Spinning out of the Legends crossover, mini-series of the time, writer John Ostrander revamped an old DC Comics back-up feature when he launched his long-running Suicide Squad series (66 issues) in 1987. However, instead of the previous four member team of government operatives, which was headed up by WWII veteran Rick Flag, the new Squad was comprised almost entirely of super-villains who were promised amnesty in return for covertly taking on dangerous (or even fatal) assignments on behalf of the U.S. government. Think Mission:Impossible for the superhero set! The series ended in 1992.
Suicide Squad was later re-launched with a similar premise in 2001 by the team of Peter Tomasi (editor) Keith Giffen (Script), Paco Medina (Pencils), Joe Sanchez (Inks), John Kalisz (Colors), Bill Oakley (Letters). This second volume managed to last only a single year (12 issues), but with respect to the first series, this version was much more to my personal tastes. Keith Giffen deployed his trademark tongue-in-cheek humor throughout the run and standout artist Paco Medina has been the only illustrator to make me enjoy any manga/anime-styled flavorings in traditional comics. Sadly the series never clicked with fans and the book ended with a terrific cliffhanger. Squad controllers Frank Rock and Bulldozer (purportedly the former Easy Co. vets of WWII) were revealed as ….. well, let’s just say they weren’t actually who they had been made out to be. I don’t know if this aspect was ever picked up in another title for a resolution. The title had really lived up to its name as the body count was exceptionally high. Recruits Big Sir, Bolt, Clock King, Cluemaster, Eliza, Havana, Larvanaut, Modem, Multi-Man, Putty and Reactron all perished during various Squad missions, leaving only Blackstarr, Deadshot, Killer Frost & Major Disaster still standing at the conclusion of the run.
Proving that you can't keep a cool idea down for long, John Ostrander is now back with yet another new limited series, Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag, which seems to be nothing more than a rehash of certain elements from his first series and which were also factored into latter parts of the Giffen/Medina volume. Nothing is really new enough here to make me recommend the book to anyone, but to each his own.