DC Comics History
DC Comics History: Suicide Squad (1960 - 1964: the Silver Age)
By Deejay Dayton
Jun 22, 2017 - 16:10
Publisher(s): DC Comics
The Suicide Squad return for another three issue tryout run by Kanigher, Andru and Esposito in the pages of Brave and the Bold during the period 1960 – 1964: the Silver Age. While nothing overt has changed about the group, the stories now marginalize Jess Bright and Hugh Evans even more than in the first run. Karin Grace has a larger role, but it's not a better one. She now has a scene in each story in which she moons over Rick Flag, and despairs over how he puts the Squad ahead of love.
The two stories in Brave and the Bold 37 also have a less revolting development. Karin demonstrates a degree of psychic ability. She is unaware of this power. Karin has taken up painting, and the work she creates winds up showing the menaces that they will face. In the first story, she paints pictures of alien dinosaurs. Sure enough, the dinosaurs then show up and begin attacking the Earth.
Being alien dinosaurs, these are intelligent creatures, able to outwit the counterattacks of the Squad. The dinosaurs are being controlled by a central mind. Rick tracks its location, using Karin's ESP, and destroys it. With the core intelligence, the dinosaurs revert to being normal, easy to kill, dinosaurs.
A cyclops is the menace in the second story in the issue, and once again Karin paints pictures of it before the encounter Polyphemus. This is apparently meant to be the same cyclops from the Odyssey, although they give it a different backstory, and make it in love with Karin, mistaking her for an ancient queen, Kora.
The cyclops doesn't prove to be nearly as difficult to kill as the dinosaurs, although they do have to rescue Karin from it before they can blow it up.
There are two more Suicide Squad tales in Brave and the Bold 38, the first of which really feels like it ought to be a continuation of the previous issue. There is no sign of Karin Grace's prophetic paintings in this issue. Instead, it begins as she, Rick Flag, Jess Bright and Hugh Evans have a day off, and go to visit the Statue of Liberty. It is their misfortune that they happen to be there on the day when a giant pterodactyl attacks the statue and tries to fly off with it. The team manage to drive the pterodactyl away from the landmark, then follow it in a helicopter.
They watch as it tries, and fails, to carry off a whale, and then succeeds in pulling up a lighthouse, with the aid of a second pterodactyl. Turns out these dinosaurs are pets of a giant alien. So two alien dinosaur stories in two issues. And such a specific concept to be repeating so soon. The Squad give the giant alien a present - a nuke - and fly away leaving him to blow up real good.
More aliens in the second story in the issue, but at least not alien dinosaurs. The Suicide Squad are in the desert when they see some mirages, which turn out to be created by an evil alien, testing out some new weaponry before using it to conquer the world. He captures the Squad, and subjects them to a series of attacking mirages. Ultimately, the group is forced to battle a mirage version of themselves. Or so it seems.
In fact, the group is actually fighting against each other, tricked by the use of the illusions. But they figure out who is real, and stop fighting. That's enough for the alien. He gives up his plans of conquest, releases the team, and heads back to his own world.
The Suicide Squad's run in Brave and the Bold comes to an end with issue 39. And, astoundingly, once again the first of the two deals with alien dinosaurs! This time the Squad wind up finding the skeleton of a dinosaur next to a robot, at the mouth of the cave. Intrigued, they enter the cave, and then wind up getting swallowed by a dinosaur. Inside the dinosaur they find a world of dinosaurs.
Yes, I am recapping this accurately. It just makes no sense. It turns out they are really inside an alien spaceship, which contains a dinosaur zoo. Not that that makes any more sense. The team escapes, and vows never to have anything to do with alien dinosaurs again. Well, they don't really make that vow. But they should.
The final story is quite a change of pace, as Rick Flag, Karin Grace, Jess Bright and Hugh Evans are sent after Sneeko, a mob boss and master of disguise. The story is told as a flashback, as it opens with the Suicide Squad coated with gold and being treated as statues created by a phony artist, and then jumps back to explain how all this happened. The team trailed Sneeko to a tropical island. He disguised himself as a clown, and got the jump on them. One of the native girls falls for Rick, and steals his statue.
A convenient volcanic eruption sprays Rick with lava, which melts the gold and enables him to escape. Karin sees all this, and believes that Rick will go off with the native girl, and though her heart breaks, wishes him happiness. But of course Rick doesn't care about the girl, and comes back to free the rest of the team. Then an earthquake strikes and swallows Sneeko and the artist, while the remaining hoods get coated in gold.
With stories like this, it is probably not a surprise that the four Suicide Squad members were not seen again until the 1980s, returning in Action Comics when Rick became a member of the Forgotten Heroes. But the Suicide Squad, in a different incarnation, would return in a few years, in Star Spangled War Stories. A number of the War That Time Forgot tales also billed themselves as Suicide Squad stories, featuring troublesome soldiers sent to Dinosaur Island during World War 2. The only real link between this Squad and that one was the dinosaurs.
Suicide Squad: Brave and the Bold 37 – 39 (Aug/Sept 61 – Dec/Jan 61/62)
Next up – Matt Savage, Trail Boss!
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