The Suicide Squad has its roots in the World War II-era Suicide Squadron, a team of expendable soldiers brought together to take on dangerous missions. Following the end of the war, the team was absorbed by Task Force X, and was converted by the government into a covert force that could be used to carry out black ops while allowing the government a degree of plausible deniability.
The Suicide Squad was created by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru. They were significantly overhauled by John Ostrander.
As of Suicide Squad #21
In its earliest appearances, the Suicide Squad was a team of heroes conceived as a replacement Justice Society of America. This version of the team consisted of Rick Flag, Jr., Jess Bright, Dr Hugh Evans, and Karin Grace.
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Suicide Squad was significantly overhauled, becoming a team of villains who were roped into performing black ops missions for the government. The initial version of the team consisted of Rick Flag, Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Enchantress, Blockbuster and Captain Boomerang. The team underwent constant changes in line-up, with some members remaining for multiple missions while others stayed on for one mission only. Most members were criminals, but some non-criminals joined the team for various reasons.
Following Flashpoint, the team maintained its black ops status, but became a team that was in the process of forming. The initial members of this version of the team were Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Black Spider, Voltaic and King Shark. The team has since undergone numerous changes similar to its previous incarnation, due to the high mortality rate associated with Squad membership.
Major Story Arcs
The Suicide Squad is activated after a ban on superheroics is enacted following a number of high profile incidents. This new villain team is mobilized by Amanda Waller, who directs them to destroy Brimstone, a fire elemental that has been sent to Earth by Darkseid to wreak havoc. Brimstone kills Blockbuster just before the team destroys him.
Baptism of Fire
The Squad is directed against the Jihad, a terrorist team based in Qurac. They infiltrate the Jihad's base, Jotunheim, and defeat the Jihad, killing most members of the team.
Mission to Moscow
Sent to Russia at the behest of Derek Tolliver, the Squad is instructed to rescue a writer who is being held in prison there. They manage to rescue the woman, but she indicates a desire to remain in Russia and be a martyr for her cause. They bring her with them despite her objections, but are prevented from leaving by the intervention of the People's Heroes. The writer dies in the crossfire, and Squad member Nemesis is captured. The Squad briefly gets into a confrontation with the Justice League International, but later join forces to rescue Nemesis.
Rogues and Final Round
The Squad comes under threat from the machinations of Senator Cray, who is blackmailing Waller in order to ensure his reelection, and Tolliver, who conspires with Cray and aims to take Waller's job. In response, and unaware of the steps already being taken by Waller to deal with the threat, Flag murders Tolliver and goes after Cray. He is prevented from killing Cray by the remainder of the Squad, who have been sent to stop him. Cray is instead killed by Deadshot. As a result of Tolliver's murder, and more specifically the note about them he had left behind, the Squad's existence is made public. Control of the Squad is apparently taken from Waller and given to a man named Jack Kale, who is revealed to be an actor working for Waller. The team masquerades for a time as a heroic organization.
The Janus Directive
The Squad begins to come into conflict with various other agencies as a result of the "Janus Directive", a mysterious agenda orchestrated by Waller. This escalates into a war between agencies, causing numerous deaths between the Squad, Checkmate and Project Atom. It is eventually revealed that Waller's agenda was a device to trick Kobra, who had attempted to kill and replace her. As a result of the war, Task Force X was dissolved, leaving the Squad and Checkmate to operate independently under the control of Sarge Steel, while Waller was censured for her behaviour. Later, she is taken into custody for her continued reluctance to submit to higher authorities and her involvement in an assassination scheme.
The Phoenix Gambit
A year after her initial imprisonment, Waller is released to reconstruct the Squad, which has fallen apart in her absence. The newly-reformed Squad is directed to Vlatava, where they must defuse the growing tensions between the Americans and Soviets there. Successfully carrying out their mission, the Squad's ties to the government are largely severed, and they become an independent mercenary group under the control of Waller.
