Weird War Tales #93 (November 1980), the first appearance of
the Creature Commandos. Art by Joe Kubert.
|First appearance||Weird War Tales #93 (November 1980)|
|Created by||J. M. DeMatteis (writer)|
Pat Broderick (artist)
|Type of organization||Military unit|
|Base(s)||Project M (modern version)|
Concept and creation
Asked how the Creature Commandos came about, writer J. M. DeMatteis recalled,
I was doing War Tales[sic] for about six months before the DC implosion put me out of work for almost a year. And the last idea I had... I took a look at the title, Weird War, and I said, "Ya gotta have a lot of monsters." ... then after I was getting work there again was when they were trying to revivify the mystery books by putting series in them. So I went to Len [Wein, editor] with the Creature Commandos - the actual title may have been Len's; I think it was - and he said the same thing. "That's so silly that it will work. Let's do it." And we did it and it was silly and nothing came of it and the book died anyway.
Fictional team history
Project M is a secret government organization which began during World War II and specializes in experimental biotechnology and necromancy. Known creations of the Project beside the Creature Commandos include Miss America and the G.I. Robot. The Project's main scientist is Professor Mazursky. He was aided by Robert Crane. As told in Young All-Stars #12, they operated from a secret underground complex on the mythical Ferris Island in New York.
In 1942, Project M created the Creature Commandos. They were: Lt. Matthew Shrieve (a normal human), Warren Griffith (a werewolf), Sgt. Vincent Velcro (a vampire), Pvt. Elliot "Lucky" Taylor (a Frankenstein monster) and Dr. Myrna Rhodes (a gorgon).
Project M yielded other interesting specimens. Most notably, they were behind the creation of the heroine Miss America. Prof. Mazursky kidnapped her after his original subject perished. At first, his experiments appeared to have left her incapacitated. He later returned her unconscious form to the surface world. After that, she began a career as a masked heroine, but was critically injured while fighting alongside the Freedom Fighters. Project M recovered her and nursed her back to health. While there, Project M was visited by the Young All-Stars, who had discovered that Project M had been infiltrated. A criminal named Deathbolt was there seeking a new physical host for the disembodied brain of the Ultra-Humanite. The Ultra-Humanite took over the body of a dinosaur recovered from Dinosaur Island.
World War II
The team's first mission was in France, where they destroyed Nazi-manufactured android duplicates of the Allied leaders. In their next mission to France to free scientist Dr. Renee Frederique, the Commandos ultimately found her in a death camp, and they had no choice but to kill her. Her knowledge of a chemical nerve gas was too risky to be left in Nazi hands. Because of his part in the killing, Taylor attempted suicide. Although the doctors attempted to repair him, he remained mute for the rest of the series. On another morally dubious mission, the team caused the deaths of dozens of supersoldier children.
In 1943, the Commandos were deployed to Dinosaur Island in the South Pacific. They were supposed to solve the disappearance of several Allied spotter planes. They discovered a hidden Axis naval base and were able to trick the dinosaurs in turning on the Japanese navy. Shrieve took pictures for his commanders as proof of the island's existence. But Velcro destroyed them; he believed that the war would bring destruction to the dinosaurs.
When they returned to Dinosaur Island, they met the first J.A.K.E., the G.I. Robot. He met the Commandos when their plane was attacked by a dinosaur and crashed into the beach. Together, the soldiers discovered an underwater civilization, a supposed lost colony of Atlantis situated in the Pacific. The lost colony had created a group of robots to carry on the work of Atlantean conquest, and these androids took control of the G.I. Robot's mind. J.A.K.E. ultimately overrode their commands and sacrificed itself to destroy the colony.
At the end of the war, the remaining Creature Commandos and J.A.K.E. 2 (and his robot dog and robot cat) were forced to man a rocket aimed at Berlin. But the rocket went radically off-course and headed out of the atmosphere into deep space. Much, much later, they (with J.A.K.E., as of Action Comics (vol. 1) #872) appeared as captives in Brainiac's ship (Action Comics (vol. 1) #868).
The team, with J.A.K.E., is freed from the confines of Brainiac's ship, which is now under control by Kandorians. Frankenstein, whose sense of time is not the same as his comrades, convinces his group to trust Superman and they join in with a fight against the threat that freed them, an attack by the villains Reactron and Metallo. The American military conspiracy that has attacked the Kandorians sweep up the Commandos, though they are not quite sure of the value of the group.
