The Suicide Squad is Task Force X's black ops strike team. The team is partially made up of imprisoned super-villains who agree to serve as expendable agents on life-threatening top-secret missions for the US Government. In return, after sufficient service, the prisoners are granted full pardons for their crimes. The Government does not officially acknowledge the existence of the Suicide Squad, and claims their missions as random supervillain attacks.
The Suicide Squad was originally a squadron of misfit soldiers assigned to the Pacific War front. Many of these soldiers had accepted service with the Squad in lieu of a court-martial. The top brass spent the men's lives with a free hand. Mortality rates were high, while discipline and morale were low.
Late in the war, newly-assigned military officials decided that the Squad deserved a fighting chance. Captain Rick Flag, Sr. was made team commander. Flag was able to whip the Squad into shape, using a unique brand of two-fisted discipline. He managed to win the respect of the hardened losers who made up the Squad, and the mortality rate dropped.
The men of the Squad who survived the war, with some new members, were reactivated during the Korean War. Flag was once more their leader. However, the Squad was given a new purpose when President Truman decided that, with the vast retirement of heroes during the days of the McCarthy hearings, the government itself would have to step in to fight the many villains and spies who were now unopposed by their heroic counterparts.
The Squad then fell under Task Force X, and given the assignment of taking care of national and international crises. The team was under the command of General J.E.B. Stuart, but its mission leader was Flag. During this period, Flag had married Stuart's niece, and the had a son, Rick Flag, Jr.
Argent, a second branch of special government operatives, was assigned to handle stateside matters and was quite effective despite its agents' need to operate in absolute secrecy. Both Argent's operatives and their commander, the mysterious O.S.S. supervisor known only as Control, vanished in the early 1960s. To this day, the government has no knowledge of where any of Argent's members can be found, or even who they were.
Task Force X continued after the Korean War, Flag was killed some years later, sacrificing his life in a kamikaze attack against a reactivated Nazi War Wheel. The team was led by a number of leaders after that, until Rick Flag, Jr. took command upon graduating from military academy.
With the disappearance of Argent and the beginnings of the Cold War in the '60s, Task Force X was renamed Mission X, with the Squad reduced to four members, and given primarily non-military assignments. The four members were Flag, Karin Grace, Jess Bright and Hugh Evans. They fought a variety of opponents, ranging from prehistoric dinosaurs to organized crime. The group went public for the first time to worldwide acclaim during this time.
During the '70s, vigilante heroes began growing in numbers on Earth, and so Mission X was considered redundant by many government officials. The team was reassigned to covert operations. Mission X's final mission was a parachute drop in Cambodia. While trapped in the mountains, Bright and Evans were killed, and Grace suffered a nervous breakdown. Grace and Flag were honorably discharged when the Squad was disbanded due to budget cuts. Grace was confined to a military hospital, and Flag volunteered to infiltrate a a group of heroes and adventurers being formed by a person calling himself Immortal Man. This group was nicknamed the Forgotten Heroes, and they fought many menaces during their time together, but they ultimately disbanded after the death of Immortal Man.
In the mid-80s Task Force X was reorganized by Amanda Waller, executive assistant to Congressman Marvin Collins. She approached the president with the idea of forming a new Suicide Squad consisting primarily of convicted criminals. In return for a pardon, the criminals would be obliged to undertake an assignment and thereafter maintain secrecy regarding exactly how they had obtained their freedom.
Mrs. Waller was put in charge of Task Force X, and Rick Flag, Jr. was reinstated as the leader of the Suicide Squad. The new line-up was made up of heroes and villains alike. The Squad's first mission was the elimination of the firey behemoth known as Brimstone. The team has since performed a number of missions assigned by various branches of the government. The group has a relatively large amount of freedom and has undertaken at least two missions on their own authority.
- Rick Flag, Jr.
- Captain Boomerang
- Bronze Tiger
- Captain Cold
- Killer Frost/Louise Lincoln
- The Weasel
- Slipknot/Christopher Weiss
- Black Orchid
- Doctor Light
- Operation Brimstone
- Operation Jotunheim
- Operation William Hell
- Operation Firebreak
- Operation Firebird
- Operation Manhunter
- Operation Cujo
- Operation Hawk
- Operation Nemesis
- Operation Nightshade
- Operation Meta
- The Suicide Squad made their first appearance in The Brave and the Bold # 25 (September 1959).