movie was released. This is a film about a taskforce made out of supervillains who are forced to do good in a chance for parole. The Suicide Squad is one of the major organizations from the DC comics universe and has had an interesting history since it first appearance. 

The first Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad first appeared in 1959 in The Brave and the Bold #24. However, this Suicide Squad was very much different from the one that most people will be used to. A group called Task Force X was refounded by a World War Two veteran called Rick Flag Jr. consisting of Rick Flag, Hugh Evans, Jess Bright and Karin Grace. All had experienced turbulent times during the last few years, Karin Grace being a nurse in the army whose plane had been shot down killing everyone bar her on board while Bright and Evans were on the way to a nuclear bomb test but their jeep had broken down only then for them to find out that the test had gone wrong killing all of their friends, which got them to sign up to join the Task Force who would go on suicide missions. Hence the name Suicide Squad. Each were inspired by a loved one saying 'carry on for us'. They would fight against different alien and supernatural foes despite having no superpowers in order to save people's lives. These included a giant serpent living in the Subway under Paris, super-intelligent dinosaurs from an alternate dimension and a cyclops. The series did well lasting until the 1980s where it even got a further backstory in Secret Origins #14 where it was revealed that Rick Flag's father (Rick Flag Sr.) was apart of the Suicide Squadron during World War Two; a team of expendable soldiers sent on suicidal missions with high mortality rates. It also revealed that Rick Flag Jr.'s Suicide Squad was set up by President Harry Truman to combat the rise of superpowered forces after Senator Joseph McCarthy disbanded the Justice Society (McCarthy presided over a period of frantic anti-communism from 1950-56 which had many people blacklisted on no evidence of being remotely related to communism). In the same issue it showed the Squad's last mission. Going to Cambodia to investigate a temple they were attacked by a Yeti resulting in Karin revealing her love for Rick Flag and the death of Hugh and Jess.

Super villain Suicide Squad
 Secret Origins #14 served as a watershed for the Suicide Squad. It recapped on the old Silver Age Task Force X and ushered in the new Task Force for a new DC comics. Amanda Waller (pictured above) a congressional aid petitioned President Ronald Reagan to reform the Suicide Squad but using super villains instead. It would give them redemption and pardon their crimes but the high mortality rate meant that any fatalities would not cause a public outcry. Although the Suicide Squad remained a secret to avoid the controversy of the government working with supervillains. In the Legends crossover event where the New God Darkseid turned humanity against Earth's heroes Amanda Waller got Rick Flag Jr. to reform the Suicide Squad. He hired expert assassin Deadshot, martial artist Bronze Tiger, the super strong Blockbuster, the sorceress Enchantress and longtime Flash foe Captain Boomerang. Blockbuster was killed but Task Force X remained on. In their first comic Suicide Squad #1 they began recruiting villains to the Task Force thus starting the first modern Suicide Squad, commonly referred to as the Trial By Fire storyline.
From Left to Right: Bronze Tiger, Enchantress, Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Mindboggler
During this time the Suicide Squad even managed to have its own archenemy: Onslaught (although initially it was called Jihad). Onslaught was a group of supervillains funded by a rogue state who went against the Suicide Squad in many battles. Among the events to embroil the Suicide Squad in including the Rogues and Final Round story arcs where Rick Flag goes to assassinate Senator Joseph Cray who had been blackmailing Amanda Waller to get him reelected as otherwise he would reveal the Suicide Squad's existence to the public which would end the Squad and Waller's career. In the end when the Squad is sent to stop Flag instead of killing him Deadshot decides to kill Flag himself in order for police to fire on him due to his death wish. However Deadshot survives but the press manages to find out about the Suicide Squad anyway. To get public approval Waller gets the Squad to save a kidnapped nun. Rick Flag then leaves to permanently take out Onslaught by detonating an atomic bomb left by his father during World War Two in Onslaught's base, a fortress built by the Germans in a desert during World War Two called Jotunheim. 

New Suicide Squad
In 2011 DC comics released a new volume of the Suicide Squad for the New 52 (a DC Universe event where retcons reestablish the universe to an extent). Amanda Waller recruits Deadshot and Harley Quinn (the Joker's lover) as field agents. Here they have micro-bomb implants which will go off if they rebel against Waller's orders. In 2014 there was another new volume making the roster consist of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang (all three appearing in the new film), Black Manta, Reverse-Flash and the Joker's Daughter (a psychotic person who thinks she is the Joker's daughter). 

Thanks for reading!

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