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'X-Men' #17 is a testament to heroic humility
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘X-Men’ #17 is a testament to heroic humility

An issue chock full of action and heart.

With the X-Men’s annual roster change, Gerry Duggan and Joshua Cassara’s flagship X-Men series has at times found difficult footing while attempting to juggle the introduction of new teammates, a fresh team dynamic, and engaging plots and enemies. However, the latest X-Men #17 is an excellent step in the right direction, focusing even deeper on the development of Forge’s character while expanding side plots that enhance the main story instead of distracting from it. 

SPOILERS AHEAD for X-Men #17!

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X-Men #17 – with colors by GURU-eFX and lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles – serves as the penultimate issue to Gerry Duggan and Joshua Cassara’s exciting return to the Children of the Vault, and it is certainly the strongest issue of the arc so far, developing Forge’s character in a wonderful direction, successfully looping in Hickman’s original Vault arc, and offering exciting opportunities for Cassara to flex the full range of his artistic style he is able to provide in his work on X-Force. 

As opposed to the first two issues of this arc, whose plot at times meandered around and included an interesting but out of place fight between brothers Cyclops and Havok, X-Men #17 does an excellent job staying on task and giving readers answers to many of their questions while setting up a whole trove of additional questions to explore in the future. While at times this arc has felt less grounded and being used solely to set up future events or dramas, X-Men #17 has the perfect amount of action, heart, and growth that one would expect out of a high-quality superhero comic. 

After an experience with ancestral Cheyenne magic caused him to lose an arm and leg, Forge focused on his mutant gift of invention and rejected the mystical aspects of of his culture as a Native American. Forge is a fascinating hero whose intelligence can get in the way of his moral judgment from time to time, with the brilliant inventor leaning on his scientific mind to a fault, leading to him abusing and manipulating mutants like Caliban “for the greater good.” In many ways, Forge’s unethical use of mutant biotechnology and mutants themselves could reflect Henry McCoy’s disgusting descent into villainy over in X-Force, with Forge’s eventual moral realizations causing him to realign himself with heroics, a fierce juxtaposition of Beast’s fascist fall. Thankfully, now that Forge has teammates to help him stay centered, he is hopefully going to move away from his mad scientist stint, and Duggan’s decision to focus so heavily on Forge for this arc was clearly the right choice. 

EXCLUSIVE Marvel Preview: X-Men #17
Marvel Comics

Cassara’s art and Guru-eFX’s gorgeous coloring continues to be a highlight of the current X-Men books, and while previous issues of X-Men have left Cassara’s art feeling limited and restrained due to setting and action, X-Men #17 is finally allowing the artist to use the full range of amazing talent with all the weirdness, dynamic action, and intense emotions of Forge’s journey into the Vault. Speaking of, the reader finally gets at least part of their questions about Darwin answered, with Forge discovering that to survive the Vault’s horrible torture Darwin transformed himself into code, storing his consciousness within the Vault’s own nervous system.

This is an exciting development for a beloved character, and it is lovely to get confirmation that Darwin did not die in the Vault, seeing as many fans were annoyed that the unkillable Darwin may have died a la his doomed adaptation in X-Men: First Class. Plus, an additional highlight is that when Forge and Darwin are in Forge’s mind his body takes on the costume of Captain Krakoa, who is on the cover for FCBD 2023: Avengers/X-Men #1, hinting Forge may join this “Uncanny Avengers” team as the Captain.

Of course, this writer would be remiss if he did not mention the truly beautiful reunion between Synch and Laura Alpha, a romance that was stunningly written in Hickman’s original Vault arc. This reunification has been building for ages now, and them finding each other again will be a delight to readers, although it obviously opens up so many questions about the two Laura Kinneys, a plot that will hopefully be explored in X-Men #18. Forge’s growth this issue – apologizing to Caliban, admitting his ulterior motive, saving Laura Alpha – was incredibly written by Duggan with the reader getting to see Forge realizing the error of his ways and directly confronting this internally and externally, showing the power of learned humility and promising a healthier direction for Forge’s future as an X-Men, repositioning him as a mutant hero and not a tool of the Quiet Council. 

Regardless of the at-times shaky beginning to Duggan and Cassara’s Children of the Vault arc, X-Men #17 stands out as a highlight of the current X-Men run, with meaningful character development, gorgeous art, and an issue chock full of action and heart.  

'X-Men' #17 is a testament to heroic humility
‘X-Men’ #17 is a testament to heroic humility
X-Men #17
X-Men #17 is a solid character study of Forge's shifting priorities and allegiances, with a fascinating glimpse into the wonders of the Vault, a beautiful reunion for a tragic romance, and a setting that lets Cassara flex his impressive illustration skills.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Forge's learned humility is a great juxtaposition to Beast's continued downfall in X-Force
Everett and Laura Alpha's reunion is heartfelt and exciting
Cassara's art really stands out this issue
Not enough exploration of Serafina or other Children
Readers get SOME Darwin answers, but not enough
8.5
Great
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