Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of DC's Rick Flag

Suicide Squad leader Rick Flag is one of the most slippery characters in the DC Universe. He was the original leader of Task Force X, but a retcom removed him from leadership of the group. It was later revealed that his dad, a World War II hero, was actually the leader of the first Suicide Squadron. He seemingly died when he went after an elusive target, but he was miraculously brought back. Or was he? He might not even have been named Rick Flag at all, according to a military officer who brainwashed him. 

Regardless of whom he worked with or his opinion of them (usually low), Rick Flag believed in the mission above all else. However, while he knew that every member of his team was expendable on a given mission, including himself, he would sometimes defy orders in order to free someone left behind. Flag was a rare hero: his superiors knew he was unstable and needed therapy, but they didn't care and put him out in the field anyway. He hated most of the villains he was forced to work with, but people he admired like Batman wanted nothing to do with him. Regardless, there are dirty missions that need to be done, and Rick Flag will be there to lead them. 

Flag was a key character in the first Suicide Squad movie and will return for the second one as well

My father, the war hero

Rick Flag dates back to The Brave And The Bold #25, as part of the original Suicide Squad. However, it was later retconned that his father, Richard Montgomery Flag, was also a covert operative. This all came out in a secret meeting between future Task Force X chief Amanda Waller, spy Sarge Steel, and then-president Ronald Reagan.

Rick Flag Sr. was an ace fighter pilot inspired by the sacrifice of the rest of his squadron in a dogfight. He was assigned to Squadron S, a group consisting of "broken men...all the most expendable sorts." As a result, they started calling themselves the Suicide Squad, and they were just as likely to kill each other as their enemy. Flag waded right into this command, getting in a fistfight and knocking out the toughest guy on his first day. He whipped his squad into shape and they fought successfully through the end of the war.

He was called upon again during the Korean War by his old friend General Jeb Stuart (the former pilot of the Haunted Tank) to be the field leader of the new Task Force X, whose mission was to covertly eliminate international superpowered threats. Rick had married and had a son named Rick, Jr., but his wife Sharon died in an accident saving their son. A distraught Rick Sr. went on a mission fighting the rebuilt Nazi super-weapon the War Wheel and flew his plane into it, destroying it but killing himself in the process. 

Task Force X

The original Suicide Squad was created by Bob Kanigher and Ross Andru in 1959, and they were a quartet not unlike Jack Kirby's Challengers of the Unknown. In fact, a retcon later made Ace Morgan of the Challengers a rival of the junior Flag. After the death of his father, Rick was raised by Jeb Stuart, joined the military, became a pilot, and was chosen for the new Task Force X. The Squad consisted of Flag, medic Karin Grace, physicist Jess Bright, and astronomer Hugh Evans. The crew traveled in the "flying laboratory" and fought monsters with Flag's flying and fighting prowess along with the scientific expertise of the rest of the team. They dealt with giant snakes, Polyphemus the Cyclops, and dinosaurs

Their final mission was a tragic one. Flag and Grace had fallen in love, but kept that knowledge from the other team members because they had also fallen in love with her and Flag was afraid it would hurt the team. Attacked by the Yeti, the monster nearly killed Rick. Karin revealed her love of Rick to the others, which angered them. However, they stuck together in an effort to survive. Bright and Evans sacrificed themselves to save Flag and Grace. However, Grace was already traumatized by the death of her former fiancé, and the experience broke her. She was hospitalized for a long time after that. Flag was hurt by this too, but he simply went on to the next mission. 

A Forgotten Hero

When the Suicide Squad fought the Yeti, they found a mysterious golden temple. After that catastrophe, Rick Flag was assigned to infiltrate a group called the Forgotten Heroes, all of whom had encountered similar temples across the world. That group consisted of underwater hero Dolphin, Animal Man, geologist Cave Carson, Dane Dorrance (leader of the ocean explorer team the Sea Devils), explorer Congo Bill, and time master Rip Hunter. That group was brought together by a mysterious figure called the Immortal Man. 

Vandal Savage had used the temples, which had powers over time, to infect Superman with spores that he spread to create monstrous prehistoric plant life that would destroy the Earth. The Immortal Man had been Savage's arch-enemy for countless millennia and brought together his group to stop his ancient enemy. The Forgotten Heroes and Superman destroyed the first golden pyramid at the dawn of time and defeated Savage. The Forgotten Heroes again teamed with Superman to take on the Forgotten Villains, who used magic to mess with the Man of Steel. 

