There’s such a thing as a “fanservice” comic. These are comics that, as much as they have genuine storytelling importance and thematic resonance, are also comics that clearly had Twitter in mind when they were written. Maybe that’s just a rush to judgement, of course, and I can not see into Gerry Duggan’s mind. But it’s hard not to read Marauders #12 as anything but a direct response to criticism.
However, with that all said, and the necessary caveats made . . . I love this issue. I am the fan that is being serviced. This issue of Marauders is exactly what I want from a Kate Pryde book, and it makes up for years and years of mediocre stories under Marc Guggenheim and Brian Michael Bendis’ pens. This is not Kitty Pryde, space pirate. This is not Kitty Pryde, mindlessly rehashing Chris Claremont stories all over again without the heart. Gerry Duggan’s Kate Pryde is a woman who contains all the virtues of the brave, brash girl that was so fun in the Claremont years, but has clearly grown since then.
This Kate is a meaningful response to critiques, with her Jewish identity being pretty clearly foregrounded in the work. The curly hair, and the scene with Nightcrawler returning her necklace, are important parts thereof. But that was fair criticism at the time, and this is a good faith response to it.
And, most importantly, the elephant in the room: this is a canonically queer Kate Pryde. This is a Kate who is clearly in love with Rachel Grey and Illyana Rasputin, and they clearly love her in turn. But after decades and decades of subtext, having Kate finally kiss a girl on panel, without any sort of middle ground or deniability, is an important step. Krakoa has been a place where queerness in the X-Men has been foregrounded, and as perhaps the most subtextually queer superhero, it’s about time to see her do that.
The art, however, lets that story down somewhat. After a good start, Matteo Lolli’s art has only gotten worse over time, and in a story that is so emotional and filled with tension, the wooden faces are disappointing. This is a story that deserved someone more stylized; a Babs Tarr or a Otto Schmidt would have been perfect.
But those are only minor complaints. This is a capital-I Important comic, and a very good one. It’s a big step, and one that everyone should read. This is one of the best issues of Marauders so far, and an emotional one that is one of the best Kate Pryde stories in recent memory.