The new Destiny of X era has begun starting last week with Immortal X-Men, and this week we get ongoing series like X-Force back, along with new reboots like Marauders #1. Of the new series, Marauders is the one most of us are more certain will be a hit, thanks to the Annual issue that proved writer Steve Orlando has a great handle on these characters. As that issue set up, the Marauders are exploring a billion-year-old mystery, but how does it connect with Kate Pryde and her pirate crew?
News flash: Marauders #1 is a solidly crafted extra-sized issue. It’s comics like this where you realize getting a few more pages than the usual 20 can add added action, flesh out character work, and develop a clearer focus for the series. This is a tricky issue to discuss without spoiling, especially since the preview offers an unrelated alteration to the main attraction. The preview does however detail Cassandra Nova is a key element of the book, which is used to great success to tie into past X-Men stories.
Starting with the opening, Orlando and artist Eleonora Carlini make it quite clear that the function of the Marauders is to be a rescue-style team. Their focus is to save mutants who are a danger to others or themselves. It’s both in the case of this opening issue, as a flaming mutant is seconds away from being shot by humans in Wyoming who don’t know any better.
By all accounts, the mutant looks like they mean harm, but soon we discover — through expertly-written dialogue for Kate Pryde, Bishop, and Psylocke — that the mutant is actually a victim. This scene serves as a key reminder of the teams’ function so that the rest of the book can set them on a new adventure with the reader fully understanding their approach to saving mutantkind.
It’s a bold choice to use Cassandra Nova in this story, nobody will argue that, but it’s also a smart one as it ties into Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s iconic run. She’s a wildcard to be sure, who killed millions of mutants and also has the complicated wrinkle of being Xavier’s twin. Orlando writes her very well, especially with how she’s not quite herself from when we last saw her. A point is made about other mutants who have killed practically for fun and the connection to Nova is not lost on the Marauders.
As the story progresses, there are great data pages that fill readers in on the members of the team with good scenes for Bishop, Daken, and even new character Somnus gets some time to explore his character. Sometimes data pages can feel like filler or be added late, but here they do good work to flesh things out.
Art by Carlini is good with a slight manga inspiration at times, especially with how Kate Pryde looks. She has big expressive eyes that give her a childlike quality. She’s still stern as hell and generally when tempers flare Carlini captures the emotion well. Colors by Matt Milla do well with light and power effects. Things get very red in the last quarter of the book and there’s a good distinction between things on the page. There are also some good blur effects thrown in here and there.
Letters by Ariana Maher are great too. Maher’s work here and in comics over the last few months is putting her on my short list for best letterer of 2022.
No disrespect to the artists, but the book does lack a certain splashy feel you’d expect from a big superhero epic. There are splash pages, but the art layout and style tend to feel messy and less awe-inspiring or epic. Maybe it’s the lack of detail in vehicles or framing, but there’s a missing “oomph” to things.
The Destiny of X era continues to shine bright and Marauders #1 can be added to the list of must-have titles. The ability of the creators to capture what works about the characters, pay homage to X-Men history, and build toward something new is impressive.
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