Ever since way back in Rick Flag Sr.’s Squadron S in World War II, the Suicide Squad has always been a group of ragtag rogues that operate in the grey area of morality. This dynamic alone makes for a good read, but it is DC’s deep catalogue of characters to choose from that makes each colorful new line-up of the Squad so much fun.
The point of this list, then, is to document our picks for the oddest, strangest, most ridiculous scoundrels to ever have taken part in the U.S. governments’ most covert agency, Task Force X. From a former resident of Arkham Asylum, to Steve Ditko’s second trippiest character ever, to Grant Morrison himself, we’ve got all of the “Skwad’s” best weirdos!
15. SHRIKE (II)
A lot of superheroes and villains have strange origin stories, but Shrike’s starts weird and just gets weirder. An ancient alien named Overmaster, who had deemed himself the judge of worlds, arrived on our planet to decide if the human species was worthy to be the Earth’s stewards. To test humanity, he imbues a group of human beings with super powers, designates them his Cadre, and has them fight the Justice League. We’re not sure how any of this was supposed to determine humanity’s worth, but Overmaster created some fun super villains in the process. Shrike was one of them.
Created by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton, Vanessa Kinsbury was a mentally ill young woman who escaped the facility where she had been committed, when her and Overmaster’s paths crossed. He gave her the powers of flight and a sonic screech similar to that of Black Canary or Marvel’s Banshee. And talk about an “interesting” look, Shrike has Wolverine’s hairdo (but pink), a devil’s tail and she wears what doesn’t amount to much more than a bathing suit, sometimes with fishnets. She joins the team in “Suicide Squad” #24 (1989), and promptly dies on her first mission in “Suicide Squad” #25.
Shrapnel was introduced in “Doom Patrol” during Paul Kupperberg’s run, just before Grant Morrison took over. At the time, Erik Larsen was illustrating the title, so the character definitely has a bit of a ‘90s feel, sort of resembling a metallic version of Marvel’s The Thing. Where it gets strange is that, while it appears he is made of metal, his body is actually a mass of organic fragments that he can control. He can fire these off individually, blow himself apart with concussive force and even grow back lost fragments.
Shrapnel was part of the CIA’s Suicide Squad that was sent to the island nation of Diabloverde to prop up its corrupt ruler, Guedhe, in “Suicide Squad” #63 (1992). He was also part of a second CIA Suicide Squad tasked with capturing the Wiley Wolverman and Sasha Martens version of Hawk & Dove in “Hawk & Dove” #3 (1998). Eventually, he was roped into Waller’s Squad proper, and was given the unenviable job of ambushing Superman in “The Adventures of Superman” #593 (2001).
Plasmus is a Marv Wolfman and George Perez creation from the early ‘80s. This was the era of nukes, the Three Mile Island accident and Cold War, so of course Plasmus’ origin story includes details of radiation exposure and ex-Nazi experimentation. Plasmus was part of a compact Suicide Squad made up of strictly heavy-hitters, including Chemo and Shrapnel, and lead by powerful telepath Manchester Black. They first appeared as Squad in “Superman: Our Worlds At War Secret Files” #1.
However, it is in “Adventures of Superman” #593 that they lure Superman to an abandoned military facility called Area 8 and jump him. We all know how that turns out — not great. A simple rule of thumb for villains at the this point in DC continuity: Don’t go directly at Supes. Even with a chest full of Kryptonite, like Metallo, it’s probably a bad idea. Even though he was once on the Squad, Plasmus was one of dozens of super villains sent to the distant planet Salvation by Checkmate and Task Force X, which set up the “Salvation Run” mini series.
While Mindboggler started as a Firestorm rogue, she has spent more time in the pages of “Suicide Squad.” John Ostrander introduced her in his seminal first issue of the title and unceremoniously killed her in “Suicide Squad” #2. But that wasn’t the end of the line for this mind-controlling punk rocker. She may have died at the hands of Rustam, leader of Skwad’s arch-enemies, The Jihad, but the Quraci agency resurrected her in digital form (similar to their former member Djinn), and she returned in “Suicide Squad” #17.
Rick Flag Jr. managed to retrieve the device that held her, but they never managed to bring her back into the fold. Her actual body was reanimated and she returned yet again as one of Koshchei’s zombies in “Suicide Squad #48.” Mindboggler initially gained her powers from Breathtaker of the Assassination Bureau. This is also how fellow assassins Stratos and Incognito got their abilities. All three attempted to fulfil a contract on Firestorm, but ultimately failed.
11. THE TATTOOED MAN (I)
The first Tattooed Man was Abel Tarrant, a former sailor turned criminal. He used “special paint” to give himself “tattoos” that he could bring to life. To be clear, the “tattoos” were painted on, so they were not done with a tattoo gun or even a needle. This was eventually retconned and it became “magic ink” and actual tattoos, which is less weird… but only very slightly. He joins Task Force X in “Checkmate” #6 (2006), and is killed in the next issue when he is found to be a traitor.
