The struggle between X-Men’s Marauders and Mardipoor’s kleptocratic government, Homines Verendi, continues in Marauders #18. Writer Gerry Duggan has so far written a very captivating narrative surrounding politics and statecraft, but has sometimes failed to make full use of the entire Marauders rooster — often neglecting Iceman, Bishop, and Pyro. Well, this week, The Boys™ are back and are about to get into trouble, along with the rest of the crew.
Marauders #18 starts with a grand unveiling of a free hospital in Madripoor, accompanied by a speech by Emma Frost on Krakoa’s relation and duties to the country. The writing in this case is thought-provoking — if anything because it lightly touches on the topic of resource exploitation, a very pertinent problem under the capitalist system. It also, in turn, implicitly brings up the question of Krakoa’s place in said system.
Madripoor is often written under problematic, neo-colonialist assumptions — it is anarchic in nature, allowing writers to mold the country to fit whatever story they are telling. In this case, Duggan exposes the inequality of the country. Krakoa’s role as a foreign state coming in to fill a role in a southeast Asian nation inevitably invokes discursivity around colonial-humanitarianism. This is made even more complicated by the presence of the Verendi government. The plot points presented are not necessarily out-and-out bad things — if written well, Marauders could potentially explore both the subversive nature of Krakoa as a state, and how it can be an ally in Madripoor’s independence as a self-governing nation. It is too soon to tell; however, Duggan seems to be laying the grounds for even more political intrigue as the series goes on.
One of the best things about Marauders #18 is the way in which it utilizes the mutant powers of Bishop, Iceman, and Pyro when they encounter a surprise attack by the Reavers. This is largely down to the art — with illustrations by Stefano Caselli and Matteo Lolli, and colors by Edgar Delgado. The artistic team really works hard in this issue to portray how powerful these characters can be in a fight. Purples, blues, and reds are flung across panels to make for a great X-Men brawl. After so many issues of being confined to the background, it is good to see these characters let loose a bit.
That said, there is one panel in this scene that does not come across well. Duggan may have felt he was doing something subversive by having Bishop say, “I’m unarmed, don’t shoot”, but it was quite frankly distasteful.
Marauders #18 is an overall fantastic issue with some clever underlining political undertones. The creative team finally makes use of their overlooked heroes to make for some great action scenes. Be that as it may, writer Gerry Duggan must be more mindful in some of his dialogue.
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