All of Flag's early Suicide Squad adventures were retconned away after Infinite Crisis, as Booster Gold later discovered on a time-travel jaunt to 1952. Task Force X existed, but this version was run by Sgt. Frank Rock

The New Task Force X

When Rick Flag heard that Task Force X was being reactivated, he had himself assigned to it. He was in for a shock, as the new director was the hard-nosed Amanda Waller. She had a revolutionary new idea for the Suicide Squad: recruiting criminals and super-villains to do black-ops work and offering them freedom if they survived. Flag found the idea to be completely insane, but he also said "I have never allowed my personal opinions interfere with the performance of my duty." He was in.

Meanwhile, Darkseid was unleashing a plan to humiliate Earth's legends: its superheroes. With Glorious Godfrey's disinformation campaign and a monster named Brimstone causing chaos, he planned for seemingly every contingency. Godfrey turned the public against the heroes and the government ordered them to cease all activities. The Suicide Squad, consisting of Flag, Bronze Tiger, Deadshot, Blockbuster, Captain Boomerang, and Enchantress, were sent to fight a rampaging Brimstone. Thanks to carefully-cultivated intelligence, Deadshot was able to kill Brimstone with a special laser rifle, but Blockbuster died. Waller wanted to double-cross the criminals, but Flag insisted that they should be set free

Boomerang promptly tried to rob a bank and was captured by Godfrey, who threatened to kill him on live television. Boomerang hinted that he wanted to be rescued or he'd spill the beans about Task Force X. Waller ordered Flag to save or kill him, and Flag managed a non-lethal solution ... but he did punch Boomerang in the face.

Setting up in Belle Reve

Task Force X set up in Belle Reve Federal Prison, giving Waller's group a perfect cover. They botched their first mission, taking out the superhuman terrorist group Jihad. Rick Flag was partly distracted because his old girlfriend Karin Grace had joined as a medic. Flag continued to disapprove of Waller's methods, like wiping the memory of double-agent Plastique. Flag single-handedly took on the Female Fury of Apokolips, Lashina, when she came to break out Glorious Godfrey. 

A disastrous mission in Russia led Flag to the tough decision of having to leave Nemesis, one of his teammates, behind. Karin yells at him for leaving another teammate behind, but both she and her new boyfriend (and Squad member) Mark Shaw were deadly Manhunters. Shaw was revealed to be an android and Karin realized she had been duped. She redeemed herself by killing the Mark Shaw robot.

On another mission, the superhero Hawk was captured running guns to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The Suicide Squad was sent to rescue or kill him and ran afoul of the Doom Patrol. Every member of the team except Flag died; he wound up having to kill some of them himself. 

Showdown with Batman

Flag was despondent after Karin's death, and Waller was unimpressed by his emotional breakdown. She wanted the Bronze Tiger to be field leader, but she was stuck with Flag. Meanwhile, Batman infiltrated Belle Reve in his Matches Malone criminal guise. He was about to leave with files that would have exposed Task Force X before he was finally cornered. Waller threatened to expose Batman's secret identity as retaliation, and so both sides left deadlocked. When Deadshot bragged about sending Batman packing, Flag went off on having "to protect scum like you!" Waller was impressed by Flag's fire, and reinstated him as leader. 

Flag put together a team to retrieve Nemesis from a Russian prison, and Waller was so angry that she told the president to call in Justice League International to stop them. That included Batman, who was already concerned about Nemesis. When the JLI arrived at the prison first, Nemesis was unconscious. When the Suicide Squad arrived, there was a fight, but cooler heads prevailed ... except for Batman, who couldn't stop trying to fight Flag. Eventually, Flag slumped into unconsciousness, but the teams worked together to free Nemesis, who went home with this team. The Suicide Squad, and Flag in particular, really got under Batman's skin. 

The Squad exposed

A Senator named Cray threatened to expose Task Force X, especially after the bungled mission in Russia drew so much bad publicity. He wanted to blackmail Waller into helping him win re-election. Cray used former security liaison Derek Tolliver to help him achieve these ends. Waller gathered dirt on Tolliver and seemingly put an end to that threat. However, Flag overheard Waller arguing and worried about the Squad's vulnerability, so he went off to kill both Cray and Tolliver. Waller dispatched the team to stop him — by any means necessary.

Flag killed Tolliver, not knowing information had already been leaked to the press about the Suicide Squad. He was going to kill Cray as well, but a deranged Deadshot got there first and killed Cray so that Flag didn't have to. Flag fled the scene as Waller had to deal with the fallout of Task Force X being exposed. 

