The X-Men entered 2021 still dealing with the aftermath of the new world order created by X Of Swords. One of the bigger plotlines out of the latest X-Men crossover was Scott Summers and Jean Grey’s intentions to bring back the X-Men as Krakoa’s superhero group. That was made clear by Scott and Jean in their meeting with Charles Xavier and Magneto during X-Men #16. In that meeting it was also revealed that Scott and Jean intend to hold a vote for which people would be joining their new X-Men team. With that the direction set in place how will we see the voting go down? Let’s find out with X-Men #17.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Brett Booth
Inker: Adelso Corona
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Deathbird contacts Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm to recruit them in helping discover who kidnapped Majestrix Xandra Neramani (the daughter of Charles Xavier and Lilandra Neramani) and rescue her.
Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm immediately head to Chandilar (Throneworld of the Shi’ar Empire) and meet up with Smasher. Smasher takes the trio to meet up with the Shi’ar royal court.
Jean Grey uses her powers to scan everyone’s minds for possible information on Xandra kidnapping. Jean discovers the spy who turns out to be an assassin working for the Stygian. Seeing this Deathbird now knows who is responsible.
Somewhere in the catacombs of Chandliar, a Stygian known as Urr is shown to be responsible for the kidnapping Xandra. Urr tells Xandra that he kidnapped her to make her pay for all the evil deeds her Shi’ar royal family has made.
Elsewhere, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, and Smasher head into the catacombs to search for Xandra. They are able to find Xandra’s location and begin taking out Urr’s rebel group.
In the middle of the fight Urr uses his Maul of Stygia hammer to knock out Cyclops and overpower Storm. Smasher calls Cannonball to send in some back-up.
The Imperial Subguardians soon show up to help in taking out the rebels. This frees Storm up to use her powers to strike Urr down with a powerful lightning attack.
Later, in the throne room, Xandra thanks Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm for rescuing her. Xandra says she learned a valuable lesson in leadership and will use this experience to deal with the Stygians diplomatically.
Xandra then tells Storm she owes her a great debt and Storm is free to collect on that any time. End of issue.
The Good: X-Men #17 is the first issue in Jonathan Hickman’s run that most feels like a superhero comic book. It’s actually a bit of a shock to see such a straight forward superhero story being told. But given the events of the previous issue having X-Men #17 take on this tone was a good way to establish what the superhero team of Krakoa would be doing moving forward.
When Cyclops told Deathbird that he, Jean Grey, and Storm were ready to help and save Majestrix Xandra Neramani you could sense the relief he had to get back into the game. As much as Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm have grown into their leadership roles they are still superheroes at heart. Going out and saving the day is something that they are comfortable doing.
What makes this work so well is that Hickman treated Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm as the veterans they are. The veteran aura of all three characters made for a strong pacing. It never felt slow as the three knew how to maximize their powers. There was no messing around as we saw Jean Grey immediately go about scanning everyone’s mind and figuring out who was responsible for Xandra’s kidnapping.
This allowed Urr as the villain of this story standout more because we didn’t get a lot of time with him. It made it so Hickman had to maximize the time that was spent developing Urr as an intimidating villain and what his motivation was. This allowed Hickman to put the full spotlight on the political motivation behind Urr as the current situation on Chandilar and the Stygian position in the world.
By doing this we got to get a better look at what the current situation is with the Shi’ar Empire. Which is something that is very much needed given the changes we have seen with the power balance in the greater Marvel Universe beyond Earth. We’ve seen the Kree and Skrull recently unite and Knull start his takeover of the Marvel Universe. With those events the Shi’ar have needed to be shown where they stand. Here we see that as Xandra is still trying to maintain whatever control the Shi’ar have while still learning on the job as the Queen.
But while she is learning we do get enough hints that she is growing in the role she’s been put in. Which brings to question how much more time Xandra will be given to continue to get accustomed to ruling the Shi’ar Empire. This latest conflict with Urr showed that she may not get the time she needs. Which could lead to a bigger Shi’ar Empire storyline down the road as we could see the X-Men and SWORD take on more cosmic level threats as well.
The fight with Urr also did a good job in putting over Storm as a force to be wrecking with. Even with how big of a tank Urr was established to be we once again see how Storm combines her powers with her fighting skills to take down powerful threats. We saw this highlighted in X Of Swords and it is good to see Hickman continue developing Storm’s powers and skills in this way. This resulting in Xandra owing Storm a favor was an interesting turn of events that I’ll look forward to how Hickman uses this sub-plot in the future.
While Brett Booth’s art style has never been my thing it was good to see him drawing an X-Men comic again. He felt at home drawing Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm as superheroes throughout X-Men #17. He kept up the quick pace that the story was moving in so we were always on to the next thing. Booth also got over making Urr an intimidating villain in his first appearance so that when Storm took him down it was even more satisfying.
The Bad: The segment involving Sunspot, Cannonball and Smasher did not hit the comedic note that it was intended to be. This part of the issue felt completely out of place and unnecessary part of X-Men #17. More than anything it was an annoying scene that made Sunspot come across as unlikable given what was going on in the story. The only good thing was that this scene was over relatively quick.
Given how much of a spotlight there was on the Shi’ar Empire’s royalty side of things it was odd that Hickman didn’t bring up Xandra being the daughter of Charles Xavier and Lilandra Neramani. Given that Xandra is a relatively new character having this mentioned would’ve added to why there was even more of an urgency to help Xandra. This would’ve drawn deeper connection to what is going on with the Quiet Council and connecting the Shi’ar Empire more to the developments on Krakoa.
The choice for Cyclops and Jean Grey to return to wearing their old X-Factor costumes did not work as intended. I understand trying to put over the idea of the X-Men returning as a superhero team. But the X-Factor costumes do not work in that way. It would’ve been much better if Cyclops and Jean Grey were given versions of their iconic 90s X-Men costume with updates similar to Jean’s costume in X-Men: Red. Those are the costumes that are most well-known with the X-Men as a superhero team. These X-Factor costumes just felt completely out of place and a step backwards instead of forward.
Overall: X-Men #17 was a fun return to the superhero form this franchise was once known for. It was refreshing to get to see Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm do what they do best in saving the day. At the same time Jonathan Hickman was able to continue to show how Krakoa’s reach is extending past Earth with how the Shi’ar Empire’s current status quo driving the story in this issue.
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