When the group you are a part of is called the “Suicide Squad,” you better hope you are one tough SOB. With the “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” crossover event kicking off last week, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at the strongest and most durable characters that have been members of DC Comics’ infamous Task Force X.
Some of the big names that have taken part in the Suicide Squad’s questionable activities may surprise you. Then again, if you know anything about the machinations of Amanda Waller, you know this ruthless government official can bribe, blackmail, or manipulate any villain or hero into service. When a fan-favourite like Bane just sneaks in at #15, you know it is going to be a serious list.
The man that broke the Bat’s back joined Waller’s team of bomb-implanted baddies in “Suicide Squad” #8 (2008). In the issue he arrives at Belle Reve by military chopper being guarded by no less than six heavily-armed soldiers. When you almost kill Batman, you get some serious respect in the DCU. “Salvation Run” #2 featured the Suicide Squad helping to ship villains to Salvation via Boom Tube, but Bane and Deadshot are betrayed by Rick Flag Jr. and end up being sent as well.
He is the lowest on our list of Toughest Squaders because his immense size and extraordinary strength are largely due to a constant flow of a drug called Venom, which has historically been both a boon and a liability for the brawler. The tubing that protrudes from behind his back pumps the dangerous substance directly into his brain. To be fair, Bane is still a lethal killer even without the drug.
Fun fact: The mega-steroid known as Venom is actually derived from the Miraclo formula, which was developed by the original Hourman.
In “Firestorm #64” the Suicide Squad were brought in to stop Firestorm from destroying all the world’s nuclear weapons. Both Squad head honcho Amanda Waller and team leader Rick Flag Jr. were against Parasite being sent in to help neutralize Firestorm, but NSC liaison Derek Tolliver released him regardless. He can absorb the energy from any living being he touches, which often gives him the ability to mimic their powers if he absorbs enough of it.
After the initial New 52 “Suicide Squad” comic run, DC launched “New Suicide Squad” in which Victor Sage takes control of Task Force X from Amanda Waller and selects a whole new line-up. Throughout this run, Vic’s Squad has included lifers Deadshot and Captain Boomerang, A-listers like Black Manta and Reverse Flash, and DC’s most twisted ladies: Harley Quinn and the Joker’s Daughter. Parasite joins this more extreme version of the Skwad in “New Suicide Squad” #9 (2015). For an idea of what kind of power levels we’re talking here, in the next issue, he let Harley Quinn fire rockets at him to pass the time.
13. Killer Croc
The “Suicide Squad” feature film’s box office success has obviously effected the “Suicide Squad” comic book. Waylon Jones had never been a part of the Squad before the recent “Rebirth” relaunch, but he is a fixture on the team now. Killer Croc joined Task Force X in “Suicide Squad” #1 (2016). While he almost dies on their first mission, it wasn’t in a fight with an alien horde or angry gods like you might expect, it was due to drowning in his own vomit.
In terms of toughness, he incurred no damage when he caught a barrage of machine gun fire to the back, and even more impressively, he survived a blast of General Zod’s heat vision.
Fun fact: While the New 52 incarnation of the character is barely in control of his animalistic hunger, he was friends with Roy Harper and once stopped him from committing suicide. See what I did there?
12. King Shark
This savage beast was first drafted into a version of the Suicide Squad that was headed up by a Hawaii’s top cop, Sam Makoa, in “Superboy #13” (1995). Makoa was the man responsible for putting King Shark away, but it almost cost him his life, so you can imagine how stoked he would have been when he found out he’d have to work with the beast in order to take down Hawaii’s dominant criminal organization, the Silicon Dragons. For the mission, Shark was forced to wear an explosive belt keyed to Makoa’s heart. This team also included other Superboy villains of the era like Knockout and Sidearm. Shark killed Sidearm on the only mission this Squad embarked on together.
In the New 52, King Shark was part of the Suicide Squad from the get go. This version eats a fellow Squader named Yo-Yo. Luckily for Yo-Yo, he has the power of body elasticity like Plasticman or Ralph Dibny, so he bides his time in Shark’s stomach and escapes when he is knocked unconscious.
11. Wade “The General” Eiling
General Wade Eiling, much like Amanda Waller, liked to pull stings from behind-the-scenes. He was part of The Cabal, which was exactly what its name suggests: a secret government cabal that manipulated world events. However, when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, he decided to transfer his mind into the self-regenerating body of the Shaggy Man. The Shaggy Man was an old Justice League opponent who’s lifeless body Eiling had discovered with his Ultramarine Corps in “JLA” #24 (1998). Somehow, Waller got The General pulled off an asteroid Superman had stranded him on and proceeded to force her long-time nemesis onto Task Force X in “Suicide Squad #3” (2008).