The death of Rick Flag

After the fiasco of the death of Senator Cray by Deadshot's hand, Rick Flag disappeared. He decided it was time to make amends. His goal was to wipe out the Squad's enemies in the terrorist group Jihad, stationed in an impregnable mountain base called Jotunheim. It was the same base that his father's Squad had infiltrated during World War II in order to destroy a prototype atomic bomb and steal a new German tank. The tank was destroyed and the bomb was buried but not detonated, as Jotunheim was left standing. Flag fondly recalled the stories his father would tell him about that mission and all the rough characters in the Suicide Squad.  

Flag infiltrated the base, found the bomb, and set a timer for its detonation. Before he could get away, his arch-enemy Rustam, the leader of Jihad, found Flag and engaged him with a flaming scimitar. Flag knew that he didn't have to win the battle, only keep it going until the timer wound down. As they grappled, the bomb went off and pulverized the mountain, seemingly killing everyone in it. The host nation of Quran denied any knowledge of a base. Only a letter left by Flag for Nightshade, the Squad member who had fallen in love with him, revealed where he had gone and what he planned to do. Flag decried duty and carrying on for others in the letter, begging Nightshade to quit the Squad and find happiness instead. 

Raise the Flag

As it turns out, Flag wasn't dead. He had been teleported, along with Rustam, to a mysterious jungle realm called Skartaris, thanks to Rustam's mystical flaming scimitar. Skartaris is an inner realm of the Earth, and it's home to the Warlord.  Flag found himself under attack by a velociraptor and, though he shot it to death, its bulk pinned him. Rustam found him and freed him, calling a truce to their hostilities for their own mutual survival. After they found a way back to their world, they fought to the death and Flag won.

Of course, when Flag came back, he was right in the middle of enemy territory and rotted away in a prison until Waller freed him and put him in charge of her new Suicide Squad. Flag soon learned that he was actually a soldier named Anthony Miller, whom General Wade Eiling brainwashed and could control with a trigger phrase. Eiling, inhabiting the monstrous form of the mostly indestructible Shaggy Man and now part of the Squad, betrayed Waller on a mission and tried to use Flag against her. However, Flag was ready, having put in earplugs so he couldn't hear the trigger phrase. He triggered the explosive in Eiling's brain and saved Waller, though he did enjoy making her sweat a little. Given a chance to meet Miller's family, he declined. For better or worse, he was now Rick Flag

Rick Flag vs Smallville

The Suicide Squad played a major role in the tenth season of Smallville, the show about Superman's teen years that aired on the WB and later the CW. A splinter group of the government metahuman recruitment agency Checkmate, Rick Flag led a group in capturing Oliver Queen, who had been working with Superboy. Flag tortured him for information regarding terrorist attacks until Chloe Sullivan, a friend of Ollie and Clark's traded herself in as a hostage for Queen. 

Like the Suicide Squad in other media, they were comprised of the sort of agents that worked best in a clandestine manner, doing jobs they didn't want to give to the more popular heroes. This version of the squad included Deadshot, Plastique, and Warp. Flag was much more ruthless on this show than elsewhere, happily harming hostages in order to get what he wanted. He also never seemed to have a moment's doubt or hesitation in pursuing his goals. In this case, he actually sympathized with heroes facing a Vigilante Registration Act and attempted to assassinate a general who was sponsoring it. Chloe Sullivan turned the tables and forced Flag to use his team to help free the Justice League from government imprisonment, threatening to turn him in for his assassination attempt if he didn't. 

In the Suicide Squad movies

The movie version of Rick Flag got started working for Amanda Waller at ARGUS and joined her at Task Force X. While he also recoiled at using criminals and lunatics on his team, Waller held leverage over him: the fact that he was in love with June Moone, who was possessed by the magical Enchantress. Waller literally possessed the heart of the Enchantress, which kept her in line until she betrayed them.

This version of Rick Flag was intensely loyal to Waller because he knew that she had power over the Enchantress. He initially didn't think much of his team, which included familiar Squad members like Deadshot and Captain Boomerang along with Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Slipknot, El Diablo, and Flag's bodyguard Katana. Waller warned them that they had been implanted with a nanite bomb that would kill them if they tried to escape or got out of line. Captain Boomerang convinced Slipknot that the bomb was a fake and he tried to escape, which led Flag to detonate the bomb. When the Squad learned that Waller was covering up Enchantress' betrayal and Flag's involvement with Moone, they abandoned him. Flag found them and freed them from their mission, but they decided to prove themselves and help save the city from a magical rampage. In many respects, this version of Flag was more soft-hearted than other portrayals of the character, although it perfectly captured the weird affection he developed for both Waller and the Squad.