Somehow, the original team later returned to Earth and to Project M, where they continued to serve as a special operations force. To keep pace with their aging physiology, Mazursky, the doctor who had originally mutated them, continued to perform a series of body modifications. This process extended their lives, but at the cost of their humanity.
At an unspecified date in the near future, the various original team members adopted code names. Project M continued to grow in size, and the originals came to form the core field team codenamed M-Team Alpha. The Alpha team was sporadically infused with new operatives as attrition took its toll. Presumably, Lt. Shrieve died or retired along the way. In his place came Capt. Lucius Hunter, formerly of Hunter's Hellcats. Hunter was said to be 74 years old, and a recipient of extensive body modifications and rejuvenation therapies. Other new members are: Aten, a mummylike communications specialist; the Bogman, an amphibian grunt resembling the Gill-man; and recently-revived cyborg Gunner Mackey, who — along with his partner "Sarge" — died during World War II. Both Lucius Hunter and Gunner Mackey were featured characters in Our Fighting Forces.
While deep undercover, Medusa discovered that Earth's dimension was in danger of invasion by a military alliance from the alternate Earth of Terra Arcana. This other-dimensional conglomerate of warlords included Lord Saturna, Hyathis of Alstair (killed by Tazzala), Tazzala of Korrl (Queen Bee III), Sayvar, reptile lord of Llarr, Kraad of Kranaal, Simon Magus of Blackstaff, Xotar the Weapons Master, Kromm of Mosteel (killed by Saturna), and the Troll King (killed by Velcro).
In order to conquer Earth the one remaining free dimension, Saturna's alliance enlisted the assistance of a powerful consortium on Future Earth. This group from Earth gave weapons and teleportation technology to the alliance in return for alien real estate. Tazzala and Magus soon betrayed Saturna, cutting their own deal with Murray. In the M-Team's raid on Terra Arcana, Velcro and Gunner were captured by Claw the Unconquered. Claw was convinced to ally with them, and his people joined the battle against Saturna. In conclusion Tazzala killed Saturna and was, herself, killed. Terra Arcana's future was then left in the hands of its people.
The modern Creature Commandos later appeared in the OMAC Project miniseries (2005–2006).
During the Infinite Crisis: Villains United one-shot, a metahuman prison named "Enclave M" was shown in New Mexico. Its connection to Project M is unclear at this time. In the Booster Gold 2008 miniseries, Maxwell Lord mentions Project M as still active, at least in the times of his cyberization, and claims he was able to use their resources to give himself a new human body, free from the manipulations of Kilg%re.
In the Justice League: Generation Lost storyline, Maxwell Lord took control of the Creature Commandos to attack the old JLI embassy. During the battle Max reveals himself while posing as one of the Creature Commandos, in which he captures the Blue Beetle and escapes. Shortly thereafter, the Creature Commandos broke free from Max's influence, realizing that they do not know why they are so far from their Project M base.
The New 52
In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, a new version of the Creature Commandos were introduced and featured in the pages of Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.. This incarnation of the team works as field agents for the secretive organization S.H.A.D.E. and are led by Frankenstein. The rest of the team consists of Khalis (who appears to be an Egyptian mummy), Warren Griffith (a werewolf), and Vincent Velcoro (given vampiric powers through a modified version of the Man-Bat formula). Griffith and Velcoro were both originally humans who volunteered to be mutated by Dr. Nina Mazursky, who later mutated herself into an amphibious creature resembling the Gill-man in order to fight alongside the team. Frankenstein's estranged wife the Bride was also a member of the team until leaving after learning the fate of her child.
- Warren Griffith – Warren was a simple, stuttering, timid farm boy who suffered from clinical lycanthropy. Project M gave him the ability to mutate into a true werewolf, but the metamorphoses were erratic and uncontrollable due to a flaw in the serum that created him.
- J.A.K.E. – The first G.I. Robot. Destroyed itself and a lost Atlantean colony.
- J.A.K.E. 2 – The second G.I. Robot. Lost in space with the Creature Commandos.
- Dr. Myrra Rhodes (previously Myrna) – Also known as Dr. Medusa. After inhaling strange fumes, she grew snakes for hair and superficially resembles one of the Gorgons.
- Lt. Matthew Shrieve – Matthew was their team leader. He was a fully human hard-as-nails soldier.
- Pvt. Elliot "Lucky" Taylor – Lucky barely survived stepping on a mine. He was stitched back together against his will, so he resembles Frankenstein's monster and has damaged vocal cords.