The General was the Suicide Squad’s muscle when they went up against the Justice League in “Justice League of America” #18.
Fun fact: Before his body switch, General Eiling was responsible for the experiments that created both Captain Atom and Major Force.
10. Blockbuster I/Blockbuster II
Mark Desmond was the original Blockbuster and he joined the Skwad in “Legends” #3 (1987). Much like how The Hulk was Stan Lee’s take on Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde, Blockbuster’s introduction in 1965 seemed to be capitalizing on The Hulk’s popularity. This chemist takes a serum he whipped up himself and, while he became super strong, super fast, and nigh invulnerable, his mental capacity was greatly diminished. Sound familiar? Sure, he wasn’t green…but he did have purple pants.
Mark died on the Squad’s first mission, but his brother, Roland, decided he would take the serum and become the new Blockbuster. He joined the CIA iteration of the Suicide Squad, which went up against Waller’s Task Force X in “Suicide Squad #63” (1992). During a throw down in “Suicide Squad” #66, Count Vertigo remarks to Roland, “Your brother, the original Blockbuster, was among the first to serve with the Suicide Squad […] Too bad you’re not the man he was.” We’re taking that to mean he was not as strong or as tough as his bro. While he had super strength, he wasn’t noted for his speed. However, it’s worth noting that a deal with the devilish Neron did give him back his pre-serum intellect.
John Henry is a character from John Ostrander’s late ‘80s “Manhunter” run. His super strength and invulnerability are due to the Dominators’ gene-bomb from “Invasion,” which was supposed to debilitate metahumans. He joins Waller’s unmerry band of bad guys in “Suicide Squad” #58 (1991) with a bunch of oddball characters like Karma, The Writer, Javelin, and Sportsmaster II. This issue is part of the “War of the Gods” crossover and John Henry and co are recruited to bolster the Task Force X roster for an attack on Wonder Woman’s nemesis, Circe, and her forces.
He has smashed through a prison wall, jumped out of a plane without a parachute, and been hit by a spray of machine-gun fire, all without getting a scratch on him. If you’re wondering why we feel John Henry should rank higher on the list than Blockbuster II, it’s because Outlaw has already trounced him in a fight that took place in “Suicide Squad” #64-65.
Writing “Suicide Squad” must come with a lot of freedom. It seems like writers can enlist almost any character and kill off any C-lister, if not any B-list character. There has been more than one mission where only a single Squad member makes it out alive.
Quite a few creators have taken the opportunity to bring out obscure (and often unlikely) characters to serve on the Squad. If you thought putting vicious killers like Parasite and King Shark in the field on behalf of the American people was nuts, how about utilizing the might of a walking toxic waste dump? This gargantuan tub of chemical slop known as Chemo was unleashed on Superman by the Squad’s field leader at the time, Manchester Black, in “Adventures of Superman” #593 (2001).
Fun fact: In the New 52, Chemo was introduced in “Justice League” #28 (2014). He was brought to life by the same devices that powers the Metal Men, one of Dr. Will Magnus’ Responsometers.
7. Atom Smasher
Atom Smasher is a legacy character who’s is the godson of the Golden Age Atom, Al Pratt. He is tasked by Amanda Waller with putting together a Suicide Squad to stop Black Adam in “52″ #24 (2006). Smasher’s Squad enlists Captain Boomerang II, Count Vertigo, Electrocutioner, Persuader, and Plastique to go up against his close friend Black Adam. Of course Waller only asks because of his personal ties to Kahndaq’s ruler.
Atom Smasher originally went by the name of Nukulon and has been part of numerous other teams, including Infinity Inc., the Justice Society of America, and Justice League International. And while he carries on the tradition of fighting injustice passed down from The Atom, he is actually the grandson of a supervillain named Cyclotron and inherited the power to control his molecular structure (and therefore his size) from him. When he grows to a colossal sizes, he also becomes super strong. We think an almost-three-story tall brawler belongs on this list, don’t you?
6. The Duchess
This bruiser was the head of the Female Furies of Apokolips. On a mission to Belle Reve prison to retrieve G. Gordon Godfrey for Darkseid, jealous fellow Fury, Bernadeth, pushed Lashina out of a boom tube. She was then shot with highly explosive ammo by Rick Flag Jr. and a number of Belle Reve security guards. After waking up with amnesia, she returned to the metahuman prison.
The Duchess inadvertently joined Amanda Waller’s government sanctioned team in “Suicide Squad” #10 (1988) when she had no idea who she was. In that issue, she swats Batman away like a fly, and in “Suicide Squad” #13 Blue Beetle almost breaks his hand administering the “patented Blue Beetle karate chop” to her neck. In other words, even the most highly trained humans are no match for this Female Fury. Being a New God, she is not only super strong, but basically invulnerable as well.
