The Skeleton Crew served as the Red Skull's own personal strike force. Led by Crossbones this group would carry out missions for the Red Skull. This group originally consisted of Crossbones, Mother Night, the Voice, Machinesmith, Minister Blood and a Sleeper robot. Crossbones fell out of the Red Skull's good graces for questioning the Skull apparently teaming with the insane woman Viper. Because he had the audacity to question the Skull he removed Crossbones as the leader.
An audition was held to find a new leader of the Skeleton Crew. The mercenaries were the Mangler, Death-Stroke and Cutthroat. All three battled one another to the death for an opportunity to lead the Skeleton Crew. Cutthroat won by default by being the only one to survive.
Later the Skeleton Crew would add Blackwing and Jack O'Lantern as members. This group was fairly short lived.
The Skeleton Crew was created by Mark Gruenwald and Ron Lim in 1990 and first appeared in Captain America # 369.