Uncanny X-Men #17 Is A Frustrating But Beautiful Memorial

by Tony Thornley

Uncanny X-Men #16 ended in a horrifying cliffhanger. A member of the team had been struck down, and the team needed to deal with it. We see the aftermath of that in Uncanny X-Men #17.

Cover by Whilce Portacio

Matthew Rosenberg is joined by Carlos Gomez, Guru-eFx, and Joe Caramagna in this poignant issue. It’s impossible to discuss this issue without getting into spoiler territory so ***Spoilers Follow! In addition, there are some potentially triggering topics discussed below, such as suicide and violence against LGBT individuals, and I’d like to warn you to proceed with caution if those are difficult topics for you.

Wolfsbane is dead, murdered by a group of humans after she outed herself as a mutant. While the majority of the team attends her funeral, giving her a beautiful memorial, Logan has other plans. They’re plans that involve Kwannon, the killers, and a brutal reckoning….

After taking some time to digest it, I really do like this issue, while recognizing and not excusing its flaws. The eulogies to Rahne Sinclair are beautiful, and feel authentic. I’m glad that Rosenberg gives the narrative weight of those memorials to those who know her best, particularly her former New Mutants teammates, rather than those who don’t, such as Cyclops or Havok. Logan’s rage, and his actions, are perfectly in character, and given more justification than just “Wolverine is angry and stabs something.”

Before we discuss the other elements of the issue, I want to mention the art. Gomez’s work here is a big change, but it’s a welcome one. He sells the emotion of the story, and what the characters are feeling incredibly well. His take on Wolverine in particular is fantastic, full of barely contained rage and implied violence. He also is able to sell entire eulogies, often in a single panel, right alongside Caramagna’s great lettering work.

However, I can’t discuss this issue without discussing the elephant in the room. Unfortunately, it appears Rahne was fridged (for those who aren’t familiar, it’s when a character- often female- is killed, maimed or injured to motivate another character). It’s a specter hanging over the issue, and it’s why I struggled to digest the issue for several days before I wrote this review. There’s also some language used by the bigots that evokes LGBT violence – specifically towards trans people – which I’m not the right person to speak about it.

Rosenberg has stated that he didn’t intend for this to ring in this way, but it’s tough to look at the issue in light of it. I think more care needs to be taken in the future, especially in light of the suicide that happened in the first issue of this run, followed by this story. Thankfully Rosenberg has publicly spoken about it, wanting to learn from the experience and do better in the future. He is also encouraging readers to donate to the Trans Lifeline in response. I definitely feel that’s the right step forward and I think he will make the appropriate adjustments to his work in the future.

Despite its flaws, I think this is still a solid comic. The fact that the creators have spoken publicly about learning from their missteps is reassuring, and I hope it’s a sign that it will continue to improve.

For information about Trans Lifelife, visit translifeline.org .

Uncanny X-Men #17 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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