Where the Creature Commandos Fit into the New DC Universe

Blair Marnell
TV Comics
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A new era of the DC Universe is set to begin in 2025. DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran have unveiled their initial projects for “Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters,” with a new Superman movie, a new Batman & Robin film, a Green Lantern focused TV series, and a few lesser known characters. But among the ten films and TV shows on the initial slate, perhaps the biggest surprise was the reveal of a Creature Commandos animated series.

The Creature Commandos are about as far from the A-list as DC heroes can get. And yet it seems likely that there were plans for them before Gunn and Safran took over. During the initial announcement, Gunn revealed that he has already written the scripts for the animated series. He also indicated that it would pick up on some of the lingering threads from his first DC movie, The Suicide Squad. In that way, it could be the link between the DC Extended Universe that came before, and whatever emerges after The Flash resets the board.

To get a better feel for how the Creature Commandos will play into the newly revamped DCU, it’s important to know who they are and where they came from. That’s why we’re diving into the forty-two-year history of DC’s most monstrous heroes.

It’s a Weird, Weird War

The origins of the Creature Commandos go back to Weird War Tales, an unusual DC series that was both a war comic and a horror series. But although Weird War Tales had supernatural overtones from the beginning, it didn’t embrace monsters as the leading characters until 1980, nine years after the series had been launched. In Weird War Tales #93, J. M. DeMatteis and artist Pat Broderick formally introduced the Creature Commandos.

In their initial adventure, the Creature Commandos were a group of four that included a werewolf named Warren Griffith, the vampiric Sgt. Vincent Velcro, and a Frankenstein monster who was once Pvt. Elliot “Lucky” Taylor. During World War II, Lt. Matthew Shrieve oversaw the creation of the Creature Commandos under Project M. While Shrieve was the token human on the team, he was also a party to the monstrous experiments that created the Creature Commandos. It was all in the name of defeating the Nazis. But that doesn’t mean Shrieve’s actions were morally justified. And by the end of the first story, the monsters had little reason to trust Shrieve after he made it clear that they were all expendable.

The original team was soon expanded to include Dr. Myrna Rhodes, an ordinary woman who was transformed into a gorgon. The other key addition was the Jungle Automatic Killer – Experimental Number 1, an android who was better known as G.I. Robot. J.A.K.E. 1, was destroyed on a mission, but its successor, J.A.K.E. 2, joined the team soon after.

A Hero’s Welcome

If the Creature Commandos expected to be rewarded for their service to their country, those hopes were dashed in Weird War Tales #124, when they were sentenced to die. Their death sentence was only commuted so they could man a dangerous rocket that was aimed directly at Berlin. Unfortunately for the team, their final mission ended in disaster when their rocket went wildly off course and was lost in space, never to be seen again.

Or so we thought. Decades later, within the pages of Action Comics #872, it was revealed that Brainiac was holding the Creature Commandos captive on his ship. After they were freed by Superman, the team sided with the Man of Steel and returned to a world that had greatly changed since the last time they set foot on planet Earth.

Prior to this miraculous return, there was an eight-issue Creature Commandos miniseries that took place on an alternate Earth. This incarnation of the team added a very Gill-Man-like amphibian called the Bogman, a mummy named Aten, and two relatively human members: the cyborg, Gunner Mackey, and Shrieve’s replacement, Lucius Hunter.

Throwing S.H.A.D.E.

DC’s 2011 line-wide reboot, The New 52, introduced a modernized version of the Creature Commandos in Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.. In this incarnation, the Frankenstein Monster simply lets people call him Frankenstein, and he is the leader of the Creature Commandos. The rest of his teammates also underwent some changes from their previous counterparts. For example, Vincent Velcro was still a vampire, but his last name was changed to Velcoro. And instead of a Gorgon, Dr. Nina Mazursky became a Gill-Woman, and she was retroactively revealed to be the creator of the Commandos.

The other key additions to the team were a mummy named Khalis, and The Bride of Frankenstein. Unlike her literary counterpart, The Bride once loved Frankenstein, and they even created a son together. However, their son’s violent and unstable nature led to Frankenstein putting their child down. That permanently ruptured their relationship, even when it was revealed that their son survived.

Chasing Stardom

The forthcoming Creature Commandos animated series will not be the team’s first brush with animation or even their first adaptation. In 2014, DC Nation released a trio of Creature Commando animated shorts that largely played the monstrous characters for laughs. For this incarnation, the team only featured Matthew Shrieve, Lucky Taylor (Frankenstein), Warren Griffith (werewolf), Vincent Velcoro (vampire) and Myrna Rhodes (gorgon). Those were the same characters who guest-starred in a single episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold three years earlier.

So far, Shrieve is the only character in the group to have previously appeared in live-action. Marc Singer portrayed Shrieve during Arrow season 3’s flashbacks as an enemy to Oliver Queen.

Going Hollywood

As part of the DCU announcement, Gunn revealed that only four characters from the Creature Commandos comic will be prominently featured in the upcoming series: The Bride, Eric Frankenstein, G.I. Robot, and Dr. Nina Mazursky. The remaining members include Rick Flag Sr., Dr. Phosphorus, and Weasel.

This incarnation of the team will be more closely linked to the Suicide Squad, and Viola Davis has already been confirmed to reprise her role as Amanda Waller. While the events of Peacemaker exposed the existence of Task Force X, Waller apparently retains the clout to unleash a new team of monsters to further her own agenda. Of course, it’s possible that The Flash may completely reset the timeline. If so, we can’t guarantee that everything we saw in The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker still happened. Whether the past changes or not, Waller will have a prominent role in her own live-action HBO Max series, appropriately titled Waller, so she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Since Rick Flag Jr. perished during The Suicide Squad, it appears that his father is being called back into action alongside the Creature Commandos. There’s almost certainly going to be friction when he learns about Waller’s role in the death of his son. The other direct connection to The Suicide Squad is Weasel, who we learned survived his apparent death near the start of the film in a mid-credits scene. As for Dr. Phosphorus, he’s a low level Batman villain who has yet to appear in either live-action or animation.

Gunn has already written the scripts for the seven-episode Creature Commandos animated series, and he has also indicated that whoever is cast will portray the characters in both live-action and animation. This strongly implies that the Creature Commandos will appear in other projects within “Chapter 1” of the DCU. The safest bet would be if they show up in Waller, but Gunn and Safran haven’t fully tipped their hands yet. Regardless, Creature Commandos is primed to be one of the first projects of the new DCU, and it’s only two years away.

Blair Marnell
Freelance writer for almost every major geek outlet, including Fandom!