Comics can be a tricky medium, often hinting at certain plot elements from covers and solicits that don’t always pan out the way fans anticipated. Marauders #16 doesn’t fall into that pitfall — it promised the confrontation between Kate Pryde, Emma Frost, and Sebastian Shaw, and it certainly delivered on that front.
Since Gerry Duggan launched Marauders last year, he’s weaved a web between the Black King, the White Queen, and the Red Queen, featuring plenty of power plays. This issue follows suit, opening with Emma and Kate delivering their revenge at last — and that’s pretty much the crux of the issue.
Duggan seems to take a liking to writing Kate, centering all Sebastian Shaw related conflict around her. In many ways, this is the weakest part of the arc in its entirety, and this vulnerability is strongest in Marauders #16. Since Emma Frost became a star player in the X-Men line-up, her backstory with Shaw was recontextualized, showing that Shaw had actually abused her for years. Emma getting the upper hand on him and preventing other women from going through the tragedies she once had in X-Men: Black: Emma Frost was a high point for the character. It’s a little disappointing Emma’s own history with Shaw hasn’t been a huge backbone for this story thus far.
In many ways, this arc feels a bit lacking in comparison to the work Matt Fraction did in Uncanny X-Men, when Kate, Fantomex, Namor, and Emma Frost all went to kill Sebastian Shaw. Fraction’s Uncanny arc featured forward progression for Kate and Emma, portraying two women begrudgingly working together out of a mutual respect of sorts. It also featured some of the best writing and development Emma Frost has ever gotten on panel.
But Duggan isn’t Fraction, and this new arc can be viewed as a sister piece to the other, this time centering around Kate’s newfound conflict with Shaw instead of Emma’s. Instead of Namor and Fantomex on their side, they have Ororo and Lockheed — and they are far more successful with their takedown of Shaw.
One of the shining moments of Duggan’s run has been his acknowledgment of the mother/daughter relationship between Ororo and Kate, honoring their history together. Through that familial bond, Ororo and Emma were able to mend fences as well — or at least put aside their differences for Kate — as a result of Kate and Emma’s newfound friendship. Having these three ladies work together to take down a common threat is certainly welcome, and is the issue’s strongest point by far. It’s hard to read the dynamic between these three women and not want more of what Duggan has offered with them.
In House of X, when the death of other mutants was brought up, The Council seemed dismissive of punishing such a crime due to the fact that mutants could always be brought back via the resurrection protocols. It wasn’t until Jean said that punishing humans should be a crime due to the fact that they cannot be brought back, that any law surrounding death was brought up. Thus, when Sabretooth attacked a group of humans, he was sentenced to the pit. This makes enough sense, though when Shaw’s crimes against Kate are brought up, Emma seems confident he will make it to the pit with Sabretooth too — even though Kate is a mutant and was brought back.
In that respect, this arc could feature promising worldbuilding for Krakoa, raising the question once more: what happens if a mutant commits treason against Krakoa by murdering one of their own? After all, in killing Kate, Shaw didn’t just kill a mutant, he killed one of the Quiet Council. If this question is touched on in the future, some palpable results could come from it.
The current dynamic between the Hellfire court is one filled with tension and secrets. It’s clear everyone believes they have an ace up their sleeve, they just have to be the one to put the card down first.
As usual, Stefano Caselli proves he’s one of the best artists in the industry, providing beautifully expressive art. As a whole, Marauders #16 is perfectly serviceable on its own, though the plot it sets up is far more intriguing.
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