"Suicide Squad," Declassified: A Look Back at DC's Task Force X

Even as "Suicide Squad" -- one of the most anticipated films of the summer -- arrives in theaters, DC Comics has launched a new series starring the "worst heroes ever" as part its Rebirth initiative.

That's an awfully bright spotlight on a team that typically operates in the shadows, all while trying not to kill each other.

The Squad's history goes back further than this weekend, of course -- even further back than the late 1980s, which saw the introduction of the concept that Warner Bros. hopes movie-goers will come to love.

In honor of the Suicide Squad's rich history, here's a look back at the different incarnations of Task Force X.

Suicide Squadron and Task Force X

The origin of the Suicide Squad dates back to 1959, to "The Brave and the Bold" #25. Although it's best remembered as a Batman team-up series, the comic began as an anthology featuring such characters as the Silent Knight and Viking Prince. With Issue 25, the title exchanged swords and axes for guns and airplanes with the debut of the Suicide Squad.

Created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Ross Andru, the team also known as Task Force X consisted of four characters -- Colonel Rick Flag Jr., medic Karin Grace, astronomer Hugh Evans and physicist Jess Bright -- who traveled around in a "flying laboratory" and fought monsters like the "Red Wave Beast" and "The Creature of Ghost Lake." They followed on the heels of another, similar group of adventurers, the Challengers of the Unknown, which may be why the original Task Force X never really caught on.

The Suicide Squad appeared in only four issues of "The Brave and the Bold," disappearing just in time for the Justice League of America to debut in the 28th issue. They returned in Issue 37 for another brief run, this time facing dinosaurs and alien robots. In the mid-1960s, in the pages of "Star-Spangled War Stories," Kanigher and Andru told the story of the Suicide Squadron, a World War II-era team whose ranks included Rick Flag's father. Their run was also fairly short-lived, and it would be a couple of decades before the name reappeared in DC's line.

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