Some heavy ’90s nostalgia takes various spotlights in the rapid speed overly packed ‘Marauders’ issue, taking giant leaps in order to wrap things up in order to tie into the current X-Men-related event story. Overall, this title has a lot of intriguing concepts at play and had a ton of potential that just didn’t fully materialize in an issue that felt more like a forty-meter dash rather than a longer somewhat more leisurely type of marathon.
After four issues of a bunch of high-flying space adventures, the Marauders switch it up with time travel and a whole lot of usual clawed mutant slicing and dicing for the fifth issue of their recently relaunched title. While the concept at hand is interesting, the overall package is a bit lacking in the end.
Let me just say that time travel used to drop into the middle of X-Men history, specifically the “Fall of Avalon” storyline from X-Men #42-44 back in 1994, is something that is a fun element and not an issue at all. All the pacing around it though is a bit off. With the next issue beginning a tie-in to the already almost halfway over A.X.E.: Judgement Day event, it is abundantly clear that this issue was in a hurry to wrap up a whole lot of stuff for the title.
Within a short span of time, Steve Orlando tackles the resurrection of Shi’ar Magestrix Xandra (also the daughter of Xavier) back on Krakoa, zips back to speed through Aurora and Akihiro fighting off the Kin Crimson and the “Chronicle,” and gives a bit more rapid space to the Marauders in the past on Avalon trying to get a beacon that will allow them to save one mutant from the ancient Threshold civilization before they were wiped out in the past.
Oh, but there is more. Cassandra Nova “dies” but doesn’t and has a symbiote, Kate Pryde is resurrected off panel through a data page, the Marauders “win” in the past and come back to get cheers and accolades from the Shi’ar (Akihiro even gets a costume and potential use of the name Fang from the Imperial Guard member Fang) mostly forgotten late-2000s era character Warbird shows up to bond with that symbiote, data pages spell out Hellfire Gala stuff, oh and suddenly X-Men 2099 character Cerebra is on Krakoa ready to meet her hero Kate.
Okay taking a deep breath, that was a lot. Truly there are a lot of interesting things here but it’s like we’re on turbo speed to get through them all, even using the aforementioned data pages as a sort of exposition dump to fit even more into the story.
Apparently, the how and why of Cerebra showing up near death, dying, and then being resurrected on Krakoa happen within the currently running Spider-Man 2099: Exodus mini-series, also written by Orlando. Which is fine but at the same time the appearance and references to Cerebra just feel jarring here and tacked on since this is the series she’ll be appearing in, and seem to just assume that readers will either be also reading that series or will be familiar with a character that hasn’t really appeared all that much since the original early 90s run of X-Men 2099 and subsequent books that mostly wrapped up the Marvel 2099 line.
Again, it’s not bad, there are a lot of things that were interesting about this arc but the issue is that a lot of those really deep sorts of ideas to explore get glossed over or mopped up fast to get to a conclusion. If this arc had been given maybe a full six issues, allowing this one to have more room to breathe, it might have been overall better for all the plotlines and characters.
Oh also, while I like the idea of a character like Somnus, that fact that the character can suddenly reveal things like having combat abilities because of spending years in a dream with someone (Red Lotus, remember them?) along with other such revelations is definitely pushing a line a bit.
Regular artist Elenora Carlini is off this issue with Andrea Broccardo stepping in on the art alongside Matt Milla still doing colors. There was a whole ton of whimsical/fun but also sharp and energetic energy that came from Carlini’s work, with all the space battles and combat and characters doing cool stuff. That isn’t the same case here, but Broccardo is doing some really good stuff too with some really great facial/body work and some cool depictions of characters like Nemesis and the fight scenes with symbiote Cassandra Nova. He doesn’t get to really do a ton of the big sci-fi concept stuff that Carlini was able to since most of this issue takes palace within various rooms within facilities of different types.
Milla’s colors are still very slick, and actually are even slicker and brighter with Broccardo’s artistic style than they were in the previous issues. There is still a good weight and warmth and cool nature to them, giving room for plenty of big bold splashy colors on various pages. There is less of the somewhat Earthy or toned-down nature that we saw in the previous issues but that’s fine as different art styles work better with different choices for the coloring. Milla is great at being able to slide his colors around to match whatever the art is calling for.
While there is a ton being sped through in the issue there are still elements of fun and big emotion, and a lot of that really comes out in the lettering choices that Ariana Maher brings to the page. Nemesis’ speech bubbles along with the color and jagged nature are just fun to witness alongside his fiery skull visage, coming off even more bombastic with the use of sentence case like all the dialogue. Which is dropped when the volume shoots up for a big loud moment, and caps lock is engaged to showcase that fury and power.
So many ooey-gooey and dangerous SFX scattered around that are just a delight to behold. Maher always makes them a star of the show alongside everything else, not a spectator, right there at the moment where they cannot be missed. Allowing us to just hear what these battles are like especially that brutal one between Akihiro and the Chronicle.
I like what this series represents and what it’s bringing to the table, I just truly wish this story arc had been given the full room to breathe that it needed.
Marauders #5 is now available from Marvel.