This week’s crop of X of Swords tie-ins kicked off with Gerry Duggan, Benjamin Percy, and Stefano Caselli’s Marauders #15, bringing the Krakoan and Arkkii swordbearers back together once more for a feast.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this issue is its opening pages, showcasing Krakoa’s dark future after Wolverine killed Saturnyne (as seen at the end of Marauders #14). Though the tournament has not happened due to Saturnyne’s death, the world has fallen to ash. Thousands of mutants died, painting the waters of Krakoa red with their blood –even Moira, in her No Place, has felt the effects of the duel, wiped clean of her memory backup. There’s a neat panel with Wolverine on an X-shaped crucifix, echoing that iconic Uncanny X-Men #251 cover.
The downfall of Krakoa is inevitable, but seeing it all happen so suddenly was certainly a twist, even if it’s only temporary. Saturnyne reveals she’s OK, berates Wolverine for his haste, and the issue continues with yet another feast. Like its predecessor, this issue feels more like a setup for future books rather than a necessary step in the X of Swords tale. However, it does feature its own host of fun interactions, particularly with The White Sword and Cypher after a mishap at dinner.
While Krakoa has become the Marvel Universe’s biggest set of cheaters, devising multiple ways to try and cheat themselves out of the competition, Marauders #15 shows that Arakko isn’t above trying to game the system either. What’s more, Saturnyne actually calls out Wolverine and Krakoa on their own attempts to cheat, saying that the score is even (though it totally isn’t — Krakoa has tried to cheat more). Since Wolverine is always so impulsive, it’s nice to see the consequences of those actions called out — even if the person calling him out on it is Saturnyne.
Perhaps Marauders #15’s biggest contribution to the X of Swords saga is how it juxtaposes the two mutant nations. The X-Men are the lovable, goofy family we’ve always known, and to Arakko, this concept is foreign. Death and Red Root even note that they are “soft,” unaware of what it’s like to grow up in the darkness as the Arakkii warriors have. Since very little is known about the Arakkii swordbearers, it’s nice to get a greater look into these characters –particularly Isca the Unbeaten and The White Sword, who shine in this issue.
The final pages set up the duel between Isca the Unbeaten and Betsy Braddock aka Captain Britain, with Saturnyne declaring that this will be a fight to the death. As we see in later issues, not all these battles will be sword fights, though Isca and Betsy’s certainly is.
Marauders #15 doesn’t totally feel necessary as it’s mostly serving the same purpose as its predecessor, setting up fights and introducing the Arakkii warriors once more. However, through its pages, Stefano Caselli once again proves he’s one of the best artists in the industry. The art is gorgeous, with each character embodying their own unique traits in Caselli’s signature style. The characters are expressive and cartoony, a perfect fit for the story being told.
As usual, the cover art by Russell Dauterman is phenomenal, a perfect choice to headline a massive X-Men event. The cover art is also extremely relevant, teasing the poisoned dishes found in the issue when the Arakko swordbearers decide to cheat in their own way.
While it’s mostly a filler issue, Marauders #15 is mostly fun for what it is and features gorgeous artwork to boot. It also features one of the coolest opening segments in X-Men comics this year, teasing a fascinatingly grim future that ultimately doesn’t come to pass.
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