- Sgt. Vincent Velcro (or, in the modern series, Velcoro) – Velcro volunteered for the project in order to commute a 30-year sentence in the brig for crippling an officer. Like a vampire, he can now mutate into a bat and requires human blood to survive.
- Aten – The mummylike communications specialist.
- The Bogman – An amphibian grunt resembling the Gill-man.
- Gunner – A cyborg named Gunner Mackey, who died during World War II.
- Hunter – 74-year-old Captain Lucius Hunter, formerly of Hunter's Hellcats.
- Dr. Medusa – Dr. Myrra Rhodes, whose body has mutated even further into a Gorgonlike form since her first appearances.
- Patchwork – Elliot "Lucky" Taylor, who is pretty much the same as before.
- Velcoro – Vincent Velcoro, who, like Myrra, has mutated even further due to his treatments and now has red skin and a white ponytail.
- Wolfpack – Warren Griffith, who is even more savage and out-of-control in this incarnation.
The Agents of S.H.A.D.E.
- Father Time - Leader of S.H.A.D.E.
- Dr. Ray Palmer - U.N. Scientist Liaison, formerly the Atom, creator of S.H.A.D.E. City and the majority of S.H.A.D.E.'s technology.
- Frankenstein - Frankenstein's Monster. He has taken the name for simplicity. Frankenstein acts as the team leader.
- The Bride of Frakenstein - Frankenstein's female creation; intended to be Frankenstein's mate, but refused. First official S.H.A.D.E. agent. Currently retired in Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8 after it was revealed that Father Time reanimated and imprisoned her and Frank's son in "the Zoo".
- Dr. Nina Mazursky - Gill-man/mermaid hybrid (still depicted as the Gill-man), team scientist, and creator of S.H.A.D.E.'s Creature Commandos. The first generation was a failure and imprisoned in "the Zoo". The second generation is listed as follows.
- Vincent Velcoro - A vampire who serves as the team pilot.
- Warren Griffith - A werewolf who serves as the soldier.
- Khalis - A mummy who serves as the team medic. His origin and abilities are classified/unknown.
- The Creature Commandos miniseries is not billed as an Elseworlds tale, but the author Tim Truman describes it as taking place "a second in the future". Various modifications were made to the team member's names and appearances. Truman renamed original team members Velcro and Myrna as "Velcoro" and "Myrra".
- Truman said that he based Patchwork's character on the DCU's Patchwork Man from Swamp Thing (vol. 1) #3.
- The villains in this series are old Justice League of America villains dating back from 1960 to 1963. Xotar's first appearance was Brave and the Bold #29. Simon Magus, Saturna, and the Troll King are from JLA #2. Hyathis, Kromm and Sayvar are from Justice League of America #3. Tazzala has presumably some relation to Zazzala, who appeared in Justice League of America #23. Kraad is from Justice League of America #25.
- The usage of Claw the Unconquered in this series is rendered true to his Pre-Crisis origins.
- Project M is shown as still active in current continuity, at least once connected with Checkmate, and responsible for reversing the cyborg transformation of Maxwell Lord. With Orr as his chief and prominent member, Project M is directly responsible for creating Equus, enhancing the Wildebeest and exploiting Cyborg technology for military uses 
- The original Creature Commados appeared in Weird War Tales #93, 97, 100, 102, 105, 108-112, 114-119, 121 and 124.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Lt. Matthew Shrieve was ambushed by Nazi soldiers, and then saved by Frankenstein. Later, Shrieve and Frankenstein were invited by Project M to join the Creature Commandos. After the end of World War II, however, Project M was deemed obsolete by Robert Crane's government services. Over 65 years later, Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos revive and escape from the lab facility where they were imprisoned. General Nathaniel Adam then contacted Shrieve's granddaughter, Miranda to hunt down the Creature Commandos. The Creature Commandos then travel to Gotham City, where Dr. Mazursky last lived and find his cabin, only to learn he has moved to Romania. The group is then ambushed by Miranda, along with the G.I. Robot and a platoon of soldiers. Miranda's tells them that her grandfather attempted to assemble a second incarnation of the Creatures Commandos, consisting of Solomon Grundy, Man-Bat and Doctor Phosphorus, who turned on him and killed him. Miranda blames monsters for ruining her life. Velcoro saved Frankenstein from the G.I. Robot and Miranda shot Griffith with silver. The team is then saved by Bride, Frankenstein's wife, who is still alive. After Miranda was taken captive, Bride explains to the Creatures Commandos that she is working as an agent of S.H.A.D.E.. She then reveals to Miranda that the second Creature Commandos had been working for General Sam Lane, who is truly the one really responsible for the deaths of Miranda's family. Later, the Creature Commandos travel to Romania, where they found a small village populated by monsters. The village is then attacked by a giant G.I. Robot. Frankenstein and Bride combat the G.I. Robot, while Miranda helped Nina care for Griffith's wounds, and suggest going to the nearby castle where Dr. Mazursky is alive, who is then reunited with his daughter. Mazursky explains that the village's inhabitants were peaceful, and that they were the basis for creating the Creature Commandos. When Project M was deemed obsolete, Dr. Mazursky escaped and returned to the village for eternal life. After Frankenstein and Bride destroyed the G.I. Robot, Velcoro died from the sunrise, Griffith is recovering to being human again and developing a relationship with Nina. Frankenstein, the Bride, and Miranda depart from the Creature Commandos and participate in the Atlantean/Amazon war.