In a 1993 Vertigo mini series titled “Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man,” a jailed Tarrant tattoos a new inmate named John Oakes, who then becomes the second Tattooed Man. Word has it that Common’s character in the “Suicide Squad” movie, Monster T, was supposed to be an interpretation of the third Tattooed Man, Mark Richards. If so, holy wasted opportunity, Batman! How much fun would it have been to see Common’s tats start crawling off of him?
10. BLACK ORCHID
Black Orchid was a young woman who died and was brought back to life as a plant/human hybrid by a cutting-edge botanist. Just let that sink in for a minute. In her new form, she is super strong, fast, durable and could fly. Yet, her trademark was being a master of disguise. She is revealed to be part of Task Force X in “Suicide Squad” #4 (1987), in which she goes undercover to help take down the vigilante known as William Hell. Orchid has also been in an assemblage of magic’s anti-heroes not dissimilar to the Suicide Squad called the Spirit Squad. This band of magic users is brought together by The Creeper in “Blue Devil Annual” #1.
The New 52 version of this character is part of what is basically the DCnU take on the Spirit Squad, Justice League Dark. She joins this team as an agent of A.R.G.U.S. and is tasked with keeping an eye on John Constantine. Also, Orchid is an important link between The Red and The Green, and was an integral player in the “Rot World” crossover.
“Suicide Squad” has long been an excuse for writers to thumb through old DC Who’s Who issues searching for obscure villains that nobody would miss if they happened to fall during a Skwad mission. A number of characters have died in the field secretly working for the US Government, many on their first outing even. However, Larvanaut is different simply because he was created by Keith Giffen and Paco Medina for a single issue. This creature joins a version of Task Force X in “Suicide Squad” #3 (2001), all of whom die on their first mission… except Killer Frost.
All we really know about Larvanaut from his brief DC existence is that he has a heightened sense of smell, he can’t breathe regular air, he tends to walk on all fours, he only has three fingers on each hand, he has a large reptilian tail and his name seems to to be a portmanteau of “larva” and “astronaut.” Pretty damn weird, if you ask us.
8. CLOCK KING
The Clock King became obsessed with time when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He turned to crime to try to gather enough money to provide for an invalid sister once he had passed. Turns out his doctor had mixed up patient files and he was not sick at all! Clock King later became a part of Major Disaster’s Injustice League. During this crew’s last ditch attempt at a big score, they accidentally stopped a diamond heist and, with the help of Maxwell Lord, became the Justice League Antarctica.
This team was eventually disbanded, but half of the members (Clock King, Major Disaster, Big Sir and Cluemaster) ended up as a Suicide Squad, headed by Sgt. Rock and Bulldozer of Easy Company. Clock King’s first appearance as a Squadian was in “Suicide Squad” #3 (2001), the same issue in which Larvanaut makes his inauspicious debut. So, if you read the last entry, you already know this was one of those Task Force X missions that put the “suicide” in Suicide Squad.
7. MISTER 104
John Ostrander used a rotating cast of nearly four dozen characters during his monumental run with the Modern Age Suicide Squad, and Mister 104 was definitely one of the weirder ones. He can turn his body into any element on the Periodic Table, but was introduced when the Periodic Table only had 103 elements (he started as Mister 103). At this point, he would have to be renamed Mister 118.
Like Shrapnel, 104 is a Doom Patrol villain, but he is from a much earlier run — the ’60s, to be precise. He joins up with an iteration of Task Force X that includes other obscure characters like Psi and Weasel in “Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad” #1 (1988). As the title suggests, this Squad teams up with the Doom Patrol to rescue Hawk (of Hawk & Dove) from Sandistas in Nicaragua. Mister 104 dies in a battle with the Rocket Red Brigade, who also show up to snatch Hawk for Russia.
6. PUNCH & JEWELEE
These guys are like a low budget version of The Joker and Harley Quinn. However, they show up in the comics 25 years before Harley was even dreamed up by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Though, to be fair, the Joker was tormenting Batman a long time before that.
These two former Coney Island puppeteers were originally Captain Atom villains, who had found and mastered alien tech. They are the creation of the venerable Steve Ditko and David Kaler. The married jesters were recruited by Amanda Waller in “Suicide Squad” #24 (1989). They left the Squad when the pair became pregnant, but were pulled back in years later to aid a Mirror Master-led team. The New 52 versions of these characters were just recently introduced in “Batman” #9, as part of the “I Am Suicide” arc. Jewelee was mentally ill and locked up in Arkham Asylum, but she and Punch came through for Bats in his assault on Bane. They thus earned some leniency of the rules there thanks to their quirky teamwork.
