167. Spider Jerusalem (7 points)
"I was way late to the Transmet band wagon (I'm still waiting for the last two trades to come into the library), but I am oh so glad I hopped on. I'm a big fan of Hunter S. Thompson's work, so it's no surprise I'm a big fan of the character heavily inspired by him. Spider is what makes Transmet work- the book is reliant nearly entirely on his voice (the main plot doesn't even come up for several issues). He's over the top and outrageous and generally a disgusting pig, but he speaks truth, especially to power, no matter what the consequences. That's fucking awesome."
Spider was the most notorious journalist in the City. With his groundbreaking books he gained a great reputation and a great deal of money. Having nausea because of the filth in the City, Spider resigned to the Mountain, a place of solitude and peace. He would live in the mountain for five years, unclean and sickening to look at, he also seems to have lived off eating mice during this retirement too...
His five year retirement however came to an end. His editor (Better known to Spider as Whore Hopper) calls and tells him to deliver two books immediately as instructed in his contract or they'll sue. With no money nor any other choice, Spider made his come-back.
To write, Spider needs to be in the City, a place he truly despises. The place that fills him up with the hate that he needs to be productive. To remain in the City, Spider needs to have a job, after all it's not like he can just live in his car. So he raids his old friend Mitchell Milton's office to ask for said job. Milton, now the chief editor of the greatest newspaper in the City, The Word gives him a column and explains to him that he wants a real story this time, not just the word "fuck" printed eight thousand times as Spider had done before.
So, Spider needs a story. And he has been away for a long time, so he watches TV, to catch the latest developments to find his first story. His first story comes to his feet when he sees his old friend Fred Christ, a former rock-band manager. Fred turned out to be a Transient (A Half Human/Half Alien), and better than that, he turned out to be a Transient leader who threatens the government with a separatist secession. Spider goes to Fred to make an interview to see that separatist movement is nothing but a fiasco and only solid thing in the affair is Fred's lust for Transient women. The movement turns into a riot, which Police Department answers with brutality. However Spider's "live" column creates a public dispute and Police's interference is cut short. After the incident Spider is beaten up by the Police because of his column.
Channon Yarrow, a stripper Spider encounters in Angels 8, shows up in Spider's apartment. Inspired by his journalism and determined to turn her journalism education in to something useful, Channon becomes his new assistant. Their relation is, however cut short. After Channon's boyfriend Ziang's decision to become a Foglet, Channon leaves Spider and becomes a nun in Fred Christ's newly formed Church.
Spider battles Yokels, because of a misdeed done by his dead ex-wife. During his struggle he also loses an adversary that he is not aware of. A castrated police bulldog, seeking revenge on Jerusalem leaps and falls down to his doom. If this was not enough, Spider must also avoid a headless explosive kid who claims to be his son.
Meanwhile, Spider gains a new partner Yelena Rossini and reunites with his former assistant Channon Yarrow, who is sick of Fred Christ's Church. The next thing for Spider is the election for Presidency. He starts practicing his "old school" journalism to reveal secrets of the candidate’s campaigns. The Beast, current president and old enemy of Spider runs the campaign with his right-wing methods where Callahan, "The Smiler" puts out a rather mild campaign. Which turns out to be a lie as Spider learns that Smiler puts out an even dirtier political play. Things gets worse as Vita Severn, Smiler's campaign manager gets assassinated and the sympathy votes goes for Callahan, who proves to be a lot worse than The Beast. Meanwhile Spider gets more and more popular and turns into a media celebrity, which he hates. He feels that he needs to be hated and disliked to do what he does best.
Driven by his search for the Truth, and his ambition to revenge Vita's assassination, Spider plays harder than usual to reveal secrets of the Smiler. His ambition causes him to get fired from the Word and lose his fortune. He then decides to write in a pirate channel, Hole feed site, to avoid the censor law, prepared by Callahan.
166. Flamebird, Death, and Amanda Waller (8 points)
Bette Kane was born blonde, blue-eyed and beautiful. It was not long before she quickly garnered the adulation of those around her. Whether that fueled her thrill seeking and high competitive nature is still a conundrum. However, the constant attention would grow to bore Bette and would eventually be perceived by others as spoiled. Bette grew to become a champion tennis player while still in her early teens, a beauty pageant winner since the age of five, skilled in martial arts, and an Olympic gymnast and swimmer.
Excelling in all of her goals, there was one Bette still found beyond her grasp. At an early age Bette discovered Robin (Dick Grayson), the teen wonder and longed to meet her teenage crush. Failing in all previous attempts, Bette decided to meet Robin on his own terms and fashioned a costume similar in colors to his. Calling herself Flamebird, Bette managed to have some high-profiled crime fighting exploits gaining her media coverage. To her dismay none captured any sort of response by Robin.
It wasn’t until the formation of Titans West that Bette finally achieved her goal and met Robin. Just after winning an exhibition tennis tournament aboard the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Tippecanoe, Bette found herself alongside other super-teens like herself (Beast Boy, Golden Eagle, and Hawk) in a rescue attempt of the civilians aboard the aircraft carrier as it floated high above the sea. As a team the young heroes brought the carrier back down to sea level. Bette and the others were then introduced to Dove and Lilith. Lilith gathered the young heroes together and told them how she had foreseen many more disasters all created by the villain Mr. Esper. She recommended they go to the East Coast and ask the Teen Titans for help (especially Robin’s leadership).