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The series has been collected in the following trade paperbacks:
|Title||Material collected||Publication date||ISBNT|
|The Creature Commandos||Weird War Tales #93, 97, 100, 102, 105, 108-112, 114-119, 121 and 124||2014||978-1401243821|
In other media
- The Creature Commandos made their animated debut in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Four Star Spectacular!" with Lt. Matthew Shrieve voiced by Marc Worden, Warren Griffith, Sgt. Vincent Velcro, and Pvt. Elliot "Lucky" Taylor voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, and Dr. Myrra Rhodes voiced by Cathy Cavadini. In the vignette titled "The War That Time Forgot", the Creature Commandos rescue Batman from the Ultra-Humanite and his mind-controlled dinosaurs on Dinosaur Island.
- The Creature Commandos appear in three shorts in DC Nation Shorts with Lt. Matthew Shrieve voiced by Chris Cox, Warren Griffith voiced by Dana Snyder, Sgt. Vincent Velcro and Pvt. Elliot "Lucky" Taylor voiced by Kevin Shinick, and Dr. Myrra Rhodes voiced by Rachel Ramras.
- Marc Singer portrays Gen. Matthew Shrieve in The CW's television series Arrow. Shrieve appears as the main antagonist in the third season’s flashbacks. He presents himself as a more reasonable counterpart to Amanda Waller, allowing Oliver and the Yamashiros to go free after their mission in Hong Kong is completed. He is later revealed to be the one who ordered their deaths, betraying and framing Waller as he plots to use the virus they acquired to cripple China, which he sees as a growing threat to America. Shrieve is also responsible for causing Akio's death. In vengeance, Shrieve is brutally tortured by Oliver before being executed by Maseo.
- Nick Fury's Howling Commandos, a similar team from Marvel Comics.
- Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, a team of fantastic creatures featured in magazines published by Dark Horse Comics and later by Image Comics.
- The Perhapanauts, a team of monster hunters that includes Bigfoot and Chupacabra that appears in Image Comics.
- Proof, a government-run team of monster hunters, including Proof the Sasquatch.
- Jimenez, Phil (2008), "Creature Commandos", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 88, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
A battalion of horror icons created by the U.S. government to aid the American war effort made its debut in an off-beat story by writer J. M. DeMatteis and penciler Pat Broderick.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Salicrup, Jim; Higgins, Mike (September 1986). "J. Marc DeMatteis (part 1)". Comics Interview (#38). Fictioneer Books. pp. 20–35.
- Cosmic Teams Creature Commandos Archived 2006-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
- Action Comics (vol. 1) #872 (Feb. 2009)
- Action Comics (vol. 1) #873
- Justice League: Generation Lost #15 (December 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #16 (December 2010)
- Justice League: Generation Lost #17 (January 2011)
- Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 (September 2011)
- Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8 (April 2011)
- Cyborg #3-4 (2008)
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1 (June 2011)
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #2 (July 2011)
- Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #3 (August 2011)
- Blake, Emily. "Marc Singer joins 'Arrow'". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved Dec 15, 2014.
- Creature Commandos (team) at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
- Creature Commandos at Comic Vine
- Creature Commandos (series) at the Grand Comics Database
- Creature Commandos (series) at the Big Comic Book DataBase
- Creature Commandos a DCU Guide
- Dinosaur Island at Don Markstein's Toonopedia
- Supermanartists.org DC History 7
- Dave's Long Box review of Weird War Tales #119