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Here we are, part IV of our journey into the origin and evolution of the SUICIDE SQUAD!! In parts I, II, and III, we examined the first appearance of The Suicide Squad, their disappearance from comics, their reappearance and rebirth, and how both iterations of the team were tied together by the the blood bonds of the Flag family. Not only all that, we saw Amanda "The Wall" Waller burst on the scene, a new, shadowy overseer of Task Force X, directing their actions with an iron will, and an iron hand. If you missed the previous episodes, or just want to refresh yourself on all we've talked about, go ahead and click the above links I've provided for you, and peruse at your leisure. :-)
It was May of 1987, and DC Comics was ready to get down and dirty after the success of "Crisis On Infinite Earths," an amazing series which streamlined the DC Universe. In this same month, "Secret Origins" vol 2, #14 was published, which we talked about last time, that linked the old Suicide Squad with the new team, and revealed the origin of Amanda Waller for the very first time in comics. This comic was written wonderfully by John Ostrander, and penciled by Luke McDonnell. DC made it clear that they had big plans for The Suicide Squad - the very same month, The Suicide Squad got its very first ongoing title:
This is my copy of "Suicide Squad" vol 1, #1, published in May of 1987. DC kept the team of Ostrander and McDonnell together, and launched the Suicide Squad's ongoing title twenty-eight years after the initial team made their debut in "The Brave and the Bold" vol 1, #25 in 1959 - and there was no tryout limited series involved. Even though this series was pretty popular, running for about four years and sixty-six issues, this comic could be found in discount bins for many years. With that gorgeous shot of the new Task Force X set against a solid black background, you have to wonder how many of these still exist in high grades with nary a color break.
"Suicide Squad" #1 is important for other reasons besides being the first issue of the first series that Suicide Squad ever had. The first issue introduces us to some solid archenemy types for The Suicide Squad called...Jihad!
Jihad consisted of Chimera, Djinn, Jaculi, Manticore, Ravan and Rustam. Jihad was a super-powered group of terrorists from Quirac assembled by their evil president, President Marlo, to kill the President of The United States. This is their first appearance ever.
Also in this issue, Karen Grace, a member of the original Task Force X, returns to the team, and villains, Mindboggler, and Plastique are featured on the team as well. Here's a groupshot of the members, living and dead, of Ostrander's Suicide Squad:
FUN FACT 1: Chimera is actually the superhero, Nightshade undercover! She is revealed to be working for The Suicide Squad, and is a member of the team until the very end.
FUN FACT 2: Eventually, Jihad becomes the super-terrorist team, Onslaught, not to be confused with the entity, Onslaught, from Marvel.
FUN FACT 3: The Keene Act is mentioned in this issue - the same act that outlawed costumed superheroes in "The Watchmen." Did Ostrander think that "The Watchmen" would somehow be shoehorned into the mainstream DCU? Were there plans to do so? Who knows? What we do know is that it looks like Doctor Manhattan of The Watchmen has intervened in the mainstream DCU, according to the current DC Rebirth storyline.
On to issue #2!!
Ostrander wastes no time in letting the reader know that this series is all about the dark world of espionage, and the brutality of spec-ops-type combat, all with sometimes disloyal, self-serving super villains. The team chalks up its first casualty; Minboggler takes a bullet to the back of the head, while Captain Boomerang just watches. Why? Revenge for using her powers to embarrass him earlier on. Nope...This ain't no Justice League. Two members of Jihad, Jaculi and Manticore, bite the dust as well. LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR!
Wouldn't it be great if Jihad, or some of its members, showed up in The Suicide Squad film?
More fun facts!
FUN FACT 3: Plastique tries to betray The Suicide Squad to a terrorist named Mushtaq. In response, he knocks her right the heck out. Why? Because Mushtaq is none other than Thomas Tresser, Codename: Nemesis, vigilante turned super-spy, who is also working undercover for Amanda Waller. Nemesis is a great, underused character.
FUN FACT 4: Scott Eastwood has been hired to play an unrevealed role in Suicide Squad. Many think that he will take the role of Dick Grayson. I'm betting that he will play the part of Nemesis.
FUN FACT 5: This was the second DC ongoing series to star a team of super-baddies. The first was "Secret Society of Super-Villains," in the late 70s.
There were so many great things about this iteration of The Suicide Squad that just made it so magnificent, and the definitive Suicide Squad for comics fans who read the series - the great characters, the excellent writing, the irksome suspense of never knowing who was going to die - The Suicide Squad was just top notch stuff. The series was also relevant in some areas, given the rise in terrorism towards the U.S. since the mid 1970s, and the growing push towards harsher tactics as concerning warfare, terrorism, and crime in the 1980s. Remember, this is from the generation that lived through the major illegal drug, and drug-violence, explosion of the 1980s. These were rough times for our country, times which stimulated the rise in popularity of superheroes (anti-heroes, really) like The Punisher, and Vigilante II (Adrian Chase), The Watchmen and Frank Miller's more dark and brutal Batman in "The Dark Knight Returns."
Thanks for coming along on our journey into the history of The Suicide Squad. Come back next time, for more fun that will swell your brain with comics knowledge!
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