In this week's Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller revealed that a team of supervillains led by Max Lord were actually the first iteration of the Suicide Squad. In the present day, Lord has reunited the team with plans to take over the world.
Lord's "secret" Suicide Squad joins a long line of superhero teams that have somehow preceeded their modern day incarnations. From hidden members to early prototypes, these teams usually remained secret until a villain or mystery surfaced with convenient ties to that team.
Here's a look at some our favorite "secret" teams and superheroes:
Agents of Atlas
The Agents of Atlas first appeared in an issue of What If? asking what would happen if the Avengers had assembled during the 1950s. The team featured a mix of Marvel heroes characters that had appeared in different Marvel comics during that time period, including Marvel Boy, Namora, Gorilla-Man, and Agent Jimmy Woo. Since What If? wasn't an "in-continuity" book, the 1950s Avengers seemed destined as a cool concept never to be revisited.
Decades later, Marvel brought back the 1950s Avengers and revealed they were a secret team formed by Woo to save President Eisenhower from Woo's nemesis the Yellow Claw. The government disbanded the team, feeling that the world wasn't ready for superhero teams, and purged all records of their existence.
Gorilla-Man reformed the team in the present day to save Woo after he nearly died trying to stop the Yellow Claw. Eventually, Woo learned that the Yellow Claw was testing him to take over his Atlas Foundation as his heir. Woo decided to use the Atlas Foundation for good and recruited his old friends to join him. The Agents of Atlas appeared in several miniseries over the years, but eventually broke up for reasons unknown.
The First X-Men
In 2012, Marvel revealed that Wolverine and Sabretooth formed an early version of the X-Men years before Charles Xavier ever formed his school. This team included Magneto, Namor, and Xavier, all of whom had to be prodded into action by Wolverine to help the mutant race.
Wolverine and Sabretooth formed the team after discovering the US government was working on the Sentinel program to exterminate the mutant race. Although their mission was a success, Sabretooth's girlfriend died during the mission, which formed the foundation of Sabretooth's long grudge against Wolverine.
In the end, the mission convinced Xavier to form his school and convinced Magneto to become a leader of other mutants...as a supervillain. Namor remained a homeless bum for several more years, until the Fantastic Four restored his identity and emnity for the surface world.
The Other All-New, All Different X-Men
The X-Men line-up received a massive reboot in 1975 when Xavier recruited a team of mutants to save the original X-Men from the sentient Krakoa the Living Island. In the 2009 miniseries X-Men: Deadly Genesis, Marvel revealed that this "All-New, All Different" team was Xavier's second attempt to save his team of mutants. A first team, consisting of a group of Moira MacTaggart's mutants, were killed after arriving on the island.
One of these mutants was "Kid Vulcan", Cyclops and Havok's younger brother with energy manipulation powers. Unbeknownst to the X-Men, Vulcan survived Krakoa's attack and woke up from stasis after M-Day. Vulcan went after Xavier looking for revenge and killed Banshee in the process. Eventually, the X-Men stopped Vulcan and rescued his teammate Darwin (who used his powers to keep Vulcan alive), but Cyclops kicked Xavier out of the X-Mansion for his deception.
Team 7 was originally an elite team of military commandos in the Wildstorm Universe who gained superpowers as a result of illegal secret testing from their superior. Grifter originally was a member of Team 7, and helped his former teammates out from time to time.
In 2013, DC revealed that, thanks to the merging of the DC and Wildstorm Universes, a Team 7 had also existed in their "New 52" universe. This Team 7 included Black Canary, Deathstroke, and Grifter, all of whom gained their powers while on the team. Eventually, Black Canary discovered that their handler had deliberately put Team 7 through dangerous missions to create new metahumans that the government could then control.
In addition to the Justice League, Aquaman also had a second team of superheroes who secretly assisted him on missions. The Others were a team of heroes with Atlantean artifacts that assisted Aquaman in his fight against Black Manta. Although not exactly a secret, Aquaman didn't speak of the Others until Black Manta killed one of his old teammates.
Aquaman reassembled the team to avenge their friend's murder and found out that Black Manta was collecting the artifacts for an Atlantean (later revealed to be Aquaman's advisor, Vulko). Aquaman captured Black Manta after a lengthy battle, although he lost another one of the Others in the process.
Probably the most famous "secret" team, the Illuminati were a group of Earth's most powerful superheroes assembled by Tony Stark after the Kree-Skrull War. Although the Illuminati weren't an "official" team, the group met regularly to exchange information and stop specific threats to the planet. During their time together, the Illuminati gathered the Infinity Gems, manipulated the Beyonder into leaving our dimension, and shot the Hulk into space after he destroyed Las Vegas.
Black Panther gathered a second version of the Illuminati together after discovering that the multiverse was collapsing, causing universe to collide into one another. After wiping Captain America's memory for opposing their plans to destroy other worlds, the Illuminati/New Avengers rescued Earth several times until the events of Secret Wars.