You may be asking why Superboy would ever join the Suicide Squad. During his Hero of Hawaii days, Kon-El ended up opposing the Silicon Dragons gang. When Amanda Waller roped in Island cop, Sam Makoa, to lead a new Suicide Squad to take the criminal organization down for good, Superboy forced his way onto the team. In “Superboy” Vol. 4 #13 (1995), he fought alongside an assembly of his rogue’s gallery that included Sidearm, Knockout, and King Shark, as well as Captain Boomerang and Deadshot.
Superboy is a clone created by Project Cadmus utilizing both Superman and Lex Luthor’s DNA. He not only has the super strength, stamina, and durability of a Kryptonian when under a yellow sun, but this incarnation of the teenaged hero also has tactile telekinesis. During his Hawaii phase, he lacked x-ray vision, infra vision, and heat vision, so Dr. Emil Hamilton gave him a visor that simulated all three ocular powers.
Sledge was a genetically enhanced super-soldier created by a shady government agency called Quorum and introduced during Guy Gardener’s Warrior phase. Quorum is the same clandestine group that gave Guy’s brother, Mace (a.k.a. Militia), his cybernetic body parts.
Sledge joined an iteration of the Suicide Squad that included Bolt, Copperhead, and Killer Frost and was headed up by top DEO agent Cameron Chase. Their first mission took place in a miniseries that spun out of “Batman #550” simply titled, “Chase.” It was “Chase” #2-3 to be precise.
Sledge towered over the next tallest member in this Squad, who was Bolt at 6’4”.It is worth noting that Sledge’s armor bares a striking resemblance to that of Marvel’s Juggernaut, because his power set is essentially the same as well. His enhancements give him super strength and make him impervious to injury. We are talking “knock around Superboy like a rag doll” levels of strong, which is the reason why he gets the #4 spot in this list.
3. Power Girl
Being a Kryptonian from another universe and thus invulnerable to the main DC Comics universe’s Kryptonite, Power Girl is a formidable opponent. She comes in at our #3 spot because aside from the next two entries, we don’t think anybody else on this list has a chance at taking her down. Power Girl joined a version of the Suicide Squad called Task Force Omega with fellow J.S.A. members Hawkman, Wildcat, and Star-Stangled Kid to rescue Amanda Waller and other Squad members from their old nemesis, Rustam. This all happened in “Suicide Squad” #12 (2002), the final issue of Keith Giffen and Paco Medina’s run on the title.
The New 52 version of Power Girl was also briefly involved with the Squad. She joined a variation that included Warrant, Steel, and The Unknown Soldier in “Suicide Squad” #24 (2014). However, in issue #25, they found out they had been recruited by a 3D hologram of Amanda Waller, and it was really The Thinker pulling the strings.
2. Mongul (II)
Really all the entries on this list should be judged on a scale of “Can they stand toe-to-toe with Superman or not?” And in the case of Mongul II, he has stood toe-to-toe not only with the Man of Steel, but also Batman and Wonder Woman at the same time. The son of the original Mongul, this intergalactic conqueror is not only in the upper echelons of the DCU’s strongest, but also he has a rock-hard hide.
He was pushed into Squad service in “Adventures of Superman” #593 (2001), during Lex Luthor’s tenure as president. Lex had Waller put together a new version of the the team under the codename Project: Suicide Squad, and they enlisted Mongul to help Superman stop the coming Imperiex threat.
Mongul has also led the Sinestro Corps after besting one of it’s higher-ups, Arkillo, in ringless hand-to-hand combat. When Sinestro inevitably confronted him to take back his Corps, he beat Mongul, but basically had to cheat, since he was outmatched in terms of strength. Yep, this alien powerhouse has knocked around a full-powered Kryptonian and traded Yellow Lantern construct blows with the Corps’ founder. This dude definitely deserves his spot on this list.
1. General Zod
Pretty much every interpretation of this Kryptonian leader has been depicted as close to unstoppable. What makes Superman such a threat to supervillains are the numerous and powerful abilities granted to him by Earth’s yellow sun, but when it comes to General Zod, he was a force of nature even before the first yellow ray of light hit his skin. Supes may have learned to control his powers over a lifetime, but Zod is military trained and a master of strategy. Where Kal-El will blow a villain down with super breath, Zod will suck out all the air in the room to suffocate an opponent.
Zod hasn’t exactly joined the Squad as of yet, but Amanda Waller and N.S.A. liaison Harcourt have plans for it to happen in the immediate future. They used the Superman Protocols in “Suicide Squad” #5 (2016) to subdue him and talked about implanting the standard Squad brain bomb into him. He will not likely pop back up until after the “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” event, but if he does, I would love to see him put up against Maxwell Lord’s Nightmare Army.
Did we miss any super strong Suicide Squad members? Let us know in the comments.