Things take a turn in the Hellfire Trading Company’s plans to save Madripoor and a foe from the past gets a 2021 revamp to take on the Marauders.
Comic books have moved through many variations of storytelling from more one-off issues to standalone tales with through-line plots to eventually being dominated by story arcs that either were one and done or carried over plotlines towards an eventual goal. More recently a number of books have grabbed onto a longer form of storytelling where they have an overall plan that they play out over a great number of issues, headed to an eventual goal. This way of doing things, like all storytelling, can have hits and misses that either help or hinder the endeavor.
In a way, that is what Marvel Comics’ Marauders has been doing since launching in 2019, building out the Hellfire portion of Krakoan life. It has all been leading to the upcoming Hellfire Gala storyline. While there have been many hits, sometimes there are issues that feel slightly like misses. Marauders #18 falls somewhere in the middle.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Gerry Duggan’s story. He continues to write these characters in interesting ways and they are making some great moves (the opening moments of a hospital dedication was a wonderfully executed one). What leaves it somewhat in the middle is the fact that this series has been doing that story for basically the entire run, outside of the crossover issues.
That is not a bad thing per se, but it makes the issues where things don’t hit as much a bit more of an anchor (sorry I had to) for the overall story. The overall idea of the Marauders and the Hellfire Trading Company and what they do is interesting, but I would like to see them do more though. More that isn’t just tied to Madripoor and the former Hellfire Kids / Homines Verendi who are interesting, but only in small bits.
This very well might be what is planned after the aforementioned Hellfire Gala, and if so, I might eat my words at that point but currently, it’s just a hard pill to swallow at times. I will say that remixing the original idea for the Reavers and using the damage the X-Men leave behind them to create a new line of them was a nice touch.
All this being said, there is one moment that stuck out like a sore thumb that I’d be remiss as a bi-racial (Black and White) person if I didn’t mention it. That moment features Bishop facing down those new Reavers, and he as a Black man yells at them “I’m unarmed! Don’t shoot!”
While yes, Bishop has the power to absorb blasts and knows that said blast will just power him up to shoot his own back, it feels very tasteless with the reality of so many unarmed Black men being gunned down in our society. I am sure Duggan meant it as a way to stand against that because this Black man can fight back, but it’s just a pretty terrible mark on an otherwise okay issue. This is the type of thing best left on the cutting room floor.
Stefano Caselli, Matteo Lolli, Edgar Delgado, and Cory Petit do a good job on the artistic side, though there is an interesting magical mistake moment with Kate Pryde at the beginning that one might blink and miss, especially with some of the outlandish stuff like the Frankenstein’s monsteresque Reavers. Caselli and Lolli are one of the better artist jams (often paired artists’ styles are not very complimentary) and their style works though I do think it’s missing something of the unique energy that makes some of the other book’s styles stand out more.
Marauders #18 is on sale now from Marvel Comics at local comic shops and digitally through ComiXology.