Brian Wood continues to ramp up "Ultimate X-Men" #17 as the war becomes a painful reality for our characters and Kitty Pryde becomes an inspirational figure in the rebellion.
While Kitty has taken the lead under Wood's direction, she truly steps up in this issue, stepping up in a leadership role for the rebellion as she directs her teammates (sans Rogue) in the field running successful missions that inspire everyone while bringing in new recruits. One of those new recruits is Hisako, also known as Armor. It's fun to see the introduction of new characters in a capable writer's hands. Hisako is a favorite of mine and Wood bringing her into this book is an inspired idea. The core team could certainly use some variety, her power is awesome -- both in concept and in visual execution -- and under Wood's pen, her Ultimate version is a perfect blend of understated and badass. Similarly, Wood's version of Husk has flourished in only a couple issues.
Wood's book is heavy on plot, as any book about war likely needs to be, but he finds plenty of time for character development. He's also set up a compelling quieter story to contrast with the larger war at play, featuring Rogue and Quentin Quire a strange pair that could produce intriguing ripples for the series. This issue has an almost casualness to it, despite being set during a devastating war, our heroes are winning their battles and things seem good -- almost too good -- and that proves out by the end of the issue as Wood delivers a devastating conclusion that will have readers anxious for the next issue.
Carlo Barberi has a good style for this book, slightly cartoonish but solid and action driven. His art is clean and pretty like Paco Medina's, so this book feels nicely in sync with the previous issues. Barberi does an exceptional job of keeping characters consistent and the acting is good throughout the book. Marte Garcia's colors are a bit dark for my tastes, but on the whole the tones are nice and well fit the locations Wood has specified.
One of the biggest advantages to reading stories in the Marvel Ultimate Universe is the chance to see well crafted and emotional "What If...?"-type stories with our favorite characters. Brian Wood does exactly that with his run on "Ultimate Comics X-Men" and turns this book around dramatically with a clear vision in the few short months he's been on board.