5. AMBUSH BUG
Yet another entry that is more than a little off his rocker, Ambush Bug is more of a DC mascot than an actual superhero. He does have an arch-nemesis, but it’s an argyle sock that looks like Doctor Doom named Argh!Yle! If that wasn’t weird enough, Bug is also a proud member of the “fourth wall breakers club,” a-la Deadpool and Lobo, regularly reaching out to the reader and appearing in meta-stories like “Channel 52″ as a roving reporter within the New 52 universe. However, Bug has also managed to be taken seriously, joining elite DC teams such as the Justice League of America, Doom Patrol, and of course, the Suicide Squad.
Bug’s suit granted him invulnerability and the power to teleport. He became a member of a variation of Task Force X that Amanda Waller put together to help fight the Alien Alliance in “Invasion!” #2 (1989). This Squad included Captain Boomerang, Black Orchid, The Duchess, and was lead by veteran member, Nemesis. Fun fact: Ambush Bug was once married to Dumb Bunny of the Inferior Five.
4. SHADE THE CHANGING MAN
While Shade the Changing Man has “man” right there in his name, he is actually from the planet Meta, making him a Metan and ill-fitting one particular gender. The bridge between Earth and the Meta-Zone is a dimension called the Zero-Zone, which is where Shade met Task Force X, during issue #16 of “Suicide Squad” (1988). At the time, the Squad accidentally ended up in the nebulous limbo, but luckily, Shade was able to get them back to Earth. After their encounter, Amanda Waller offers to help return him to Meta if he joins up with her team of unbalance villains.
Unlike alien heroes with super powers, like Superman and Martian Manhunter, Shade had the speed and strength of a slightly above-average man of his age, height and build. What gave him powers was his M-Vest, which projected his appearance differently depending on the current mental state of himself or others. The M-Vest also emitted a powerful force field. Shade the Changing Man is the second entry on our list created by the great Steve Ditko.
3. COL. COMPUTRON
Colonel Computron was the legacy name of two Flash villains, Basil Nurbin and his daughter, Luna Nurbin. While their appearance suggests they were cyborgs of some kind, both are actually just wearing tech armor. Furthermore, this armor is based on the Captain Computron toy produced by the Wiggins Toy Corp. This is the same company that is owned by Captain Boomerang’s father, W.W. Wiggins.
When Col. Computron popped back up as a floating head in “Checkmate” #11, he didn’t even know he was working for Amanda Waller in a hush-hush line up of the Squad. At this point, Waller was the White Queen of Checkmate and was in direct violation of UN statutes by sanctioning Suicide Squad activity of any kind. Yet, with the help of her operatives, she had rigged a Santa Prisca election to avoid a Bane-backed candidate taking power. Rick Flag Jr., Fire and King Faraday were all in league with Waller at this point, but the full cast of this Squad was never revealed.
2. GRANT MORRISON
Yes, Grant Morrison doesn’t just write superhero comic books, he redefines them… sometimes by entering them, himself. In the last issue of his “Animal Man” run, Buddy Baker manages to make it to our reality and “meet his maker,” as it were. Morrison tells Buddy that he is the author of his life, before resetting everything he had written and wiping the slate clean for the next scribe.
So, it’s kind of awesome that John Ostrander paid tribute to Morrison by bringing a character called The Writer — clearly a visual and thematic homage to Morrison — into his popular “Suicide Squad” run. The character joins up in “Suicide Squad” #58 (1991), along with a bunch of other villains that are recruited to help neutralize sorcerer Circe and her army of werebeasts and Amazons. In that issue, he tells Firehawk and Silver Swan that his portable computer either tells him what is going to happen or he actually writes what is going to happen. Sadly, he dies when he gets writer’s block while a werebeast is coming at him.
1. JOKER’S DAUGHTER
It doesn’t get much weirder than Duela Dent. The character has been around since the late ‘60s, and has a long and convoluted continuity. Her history is one thing pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths, and another thing entirely post-Crisis. It’s quite different yet again with her New 52 reimagining. The original version of this mentally unstable youngster claimed to be the daughter of almost every villain in Batman’s rogue gallery: The Joker, The Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman and Scarecrow.
However, it is the New 52 Duela we are concerned with for this entry, as that’s the version that joined the ranks of Vic Sage’s Task Force X in “New Suicide Squad” #1 (2014). This iteration of her is deeply troubled and intent on snuffing out anything beautiful. It’s implied she is a former heroin addict and self-mutilator. When she finds The Joker’s cut-off face in the sewers where she dwells, she eats a bit of it and then proceeds to wear the rest. Now, that is #1 spot weird! Fun Fact: The New 52 Duela has one blue eye and one green eye as a homage to Two-Face, who is believed to be her real father for most of her history.
Is there anyone weirder than the Suicide Squad team members on this list? If so, let us know in the comments!