Serpent of Chaos
The Squad travels to Jerusalem in the hopes of capturing Kobra, who has already been taken into custody by the Israeli superteam Hayoth. The team eventually discovers that Kobra allowed himself to be captured, so that he could use the Hayoth member Dybbuk to start another world war. They are able to prevent this from occurring.
Rumble in the Jungle
Learning of a team of bodyguards to a man named Guedhe also calling themselves "The Suicide Squad", the team travels to the island of Diabloverde to depose Guedhe, the island's dictator. On the island, the team passes through a jungle where most of them face their personal demons. Managing to survive the jungle mostly intact, they attack and defeat the false Squad, and Waller is able to kill the dictator. Following the mission, the team is disbanded. Various incarnations of the team occasionally reunite briefly, but only for short periods of time.
The Squad is reformed by Sgt. Rock. They carry out various dangerous missions under Rock, culminating in a confrontation with Onslaught. Initially defeated by Onslaught, and losing several members who are capture or killed, the Squad is able to strike back with the assistance of the Justice Society. Rock is revealed to have been an impostor.
A version of the Squad is assembled by Waller, who directs them against the Black Marvels. This incarnation of the team dissolves soon after they are able to acquire the evidence that the Black Marvels are dangerous.
One Year Later
A rogue villain-directed incarnation of the Squad springs up, and makes it its mission to expose Waller's covert operations. She directs Bronze Tiger and Rick Flag against this incarnation.
Raise the Flag
A newly-reformed Squad is directed to destroy a viral weapon and assassinate the heads of the company that is producing it. They suffer an internal conflict that leads to numerous casualties and seriously endangers the mission. Deadshot is able to carry out the assassinations despite this turmoil.
Members of the Squad are involved in rounding up villains who are then sent to the planet Salvation. Three members of the team, Bane, Chemo, and Deadshot, are later betrayed and also abandoned on Salvation.
The Squad has been publicly disbanded, and is covertly running a months-long investigation into the dealings of the Crime Doctor. Their work is inadvertently destroyed by Manhunter.
During the Blackest Night, numerous deceased members of the Squad are resurrected. They attack the current incarnation of the Squad, who are presently embroiled in a conflict with the Secret Six. The two groups cease their conflict to take on the Black Lanterns.
Kicked in the Teeth
The Squad is formed for the first time. They are directed by Waller, who sends them to a stadium where a mysterious virus is rampaging, transforming all the patrons into mutated monsters. The team is able to escape with only one casualty, but are unable to be extracted, and are left to care for a baby while they await rescue. When they are finally recovered by Waller's agents, they are informed that they must remain in the field, and become embroiled in a conflict with Basilisk. Following their return to prison, the team becomes involved in preventing a riot. Managing to do so, they are then sent after Harley Quinn, who caused the riot and escaped. They are able to track her down and recapture her in Gotham.
The New Frontier
The Squad appears briefly in much the same capacity as they occupy in the main universe. Hal Jordan is recruited to join the team. All members of the team, save Jordan, die in the explosion of a manned flight to Mars.
The Squad appears in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Task Force X". The team goes by this name throughout the episode. Team members who appear are Rick Flag, voiced by Adam Baldwin; Deadshot, voiced by Michael Rosenbaum; Captain Boomerang, voiced by Donal Gibson; Plastique, voiced by Juliet Landau; and Clock King, voiced by Alan Rachins.
They used the word Task Force X in the Justice League Unlimted series because they do not want to use the word Suicide Squad for a kids tv show and not to cause kids to be affected by death.
A Suicide Squad movie is currently in development by Warner Bros.
The Suicide Squad is first referenced in the season nine episode "Absolute Justice". Various team members appear in episodes throughout the tenth season of the show. Team members who appear include Rick Flag, played by Ted Whittall; Deadshot, played by Bradley Stryker; Plastique, played by Jessica Parker Kennedy; and Warp, played by Elias Toufexis.
A game based on the Suicide Squad is currently in development.