‘Marauders’ balances great science-fiction style world-building, deep discussions, a wealth of character development moments, and solid quick-paced brutal action all in one smartly build and paced issue. There is a ton of discourse to be found here but everyone involved makes it work as the visuals give us everything that the words aren’t telling us and are a delight to look upon. A colorful gorgeous intriguing comic book is always a great thing to behold.
If saving the past, including a whole ancient progenitor civilization, meant potentially erasing the present and everything that came before it, is it worth it to take that chance? In order to carry out their mission to save some of the first mutants on the planet this is a question the Marauders must grapple with and answer.
While we know that one series isn’t going to end up erasing everything to do with the Marvel Universe as we know it (at least not quite yet), the fact that Steve Orlando has the cast contemplating the cost and risk of their mission is a welcome thing. I appreciate when we get scenes that have heroes actually discussing what they are going to do and what it could cost them or others, rather than just diving into things every time. Don’t get me wrong, the diving in and it blowing up in their face is a classic story tool that has been used many times in great new ways including recently during A.X.E: Judgement Day.
We’re given plenty of very intimate conversation scenes in this issue before all the action begins, but the most important has to be the first with the whole team in the baths together. It’s a place where people can be free and vulnerable at the same time, and here we are seeing that there are many worried about this mission while Kate is very much being a very forward captain deciding things for everyone. She has her reasons and they are sound in some areas, but the concerns of the others about wiping out their own lives and the world as it stands are valid. Bishop offers his own time travel view, and it feels a bit off since his reasons for coming to the past had to do with a future criminal coming to mess with the past, but his words do hold some merit in a roundabout way.
To some having half this issue being folks talking about whether to do this or not will feel slow or make them think the pacing is off, but I think these sorts of issues are very good at diving into characters. Sure there was action at last at the end, but the conversations and moments were very important. Kate’s actions feel almost dictator-like, she’s become far more forceful since the incident with Shaw and her death/return, but also not out of character for much of what she has done or had to do over the years (decades for us).
There is just something really energetic, quirky, and gorgeous about the artwork that Eleonora Carlini creates. All of the work has a really smooth flow to it while also being a bit sharp, almost rough, which really makes the characters and the world around them stand out even more. We get plenty of detail on many pages/panels, while others pull back in order to give all the focus to the characters. As there is a lot of discourse and folks sitting around, a lot of energy is put into their body language and facial expressions as well as movement to keep us interested while also telling us more about them in the moment.
Just look at those bath pages, we only see most of them from the shoulders up but we can take away so much from those shots about their emotions and thoughts at the moment. Helping the eye move around and take in just how different things are would be the variety of shifting panel styles, from regular rectangle/square ones to diagonal slashes and other changes that add their own energy to the proceedings. One thing that stood out a ton was the form they all take as they merge together with Amass, this massive multi-armed being with little shards floating around the face area that show bits of each character’s face. Beautiful and haunting at the same time.
Can’t forget to mention just how kinetic and flowy and fast the fight scenes are, as Carlini’s choices in paneling add to the frenzied chaotic feeling. Love those angled panels on top of each other, like slashing the action in front of us. Especially with the great use of white space around them in some cases, makes everything pop even more.
Matt Milla is back solo on the color side of things, bringing a lot of bright vivid splashes of color, some of them providing a great backdrop for the talking moments and others helping highlight the science-fiction/superhero elements of this story. While the colors are slick and smooth with that brightness, they are also toned down in some respects to make the people and some areas feel more grounded, with other elements on the page being brighter to stand out. For example, in the aforementioned bath scene where the vegetation around them is just spectacularly vivid green and the water a vivid blue while the characters are a variety of tones that are real and more grounded to reality.
I also really love how in many scenes the background is just completely gone and we get splashes of those vivid colors, like in the bar there is an orange/yellow background, so we focus on the characters even more. There are for sure other patrons there and other things going on behind them, but that is not what matters. Color like that being used to frame a scene in a sense is so cool.
Speaking of that Green Lagoon scene, everything to do with that was just great and hilarious. Always love some time with Kwannon/Psylocke and Greycrow’s relationship, but Crave and his matter-eating powers are hilarious. Carlini and Milla make it work so well visually, adding to the hilariousness. The man actually takes an invitation to eat bullets, then eats a gun. That’s some quality stuff right there.
As noted this is a very talky issue, so there is plenty of great lettering work for Ariana Maher to bring to life here. Maher really makes the dialogue feel real and normal, especially in the instances where she uses sentence case as the default speech. A baseline tone helps us to be able to detect when a character’s tone or volume changes in the moment, giving us a visual cue to those changes when we see the font change to smaller than sentence case or go all-caps. Oh and the emotion and reaction that all these bold and bright and even in some cases squishy SFX cause is just so so good. Maher is hands down one of the best letterers working right now and brings something extra and powerful to any issue that she works on.
Marauders #8 is now available from Marvel Comics.