Marauders returns to being basically stuck in place as the issue tries to tackle some very heavy and serious topics but does so in such a poorly dismissive way. The art team does great work with the mostly talking head issue they are presented with, including some old-school classic comic level energy with the issue’s flashback.
Around two years ago the Krakoan era of the X-Men began. An era built upon the idea of the mutants of the Marvel Universe not only having their own homeland but a place to build their own society and to be free. Free of the bigotry and hatred of humanity and also to be free from the toxic broken systems that humans continue to prop up.
Turns out this definitely hasn’t been the case in the long run.
The Gala is over and Mars has been terraformed into the new mutant planet of Arakko, it’s time to get back to some of the plot points dropped before and during the Gala. One of those points was Sebastian Shaw wishing for a return of the long-dead Lourdes Chantel, a woman Shaw claimed to love that “died” during the original Hellfire Gala well before Cerebro began making backups of mutants. Therefore, there is little way to bring her back to life.
Except none of that is true.
Turns out Lourdes is very much alive and has been long in hiding living life somewhere because Emma Frost helped her fake her death so she could escape the abusive Sebastian Shaw. It’s not a surprise that Shaw was an abuser, this much was shown in the reprint of Classic X-Men #7 featured in the last issue, but the way this issue and all of the X-stuff treats his abuse is beyond gross.
Previously Shaw killed Kate Pryde and her and Emma and Storm punished him for this, but that’s all gone. He was allowed to heal up that damage between issues here and no one other than the three women and Lockheed know what he did and why he was punished as he was. Here Emma tells Shaw what happened to Lourdes and then shrugs off once again his abusive behaviors because he has power and she claims he was and is necessary to achieve the things in the past and the present.
Oh, and Lourdes, despite being “hyped” up in previous issues and on the cover, plays no actual part in the story other than the retold past moments of her abuse and ‘death’ and her being left in the care of the Kingpin. Another cis white hetero male taking advantage of a woman, this book is rife with that this month. Lourdes is essentially just a story prop within this issue.
It’s not just Gerry Duggan dropping this sort of thing into a book. All over the books the mostly white cis-hetero males such as Shaw, Xavier, Magneto, and others continue to lie, cheat, steal, punish and do so much to others but it gets shrugged off as these men hold most of the power. It’s the same broken toxic system we have in reality and the one that Krakoa supposedly was meant to refute.
At the same time, Duggan doubles down in this issue by having the Cuckoos claim to have “fixed” Wilhelmina Kensington from Homines Verendi by messing with her mind to make her relive her traumas. They literally make her flashback (while telling her not to worry since she’s not really there) her father’s abuse of her which is implied to veer into possible molestation.
Telling Wilhelmina not to worry while making her relive a traumatic event is a terrible thing to do. “Real” or not, she’s flashing back to something that clearly scarred her. Oh, while they also make jokes in the moment too as if this is the right time for that. This so-called “fixing” seems to be poised to be used as a “reason” that Wilhelmina snapped and became so lost and murderous (killing her mother as well as killing small animals quite often). As well as setting it up so that she might side with the mutants since the Cuckoos are apparently going to help her go get revenge on her father, for women power and solidarity.
Duggan isn’t the one that should be writing about a topic this sensitive especially in such an off-hand way that doesn’t even address anything. Not to mention using it in a bad cliché way to ‘explain’ why women do bad things. The males of Homines Verendi are just evil kids doing bad stuff because they are rich/spoiled have bad influences but Wilhelmina gets an abusive past shoehorned in for why she is the way she is. It’s truly gross.
A lot were happy to hear that Klaus Janson had an artistic role in this issue, and he does a solid job at revisiting and expanding the fate of Lourdes from Classic X-Men #7. Just a shame that the work they had for him was to draw the part of the story dealing with one of the many instances of Shaw’s shrugged-off abusive behavior. There is this classic type of energy from Janson’s work, that fits the fact that he’s essentially dipping back into time for these moments.
The present-day pages are from Matteo Lolli and are really solid just like his previous work on the series, despite the heavy matter within the issue. There isn’t as much for him to cut loose with compared to the party in the last issue, but he at least makes the heavy amount of talking head pages that the issue is filled with work. There is a lot of good emotion showcased as the characters deal with all these fallouts with anger and sadness.
Rain Berdo expertly colors both artist’s work and employs vastly different color palettes and styles to make sure that each work looks distinct to the era it’s meant to reflect. The modern-day stuff is bright and colorful and pops, while the past is a bit more muted and shadowy to designate that flashback/memory-like quality.
Just like the last issue, there is a lot of dialogue to be dealt with and Cory Petit navigates it easily, making sure that it flows around the art and doesn’t overload any panel or page. Just like the colors, there is a subtle change in Petit’s lettering when it comes to the dialogue and captions within the flashback part of the issue. It helps keep to the classic feeling energy.
Overall, the issue is artistically great to look at but the overall narrative wades into realms it should not with the grace of a bull in a China shop. This isn’t the first time this book has veered into a lane that the writer definitely was not the right person to be in that lane.
No matter the supposed promise around Krakoa, the comics themselves continue to showcase that nothing has really changed all that much when it comes to the power and benefits for toxic men.
Marauders #22 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.