There are some rivalries you can always count on in comics. Batman will always have his issues with Joker, Captain America and Red Skull will never go on a cruise to the Bahamas together, and Thor and Loki will always have the love/hate dynamic that comes with being siblings. Then there’s Wolverine and Cyclops. Part sibling rivalry, part polar opposite personalities, and part simple hate, the two have always had a relationship that is more than just two people who don’t like each other. Over the years they have done an excellent job of working together, but there is always a chance it can go awry at any time. Written by Matthew Rosenberg, Uncanny X-Men #17 is expected, but also very emotional.
Uncanny #17 has the team mourning the loss of another team member. Rosenberg does a great job of putting the comedy on hold and focusing on the grief the team is feeling. A common saying in life is “You never get used to it” and that is the theme of the issue. Comic book deaths are usually met with cynicism, with the prevailing attitude being, “How long before they come back?” Rosenberg does an excellent job of making sure this is not the case.
Early on, readers see how two different X-Men handle the death of their teammate. It also sets up the end of the issue. For months now, Uncanny has been foreshadowing how the petty infighting was going to turn into something greater. Last issue seemed to put aside those differences, but everything bubbles violently back to the top. However, it’s not so much the final battle, but the journey to it that makes the book so good.
Issue #17 focuses on two major events: the funeral for the team’s fallen compatriot and how Wolverine handles his grief. Both are fairly typical, but one plays out much better than the other. The moments with Logan are pretty generic tough guy stuff. Fans of the X-Men have been down this path before and though it may be fun to see Wolverine be a badass, it’s also nothing new.
What works best — and is arguably the most moving part of the entire comic — is when it’s revealed how the death happened. At first, it comes off as odd. How could that even happen? Then, when Wolverine explains, it’s obvious and jolting. This is an incredibly strong moment that will stay with readers.
The funeral scenes are filled with eulogies delivered by members of the team. Again, this is nothing new, but it does show how much the team is affected. From Cyclops naming off a list of dead friends that lasts for literally pages to another member of the team questioning why they are alive, the reader gets a feel of the weight that is and has been on the X-Men. Rosenberg proves that the moments do not have to be groundbreaking to be engaging.
Uncanny X-Men #17 is an incredibly emotional issue that will keep readers riveted to its shocking conclusion. It seems like it will be another comic dealing with loss and ends up being much more. Fans take comic book deaths for granted — especially in this most recent run of Uncanny — but Rosenberg proves they can still be treated with appropriate care and gravity.