Setting Sail For Adventure: Reviewing ‘Marauders’ Vol. 1
by Scott Redmond
A brand new era begins for the Marauders with a new team and a new creative direction that takes them back to their mutant-rescuing mission. A colorful, fantastical, and dangerous journey comes to vivid life across these pages as the series shows such promise.
With all the black market and Hellfire internal power struggles behind them, it’s time for the Marauders to get back to one of their core missions: saving mutants that need saving. No matter where that saving takes them. Even if that mission means they have to head to space where they might come to blows with an allied empire.
With that new mission comes a new creative team and a (mostly) new team of characters. Gathering the team issues are often tough as the creators must come up with scenes and ways to bring them in, and it can often drag or slow a story down. That’s not the case with the Marauders’ annual issue which kicks off this run, as Steve Orlando makes sure that this team gathering has a ton of energy and has a ton of purpose to it both in the gathering and towards where the title will visit in the future.
Picking a cast for a book is probably quite a tough thing to do when it comes to loading it up with favorites or those who meet the plots or will bring the best drama or whatever. This cast works fantastically as Orlando has a clear vision for them and they are bouncing off one another and the antagonists so wonderfully. There is diversity on many counts across this cast and this book, and it makes things so much stronger and more interesting. Even the controversial addition of Cassandra Nova is just adding some delicious drama to the story. Orlando is balancing the cast building, the main plot, and the supporting elements very easily.
After over 50 years of existence, there are tons of realms and areas and characters from the X-Mythos, and just Marvel overall really, that haven’t been seen or explored in some time. We get some of that exploration here as Erik the Red is one of those blasts from the past that appears here, along with the introduction of the order he belongs to Kin Crimson, and we even get a trip back to the era of Asteroid M and the Acolytes in the fifth issue.
There is a lot that is crammed into these issues but it mostly doesn’t feel overwhelming or like things aren’t being serviced. In the fifth issue though, there is a bit of a feeling of a slight rush to move things forward, but that mostly comes from the fact that the following issue belongs to a line-wide crossover. It sped through things, resurrected characters off panel, quickly finished off the Shi’ar plotline, and even brought in a new character Cerebra from Marvel 2099 whose journey to the present day happened in a whole other series.
We get quite a few interesting and fun artistic styles within these first issues, as Creees Lee and Rain Beredo tackle the annual, and Eleonora Carlini and Matt Milla take four middle issues of the first story arc with Andrea Broccardo stepping in for the fifth issue alongside Milla.
I don’t believe that I’ve come across Lee’s work before, but it works really well for a book like the annual issue. Not only does it nail the more action-type situations but there is an inherent almost rough sort of quality in many areas around the edges that is befitting a book with a rough crew going on rough missions on the open seas. There is a lot of detail in the work too, especially in many of the scenes where Akihiro is put through the wringer by Brimstone Love. There is also a lot of creative paneling work going on here with the white space and small closeups and insets that help make things flow even better.
It all fits with the colors of Beredo who goes for a less bright color palate here but instead goes with one that is a bit duller and more shadowy which works for what we’re getting in this story. This is not to say there are no brighter colors here, as we get some vivid yellows and oranges in some scenes and some bright pops here or there. There is more of a heavyweight over the colors because this isn’t a standard superheroics type book but is already handling heavier topics.
The artwork of Carlini and Milla is just so fantastical and fun and perfectly fitting for a story that sees the team jaunting and fighting through space. There is a whimsical quality to Carlini’s artwork that not only makes the action and glorious absurdity of space even more exciting, but it makes the harder or more disturbing moments hit even harder as well. Cassandra Nova especially looks almost innocent or bemused, yet utterly terrifying on every single level as she should be. Action scenes are smooth and flow so well, but the talking head scenes keep all that moving as we get lots of great close-ups and emotional shots.
The shift in paneling styles and jumps from using tons of white or black space to full pages enhances the frantic nature of the story. Milla has a very slick and smooth style in place here, and the colors are bold and, in your face, bright with a whole ton of red showing up (fitting with the whole Crimson Kin situation). Yet there are other pages where it’s all brought back to a more toned down more natural feeling, especially in the areas where conversation/character is the focus over the action.
While the work is a slight departure from the sharp and whimsical artwork that Carlini brought to the pages, in the fifth issue Broccardo does some really good stuff too with some really great facial/bodywork 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 place within various rooms within facilities of different types. It’s all very engaging and structured well so that the action and the talking scenes both flow easily and are intriguing to behold.
Lettering wise we also get a group of really great creators involved with Cory Petit taking on the annual issue, while Ariana Maher handles most of the other issues with Clayton Cowles hopping on board to help with the second issue.
Petit knocks it out of the park as usual with the lettering. There are a lot of great ways that he always goes about this but the one that instantly stood out was in the scene showcasing Tempo using her abilities to speed through a breakup. Not only does the dialogue of Bouncer ‘speed up’ by tons of words being in the bubble together but the font shrinks and shifts to italics and feels faster just on sight. It’s the same energy and care given to things like accurately depicting yells or whispers and bringing the SFX to big bold life at times. The same goes for the perfect bits of red and changed fonts we get from Brimstone’s dialogue, which is befitting of his theatricality.
Gushing about the lettering work that Ariana Maher does is something I will never be tired of doing because she brings such magic to the page. All the emotions can be felt and heard in the dialogue, which feels so natural with the choice of sentence case for most words saving the all-caps style for titles and more impactful moments. Making whispers feel like whispers and yelling feel like yelling with font changes will always be something I love. One cannot forget the SFX which is just as distinct and fun and colorful as every other element on the pages, bringing all the right energy to the moment.
When Cowles comes aboard for an issue with Maher it all just gels so well. There are a lot of similarities in their styles and it’s a seamless tag-team effort, including my preferred use of the sentence case for dialogue which feels more natural for medium tones allowing the bigger cases to be useable for big loud moments. Even the SFX here gets in on the whimsical fun nature of the book as they have a whole ton of personality to share.
Marauders Vol 1 is now available from Marvel Comics.