Marauders takes a moment to pause between the previous action stories and the big Hellfire Gala event on the horizon for a more contained character-focus heavy issue. Gorgeous detailed artwork gives all the main characters a chance to shine and get their closeup in this issue while the colors make sure to keep up the light & dark duality of this series. Character moments are truly where this book flourishes and hopefully there will be far more room for those moments as the book rolls onward.
At this point, the term “bottle episode” is one that most people are likely familiar with. Shows over the decades have employed the money-saving technique of containing things to one or two sets for a whole episode. Most were seeing these episodes without knowing a term for them, until the recent decades where shows like Community dropped the term out there for more of the masses to learn.
Comic books are no different in that there are plenty of issues at times that are smaller and more contained, not because of budget but because of story. With the Hellfire Gala looming in the near future, Marauders #20 is one of those issues as it deals with Storm’s departure from the series cast.
For months there have been hints in the book about Storm’s plans to do something else, that something not revealed but likely has some tie to the teased big announcement at the Gala.
This smaller contained issue features the main Marauders crew cast and members of the Hellfire Trading Company (most of which are just background cameos with no actual part in the issue), reminiscing about their adventures with Storm. Basically, Gerry Duggan combines a bottle episode and a clip show episode into one thing for this issue and it works. The reverence and respect that the cast has for Storm shows in the way they talk about her and their playful banter betting about how many knives the weather goddess has on her person at all times.
While it’s really great having these moments shown and the camaraderie pouring off the page, it is a shame that the Madripoor plot took up basically almost all the previous nineteen issues. Some of these adventures, or just any other non-Madripoor adventures with the cast would have been nice to see before Storm left. The cast is still solid and likely with that Madripoor plot mostly over and big changes coming from the Gala, there might be room at last for a steadier mix of adventures/arcs.
Also, the issue having some setup for the Hellfire Gala is really great, but with there still being a number of weeks to go till that debuts it might have worked to have this issue a little closer to the actual event. At the same time, the next issue of this book is one of the issues that kicks off that event so two Marauders issues in a row might have been too much.
This issue is a love letter to Storm, which isn’t just shown in the dialogue from the characters. Every scene with her both present and flashback is really great. Especially a number of the really badass flashback tales that characters are regaling each other with.
After excelling at the heavy action scenes of the last issue Stefano Caselli, Edgar Delgado, and Cory Petit, who are joined by Chris Sotomayor on colors with Delgado, have a big chance to continue to show their skills with a more contained character-focused stuff. There is a lot of really detailed and wonderfully rendered closeup shots that showcase just how well they have these characters down.
Because of the nature of their missions, this series has a darker atmosphere to it which is shown in the wonderful shadows and bleak darkness that sets the mood in many of the present-day scenes, and some of the flashbacks. At the same time the characters are kept brighter and more colorful thanks to their flashy costumes. It’s a nice contrast that not only mirrors the light and dark color scheme of the Hellfire Trading Company, but also is a visual representation of the light and dark nature of the tasks they perform in the name of Krakoa.
Petit’s use of standard sentence case in dialogue is always appreciated, as are the uses of bold emphasis and shrinking of words to indicate whispering, as it just really fits the intimacy of much of these stories. The familiarity of these characters and their world. It gels well with the really eye-catching SFX that are dropped in at exactly the right time and never overpower things.
Marauders #20 is now on sale from Marvel Comics in print and digitally.