SUICIDE SQUAD #17 is the second installment in the exciting “Earthlings On Fire” arc written by Rob Williams with art by Tony Daniels. Personally, I really enjoyed this issue, from the plot to the characters to the amazing art in every panel, so let’s dig right in! There will be mild spoilers later on, so be wary!

The Story of SUICIDE SQUAD #17

SUICIDE SQUAD #17 opens up in Belle Reve Petitionary as Amanda Waller watches a waterfall in Zimbabwe moments before Task Force X drop into action. The team’s latest mission has them heading to a hidden base behind the falls looking for the Annihilation Brigade, a Russian super villain group. Coincidentally, this is also the debut mission of General Zod as an official member of the team, complete with an implanted Kryptonite bomb to keep him in line.

A page of SUICIDE SQUAD #17 where the team jumps gracefully into action.
SUICIDE SQUAD #17 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

Kneel Before Zod!

Flag doesn’t trust Zod as a teammate, remarking that Waller will finally get what she wants — the members of the team dead. Upon release, Zod shouts his well-known demand to “Kneel before Zod,” prompting Harley’s admiration for him enjoying his work and Deadshot grimly accepting that they’re “gonna die.”

READ: Curious how this run got its start? Take a look at our review of SUICIDE SQUAD #3 here!

There’s also a bit of exposition provided to clue new readers in, as Waller reiterates to Zod why he’s on the team. This works well as both dialogue and key narration to the audience while staying within the realms of SUICIDE SQUAD #17.

Annihilation Brigade

As someone who doesn’t know much about the Brigade members, SUICIDE SQUAD #17 does a great job of explaining them. Each has a big intro, attacking the team as narrative boxes explain who they are and what they do. Here, the team is comprised of Tunguska, Cosmonut, and Tankograd, some humorous, lesser-known, Soviet-themed villains.

A page from SUICIDE SQUAD #17 showing Cosmonut attacking Zod and Tankgrad stepping up to plate.
SUICIDE SQUAD #17 page 8. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

Each of these villains is great in their own way, even in the few panels they appear in. I already want to read more about them. Particularly interesting was Cosmonut, whose speech bubbles exclusively contained a drawing of a peanut (fitting for his name). I’m not sure why he was only able to communicate this way, but it plays well for comedic effect. After he says “peanut” after being caught, Katana retorted that he “could say that again,” which I personally found hysterical.

With Tankograd, I loved his power-set. It was simple, just: “Many bullets. Tank-Grade Armour. Super-Strength.” accompanied by a drawing of him just unleashing a frenzy of bullets at Killer Croc.

William’s Characterization in SUICIDE SQUAD #17

The chemistry of Task Force X works extremely well, as senior members have inside jokes or references to past missions, and talk to each other completely naturally. For instance, when Harley remarks that Tunguska almost burned off her ponytails, Deadshot snarks back, “yeah mine too,” referring to a previous mission in SUICIDE SQUAD: “The Black Vault.”

READ: Want more of Rod Williams’ SUICIDE SQUAD? Take a look at our review of issue #13!

The humor doesn’t just stop there. The issue has some recurring jokes, like Deadshot exclaiming they’re going to die, reaffirming it each time the situation worsens. There’s also the not-so-subtle foreshadowing when Deadshot starts the mission hoping “it doesn’t blow us all away.” This, of course, references how they blow the facility up not even a few minutes later. As always, Harley is also quite funny, saying she thinks she used to date Tankograd after he rattles off insults at her and Task Force X, calling them “capitalist prostitutes.”

This contrasts well with the more serious parts of the issue in Belle Reve, as a Russian plot to take down Waller’s operations unfolds. This is less comedic violence and quips between foes and more espionage as several employees are brutally executed by a traitor close to Waller. The traitor sets the whole prison to self-destruct, all with no remorse as “the planet will be better for it.”

Set of panels from SUICIDE SQUAD #17
SUICIDE SQUAD #17 page 10. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

A Different Side to Harley Quinn

Back on the mission, however, things grow more serious when Harley and Deadshot stumble upon a meta-human prison. They learn the Annihilation Brigade has been cloning meta-prisoners, setting up copycat their own copycat “Suicide Squads” worldwide.

READ: Want to know more about clownish members of Task Force X? Here’s our piece on the evolution of Harley Quinn!

With this revelation we see Harley continue to grow, showing compassion for those around her. She desperately wants to help these imprisoned metas. She’s upset as the team realizes they need to evacuate, leaving the prisoners to die in the base’s explosion.

I think Harley’s expressions here show her empathy for these prisoners and despair at her current situation. She relates to them. Even though she’s not physically trapped in a cage, she’s trapped in Waller’s Suicide Squad. She can’t leave, or she’ll get blown up. These prisoners did nothing wrong, and still got blown up because Zod broke Tunguska’s helmet. It rhymes like poetry, and to Harley, this is a devastating observation. I always love it when comics portray this other, more human side of Harley Quinn.

The Amazing Art in SUICIDE SQUAD #17

Opening page of SUICIDE SQUAD #17
SUICIDE SQUAD #17 page 2. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

Daniels’ art is fantastic, with immense detail and unique traits for each character. No two characters look alike, with distinct features to tell them apart even if there were an absence of color. So many team-up books run into the problem of “same-face” where every character has basically the same facial features. Daniels is able to completely circumvent this however as each character is their own individual design. The inking is also superb, with every panel standing out in their own glorious ways. Every character’s colors pop, with veteran members of the Squad donning brightly colored costumes while Zod prefers a darker suit. This also helps us distinguish each character in fight scenes and against the more muted colors of the backgrounds.

WATCH: Want more of Task Force X? Here’s where we think the DCEU should go after SUICIDE SQUAD!

Final Thoughts on SUICIDE SQUAD #17

Despite being the second part of “Earthlings On Fire,” SUICIDE SQUAD #17 does a great job keeping old readers immersed and easily bringing new ones into the fold. I think it helps that the members of Task Force X are essentially the same as we saw in 2016’s SUICIDE SQUAD film (with the exceptions of Diablo and Slipknot), keeping familiarity for those who want to get into the comics after having watched the team on the big screen. I felt that Williams was able to balance the team really well, putting each character in the spotlight. This balance really helped SUICIDE SQUAD #17 thrive as we’re able each member’s thoughts on the mission.

Katana and Cosmonut from SUICIDE SQUAD #17
SUICIDE SQUAD #17 page 15. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

Plotwise, the exposition leaves little unclear and the revelations of more “Suicide Squads” popping up leaves a decent amount of intrigue for the rest of the arc. The issue also ends on a huge cliffhanger, sure to keep readers hooked for the next issue. I highly recommend picking up SUICIDE SQUAD #17 at your local comic book store today!

SUICIDE SQUAD #17 by Rob Williams and Tony Daniels
SUICIDE SQUAD #17 is a wonderfully written mission for Task Force X, featuring General Zod, betrayal at Belle Reve, and Soviet supervillains. With great character chemistry and spectacular art, the issue makes for a great read. If a fast-paced, emotional, and action-packed adventure is your cup of tea, be sure to pick up SUICIDE SQUAD #17!
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