The Teen Titans had faced their own disaster with the villain Captain Calamity. When the two teams met the plot unfolded that Mr. Esper had used the power of his helmet’s “sonic whisper” to tap into Lilith’s mind to gain access to her powers. Captain Calamity was first an illusion of Mr. Esper, but when the teams defeated him he had made Mr. Esper the illusion and assumed the identity of Captain Calamity.
After the case had ended, Robin voiced his concerns about two Titan teams existing and his unwillingness to lead both. Flamebird and the rest of Titans West were offended at Robin’s assumptions and stormed out on the Teen Titans. The main reason that Golden Eagle joined the team was because he thought that it would give him a great amount of money, however it wouldn’t be long before both teams disbanded. Titans West continued on a little longer after this before finally disbanding altogether. Dishearten, Bette moved on, putting her crime fighting days behind her and continuing her education and tennis career.
It wouldn’t be long before Bette found herself missing the thrill and excitement that being a crime fighter provided. Flamebird would reappear once again on a mission into the afterlife with Hawk and Dove II, which involved many of the former Titan West members. Her enthusiastic attempt to resurrect Titans West after this was unfavorably met by the other former members. Another incident would draw Flamebird out as she was captured by a probe sent by the malfunctioning Cyborg aka Victor Stone, who had become a menace to the Earth. Fighting alongside all previous Titans, Flamebird helped protect Victor Stone’s soul from the JLA. This event would usher in a new Titans team, which dampened Bette’s spirits when Nightwing (formerly Robin) and the other original Teen Titans overlooked her for membership.
A short time later, Bette was called to aid Gar Logan, aka Beast Boy. Overlooked by the Titans as well Gar found himself in fighting to defend his name against crimes committed by someone posing as Beast Boy. Upon helping Gar, Bette found herself fighting alongside Nightwing. At one point he pulled her aside and basically tried to convince her to give up crime fighting altogether. The shock of this caused Bette to reevaluate her goals and devotion to crime fighting. A renewed spirit arose within Bette along with a new costume and an amped up arsenal of gadgetry.
As the all-new Flamebird, Bette helped Gar capture Gemini, the imposter committing the crimes. After this Bette and Gar hung out together and even shared an apartment. Gar’s cousin, Matt would try one last attempt to bring about a new Titans West (dubbing it Titans LA). A bitter Duela Dent tried to cause havoc during the recruitment drive, but Bette managed to subdue her. The team never got off the ground before the members went their separate ways.
Younger sister of Destiny, older sister to Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium. It is said that every living thing encounters death twice in their lifetime. Once when they are born, though no one remembers that meeting with her, and once when they die. Death does not guide the soul of the dead into any particular after-life, she is merely a gateway into what lies beyond. On page she usually appears as a young woman, stylishly dressed wearing a silver ankh, with pale skin, and an eye of Horus tattoo around her eye. Though like the rest of the Endless, she can appear however she wants or needs. When the universe was young Death was more somber, but she has come to love her job and develop her own quirky upbeat personality beyond what the fear living beings have of her. It is known that she keeps two goldfish and has a floppy hat collection. She is Dream's closest friend and confidant, able to shake him out of self-absorption when necessary. She does not seem to have much of relationship with either her elder brother Destiny, nor her younger siblings. Twice Death has agreed not to take people (on panel). In one instance it was her nephew, Orpheus, so that he could descend into Hades and bring back his love Eurydice. After being torn apart by the Bacchanae, Orpheus survived for thousand of years as just a head until released (killed) by his father Dream.
The second time in Medieval England, after listening to a man claim that Death was "a mug's game", she agreed not to take Robert Gadling while Dream agreed to meet him every hundred years for a drink, just to see how long he would want to live. After Dream (Morpheus) died, she met with Gadling herself and offered to take him, but he refused. One day in every century, Death lives a day in mortal form, sometimes human, sometimes not, to better understand the creatures over which she has dominion. "I'm not merciful or blessed. I'm just me. I've got a job to do and I do it....When the first living thing existed, I was there. Waiting. When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I'll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave."
Amanda has been established as a widow who escaped Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects with her surviving family after one of her sons, one of her daughters and her husband were murdered, Waller eventually obtained a doctorate in political science (as revealed in Checkmate v.2 # 1 where she is addressed as "Doctor Waller") and became a congressional aide. During that work, she discovered the existence of the first two incarnations of the Squad. Taking elements from both of these, she proposed the development of its third incarnation to the White House and was placed in charge upon its approval.
The Agency was formed by Amanda Waller to serve as a small, quasi-independent branch of Task Force X. Valentina Vostok brought former NYPD Lieutenant Harry Stein into the Agency as an operative. Amanda Waller later promoted Stein to the command position and demoted Vostok. Harry Stein would later reorganize the Agency and name it Checkmate.
