A space adventure on Arakko and beyond is just what Marauders needed to get this series back on track after a couple of issues with some serious social missteps. The force is strong with this one as the influences and homages are clear and prevalent through the issue, where the art team spares no expense at bringing this science-fiction realm to vivid life.
Krakoa’s mutant “pirates,” who really haven’t done any pirating ever, have left the high seas behind this month in order to take off into the final frontier: space. What they find there is a bunch of other series/genre stuff mashed up into the X-Men world for this latest tale.
Out of all the books in the X-Line, Marauders is probably solidly the one that feels almost aimless month after month. The book started off with a truly far too long Madripoor arc that ultimately didn’t really go much of anywhere (because it’s not fully over yet). Since then they’ve bounced from the Hellfire Gala to poorly handled storylines dealing with physical and sexual abuse to a truly bizarre gang fight over Krakoan drugs. A lot of the saving mutants and business dealings that the book started off with have been forgotten in the rear-view mirror as it seemingly tries to figure out what its identity truly is, as the line appears to be headed for a relaunch/revival of some kind.
All that being said, this was truly a much better issue of the series. It still has its flaws/issues, but it actually has some interesting moments and gets the group back to doing something.
It fully goes without saying that the biggest influence on this issue is Star Wars, as a lot of the areas of Arakko they explore have a Mos Eisley feeling to them and even Kate’s costume is very Han Solo-like in ways. Then there is all the space action, and fights that feel in that same vein. This all makes sense when one recalls that besides their recent stint on Cable together, Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto previously worked on the Star Wars: Chewbacca miniseries together back in 2015.
While Kate and Emma are a great pairing, it is beyond disappointing that Bishop, Iceman, and Pyro have had very little to do in this title for some time and that remains the case with this issue. They all poof rather quickly, only showing back up near the end for the closing pages and the cliffhanger moment we get.
Sebastian Shaw though gets plenty of time with Kate and Emma, continuing the trend of this book and a few others to really give far more time and focus to some of the vile white male characters as like some “redemption” tour or something. At least by being up in space this issue avoids the previous issues painful ill-formed attempts to tackle issues around race and gender and abuse.
Overall, this issue is fine, giving us some more in-depth looks at what is growing on Arrako as the new capital planet of the solar system where the Arakkan mutants and various alien species are mingling. At the same time, we really need a whole series that actually takes place here that gives us more glimpses than just these brusque sorts of Arakkan/Krakoan interactions we keep getting. We are also introduced to Deen Lorix who has some history with Emma, and a long intergalactic rap sheet.
While there is the cliffhanger of sorts that happens to the Marauders crew, there is more to the issue after that. Lourdes Chantel makes her big return after issue #22 detailed what actually happened to her. While it’s good to see that plot point is going somewhere, it also, unfortunately, means we’re bound to get another issue that handles the details of Shaw’s abuse of Lourdes quite poorly. Or maybe it will be handled in a more nuanced way with actual awareness, we can only hope.
Noto is the right person for this type of storyline, with his very bright and open style that has a lot of rough edges to it just like these types of space adventures. While this artwork is a bit too blocky in some cases for my liking, such as Emma in her diamond form, overall, it’s very expressive and detailed and really helps bring this part of Arakko to vivid life. It especially sings in the action scenes of the book, the moment with the detonator standing out quite a bit.
The Star Wars influences are strong in the artwork, but there is also a lot of variety and depth to the Arakkan mutants and aliens that dot the landscape. A full Noto-drawn book that lays out just fully what more of Arakko looks like and all the mutants and aliens that call it home would be really great. This art style works for a variety of genres and types of stories, but it shines even more when in these situations where Noto can step out of the proverbial box and really stretch the artistic muscles.
Cory Petit adds to this with some really fantastic lettering work, especially the intricate and personality-filled SFX. There are numerous scenes where the transparent SFX lettering overlaps the action of the panel and just pops. It makes the ‘sounds’ actually far more part of the scene because in a way the characters are interacting with them. Especially with the aforementioned deadly cliffhanger-like moment for the Marauder’s team.
Marauders is a series in search of something, and with this issue, it might have finally found itself again. Hopefully, it doesn’t lose itself once again in an issue or two.
Marauders #24 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.