We here at the Variant love the X-Men! We’ve got the membership cards and the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters student loans to prove it! So when I found out that we’d not only be getting a new X-Men book to continue Jonathan Hickman’s plans for our merry mutants, but five other related X-titles and possibly more to come (Wolverine’s new solo title is coming out in 2020), I was X-Static (pun intended). With that enthusiasm I would usually sit down and tell you guys about each individual issue that gets to play in this mutant new world order, but we’re gonna do something a bit different this time. Aside from X-Men #1 and New Mutants #1 (both being a part of the main Hickman story for Dawn of X), I’ll be taking a smaller scale look at all of the other X-Titles that are coming out now. Today we’re gonna take a look at Marauders by Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli.
Don’t let the name fool you though. This isn’t a resurrection of the villainous team that was responsible for the Mutant Massacre back in the 80's. No, this team is all new, all different… and Pirates!
So the story here is that Kitty Pryde turns out to be one of the only mutants who can’t cross through the portals into Krakoa. What’s this mean? We’ll have to continue reading the series to find because that question is not answered here. With no mutant calibrated portal for her she takes matters into her own hands, “borrows” a ship, and sails to Krakoa herself. Once there, she’s greeted by her friends who welcome her to paradise and then she’s promptly contacted psychically by Emma Frost who offers her a job of sorts. If you remember back in HoX / PoX, Xavier and Magneto requested Emma’s Hellfire Corporation be the chief exporter of the Krakoan miracle drugs to countries that didn’t approve of the mutant’s sovereignty. They also implied a side mission of smuggling out any mutants being oppressed in those countries. With Emma as the head of a successful corporation she can’t do it herself so she offers the job to Kitty as she’s the only one to have sailed to Krakoa and, even though they’re frenemies, she's also the only one Emma trusts to get the job done. At first Kitty is a bit skeptical about the job, but after fighting some aggro-humans in Russia with Iceman, Storm, and a resurrected Pyro and liberating the mutants by the Krakoan portal there, she decides to take Emma up on her offer.
Marauders has the distinction to be the first non-Hickman X-Men book out for the Dawn of X titles. Critics seemed sure it wouldn't be an integral part of the big story that Jonathan Hickman was unfurling and that there was no way the rest of the non-main X-titles would be on par with the aforementioned main X-books.
Wrong. Marauders #1 was a delightfully entertaining issue that stands on its own as much as it is steeped in HoX / PoX. It’s got everything an X-fan enjoys: action, humor (subtle and direct), and those quiet moments where characters get to interact with each other like human beings. I’m glad Kitty, (who is now going by Kate), is getting a push as leader of the team. She got one during the Resurrection era of X-Men as the leader of the titular group, but it seemed she was always in the shadow of previous leaders. This role as captain of mutant privateers is much more fitting and with the rest of her mutant crew is a lot more entertaining to read.
Speaking of which, the rest of the team is great! Storm as the moral center/den mother figure is accurately present and a good choice considering her past with Kate. Iceman and Pyro are great comic relief, and Bishop… was there… for a bit. It’s all setup though and I know we’ll revisit Bishop’s case in future issues so no worries on him joining the team later. At least we’ve established his career as a private eye again, so cool!
The comedic aspects of this book are spot on, specifically Kate’s interaction with some of the bratty kids on Krakoa or when Iceman comes back after he escaped the Russian army and Kate drunkenly agrees to fight the aggro-humans. Gerry Duggan does great on this first issue and shows that he’s the right man for the job on this X-Title. Teaming up with Deadpool alumni Matteo Lolli, they craft a fun, new, and amazingly drawn book that’s immensely enjoyable. Looking forward to more Marauders!
Verdict: 8.5/10 Pirates of Krakoa