Waller's tenure as the official in charge of the third Suicide Squad was tumultuous and controversial. Despite many successes, she developed a habit of defying her superiors in Washington in order to achieve goals both legitimate and personal on more than one occasion. The earliest conflict between her and her superiors revolved around the leadership of the Suicide Squad. Although she proposed that the Bronze Tiger, the man she had helped out of his brainwashing, lead the team he was instead relegated to second-in-command, and Rick Flag Jr. was made the leader. Waller resentfully presumed the situation to be racially charged, related to not only her own status as a black woman, but also Bronze Tiger's own skin tone, although the Tiger himself did not believe this was a factor, instead believing this was a result of mistrust due to the brainwashing imposed upon him by the League of Assassins.
Her relationship with the Squad itself was one of mutual dislike. Most of the team's criminal members didn't really take to Waller's methods (most notably Captain Boomerang), and even the team's heroes were often at odds with Waller. Waller's inability to deal and compromise with her people led to Nemesis' departure from the team and the death of a US senator, which indirectly caused the death of Rick Flag Jr. Those type of conflicts, however, were not only limited to her superiors and her team, but also extended to Batman, who opposed the forming of the Suicide Squad (although he would later help to reform it). Nonetheless, the team remained loyal to her, often choosing to side with her instead of the government.
It was ultimately revealed that the reason that Amanda Waller even kept the heroes such as Nightshade around, was in order for them to act as her conscience. Over the course of her first run with the Suicide Squad, her actions became increasingly erratic as she fought to retain control of the Squad. This was heightened by the public revelation of the Suicide Squad, and her being officially replaced, although her 'replacement' was in fact an actor, and Waller remained the team's director.
Even that secret would eventually be revealed and Amanda Waller would be put on trial. During this time, the Squad also became involved in an interagency conflict in a crossover between the Checkmate and Suicide Squad titles called the Janus Directive.
One of the field missions is against her will, as many members of the Squad, Waller included, are forcibly kidnapped and taken to Apokolips. This is because team member Duchess remembered her past as Lashina of the Female Furies, instead of being amnesiac as she pretended, and wished to return home with suitable sacrifices. The Squad suffers fatalities battling Apokolips forces, with Waller personally confronting Granny Goodness. However, the confrontation ended with the deaths of Dr. Light and one of Waller's own nieces, and Count Vertigo near-fatally wounded.
She eventually found herself serving prison time for her pursuit of an organized crime cartel based in New Orleans called the LOA and killing its leadership, using Squad operatives Ravan, Poison Ivy and Deadshot in the process.
Waller is eventually pardoned and released a year later to reorganize the Squad as a freelance mercenary group at the behest of Sarge Steel to deal with a crisis in Vlatava, Count Vertigo's home country; Waller allowed herself to enter prison because she knew two things: one, by confronting the LOA with Squad operatives, she had crossed the line, and two, she would return to her position quite easily if she was ever needed again, as she perfectly knew. Afterwards, the Suicide Squad performs a variety of missions, often treading dangerous political terrain when dealing with Soviet and Israeli interests. Most notably, the Squad help destroy the plans of the Cabal to throw Qurac, Israel and the US into political disarray.
During the course of her renewed tenure with this team, Amanda became closer to her operatives, even accompanying them on their field missions. This allows for her and her team to bond more effectively, although she retains her dominant and threatening personality.
Waller quits after a later field mission, in which she personally takes down the seemingly immortal dictator of a small, South American island nation. As it turned out, he wasn't immortal, but had an immense amount of psychic power, and by tricking him, Waller merely provided a form of assisted suicide.
Soon after, Amanda Waller organizes many superheroes to confront the villain Eclipso. Again, she would confront Sarge Steel. Her first attempt at a team, formed with the assistance of Bruce Gordon and his wife Mona, did not go well. Most of the team are brutally murdered infiltrating Eclipso's stronghold. Her second attempt with a much larger team has much more success.
She eventually rejoins federal service, initially as Southeastern regional director for the Department of Extranormal Operations. She is promoted to Secretary of Metahuman Affairs as a member of the Lex Luthor Presidential Administration.
In the eight-issue series of Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag, she is again seen leading the Suicide Squad at some point when the General returned to Earth after his exile, and was promptly drafted into the Squad with special explosive implants grafted into his arm and brain to make him compliant with Waller's demands. Here, she personally uses technology devised by Cliff Carmichael to gain a measure of control over Chemo, allowing her to use the toxic behemoth for the Squad's benefit. Rick Flag is revealed to have survived the events at Jotunheim and was returned to Waller, who revealed to him Rick Flag, Jr. was never anything but an alias, and that he was in reality a brainwashed soldier remade into Flag to serve Eiling's ends.
She leads, as Chemo, an attack on a Dubai supercorp intending to release a deadly virus. However, Carmichael, with Eiling and part of her team, betrays her as part of Eiling's plan to benefit from the release of the virus, and she is nearly killed when Eiling orders a compliant Flag to use her pen, actually a transmitter, to detonate her own explosive implant. Instead, Flag, tricking him, detonates Eiling's own, releasing her and ultimately rejoining the Squad, refusing the chance of a normal life.