Captain Comet’s Rehab Squad: The Suicide Squad, Chapter 1: Raw Recruits

by Libbylawrence

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Captain Comet walked into his office at the Meta-Human Rehabilitation Agency and was startled to see several odd figures with Colonel Rick Flag.

“Adam, the government is pleased with what you’ve done, but they want more felons used, to save the tax dollars,” said Flag, sighing deeply. “These gentlemen and lady will be your new Rehab Squad for the next mission, while Valor and the others are on leave.”

Captain Comet frowned as he saw the new team. He recognized a man in black wearing a hood as the Eradicator; he glared at the others. One bored man in an orange radiation suit he knew to be Neutron sat wearily looking at a man he didn’t recognize in a black hood with a gold-and-white-trimmed costume to match. A female archer with shockingly white hair and a blue suit watched timidly; he recognized her as Moonbow by her face, which had makeup in the shape of a moon. He knew her real name was Bree Brandon. Finally, Lisa Snart’s brother, Captain Cold, sat to the side.

Clearing his throat, he said, “I am Captain Comet. Pleased to meet you all. If you follow my orders, you will receive benefits and possibly a pardon.”

“Pardon?” snapped Captain Cold. “Why, I expect us to be brothers-in-law any day, now.”

The man in gold sneered, “Feeble-minded thugs. They soil me by their mere company.”

The Eradicator said, “I would gladly kill them all for you, Captain.”

And I thought keeping Blossom dressed was tough, mused Comet. “What is the mission, exactly?” Comet asked Flag.

“A militant anti-Muslim hate group is wrapping itself in the flag and committing hate crimes and terrorism against anyone from the Middle East in the U.S.,” explained Rick Flag. “This seems aimed at nothing yet, other than racial violence, but with the latest oil embargo and peace talks being held in New York this week, we need to track them down and stop them before any threat to Minister Ghanem can occur.”

“I see,” said Comet. “So does Lyla have any lead?”

“No,” explained Flag, sighing once more. “With all the government-instituted changes to the MHRA, she’s decided it was her time to leave. She said her team spirit was lacking, anyway, and she could serve this world better by not associating formally with any one super-team.”

“I’m sure Harbinger will do well for herself, whatever she does,” said Captain Comet. “Anyway, I guess I can track them if we offer them a target they can’t resist. We’ll lure them out with some big, staged speech by an Eastern big-shot who is actually one of us in disguise.”

“I’m not wearing any turban,” said Captain Cold.

“You won’t have to wear anything but prison gray, unless you do as you are told,” said Comet. “No, the member of the new Rehab Squad I insist on adding will pose as the target. His name is Christopher Chance — also known as the Human Target.”

“Great idea,” said Flag. “Let’s do it. Now, get to know your team.” At that, he left the room.

“OK, tell me who you all are,” said Comet.

The man in black pulled back his hood to reveal dignified features and graying hair at the temples. “I am former Senator Creed Phillips, now called the Eradicator. I am honored to serve with a great American hero like you.”

“I heard you were dead,” said Captain Comet.

“Naw, the Flash just dusted his tail,” said Captain Cold. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Final Purge,” The Flash #320 (April, 1983).]

“I can melt you with a touch,” threatened the Eradicator.

The girl in blue spoke up. “I am Moonbow. My crimes were giving crooked money to the poor, like Robin Hood, who inspired me as an archer, too.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Moonbow Rising,” The Fury of Firestorm #48 (June, 1986) and “Justice: Lost and Found,” The Fury of Firestorm #49 (July, 1986).]

“I wanted you on the team long ago,” said Comet. “Welcome, Bree.”

“I am called Neutron now,” the man in the orange radiation suit said. “I once decked Superman himself.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Man Who Murdered Metropolis,” Action Comics #526 (December, 1981).]

“Who won?” said Captain Cold. Neutron’s reply was an obscene gesture with his hand, causing Cold to laugh.

“And who are you?” Comet asked the man in gold and white.

“I am Dr. Joel Cochin, three-time Nobel Prize winner,” said the arrogant man.

“Of course,” said Comet. “I’ve read your work. Nice touch about meta-genes and human potentiality.”

Cochin smiled. “You’ve read my work? You surprise me. The thinking man’s super-hero.”

“So, Brainy, ya got a name other than Joel?” asked Captain Cold.

“Paragon,” he replied with a scornful look. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Supremacy Factor,” Justice League of America #224 (March, 1984).]

***

Captain Comet watched from the shadows at the rally staged for Middle Eastern Culture with Christopher Chance — the so-called Human Target — posing as the head speaker, Anthony Doss.

Moonbow crouched high above on a rafter. She was nervous but excited, too. As spoiled campus queen and heiress Bree Brannon, she had only taken up the costumed identity of Moonbow for thrills and to give drug money to the needy by stealing it from drug lords. Her short, platinum blonde hair was concealed by a red wig when she was Bree. Her archery skills and acrobatic talents were amazing, and yet she had her doubts.

Former Senator Creed Phillips turned to Comet and whispered, “Comet, look at that scum,” he said, pointing at Neutron and Captain Cold. “I became the Eradicator to war on criminals such as they. Let me destroy that vermin.”

“Negative,” ordered Comet. “All life is sacred. If you kill them now, you ruin the chance that they might do good someday as productive citizens who reformed. That’s why I do this — to save them.” The Eradicator sniffed and turned away.

Paragon scowled. “You know, Comet, my mutant power gives me a slightly higher level of the mental and physical gifts of anyone near me. Having your mental advancement does make me feel differently about people. I used to look down on everyone else. Now I see that was short-sighted. Of course, when I am not in range of your advanced mind, I’ll go back to my old hateful ways. Ironic, isn’t it?”

“If you can change for the better, then do it,” said Comet. “Don’t let yourself slip.”

Captain Cold had his own ideas. Lisa, if this gets me a pardon, then fine! he thought. But that Comet you love is just like Flash — a stiff Boy Scout. I can’t say I will go out of my way to help him.

Neutron merely waited, eager for a fight. Then all the team stopped their individual musings as colorful figures swooped down to surround Anthony Doss.

“A real American wants the mike,” cried a hulking blond man wearing white and blue.

That’s Major Victory from Mayflower’s old team, the Force of July, thought Comet. It all makes sense. They were militantly pro-American.

Near the Major stood the tall and elegant Lady Liberty in her Statue of Liberty gown and crown. Although she was French, she loyally supported her team. “Let ze Major speak, I beg of you!” she pleaded in a strong French accent. “Or I will be forced to use my torch.”

A punk called Sparkler laughed, sending sparks arcing toward Doss. “I’ll move this foreigner for you, Lady L,” he said.

Anthony Doss spun around and kicked Sparkler flat, then rolled backward off the stage to land on his feet and sprint to safety as Comet had ordered him to do.

Good job, Chance! though Comet. “Now it’s up to us!” he yelled to his team. The Human Target smiled and waved a farewell.

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